Author Archives: Mari Parino

Scouts are Busy at Xenophon

Xenophon has been lucky to be the beneficiary of two scout Eagle Projects this fall. Our young volunteer, Capri Filippenko, took on the project of winterizing the footing in one of our small paddocks above the roundpen. This area is needed to house horses in the winter, but in year’s past it became a mud pit due to poor soil. Capri’s project included leveling of the area, coordinating with 2 of Xenophon’s “fix it” men for placement of retaining wall blocks, then calculating and ordering materials. Lastly, donning shovels and gloves, all the new footing had to be moved into the paddock, evenly spread and tamped down. We now have horses housed in that area and it has held up beautifully through the first rain.

Danny Goldwyn’s project was the building of a new large pasture pasture on the back hill area of the center. This was a huge undertaking, requiring the setting of wood posts, placement of t-posts, stringing of hot wire, installing gates and installing the solar charging panel.

We are incredibly grateful for these dynamic, hardworking young people and that they chose Xenophon as the recipient of the Eagle Scout projects. Thank you Danny and Capri! Our horses thank you as well!

2024 Drive-Thru Crab Feed!

Join Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center for our 4th Annual Drive-Thru Crab Feed! Order online by February 4th. Pick-Up is from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm Friday, February 9th, at the barn, 60 Don Gabriel Way, Orinda.

Our Crab Feed Dinner for Two includes two fresh crabs, cleaned and cracked, a large Caesar salad with croutons and dressing, a Semifreddi’s baguette, and cookies… all bagged together for a luxurious feast with friends. If you need more crab, we offer an additional bag of crab that comes with two fresh crabs cleaned, cracked, and bagged separately. You can also add the outstanding “Boston style” clam chowder to your order. A real crowd pleaser, the soup is 32 oz of heavenly ambrosia. Treat yourself to a mouthwatering seafood banquet with all the comforts of home!

Dinner for Two: $100

2 Fresh Dungeness Crabs
Caesar Salad
Sourdough Baguette
Artisan Baked Cookies

Additional bag of Crab $60
Clam Chowder (32 oz) $25

Orders $185 and over will receive a bottle of wine to complete your meal!

Order online by Sunday, February 4th!

If you place an order, look for an email from us on Wednesday 2/7 with directions and a map for pick-up on Friday 2/9/24.

Thank you to our sponsors: Diablo Foods, Eric and Megan Lindberg.

We are proud to be a part of the Lamorinda community for 30 years, serving children, adults, and veterans with disabilities by providing a therapeutic place to enjoy both physical and mental benefits from our herd.

Tips for Change a Huge Success!

There is a tiny restaurant in San Ramon, doing REALLY big things. Every Monday, a day that the restaurant is closed, Gianni’s Italian Bistro opens it’s restaurant up to non-profits for a “Tips for Change” fundraiser. In a nutshell, the non-profit provides the wait staff for the night, invites all the diners who come to dinner, then Melanie and Gianni Bartoletti give the non-profit all the tips earned that night and 10% of the food sales. This tiny restaurant has awarded millions of dollars to their community.

Xenophon has been fortunate to participate in this amazing fundraiser for about 10 years. Members of our Board of Directors, husbands of board members, staff members, and volunteers all leave their day jobs to don an apron, grab some order pads, and figure out how to serve drinks and dinner without spilling on their customers. Good-natured razzing of servers by the customers who know them is all part of the evening fun. The best part of the evening is the amazing Italian food that comes from the kitchen.

This year, Xenophon raised $7,839!! A huge thank you goes out to our donor who matched funds up to the $3,000 for the evening. But every single tip and dinner purchased made a difference. You helped us reach our goal and then some! You also made the whole evening a lot of fun. And of course, a big thank you to all of our servers who worked so hard: Danielle, Greg, Lisa, Laura, Linda, Melissa, Peter, and Rebecca.

Giving Tuesday Goal Reached! Thank you to our donors!

