Almost 10 years from his first day at REINS, he now uses a walker and took part in a mile race, she said.
“We have all this technology today, but no one has been able to create a machine for spinal cord patients—and that's why horse therapy is so crucial,” said Gambrell, REINS development coordinator.
Her group will host its 20th annual fundraiser at the Del Mar Races on Sunday, Aug. 26. The nonprofit, which is selling tickets on its website as a fundraiser, will also collect donations and provide information for attendees at the Clubhouse Terrace.
“The support of the community has gotten us this far and we love giving back through this service,” Gambrell said. “But we do need help.”
The longtime nonprofit was founded in San Marcos in 1984 before moving to Fallbrook in 1999. Today, it’s one of 808 horseback therapy riding programs in the world but ranks in the top 3 percent, she said.
REINS has four full-time employees, 14 part-time instructors and more than 100 volunteers, who serve about 200 students each week.
It's rewarding too, Gambrell said.
The program affords the disabled a chance to go outdoors and enjoy the simple act of riding a horse—“while receiving intense therapy,” she said.
“Imagine being a student with low muscle tone and being able to ride a horse,” Gambrell said. “Imagine how much strength you would build in that short amount of time in riding a horse.”
Gambrell—who said many of REINS' students have cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome—said 132 vibrations from a horse exercises the rider’s muscles and also calms the patient.
“There’s the emotional, mental and physical benefits that really improve the quality of life for our students and, of course, that translates to the families too,” she said.
Though the program serves 200 students each week, Gambrell said it hopes to expand.
But community's support is needed. The program, which operates on an estimated $500,000 budget, is looking to raise more than $5,000 at the Day at the Races. In October, it hopes to raise $100,000 at its annual fundraiser Country Hoedown.
IN THE HANDS OF KILL BUYERS! When horses are purchased at auction by buyers intending to kill them, they're hauled away in double- decker tractor trailers where they are beaten and often blinded with baseball bats to mollify them. After crossing the border into Mexico, the animals are stabbed on each side-an act to tenderize their meat-and immobilized. Workers, then saw the horses legs off, at the knee and hang them to bleed out-all while the horses are ALIVE! (This is an excerpt, from an article written by Missy Diaz, crediting Victoria Mc Cullough and Sen. Joe Abruzzo for bringing awareness of horse slaughter, to Florida. In 2010 Florida Legislation unanimously passed the Horse Protection Bill, making it a felony to slaughter horses for personal or commercial use.)