“We charge minimal tuition, and that barely covers the costs,” said Brandt, the therapy center’s vice president and one of its instructors. “We always run in the red.”
The fundraiser, scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. in the equestrian center’s Arena No. 7, will include a silent auction and raffle, riding demonstrations, stick pony races and music.
The therapy center, now in its 20th year, allows disabled children and adults to ride horses as a way of improving physical dexterity and even social skills. Nearly two dozen children are enrolled at the center — Brandt hopes to restart an adult class soon — and work under the tutelage of volunteer instructors.
Among those planning to attend Saturday is Steven Hachigian, who has cerebral palsy and has been riding at the center for more than half of his life. He’s even played basketball there, tossing a ball into a hoop on the fence as he rides around the track.
“The first time I looked at a horse, I was scared,” said Steven, 11. “I would not go by them. I was super scared of them. But as soon as I started here, I was not scared.”
Kenny Dierken, a volunteer horse leader at the center, said Steven’s story is a common one.
“This is something dear to my heart, to see these kids,” he said. “They have their challenges, but they overcome it by working with the horses.”
If You Go
What: “Derby Day”
Where: Therapeutic Riding Center, Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, 18381 Goldenwest St.
When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $40 pre-sale tickets, which include a barbecue meal, available today and Friday; $10 tickets, without meal, available Saturday
Contact: (714) 848-0966