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National Center For Equine Assisted Therapy (NCEFT)

GUARDIAN PROFILE - Last Updated: 01/23/2017



Chief Staff Officer:  Gari Merendino

Employees:   Full-Time:  8  Part-Time:  16  Volunteers:  150

Does your organization utilize a management company for management and administration? No

Describe your training process for employees and volunteers and the types of human resource documents used in your organization including job descriptions, evaluations, etc. Staff: Staff policy manual, job descriptions, annual reviews, monthly staff meetings, weekly team meetings, periodic enrichment trainings.
Volunteers: Approximately weekly volunteer on-boarding training, one-on-one training ongoing.

Governing Body:

Board meetings per year:  12

Number of Board Members:  13  Number of Voting Board Members:  13

Board Compensation:

Is Board Chair compensated?  No  Is Treasurer compensated?  No

Are there any other Voting Board Members that are compensated?  Yes

If yes, provide the name, title and responsiblility of each VOTING Board member who is compensated: Gari Merendino, Board Secretary, is the Executive Director of NCEFT and is compensated in that capacity.

Board Relationships:

Are any members of the Board or Staff related to each other through family or business relationships? No

Board Affiliations:

Are any Board members or Staff associated with and/or compensated by another organization with a relationship or business affiliation to your organization? No

Conflict of Interest:

Does your organization have a written conflict of interest policy and regularly and consistently monitor and enforce compliance with the policy, including requiring officers, directors or trustees, and key employees to disclose annually interests that could give rise to conflicts?  Yes


1. What percent of your total programs and services are horse-related? 100

2. Describe your specific horse-related programs services or activities:
     We provide hippotherapy (physical, occupational or speech therapy done on/with horses), adaptive riding and other equine-assisted therapy programs to children, adults and military veterans with a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities. NCEFT is the only Northern California facility member of the American Hippotherapy Association, and differentiates itself from other equine-facilitated therapy centers by specializing in hippotherapy and offering the most extensive hippotherapy program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NCEFT's programs fall into five major categories: Hippotherapy, Adaptive Riding, Veterans Programs, Equine-Assisted Mental Health and Learning Programs and School Programs.

Hippotherapy is specialized physical, occupational and speech therapy in which board-certified therapists use horses as dynamic platforms to deliver therapy. Patients receive medically prescribed PT, OT and SLP; they are simply on a horse instead of a cold, sterile piece of clinical equipment. The movement of the horse creates sensory input that helps the patient improve balance, core strength, sensory integration and self-esteem.

Adaptive Riding teaches horsemanship and riding, but instruction is adapted to meet the needs of someone with a mental or physical disability or injury. The unique combination of recreation and education facilitates cognitive, physical and behavioral rehabilitation.

Veterans programs, coordinated with local Veterans Administrations, make a profound difference for military Veterans and active-duty personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress or other mental or physical impairments. Our equine-assisted activities enable recovery, offer healing and the mastery of new skills, and restore strength, confidence and independence. NCEFT never charges Veterans for services, and we receive no governmental funding. Instead we rely 100% on donations to fund our Veterans Programs.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy and other mental-health exercises bring together teams of certified mental health professionals, qualified equine specialists and horses to benefit individuals emotionally, mentally and behaviorally.

School programs provide field-study learning for children in special education classes. We serve several local school districts as well as independent schools that specialize in educating children with disabilities.

3. Enter the total number of facilities/locations where the horses used in the conduct of your horse-related programs are housed and cared for: 1

4. Describe your non-horse-related programs, services or activities you provide, including those involving other animals. In addition to our horses and donkeys, we occasionally use dogs and chickens in programs such as our summer camp.

5. Does your organization operate programs involved with animals other than horses?  Yes


1. Describe your equine management philosophies, practices, policies and operations with respect to the use of the horses in your program, including the rehabilitation and retraining (if applicable), ongoing training, schooling and exercising plan for each horse and your policy as to the number and condition of the horses accepted by your organization. 
     As a general rule, NCEFT has 12 to 15 therapy horses working and in training. Our commitment to our horses is to create a safe and healthy environment where they can help our clients address physical and emotional challenges. Each horse is schooled daily to maintain condition and each of them has a minimum of two full days off each week. Every 9 or 10 weeks the horses have a week off from participation in hippotherapy sessions. We have 24/7 onsite care for our horses.

