2019 Horse Show

Miles of Smiles!

Our Annual Horse Show brought out the best in our students, Veterans, and Horses, plus our volunteers, friends, and family…everyone grinned with pride, joy, and excitement!

50+ riders showed off their skills and accomplishments in step with their equine therapy partner…sitting up tall, oozing with confidence, and after their presentation, raising their trophy high while soaking in the admiration from the crowd.

Our Xenophon’s Operation Hooves on the Ground Veterans also shared their new skills; showing the power of the relationship between themselves and their incredible therapy horse.

A HUGE thank you to our passionate volunteers, working before, during, and after the Show to ensure a smooth ride for all! The center looked fresh, our herd looked beautiful, and the BBQ was grilled to perfection.

Special thanks to our amazing partners: SonRise Equestrian Foundation for bringing two of their beloved therapy horses to our show to help ease our herd’s load; The Peter Pan Foundation and their Princesses & Action Heroes bringing joy and excitement to our Opening Ceremony; Barsotti Family Juice Co. for donating juices and lemonade for our BBQ; Julian Passmore, Xenophon student, for creating a unique purple bandana to sell and raise funds for Xenophon; Mike Miller and the United Steel Workers for sponsoring the individual trophies our students received; Lisa Browning and Friends for providing the beautiful hand-carved wood rocking horse in the Winner Circle; Clipped Wings of Oakland, NCL Walnut Creek, NCL Lamorinda, Boys Team Charity, and Scout Troop 810 for adding helping hands at the Show; and Canine Companions for Independence for providing canine hugs and kisses throughout the day!

Check out some of the smiles below and keep smiling with more images here!  EnJoy the Moment! 

Join Us for Our 2019 Horse Show Festivities!

We are excited to showcase all the accomplishments of our student riders with their therapy horse partners, plus a special demo by our Veterans! Add in a BBQ lunch, Trophies, a Winner’s Circle, and an Opening Ceremony Parade with Disney princesses from The Peter Pan Foundation singing our National Anthem…and you have an incredibly special day with never-ending smiles! EnJoy the Moment!

Saturday, September 28, 2019    |    9:00 am  –  2:30 pm

  60 Don Gabriel Way, Orinda


Moments of Change

At Xenophon, the thing we love most, the thing that keeps us coming back, that  makes us smile, are the Moments of Change. Those are the memorable moments, they make us feel a part of something, feel passion, motivation, joy, confidence, and that is what we are privileged to experience every day at Xenophon.

Every person filmed, parent, volunteer, veteran, staff, no matter their connection to Xenophon, used the same two words somewhere in their responses…JOY and FAMILY. No two greater words to describe Xenophon! Enjoy the video…we joyfully share everything going on at the center and hope you become part of our family!

2019 Speakeasy Gala Photos

Thanks to all who participated in the gala, and especially to those brave enough to venture into the photo booth! We have so many great shots from this year’s event. Here are a few of your photographer’s favorites.


As always, the rest of the images can be viewed and purchased at http://photos.xenophontrc.org.

2018 Horse Show Photos!

As always, you can view and purchase photos at photos.xenophontrc.org.

Chris Ellsworth Comes to Xenophon!


Chris Ellsworth is a well-known trainer operating out of Rawking Horse Ranch in Briones. Chris spent most of his formative years working as a cattleman in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. Throughout that 30 year history, Chris worked with scores of fabulous horse trainers who taught him many things, but in the end, Chris realized it was the horse itself that was the greatest teacher. He began to realize he wanted to devote his life to making horses’ lives better, just as they had done for him. “I began to forge my own path, to follow where the horses led me. Letting go of what I thought I knew, learning to trust my instincts and turn in the direction the horses themselves were offering was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But now I consider this breaking away from all traditions to learn directly from horses to be my greatest accomplishment.” Chris has an affinity for reading horses and figuring out just what they are communicating to their human companions.  By helping people to understand this, he can improve the relationship between horse and rider.

