The Costa Mesa-based Down Syndrome Assn. of Orange County has two full-time and one part-time paid staffers. The rest are volunteers.
It is these volunteers whom parents like Lisa Piraino said they depend on to make the activities fulfilling.
For years Piraino has had her daughter Karina, 14, in programs facilitated through the association. Karina has been participating in a therapeutic horseback riding class for three years, though she is taking a break right now.
Kellie Perez, the association's director of community relations, said the association often recommends the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano, which is funded by donations, but there is also the Back Bay Therapeutic Riding Club in Newport Beach.
Piraino, a Laguna Niguel resident, said she likes the Back Bay group because it is smaller and she is able to know the volunteers on a personal level.
She said the volunteers push Karina to do things that a typical kid could do. They gave her more responsibility on the horse, which allowed her to show her independence.