Catholic Charities Eagleson Equestrian Center

Catholic Charities Eagleson Equestrian Center

Animals have an extraordinary way of reaching children, particularly those who have experienced deep pain associated with loss and trauma. Catholic Charities Eagleson Equestrian Center is home to 15 horses, chickens, goats, guinea pigs, and two barn cats and is uniquely suited to serve youth who have faced hardship. Equestrian activities are supervised by trained Natural Lifemanship Equestrian professionals with a vast array of horse experience and extensive training in trauma informed care. Youth help groom the horses, care for all the animals and ride the horses in the arena as well as on guided trails throughout the campus. The equestrian program offers youth the opportunity to learn horsemanship skills emphasizing relationships and pro social skill building.

Equestrian activities are supervised by trained Natural Lifemanship Equestrian professionals with a vast array of horse experience and extensive training in trauma-informed care.

The Eagleson Equestrian Center is now serving youth and young adult clients throughout the Bay Area who would benefit from equine therapeutic services. The program collaborates with nonprofits serving youth, including Winston Prep, a school in Marin that serves students with various learning differences, including non-verbal learning disorders (NVLD) and executive
functioning difficulties.

For more client information about Catholic Charities Eagleson Equestrian Center, contact

Reanne Ostrander, Program Director at: RRemlinger@CatholicCharitiesSF.org


Reanne Ostrander, Program Director of Eagleson Equestrian Center, has over 10 years of experience working at the Center and is currently pursuing her master’s in social work with a concentration in mental health and trauma. Reanne manages the daily care of all animals, facility care and needs, donor and community engagement, client contact and scheduling. The
Center’s Program Assistant, Danielle Lim, has a variety of horse experience including leading trail rides in Montana to instructing clients in Switzerland to learn Dressage, Vaulting and other types of competitive horsemanship. Danielle is integral to caring for the animals, making sure their needs are met, and co-facilitating sessions with youth.

The equestrian facility was named the Eagleson Equestrian Center after Kent Eagleson, Director Emeritus of Catholic Charities St. Vincent’s School for Boys, which continues to serve severely traumatized youth since its founding in 1853. Kent spent a lifetime helping boys heal and grow to their potential. In recognition of his retirement from over 53 years of service, Catholic Charities honored Kent by unveiling the Catholic Charities Eagleson Equestrian Center at St. Vincent’s School for Boys in 2018. Kent remains an unwavering supporter of the equestrian program and regularly helps to raise funds and, occasionally, to clean stalls.

Meet Javier

Meet Javier

Javier is an 11-year-old boy who is outgoing, smart and funny. He struggles with provoking others, has difficulty maintaining positive and safe relationships, following directions and taking responsibility for his actions. On Javier’s first day at the barn, he did not listen, often interrupted and made many negative comments. The one, largely, positive interaction he had on his first day of group was with ‘Tony the Pony’. Javier calmly walked up to him, gently gave him pets on his neck and his hard exterior seemed to melt away in Tony’s presence. For the next group, Javier had written an apology letter to our staff, saying sorry for his negative comments and promising to try his best to have a better attitude. As the weeks went on, Javier displayed improvement in his peer interactions as well as his interactions with staff. He was more communicative of his needs and demonstrated the ability to make compromises with his peers. He showed his ability to be a leader amongst his peers and would even go out of his way to offer support to someone he saw having a difficult time. By the end of their 8-week session, Javier showed up as a respectful and accountable young man, who still loved to spend time with ‘Tony the Pony’.

Horse Story: Cowboy
Cowboy has lived at The Eagleson Equestrian Center for almost 2 decades and retired a little over 10 years ago due to a degenerative bone disease called Navicular. Although Cowboy is retired from riding, he contributes to the program with his desire to be close to people and his love for being pampered. He is often the horse we bring out when a client is feeling nervous about riding and they can groom, bathe, feed or spend quality time with him. Cowboy is also a wonderful companion to our older horses; he has always been drawn to protect them and keep them company. When his best friend Bo passed away, Cowboy was devastated but he has now become the loyal companion of our oldest horse Savannah. He can often be seen grazing near her and will put himself in between her and any perceived danger.