Xenophon was fortunate to have Chris come and donate his time and expertise to our Xenophon horses and horse handlers. Chris spent three hours on Sunday, August 26th up at the center, providing insight into our horses’ unique personalities.  He quickly sized up our Xennies, identifying personality challenges. No one was surprised when he identified Kiwi as a dominant mare who has been “around the block”, and needed her handler to establish a leader position from the get go. He gave insight into GoGo, being an Arabian and having been bred to charge through Bedouin camps, and how to keep her calm.  He also worked on getting her to be more accepting and less defensive of her herd mates. Chris’s calm demeanor and motivating attitude instilled confidence in the attendees and he provided wonderful tools that our handlers can use to help each horse be successful in its job. Everyone came away from the clinic with new skill sets and information. Thank you, Chris, for this incredible opportunity. Our horses will thank you, too!

Lion’s Sergeant Pepper
Joins the Xenophon Herd!

Through a grant generously donated by the Lions club we introduce Lion’s Sergeant Pepper as the newest member of the Xenophon herd. Pepper is a 10-year-old bay Appaloosa Gelding. Coming from a reigning/roping background, therapeutic riding is all new to Pepper. That said during our initial testing we were pleasantly surprised by his near non-reaction to the many therapeutic toys we presented to him. Curious and playful yet he approaches his job in a very calm manner. Pepper adores people, has an abundance of character and has been eager to take  on these new challenges. He has a willingness to work  and is a quick learner. Standing at 15.1 hands with his beautiful appaloosa eyes and light dusting of white speckles, he is an eye catcher.

Xenophon’s Horses Contribute to Major “Growth”

While the contribution that Xenophon’s program horses make to the well-being of the participants in our programs is widely known, it is not so widely known that they are contributing to the “growth” of our community in another unique way….manure!  Most of you have seen the large bins on the edge of our parking lot at the base of the lower arena.  Did you know that these are sophisticated composting bins?  The designs for these special bins comes from O2 Compost, a company started by an environmental engineer who specializes in compost systems.  They have a forced air system that “cooks” the compost at 140-160 degrees, making it usable in about 6 week’s time.

Needless to say, with 7 program horses we have an unlimited supply of raw materials, which renders us a constant supply of compost.  So what do we do with all that “top shelf” compost?  Xenophon is now collaborating with Moraga Gardens Farm (MGF), another local non-profit, run by volunteers, who grow an amazing variety of crops.  These crops are supplied to local community organizations who assist families in need and are also sold to local groceries and restaurants in the Berkeley and Lamorinda area.  The money raised is used to buy seed and assist with the maintenance of the garden infrastructure.   Xenophon supplies a stable supply of compost to Moraga Gardens Farm, who use it to grow fabulous food for the community.  Go MFG and go Xennies!  Check out the article in the MGF newsletter!


Xenophon’s Big Presence at the PATH Region 11 Conference

PATH International is the governing body for equine-assisted therapy in the United States.  It provides credentialing, sets safety standards, and ensures the professionalism and growth of our industry.  In addition, they provide educational opportunities so that certified instructors can meet required continuing education requirements.  One of the ways they do this is through regional and national conferences.

PATH Region 11 ConferenceOn July 27-29, 2018, six Xenophon staff headed down to Shadow Hills Riding Club, just outside  Burbank, CA, for the PATH Region 11 conference.  The regional conferences usually take place at a local therapeutic riding center, with classroom created with tents and practical demonstrations in the arena.  It makes for a lovely setting, but also meant attendees braved 97 degree temperatures, taking advantage of the big fans and misters provided by the host center.  The heat did not prevent attendees from enjoying the diverse, quality presentations offered throughout the weekend.  Topics ranged from information on Veteran’s programs, to offering unmounted lessons, to how to develop a quality 5-year strategic plan.

Mari Parino, our Executive Director, and Wanda Sayuk, a Xen Instructor and Facilitator for Connected Horse at Xenophon, presented on the accomplishments and challenges of our new Alzheimer’s/Dementia program.  Linda Parsons, our Assistant Barn Manager, and Mari, presented a workshop on line lining that included instructional games and the experience of long lining Mari’s two Friesian horses, whom she trailered all the way down to Los Angeles. It was a quality, educational conference, with the experience providing new ideas to augment Xenophon’s wonderful programs.