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Opening the day’s activi- ties at the annual benefi t.


were grown, when Jane was riding and thinking of the children at a nearby shelter for homeless children in San Diego. She he c


wondered if she could help just one child he


“Jane allowed the pony to do most of the talking and challenging. By her third visit the girl was talking and even laughing. Soon after that she was asking if she could bring friends from the shelter to meet ‘her’ pony. Soon others heard of the love and wonders of Jane


and Ron’s little place and how their pony opened hearts and requested visits. Challenge Ranch was born.”


experience what she did as a girl with the pony in the hedged yard…experience the spark a horse’s heart can give a child who feels lost. She knew fi rsthand the way a horse’s spirit can wrap around a lost child and carry them into a happier world. Jane made her fi rst contact with the shelter about 12 years ago, and to her great joy they agreed to allow one young girl to come to Jane and Ron’s home and ride. Jane, always the determined optimist, had already purchased an extra pony, just to be ready. Jane remembers their fi rst ride together. She was a sad, withdrawn lit le girl, too afraid to speak. It was Ron who said, “What this young lady needs is a challenge to engage her.” Jane allowed the pony to do most of the talking and challenging. By her third visit the girl was talking and even laughing. Soon


aſt er that she was asking if she could bring friends


from the shelter to meet “her” pony. Others heard of the love and wonders of Jane and Ron’s lit le place and how their pony opened hearts and requested visits. Challenge Ranch was born. Jane and Ron had never planned to own and operate a ranch complete with 25 horses and


ponies, where scared and troubled children could come to experience the joys of living with horses and the rewards of friendship, teamwork and the responsibility ranch life and horses can teach youngsters. Jane had never imagined anything that wonderful. But the word spread and the requests kept coming. So in 2004 they found the 10 acres now home to Challenge Ranch and became a non-profi t (501c3) organization. Today, children ranging in age from 8 to 18 come to the ranch. Each youngster has issues


to deal with and challenges to meet. Some have never experienced life outside a group home, where each moment and action is carefully monitored and strictly dictated. T ese children learn the glories of being allowed to think for themselves as they do chores, brush and care for the horses and even ride. Games such as “horseback soccer” where the ball is a pillow, and each team member must touch the ball before a goal can be scored, introduce the children to teamwork and trust.


“CUDDLE HORSES” TEACH TRUST Some of the children have suff ered abuse, sometimes the worst kind imaginable. Being


allowed to spend time with a horse, simply sit ing in the stall or brushing them, teaches them touching can be okay. T e fi rst experience the new children have is to be teamed up with a “Cuddle Horse.”


T e kids love to play


Horseball. It is a Chal- lenge Ranch invention


and requires considerable riding skill. Each team has four riders, all must touch


the “ball” (a pillow) before a goal can be scored.


74 | September 2012 • WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US


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