2. Describe how your horses are acquired (adoption, seizure, surrender, donation, purchase, auction sale, retirement). 
     Most of NCEFT's horses are donated, but we have also purchased horses that are considered ready and appropriate for our therapy program with little training. On occasion, we lease a horse from a private owner who retains ownership. In this scenario, we provide all care for the leased horses, including shoeing/trimming, regular vaccinations and dental work. Major veterinary expenses are shared with the owner.

3. Describe under what circumstances horses leave your organization. Please describe in detail your horse adoption/fostering practices and procedures including any recruitment initiatives you have to attract potential adopters. Please include your policies and practices with respect to horses that are no longer useful or manageable and horses that need to be retired. 
     A horse that is unable to work without pain is retired by finding them a suitable home. That may mean a horse is still OK for short trail rides, but not the level of work we require. In many cases, they become stable mates or pasture pals. If a horse is being leased, we ask to return that horse to the owner. If they do not want the horse, we keep it until we can find a suitable home.

4. For new horses, describe your initial assessment process for each horse (i.e. physical examination, test ride, health record, Coggins test, quarantine, veterinary consult, etc.). 
     Our barn manager and program director evaluate each new horse in the horse’s home environment. That evaluation takes into consideration both their physical and mental suitability for therapy work, as well as the horse's overall temperament. They may ride the horse as well. All horses come to NCEFT on a trial basis to determine their suitability for our programs. If there are physical concerns, we have our veterinarian do a full vet check of the horse.

5. Describe your overall horse health care plan and how you assess and monitor the health of your horses on an ongoing basis. Include a description of your vaccination and worming schedule. Include a description of your health/veterinary care plan for at-risk animals, geriatric horses and horses with serious issues. 
     Our horses are evaluated each day on their general health and temperament. All our horses are vaccinated on a regular basis (twice a year) and worming is done on a regular basis as well. Chronic issues such as lameness or soreness are evaluated by our veterinarian and treated with either a reduced work schedule, medications, or both. Supplements are provided for horses that require them for management.

6. What is the euthanasia policy? Please include specifically under what circumstances your organization will euthanize a horse and whether your organization will euthanize a healthy but difficult horse for space: 
     We only euthanize a horse in the case of catastrophic injury or if the horse has a medical condition or disease that causes disabling pain that cannot be effectively managed with rest and reduced work, medication or other treatments.

7. What is the breeding policy? Please include specifically if horses become pregnant while in your care, and if there is a no-breeding clause in the documentation your organization uses to adopt, donate, sell, etc. a horse: 
     This is not applicable.

8. Does your organization provide horses to any facility to use in research or medical training? 

9. If your answer to Question 8 is 'Yes', please explain where and for what purpose horses are provided to use in research or medical training?  NA

10. Does your organization sell, donate or give a horse to an auction? 

11. If your answer to Question 10 is 'Yes', describe under the circumstances where you have sold, donated, or given a horse to an auction, or where you would sell, donate, or give a horse to an auction. NA

12. Does your organization place horses in foster care? 

13. If your answer to Question 12 is 'Yes', describe how foster homes are selected, screened, and monitored and address all the questions below for each foster home in the space provided: NA

14. What is the average equine adoption fee/donation received by your organization: Not applicable; None received

15. Adoption Fee Policies
  Not applicable; Fees are not collected; Horses are not offered for adoption.

16. What is your position regarding varying adoption fees vs. one set fee:
  Our organization has never considered this concept.

17. Provide any additional explanation to your answers if needed:


This section must be completed for each facility/location where the horses used in the conduct of your horse-related programs are housed and cared for. For example, if the applicant is involved with horse rescue and utilizes foster care facilities, the applicant must complete this section for each foster care facility. If the applicant provides equine assisted activities/services to the public at more than one location, the applicant must complete this section for each location that horse-related services are provided. If your organization uses the facility of another organization, please enlist the aid of that organization in answering the questions.

Total facilities at which our organization operates horse-related programs: 1


Location 1 of 1

880 Runnymede Rd. Woodside CA 94062

1. Facility General Questions

1. Name of Contact: Gari Merendino

2. Contact's Phone: 650-851-2271

3. Contact's Email: gari@nceft.org

4. Does your organization own, lease or use a part of this facility? Own

5-8. Not Applicable.

9. Does your organization operate programs involving horses AT THIS FACILITY that serve individuals with special needs, including but not limited to equine assisted activities and therapies? Yes

10. Enter the total number of instructors/trainers (full-time and part-time) involved with your organization's horse-related programs at this facility: 2.

