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The Shea Center For Therapeutic Riding Make a Donation
Rider Spotlight

With a big grin on his face, Grant M., age 4, happily rides at The Shea Center.  That hasn’t always been the case.

When Grant first arrived at the Center, he was terrified of all animals.  After a couple of rides on horseback with his twin brother, John, Grant became more comfortable.  Now, one can tell by the look on his face that he really enjoys riding.  He likes to feed the horses and ride on the nature trail behind The Shea Center barn.  At home, Grant talks about riding horses with a sense of pride saying, “I rode the horse.”

Riding is an accomplishment for Grant, because he and his brother were born two months prematurely.  Grant developed an intraventricular
hemorrhage, also known as a brain bleed, resulting in hydrocephalus, and a future diagnosis of cerebral palsy.  The disorder affects Grant’s right arm and both legs, making him unable to walk.

Mike and Laura, Grant’s parents, noticed an almost immediate improvement in his abilities when Grant began riding at the Center last year.  Grant’s legs, neck, and core muscles became stronger.  Suddenly, he could hold his head up much better.  As Grant’s hips became stronger, he could better stabilize himself to sit upright.  Today, he sits up straight on the horse and his posture has improved when sitting at the table to eat.  Because Grant no longer has to use his arms to sit up on the floor, he can more easily play, which is also improving his fine motor skills.

In addition to horseback riding, Grant participates in intensive physical therapy learning to walk with a walker while using ankle orthotics. 

Grant’s dad says, “This is a nice facility and the volunteers here are great with Grant.  He likes riding so much; it has built his self-confidence.  Now, he can have his own sport and doesn’t have to always be a spectator.  We plan to be at Shea forever!”
Volunteer Spotlight
Congratulations to Matisse C., The Shea Center’s volunteer of the month for October!

Although, Matisse has been at the Center for just a few months, she has years of horse experience and six years of experience at a therapeutic riding center.

After hearing about the activities at The Shea Center from a family friend and current staff member, Matisse felt the Center would be a perfect fit for her, and it is!  She loves meeting new people and enjoys the teaching aspect of working with new volunteers in the barn and in lessons.

In lessons, Matisse is very flexible and willing to work wherever she is needed.  She quickly offers help and never thinks twice about assisting staff and volunteers.  It pleases Matisse to see how happy the clients are while they are riding.  She enjoys watching them accomplish their goals and improve right before her eyes.
At the barn, Matisse loves spending time with the horses and is an incredible asset to the lesson treatment assistants.  When it is time to pull horse tack, she can be counted on to pull the tack correctly and efficiently, which helps the barn run smoothly and the lessons start on time.

Lesson treatment assistant, Caitlyn Turner, says, “When I am down at the barn, I know I can rely on Matisse to get my horses ready quickly.  She asks questions to make sure she is the best volunteer she can be.  In lessons, Matisse is ready and willing to assist in any way, and I am immensely appreciative of her help.”

Thank you, Matisse, for your hard work, dedication, and commitment to The Shea Center!


Thank You 2018 Horse Sponsors

Kate & Tess

Reid & Champ

Colette & Shaw

Sophia & Bliss

Chelsea & Major

Benji & Rock

Jaxlee, Liliana & Kenny

Thank you to all the individuals, families, service clubs, businesses, and foundations who provided generous gifts to support and maintain the health of our program horses during 2018.

Horse sponsorships cover the costs of feed, horseshoes, shavings, special care, equipment, and other expenses for the ongoing wellbeing of our horses.

Horse - Sponsor

Alik - National Charity League Saddleback Valley, The Walden W. & Jean Young Shaw Foundation

Auggie - Betty Jean Iler, KNU For Kids Foundation

Benny - The Schreiber Family

Boog - Ladies Night Out 2018, The Kraemer Family

Bliss - Golden State Foods Foundation, Dana Hills High School Interact Club

Braveheart - Drive to Ride 2018, Charles Licha Construction/Richard & Merrie Fricke in honor of Mitchell Woodward, Melissa Piccinati, Mary Ann "Granny"Schoellerman

Bucky - Blanche & George Jones Fund, Inc., Marigold Atwood & Family, Steve Beneto

Champ - The Walden W. & Jean Young Shaw Foundation, Mary Hill

Dutch - Michele & Tim Ryan, National Charity League Laguna Chapter

Emma - Makena L., National Charity League Monarch Chapter

Hope -The McMullin Family, Betty Jean Iler

Joker - Joerger Family Charitable Foundation

Kenny -   Paul O'Mara, Shea Homes Trade Council, Drive to Ride 2018

Maggie Rose - The Offield Family Foundation, Kathie Duffy

May - Susan Alexander, National Charity League Capistrano Coast Chapter, The Shaikh Family

Major - Becky Burch, The Ueberroth Family Foundation

Mini - The Gregory Family, Shea Homes Trade Council

Oscar - Drive to Ride 2018, Shea Homes Trade Council

Rock - Nancy Williams, Jana & Adam Williams, Shea Homes Trade Council

Rushmore - BBQ 2018, Mike & Wendy Cupps, Harry & Madi Moon,  Monarch Beach Sunrises Rotary Club

Shaw - Ken & Debbie Johnson Foundation

Smokey - The Offield Family Foundation, The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation

Tess - Lizzy Shelly

Thank You Emerson Sponsors
"Emerson" is The Shea Center's eleven-year-old Labrador/Golden Retriever facility dog.  The Center received "Emerson" from Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that breeds, raises, trains, and places service dogs.