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday. We certainly are deluged around the Thanksgiving holidays. Then, we add Giving Tuesday in there. While it certainly adds to the fray, it is also a huge benefit for non-profits. How great is a day where folks are made aware of all the wonderful work that is going on around them. We realize that people have many choices of well-deserving non-profits to donate to on that day. We are so incredibly grateful to all of our donors who chose Xenophon. Your dollars will go to directly benefit the life-changing services we offer: our Therapeutic Riding and Therapeutic Services program for children, our Operation Hooves on the Ground serving veterans, Connected Horse helping those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, and Alumni Camp, serving young adults. Thank you for helping make the magic happen at Xenophon. You are helping us change lives.

Xenophon wins numerous awards at the PATH International conference: Linda Parsons takes the International award!

Congratulations go out to our Barn and Facility Manager, Linda Parsons. Linda won the PATH International Equine Caretaker of the Year! Linda was first awarded Equine Caretaker for Region 11, then went on to be awarded the International title as well. This was no small feat, as Linda had some very stiff competition from the other regional winners. Long-time Xenophon volunteers remark that “the center’s horses and facilities have never been better, and a culture of continuous improvement is attributable to Linda’s focus on constant review and implementation of new practices and procedures to benefit the horses, as individuals or as a group. Customized exercise, feeding and treatment plans are developed as needed, and the volunteer barn staff is always made aware of each animal’s change in status to provide the best possible support.” Linda came on board with Xenophon in 2014. During that time she has expanded her knowledge ten-fold. Our horses have benefitted from knowledge, along with her gentle touch. We could not be more proud or grateful to have Linda overseeing the care of our horses.

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International, is the governing body for therapeutic riding centers in the US. They set industry standards, provide certification for professionals, and accredit those centers meeting the pinnacle safety standards. Xenophon has been a premiere accredited center with Path for most of its existence.

Dr. Michael O’Brien

Each year, PATH holds a national conference. Included in that are awards for professionals within the industry, outstanding riders and veterans, outstanding horses, and awards for veterinarians who serve centers in their area. This year, in addition to Linda winning the International award, our veterinarian, Michael O’Brien won Veterinarian of the year for Region 11. Dr. O, as he is fondly called around the center, has been caring for the Xenophon horses free of charge for over 20 years. There are not enough words of thanks for all that Dr. O’Brien has done to keep the Xenophon herd healthy.


Our horse, Ozzie, also won Region 11 Therapy Horse of the Year. For those of you who know Ozzie, he is 25 and still going strong, loving his job and happily serving the many riders and participants that come through the center. He has been working at Xenophon for over 13 years. Ozzie is a character, and though small in stature he is bossman of the herd.

Xenophon is proud to continue to receive national recognition within our industry. In past years we have had an International Professional of the year, Region 11 Professional of the Year (twice), Region 11 and International Horse of the Year, Region 11 and International Junior Rider of the Year. It is an indication of the high quality of staff and programs that we offer.


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we would like to thank all of you have continued to support Xenophon and who have made it possible for us to do the important work we do for over 30 years.  We have continued to provide life-changing therapies for children with disabilities through our Therapeutic Riding program and our Therapeutic Services program, our Alumni Camp, our Veteran’s program, and our Alzheimer’s and Dementia program (Connected Horse). As you can see, we are working hard to meet the needs of our community and to change lives.

None of this work would be possible without the support of you, our donors and volunteers, who work so tirelessly alongside our staff and our horses.  You make our unique programs possible.  YOU are changing lives. 

But there is more work to be done.  We would like to continue to expand our veteran outreach and build funding for that program.  We need to continue to spread the word about Connected Horse so that more caregivers can find support as they try to navigate the difficult pathway through the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  As we do so, we need to provide additional staffing to that effort.  We also need to continue to provide the best possible care to our equine herd, and purchase much needed equipment, because without the horses, there would be no programs. 

This coming Tuesday, November 28th, is Giving Tuesday, a time when people show their support for the programs they love.  Please consider showing your support for Xenophon.  We have a donor who has committed to match any donated funds from that day, up to $3,000.  Please help us meet that goal so we can make the most of this incredible opportunity.  Perhaps your employer will match your donation.

Giving is easy, simply clink on the link below.  We will keep you posted on how we do!  Thank you for joining us in our efforts to provide our much-needed services.

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


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!

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.