2. Facility Horse-Related Questions

1. Enter the total acreage dedicated specifically to the horses: 12

2. Describe the number and type of pastures and paddocks, fencing, enclosures, stabling including barns and run-in sheds. NCEFT has a single main barn with 10 12X20 stalls, four stall/paddock barns (paddocks are 24X24 attached to 12X12 enclosed stalls), five turnouts, four acres of pasture, and one 75X175 covered arena and one 135X200 outdoor arena.

3. Describe how you manage the use of your pastures/paddocks given the size and number of your pastures/paddocks and the number of horses you have at this facility.
     Each horse has turnout time each day. Turnout time is managed by barn staff or onsite caretakers. We also have a four-horse hot walker.

4. How many hours of daily turnout do the horses get? (Estimate or Average) 1-

5. Describe the area where your training, riding and equine related activities are conducted, including what type of footing/surface is utilized and what factors were considered to determine the suitability and condition of the area for the activities conducted.
     We use the two arenas mentioned above (one covered, the other outdoor). Each has a sand-and-felt based footing that is treated to be dust free and watered on a regular basis. The indoor arena has LED lighting available, and each arena is dragged a minimum of once each day or more if needed. For some of our programs, such as summer camp, school programs and equine-assisted mental health and learning, we also utilize horse turn-outs. The turn-outs have sand footing. The condition of the turn-outs is evaluated prior to any session in which they will be utilized and appropriate actions are taken to ensure the comfort and safety of the horses and people who will be using them. For example, we frequently drag the turn-outs prior to using them for the mounted portion of our school programs for special education classes.

6. Is the facility in compliance with the Care Guidelines for Rescue and Retirement Facilities prepared by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (whether or not your organization is directly involved with rescue and retirement)? No

7. If no, please explain and specifically describe the areas in which the facility is not compliant.
     We would need to review the requirements in detail, but we are not directly involved with rescue and retirement as a primary focus. However, we have been approved by Stanford University and San Mateo County as a facility to house horses from the community in an emergency.

8. If this facility is recognized as compliant with the published standards of another applicable organization, and/or accredited by another applicable organization, including any state licensure or registration process, please provide the details.
     We have a current professional stable license from the Town of Woodside. We are members in good standing of the American Hippotherapy Association and past members of PATH International.

9. Describe the availability/accessibility of emergency horse transportation at this facility.
     We have several horse trailers on site and have a close association with the Mounted Search and Rescue division of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Dept. In addition, past NCEFT Board of Directors members are active in the large animal rescue organization of San Mateo County.

10. Do the horses have specific tack assignments? Yes

11. Describe the plan, process and/or procedures to insure appropriate assessment of tack and the use for saddle fittings, tack, blankets, etc.
      That is done on a regular basis by our barn manager and barn staff.

12. Describe the system used by your organization to help staff and volunteers readily identify each horse on the property.
     Bridles and pads are color coded for each horse, correctly fitting saddles and girths are listed on a chart for each horse and are evaluated on a regular basis. In addition to the chart, located in our tack room, we also have full-color horse ID posters displayed throughout the property and full-color barn cards on each stall.

13. Describe your housing plan and the turnout process/plan for horses normally stall bound.
     We only have one quarter-pony living in a 12X20 stall. She has turnout time daily in addition to her morning exercise and work schedule.

14. Describe your feed, feed management plan and your guidelines for the use of supplements.
     All of our horses receive a high quality grass hay and supplements each day according to their individual needs/veterinary recommendations.

15. How do you use the Henneke Body Conditioning Score to guide you in your hennekeing/exercising/use practices for each horse?
     Our horses are assessed weekly. Feed, conditioning and workload are adjusted as needed.

16. Please describe your activities to limit or control the advent and spread of disease within your facility (Biosecurity plan). This should include but is not limited to your manure management and disposal procedures, your carcass disposal plan and your parasite control plan. Please indicate the role of your veterinarian in the development and implementation of your overall plan.
     All of our manure is hauled away at least twice weekly. We have an automatic anti-fly spraying system in the main barns and daily treatment of horses that are not in the main barn. Any horse that is euthanized on the premises is taken by a tallow recycling company the same day.

17. Please describe your emergency preparedness plans that address weather related issues, fire safety procedures and/or any additional hazardous scenarios your facility could potentially experience.
     We have an emergency evacuation plan in place that puts our therapy horses into our steel-framed covered arena. We put up to 15 therapy horses in a 75X175 space with four high-powered sprinklers. All other horses on the property are placed into the outside arena, which is 135X200 with four high-powered sprinklers, giving them ample space to be safe from fire.

