Category Archives: Center News

The Family that Judy Built

Our Founder, Judy Lazarus 1942 – 2021

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we say good bye to Judy but the family that she built at Xen will last forever. Her warm and giving personality enveloped everyone involved, and her passion was endless. Judy was a horsewoman who understood the healing power of horses and saw a need for an underserved community. She started with a borrowed horse, and two students and with her extraordinary leadership, grew Xenophon to over 60 participants a week. Her story of Xenophon started years before she broke ground in Orinda, digging post holes with a couple hearty friends, and continued as she embraced new friends with her vision of a joyful, fun, safe place for all of us…kids, volunteers, adults, and families…to reap the physical & mental benefits of sharing time with horses. We thank her for the foresight to set up Xen for success, to ensure its sustainability through the people involved, but her legacy is our caring culture where Joy and Family are always the words used to describe how someone feels about Xenophon. She touched so many lives, every one forever changed, forever better.

In Judy’s honor, the family has set up a memorial fund and if anyone is so inclined, you can make a donation to support Xenophon and continue Judy’s passion to provide life-changing experiences for our vulnerable community.

Support Xenophon through the Judy Lazarus Memorial Fund
You can also mail a check to Xenophon TRC at PO Box 16, Orinda, CA 94563

Our Alumni Make Perfect Horse Sense!

Camp Alumni, started in 2020, provides a weekly opportunity for our alumni to enjoy Xenophon while working on their horse skills, teamwork, peer interaction, ranch skills, badges, and more! Their latest badge – Horse Sense, is all about how horses communicate, their body language, and herd dynamics. Hillary & Rebecca came up with fun exercises to experience what our horses are feeling or saying. They put on horse ears and tails and mimicked their favorite horse being angry, bored, curious, and even relaxed & fearful. Eight body parts to read! Then layer on the fact that horses like to be part of a herd, which has one leader and the rest fall into a pecking order below. That can shift on any given day as they test each other, or become buddies. Thankfully horses never hold a grudge!
Our alumni also started a beautification project on the sensory trail… planting succulents in the spiffed up gold bathtub! And on the last day, in front of their parents, they rode their new pattern together and practiced their communication skills using the microphone to share what they learned and enjoyed during this session

Last Day to buy Diamond Raffle tickets is 5/31! WE HAVE A WINNER!

Xenophon’s Silver Jubilee Gala is SOLD OUT!!!

Wow! What a tremendous response we have had! Thank you to all who have bought tickets and will be there to celebrate 25 years of Xenophon changing lives through equine-assisted therapy. We are so excited for this event. We apologize to those who were not able to purchase tickets. Please call our office, (925)377-0871 or email Mari,,  and we can get you on a wait list. Sometimes spots open up. For those of you who have spots reserved through Mari or a table captain, you may still make your payment online. Again, thank you to everyone who has already contributed to the success of this special gala!

Long Liners Get Double the Pleasure From Their Training

While the center may seem quite without the hustle and bustle of lessons, much happens behind the scenes during our winter break. The horses are given exercise and training, as are some of our volunteers. Xenophon continually strives to provide the highest quality programs possible, as well as the safest. As fundamental part of achieving this goal is training for our volunteers.

Our horse handlers play a key role in all of our programs. There is always more to be learned about the subtleties of working with our equine partners. We are blessed to have a group of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals working as horse handlers at the center. One such group, our Long Liners, who handle our horses for Hippotherapy sessions, turned out in force for a training day at the center on December 11, 2018. In Hippotherapy sessions, the horse is driven from behind, rather than lead from the front. In this manner, the horse’s movements can be more controlled, allowing for the consistency and precision needed by the therapist. Finesse and skill are needed in driving the horse. Our Long Liners go through extensive training and continue to work on their skills and connection to the horse through regular training sessions. This is a very dedicated group of volunteers, evidence through their commitment to this 5 hour training day!

Their day consisted of learning the personalities and handling sensitivities of each horse at the center, practicing proper driving techniques, improving their skills through difficult obstacle courses, as well as practicing movements and changes of gait particular to Hippotherapy sessions. Of course, all work and no play is dull and boring, so a wonderful lunch was provided through the generosity of Diablo Foods, and the day ended with the double the fun, as each horse handler got the chance to drive Mari’s pair of Friesians. All in all a great day! Thank you, Long Liners, for coming out and devoting so many hours to Xenophon.

Girl Scouts Lend a Helping Hand

Eight girls from Girl Scout Troop #31773 came to the Xenophon on Saturday, May 6, 2017 to do community service hours. This troop consists of girls from a number of schools, both local and in Danville. Many of these girls have been together since their elementary years at Del Rey School, so they felt a special draw to come to Xenophon. A more delightful group of young ladies was not to be found. They arrived at the center at 11:00 and had the opportunity to watch lessons so that they could see what Xenophon was all about and could meet some of the special children who ride with us. After a picnic lunch,they grabbed paint brushes and rollers and spent the afternoon painting the lower arena fence. They made short work of that job and then put their energies into weeding our planted beds. The center looked so much better at the end of their efforts. They worked hard to return every tool and brush to its original location. A big thank you goes out to this wonderful group of girls.