When he arrived at the Center, "Emerson" already knew 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire clients with special needs, e.g., tugging, pushing, retrieving, and snuggling.  "Emerson" is fun, loving, cuddly, and a great motivator for children learning to walk.

Thank you to the individuals, families, and service clubs who generously supported "Emerson" in 2018.

Mission Viejo Rotary Club
Bill & Cindy Fox/Fox Family Foundation
Granny Schoellerman
Bonnie & David Eastman
Gary & Donna Urban
Matthew & Taryn Trumble
Bob & Wendy Yoder
Harry & Madi Moore
Yvette Gjanovich
Michelle & Scott Sukut
Rotary Club of San Juan Capistrano

Best of San Juan Capistrano

It’s time again for the "Best of San Juan Capistrano" People's Choice Horseshoe Awards!

Last year, The Shea Center received the GOLD award for the “Best Local Nonprofit Organization”, and we received the GOLD award for the “Best Camp for Kids” for our Summer Horse Camp! 

We need your help!  Go to
The Capistrano Dispatch to vote for The Shea Center.  The “Click to Vote” button is in the center of the page. 

You can vote one time from each computer.  Polls close at midnight December 9!

Thank you for your support and please share this with your friends!

Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo Supports The Shea Center

(l-r) Susan Purel, Shea Center Board Chair;
John Frank, Immediate Past Board Chair & BBQ Sponsor Chair;
Bonnie Eastman,
Board Member & BBQ Chair;
Gilbert Aguirre, Rancho Mission Viejo & Shea Center Executive Committee Member

Special thanks to the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo for its extraordinary support of The Shea Center with a donation of $60,000 from the 2018 Rodeo proceeds.  This annual two-day rodeo has lassoed over $2.1 million to benefit local charities including CHOC at Mission Hospital and The Shea Center.

For 40 years, The Shea Center’s mission has been to improve the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic horse-related programs.  Today, it serves more than 1,000 clients annually with 23 therapy horses, certified professional staff, and more than 800 annual volunteers.

“We are so grateful to Tony Moiso, Gilbert Aguirre, Lissa Freese and all of our friends at Rancho Mission Viejo for their investment in the lives of people with special needs,” says Shea Center Executive Director, Dana Butler-Moburg.  “The Rodeo is an outstanding community event, and we are thankful for this gift and the many years of generosity not just to Shea, but all of the organizations that the Rodeo supports.”


Local San Juan Capistrano author and former college professor, Donna L. Friess, PhD has written a new book Capistrano Trails, Ride for the Brand. This book sheds light on the story of San Juan Capistrano as the “horse capital” of Orange County. The work includes personal and historical accounts from many leading community members. These stories memorialize the experience of living in a historic equestrian community that protects the traditions of the Old West.

Capistrano Trails is available on Amazon, and if you order it through, Amazon will donate to The Shea Center.

Are You Searching for the Perfect Holiday Gift?
As you make plans for giving this holiday season, consider giving the alternative gift of strength, balance, coordination and self-esteem for a child or adult at The Shea Center.

Your gift to The Shea Center, in celebration of a loved one this holiday season,
will warm the heart of the person receiving the gift and provide much needed and tangible services to children and adults with disabilities.

Therapeutic riding develops the whole person-physically, cognitively, and emotionally.  In addition to physical improvements, therapeutic riding also helps develop planning, judgement, social skills, and self-confidence.  This is an opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

Thank you for your generosity and caring for the clients and families of The Shea Center during this season of giving and caring for others.

This link will take you to the Shea Center donation page to make a gift in the name of a friend or loved one.

For more information, contact Sonya Violette at (949) 240-8441 x 130.

Happy Holidays from "Alik"!

Save the Date

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 is

Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday is a day to join millions of others and donate
to your favorite charity!

Go to The Shea Center’s website donation page to make a
much appreciated gift to the Center.

  Your donation may be designated for financial aid, therapy program services,
or horse sponsorship.  We are grateful for your support of our mission to improve the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic horse-related programs.

Tuesday - Saturday, December 11 - 15, 2018

Rider Recognition Week!

Please join us during regularly scheduled lessons as we applaud our riders
for their accomplishments during this riding session. 

It’s a touching moment to see big smiles and joyful faces as our clients receive trophies and are recognized for their progress.  Recognition such as this keeps our riders striving for improvement.  Please be with us to celebrate their achievements.

The Shea Center deeply appreciates the recent gifts from these individuals and foundations and what their support accomplishes.

Al & Mary Ann Schoellerman Foundation - Granny's Saturday Morning Kids program support

Edwards Lifesciences Foundation - therapy program support

Richard & Elizabeth Steele Endowment Fund - military programs support

The Roskamp Family Charitable Fund - Fran Joswick Legacy Award grant

Photos: Taryn Trumble, Pixel That! Photography

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The mission of The Shea Center is to improve the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic horse-related programs. The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center
26284 Oso Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 240-8441
Fax (949) 240-3447