18. Please describe the security in place at the facility or facilities to restrict public access and to keep horses safe. Do you have a security system and/or on-premises caretaker?
     We have caretakers that live on site in a cottage attached to the main barn at the front of the property, a front-entrance gate that is secured every evening (the only entrance to the property) and signage posted in restricted areas to keep the public out.

19. Provide the contact information for the individual or organization responsible for investigating abuse in the county where the facility is located, including mailing address, email address, and phone information.
     The 20 cities and towns in San Mateo County contract with the County to operate a countywide animal control program. San Mateo County Animal Control & Licensing 225 37th Ave San Mateo, CA 94403 Program Manager: (650) 573-3726 The County contracts with the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS), a private non-profit organization, to enforce all animal control laws, shelter homeless animals and provide a variety of other services. Services provided by Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA 12 Airport Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94401 1450 Rollins Rd., Burlingame, CA 94010 (650) 340-8200

20. Other than the animal control authority noted above, provide the contact information for all local, state and/or national authorities with whom your organization engages to address issues impacting horse welfare, including mailing address, email address, and phone information.
     This is not applicable.

Veterinarian Information

View The Vet Checklist conducted on 01/06/2017

Veterinarian: Wayne Browning

Clinic Name: Bayhill Equine    Street: 123 Belmont Avenue    City: Redwood City  State: CA    Zip: 94061

Phone: 650-851-23    Email: info@BayhillEquine.com

Instructors assigned to this Facility
(see Instructor Section)

     1. Instructor: Darrell Le Blanc, Horse Handler

     2. Instructor: Marty Raynor, Barn Manager

3. Facility Horse-Related Inventory Questions

1-a. Enter the total number of horses involved with your organization's programs that are currently housed at this facility: 15.

1-b. Enter the total number of horses housed at this facility: 30

1-c. Enter the maximum capacity of horses at this facility: 60

2016 Horse Inventory

1-d. Did your organization operate programs involving horses HOUSED AT THIS FACILITY during January 1-December 31, 2016? Please select Yes or No. Yes

Additional explanation:Below is additional explanation: • Our monetary cost for farrier services is zero as the services are provided to us as an in-kind donation. However, we calculated the figure based on what we would be charged if we were paying for the care. That cost would be $30,760. • We interpreted your question about manure removal as including all of our manure management costs. We cannot spread manure - instead, we are required by the Town of Woodside to remove our manure and transport it off our property for disposal, which is a very costly service in our area. We receive a portion of this service as an in-kind donation and pay for the rest of it. We could reduce our figure to only the portion we pay in cash, which is $16,342.55. • We included full-time instructional staff--whose duties include horse training, care and grooming as well as instruction and handling--in our figure for horse care but could reduce the figure to reflect only the person who delivers primary care to the horses (such as regular stall cleaning and feeding). If reduced to that single person, the new figure would be $20,200. • Other direct horse-related costs include items such as base rock, lumber for fencing, other materials, and equipment. We consider this figure to be accurate unless you would view these items as belonging in an overhead category.

16 2-a. Total number of horses housed at this facility involved with your programs on January 1, 2016.

           + 3 2-b. Total number of intakes other than returns including donated, purchased, surrendered or rescued.

           + 0 2-c. Total number of horses returned.

19 = Total of 2a-2c

           - 4 2-d. Total number of horses adopted during the year.

           - 0 2-e. Total number of horses transferred to another facility during the year.

           - 0 2-f. Total number of horses deceased during the year.

4 = Total of 2d-2f

15 2-g. Total number of horses housed at this facility involved with your programs on December 31, 2016.

            15 2-h. Total number of horses not retired including horses undergoing rehabilitation and/or retraining.

            0 2-i. Total number of horses permanently retired.

2016 Horse Care Costs

$32097     Feed (Grain/Hay).

$16520     Bedding.

$6238     Veterinarian.

$30760     Farrier.

$2140     Dentist.

$35717     Manure Removal.

$4914     Medications & Supplements.

$1390     Horse/Barn Supplies.

$94457     Horse Care Staff.

$0     Horse Training.

$11369     Other direct horse-related costs not including overhead or other program costs.

$235602     2016 Total Horse Care Costs

$     2016 Total Donated Horse Care Costs

5475     Grand total of the total number of days each equine was in the care of this facility during 2016.

Average cost per day per horse: $43
Question 3 ($235,602 ) divided by Question 4 (5475).