St. Perpetual School Students Volunteer To Spruce Up The Center

Four students from St. Perpetua School, came out to Xenophon on Saturday afternoon to volunteer their services. Working with their parents and the help of other Xenophon volunteers, the group spent several hours sprucing up our Sensory Trail. With much rain comes many weeds, yet no one seemed daunted by the task of clearing all of them from around the trail. Between Jim Taylor and his mowing tractor, Scott parsons and his industrial weed whacker, and a parent and his weed whacker, along with the hands of the St. Perpetua students, the weeds succumbed quickly. In addition, tree branches trimmed, colorful noodles replaced for our noodle forest, and flowers planted. The trail now looks terrific!

In addition, our upper paddock was cleared of overgrown grass so that the Xen horses can now utilize it overnight. Our pasture across the street was mowed as well by Jim Taylor.
A BIG Thank you to St. Perpetua School students Audrey, Avery, Elizabeth and Evan (as well as parents Jennifer, Bob & Ashley) and to our dedicated Xenophon volunteers Jim Taylor, and Linda and Scott Parsons. We appreciate all of your time and assistance with this project – and battling the heat!

Wine Thieves Hosts Xenophon

You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful evening last night, May 18th, as nearly 50 Xenophon folk gathered at the Wine Thieves in Lafayette for a wonderful wine tasting experience. The temperature was just right and there was no wind. Wine Thieves opened in 1999, and over the course of the years, Jim Meyers, the owner, grew the shop into the successful business that is today. Jim’s focus is to provide unique wines from around the world at an affordable cost, and prides himself on exceptional customer service. Jim graciously opened his downstairs room and patio area just for Xenophon, arranging with several of his distributors to come and pour. There were over 18 wines to be tasted, representing wineries from New Zealand, Austria, Chile, Slovenia, Italy, and France. Closer to home were great varietals from Paso Robles, Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma, and of course, the Napa Valley. To round out the experience, Diablo Foods provided artisan cheeses and gourmet crackers, augmented by nuts and other noshes. Whether it was comparing the fruitful notes of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or sharing stories from the center, there was delightful conversation to be had at every tasting table and bench.

A big thank you goes out to Jim Meyers for providing Xenophon with this great opportunity. Jim will be donating a percentage of the wine sales from the evening to Xenophon. Please check out his shop,, or consider joining one of his wine clubs. Jim often puts on wonderful tasting events for his club members. Thank you, also, to Connie Collier and Diablo Foods for helping us with the food.

If you missed this fun social event, hopefully we will have the opportunity to partner with Jim again in the future.

More pics here!

Samuel Merritt Students Return for Educational Experience

For several years running, Xenophon has provided an educational field experience for students participating in Samuel Merritt University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This program is designed for individuals who hold a non-nursing Bachelor of Science degree. In an intensive 12 months, courses are taken in nursing theory and clinical education. Part of their educational experience is visiting clinics and other treatment-based programs that assist children and adults therapeutically outside of a hospital setting.

Over two Tuesdays, May 9th and May 16th, twenty students came and spent the afternoon at Xenophon. They received a crash course on the benefits of equine-assisted therapies from our Program Director, Danielle Coburn, and then received practical experience by assisting in both Therapeutic Riding lessons and Hippotherapy sessions. Despite the volume of information thrown at them in a short period of time, the feedback from the students is incredibly positive as they appreciate the hands-on experience they receive at the center. The benefit to both organizations is tremendous, as many of these students come back to volunteer at the center. We look forward to hosting another group next year.

Xenophon Receives Grant From Lafayette Community Foundation

Xenophon was recently the fortunate recipient of a grant from the Lafayette Community Foundation (LCF). The Lafayette Community Foundation is comprised of a group of caring citizens dedicated to preserving and enriching the quality of life in Lafyette. Through gifts from their generous donors, the LCF provides financial support and resources to scores of non-profits and organizations serving the Lafayette Community. Xenophon is honored to be among the deserving recipients of the LCF grants, and to have been awarded $1,500.00. These funds will be used to support our “Bridle Paths to Success” program. This program works with adults with disabilities, many of whom come from Las Trampas, a residential program serving adult with disabilities in the Lafayette area. “Bridle Paths” is designed to teach life skills and ranch skills in a nurturing environment while building self-confidence and self-esteem through interactions with our therapy horses. We are grateful to be able to continue to fund this valuable program thanks to the support of the Lafayette Community Foundation.

Welcome Teddy & Dakota!

We like to introduce you to our newest herd members Teddy and Dakota.

Teddy, a 20 year old Quarter Horse gelding, is as sweet as sweet can be. In his prior years Teddy was used as a trail/pleasure horse and has also been used for lessons for children and adults. Teddy will be a great addition to our herd with his playful and easy going personality. His solid gaits will make him a favorite mount for our independent riders. He passed his therapy testing in record time. We are very grateful to Teddy’s owner, Sandy Johnson, for the use of this wonderful horse.

Dakota is a 12 year old Quarter Horse gelding, standing proud at 15.3h. Before his time at Xenophon he was used as a trial and a pleasure horse for the whole family. Having experience with working with a child with disabilities he passed his testing with flying colors. His sweet and easy going personality is a plus and Dakota enjoys hanging out with his herd mates. He has already become a favorite for our students, staff and volunteers.