About Us

Located oceanside in beautiful La Selva Beach, South Santa Cruz County, California, our fabulous Equestrian Center offers a year round program for all ages and ability levels, including those with special needs.

Our programs range from beginner to advanced; English and Western styles of riding. We are a full inclusion facility, providing support when needed.

Our non-profit 501(c)3 organization is run by qualified equestrian instructors, each with years of experience.

Our volunteers include UCSC and Cabrillo College students, local Junior and Senior High School students, Boy Scouts, and local members of the community.

We are located within a private, gated campus surrounded by organic farms. Our covered, lighted arena is 15,000 square feet (over 1/3 acre) with sand footings. Our brand new, huge outdoor arena is dubbed the "Sunset Arena". We offer a full schedule of exciting barn activities, clinics, and classes year round.

We are a recognized United States Pony Club Riding Center for Northern California. More about Pony Club

Horse near the begining of a trail ride

Mission Statement

We encourage and enable participants of every ability level to reach their full potential in a safe, nurturing, fully inclusive environment. We promote and cultivate community participation in all aspects of our working horse ranch, the Barn, and its extended life skills programs.

Horses with monterey bay ocean in background

Vision Statement

Specail Needs individual Feeding Horse

To continue to build programs that are diversified, interesting and challenging to stimulate a population of children and adults with special and behavioral needs. To have an increase of special needs individuals move from total support to being mentors and eventually employees/volunteers themselves. To provide an ever-growing number of families and their special needs children a world built to nurture and reach the most challenging of situations.

Statement of Purpose

MBHTC, non-profit 501(c)3, believes all persons can

  1. be taught respectful and appropriate behavior
  2. learn health and safety skills essential to reach full potential.

By utilizing the framework of the Barn, a multitude of opportunities to teach these skills can be set-up in a seemingly natural, non-clinical manner.

Special Needs Individual on bike with Staff

Our History

How We Started...

On a sunny afternoon at the end of 2001 Cecil Razor from Monterey Bay Academy took Anne Phipps, Gail Wright, and Barbara Pearson on a tour of a run down, old dairy facility filled with old buses, tires, and junk. Holes shot in the huge roof cover brought streams of sunlight to the dreary interior. They immediately saw the potential of what could be done - they saw through the dilapidated dairy facility as a diamond very much in the rough. Anne and Gail along with a few students approached MBA's Board and asked if they could start a riding program. Our ambassador, Brett Wright, stole the show when he asked the Board (nervously) "Thank you (for letting) me ride". They smiled and unanimously agreed to allow us to lease the property. The Barn was born!

We started in Tumble Town, an area just below the existing Barn, while working on the upper Barn for habitation. Classes started being held three times a week with more teens taking an interest in volunteering. We provided a trail ride for a local special needs school and offered field trips for other schools. The Barn was slowly being transformed - it was cleared out, cleaned up, fences built, ocean side stalls installed, inside arena walls put in, paddocks created, and the grand finale' - the inside arena footings and sand installed.

One stormy afternoon in November 2002 the horses were moved up into their newly built stalls. How would they handle this new, strange environment, especially on such a stormy day? They loved it. All was well!

As time went on, horses and equipment were donated; the phone line put in; the modular donated and moved to its current location and completely remodeled; the modular deck donated and built, including stairs, ramp, wood and glass surrounds; the arena wheel chair ramp installed; the bleachers installed; concrete poured just about everywhere; electricity run to the modular; electrical upgraded; arena lights installed; stall lighting installed (remember trying to put on horse blankets in the dark!). This all took years. Anne concentrated on the Operations of the Barn while Gail concentrated on the Finance and Administration of Barn business.

In 2004 the name was changed to Monterey Bay Horsemanship & Therapeutic Center to better reflect the organization. That year we also became a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. In 2005 we became a vendor for San Andreas Regional Center, opening the door for individuals with special needs to access services. In 2007 a U.S. Department of Education Grant was awarded (thank you Pamela Endsley!) to allow us to increase capacity. This we did!

The dairy and cows finally moved out and growth continued. Now the leeward side of the Barn could be cleaned up and converted to stalls, tack rooms, shavings bunker, equipment room. The center of the Barn had a med shed built, the bistro built, and multiple decks. The outdoor fenced lounge area created, flower garden, classroom, east side paddocks, plexi-glass siding, dumpster bunker, Mane Street Tack, feed room, Pony Club tack room, camp rooms. We became a vendor for Ocean Grove Charter School; a United States Pony Club Riding Center; a vendor for the Veterans Administration, Palo Alto; a vendor for Pajaro Valley Unified School District.

Recent additions include Timmy's gate, new entryway, outside arena, outside arena watering system, teaching platform and ramp, and enclosing the old dairy cow/calf barn to prepare for installing a gym/sensory integration room. By the end of 2013 the gym will be available for classes and activities. Just in time for winter storms - a nice, safe, fun place to be.

We are not affiliated with Monterey Bay Academy (MBA). We lease approximately 6-1/2 acres from MBA. All improvements have been through private donations, grants, and volunteers secured solely by MBHTC.

Trail ride on bluff with monterey bay in background Horse and its newborn feeding Oceanfront scenery with pond right by barn entrance