Average length of stay for an equine: 288 days
Question 4 (5475) divided by total of Questions 2a-c (19).

4. Self Assessment

I. Facility & Grounds

     1. Signage: Are rules, restrictions and warnings posted in or near appropriate areas? All of the time

     2. Lighting: Are rules, restrictions and warnings posted in or near appropriate areas? All of the time

     3. Emergency Contacts: Are emergency contacts posted in easily accessible locations for staff members if only cell phones are available or by each phone if landlines are available? All of the time

      4. First Aid Kits: Are human and equine first aid kits up-to-date and easily accessible? All of the time

B. Structural

      1. Condition of surface: Are horses provided a clean, dry area on which to stand & lay? All of the time

      2. Flooring - drainage & traction: Are floors constructed and maintained for both good drainage and traction? All of the time

      3. Ventilation for enclosed shelters: Is there adequate ventilation and circulation to control temperature and prevent buildup of toxic gases? All of the time

      4. Electrical wiring condition: Is wiring inaccessible to horses and maintained for safety? All of the time

      5. Fire Prevention & protective measures: Are fire prevention and protection measures including fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinkler systems, maintained and in good working order? All of the time

      6. Quarantine/Isolation: Is there a designated and separate area for isolation and quarantine? Yes

      7. Ill/injured containment: If horses live outside, is there a designated and separate area (stall or enclosure) to house ill/injured horses? Yes

      8. Are the horses housed in stalls/enclosures? Yes-Most of the time

      8-a. If yes, Stall/enclosure size: Do structures allow horses to lie down, stand up and turn around? All

      8-b. If yes, Stall/enclosure cleanliness: How often are stalls/enclosures cleaned? 6-7 days a week

      8-c. If yes, Adequate ceiling & beam height: Is there a minimum of 12 inches above the tip of the horse's ear when standing? All of the time

C. Paddocks/Yard/Pastures/Turnout

      1. Turnout/Exercise Space & opportunity: Is there space and opportunity for horses to exercise or be turned out? All of the time

      2. Fencing - type, height, safety: Are these spaces appropriately fenced? All

      3. Use of electric wire or tape fence: Are electric wires or tape fence visibly marked? Please select 'All or NA' if electric wire or tape fence is not used. All or NA

      4. Condition of fences & gates: Are fences and gates functioning properly by being maintained and repaired when needed? All

      5. Condition of paddock/yard: Are these spaces free from equipment and debris? All

      6. Availability of shelter: Are natural or man-made shelters available to horses for protections from elements? Most of the time

      7. Cleanliness: How often are these spaces cleaned? 4-5 Days a Week

II. Horse Care

      1. Hoof Care: How often is hoof care provided for each horse? Every 1-2 months

      2. Dental Care: How often is dental care provided for each horse? Annually

      3. Physical Examinations: How often is each horse given a physical exam by a veterinarian? Not at all or when issue arises

      4. Horse checks: How often are horses visually and physically checked by personnel at the facility? 6-7 days a week

      5. Food & Water Storage: Are all hay, feed, grain and water sources clean, free of debris and chemicals, and protected from weather and other animals? All of the time

      6. Drinking water: How often do horses have access to clean drinking water? All of the time

6. Public-Related Questions
(required if programs serve individuals with special needs)

1. How many clients participate in the programs at this facility? 135

2. How many hours per week do you operate the horse-related programs at this facility? 40

3. How many weeks per year do you operate the horse-related programs at this facility? 46

4. What is the average wait list time? 3 Months(Weeks/Months/Years)

5. How many hours per day does each horse work? (Estimate or Average)

    Mounted: 1.00  Un-Mounted: 1.00  Total: 2

6. How many days per week does each horse work? (Estimate or Average) 3

7. What percent of your programs and services at this facility are mounted (vs. ground-based)? 80%

8. Provide any additional explanation to your answers if needed. We have an approximately 15 to 20 client wait list with the time on the list dependent upon their availability as well as a number of other factors.

V. Instructors/Trainers

     1. *Instructor: Darrell Le Blanc, Horse Handler

         *Facility Participation:


Is the instructor certified by an organization that provides training in the programs, activities and/or services conducted by the organization? No

     2. *Instructor: Marty Raynor, Barn Manager

         *Facility Participation:


Is the instructor certified by an organization that provides training in the programs, activities and/or services conducted by the organization? No