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Frances Allen’s Desert Roundup—Bob, Beverly Cohen Host Annual Newport Beach Holiday Soirée

Beverly and Bob Cohen

Posted Monday, December 31, 2018 - 2:01 pm

What a wonderful evening in which to celebrate a nautical holiday evening along with the festivities and joy that go with it.

The event was the lavish annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade where decorated vessels – from dinghies to multi-million dollar yachts – took their festive turns around the bay.

Our vantage point was the magnificent bayside estate of Beverly and Robert Cohen, which is lavishly decorated by Bob, with Beverly taking the role of executor producer.

The only thing outshining the boats on that December evening was the Cohen’s love of each other and their friends … the Cohens made it so.

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Pegasus does not horse around with black tie galas … its two primary constituent group—the horses and their riders—would not be impressed. After all, at Pegasus they see miracles happen every day.

However, they do have 24-year-old tradition of gathering together for an Annual Riders Awards Luncheon honoring the clients of Pegasus from all-over the Coachella Valley.

For more than 25 years, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding has provided a place where children and adults of all ages, with all types of disabilities, can come for full-body-range-of-motion exercise on horseback, hence its name: “Equine Therapy.” The walking motion of the horse’s body against human legs, massages all the muscles used in human walking and is an inspiring and exciting experience for those whose life is spent in a wheelchair or with disabilities.

For physically impaired riders, riding, along with mounting and dismounting a horse, helps prevent atrophy from affecting those still-good muscles the rider has.

Mentally challenged riders also benefit emotionally and psychologically from Pegasus’ programs by learning how to concentrate and follow directions along with the sense of accomplishment from being able to steer a large horse.

Those with autism, who make up about 50 percent of Pegasus’ riders, often have difficulty bonding with people, a short attention span and problems communicating. In the riding ring those with autism are able to bond with an animal, developing trust and confidence. Once in the riding ring many of these clients become suddenly attentive and some have found ways to communicate … not a bad little miracle.

Riders come from public sources in the Coachella Valley, such school districts, on-profit organizations like Angel View Crippled Children Foundation, the Palm Springs Stroke Recovery Center, as well as private referrals from physicians and physical therapists. Age is no barrier, Pegasus’ youngest rider is 3 years of age, while the oldest are in their 80s. Neither is anyone turned away because of the severity of his or her disability; all riders at Pegasus make some progress … little miracles all.

Pegasus Therapeutic Riding was founded more than 25 years ago by local philanthropist and horsewoman, Lori Sarner who, while dividing her time between Palm Springs and London, (where she was the only American woman permitted to ride the Queen’s horses), spearheaded a volunteer-based organization where the needs of the riders and horses are paramount. It is because of her drive and personality that she was able to bring together a largely volunteer staff to run the organization.

The force of Sarner’s personality enticed former TV executive, Robin Montgomery, to serve as executive director of Pegasus and transformed Chase Berke, an award-winning graphic designer who had never touched a horse before joining Pegasus as a volunteer about 10 years ago, now rising to Pegasus’ chief operating officer.

There are now more than 100 registered volunteers. All Pegasus volunteers receive special training for their work and are required to have the patience and sensitivity that their jobs demand.

Of course, Pegasus would not have achieved its current level of success without its horses. Each Pegasus horse has been trained to accept riders who might scream, cry, kick, throw their helmets, have tantrums in the saddle and ride with respirators humming.

Every week, from October to May, these horses carry riders through a series of exercise, routines and self-esteem, all while having fun. It’s work that requires constant training as well as gentleness and extraordinary patience on the part of the horse.

Want to learn more about this remarkable organization? It’s on the web at www.pegasusridingacademy.org.

 

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