Spirit Horse Ranch: Sharing a love of horses

Rosie Goldstein grew up on Long Island, where her parents owned horses.  Like many little girls, she was obsessed with horses even before she could read, and dreamed of having her own horse.  When she was five years old she got her first pony and was taught how to ride and care for it. 
When she was eight, her Dad won the concession to give wagon rides in the Children’s Farm at the new Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair. 
The park included many of the original exhibits built for the Fair, as well as new attractions like the Children’s Farm, complete with cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens and a horse barn.  You could milk the cows, shear the sheep, and take a wagon ride around the park.  This was a popular attraction, and as the children waited in line for a ride, Rosie would bring a pony over for the kids to pet.  Many of the inner city kids had never touched a horse before.  This is where she began to see the power and impact horses had on children.
Her Dad offered wagon rides at the park for five years, and Rosie worked right alongside him.  When their contract was up, they relocated the ponies to their farm on Long Island.  Her Dad then got involved in racing Quarter Horses, but they continued to offer Pony Parties to local families and he always encouraged Rosie to start her own pony business.
In 1990, after she lost her Dad, she followed his lifelong dream for her and began Blue Ribbon Pony Farm, providing ponies for birthday parties and events.  As her business grew, she moved to a larger place on Long Island to accommodate the number of horses and ponies she had and began offering riding lessons, as well as summer pony camps.  Rosie has always loved sharing her love of horses, and watching how much the experience benefited the children.
In 2002, Rosie and Gil moved to Asheboro, bringing with them three horses, eight ponies and a donkey.  She continued to offer ponies for birthday parties here on a limited basis, while working full-time at Home Depot in Greensboro.
In 2006, Rosie became involved with Spanish Mustangs and fell in love with them. She wants to help preserve the breed and raise awareness of them.  They are a rare breed and an important part of our country’s history.  For more information, Rosie has added a section on her website that goes into detail about the Spanish Mustangs and the importance of preserving the breed.  She bred her mare to another Spanish Mustang and that baby started her on a training quest that allowed her to meet and ride with some amazing horsemen. In 2012, she took a ground work training session with Greg Eliel.  In 2013 she rode in clinics with Peter Campbell, rode with Buster McLaury in 2014, as well as Greg, and in 2015 rode with Buck Brannaman. Rosie feels that training should be on going, and she continues to ride in clinics and follow this method of natural horsemanship.


For over 10 years Rosie has harbored the dream of opening Spirit Horse Ranch, an Education Center and Spanish Mustang Preserve, focused on bringing horses into children’s lives. She wants to work with local schools since they know which children can benefit the most from these programs. On May 1, 2017 Spirit Horse Ranch will officially open. 
She is a member of PATH International, the leading organization for equine therapy and therapeutic riding. She just completed PATH’s training for Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning.  She can conduct Equine Assisted Learning classes, which includes equine facilitated activities incorporating the experience of equine/human interaction in an environment of learning or self-discovery.  Also, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, which requires a mental health professional to accompany Rosie during classes.  This will encompass a variety of equine activities, but the activities are not the goal, rather, these activities will assist reaching the psychotherapy goals set by the mental health professional and client.  Rosie would also like to develop a program to help battered/abused women and children, as well as those in the foster care system.
She will begin offering after school and summer reading programs using the horses in an indirect way to teach children that exercise and proper nutrition are important building blocks for a healthy mindset. Equine assisted activities and learning involve a direct partnership with horses to help connect children with nature and the outdoors, which will help them improve muscle strength, fitness, and posture, become more receptive to active learning, more proficient in reading, comprehension and vocational skills, personal outlook, self-esteem and self-expression.  There have been many studies on the effectiveness of this method of using horses to educate, and Rosie has seen firsthand how this can impact and improve a child’s life.
She will offer riding lessons, but these will encompass a lot of work prior to a child ever sitting on a horse, including learning how to work safely with a horse on the ground, how to read a horse’s body language, and how to properly approach a horse to harness and saddle them.  Then classes will move on to saddle work, and developing a relationship or partnership with a horse so when you ask something of the horse, it wants to go and do for you, not just learning how to “control” the horse.


Rosie will assist current horse owners with tailored training classes to help them work with their horses, and if you are looking to purchase a horse, she can help you figure out which horse is right for you, based on what you are looking to do with the horse, and also your skill level.  Helping people helps horses in the long run and that is Rosie’s passion.
Working with a local student at UNCG, Marie Pastorino, who is studying psychology, with a minor in sociology, they hope to come up with a system that evaluates the children’s development through the program, and tracks their progress.  Creating a program that caters to each child’s individual desired outcome, whether it’s reading more, behavioral issues, or even teaching them how important good nutrition is, in a way they understand and can relate to.  Marie’s mom works with Rosie at Home Depot and Marie has been coming out to the Ranch since she was 15, helping take care of the horses and riding.
Rosie was fortunate enough to meet Debbie Lee, who is retired and loves horses.  Debbie volunteers at the Ranch, taking care of the horses and keeping the property and barn clean. She started riding when she was three, and it’s been in her blood ever since. 
“I’m retired, but being able to work with the horses on a daily basis keeps me in shape and moving.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer here and be around the horses.”
Rosie’s head trainer, Hannah Berky, found out about the program through a mutual acquaintance.  She graduated in December from A & T University with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science.  She started working with Rosie part–time over the winter, and will work into a full-time position as the Ranch gets started. 
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet.  I’ve always loved horses and wanted to find a job working with them.  This is right up my alley, and I’m so excited to be working with Rosie at Spirit Horse Ranch.”


Another volunteer is Riley Smith.  She discovered Rosie through her Dad’s connection to Gil.  She is currently taking lessons, and improving her riding skills.  She was introduced to riding when she was four, and really got serious about riding when she was eight.  She will be volunteering at the Ranch over the summer helping with the horses.
Brenna Bestmann recently moved here from Florida.  She’s been riding all her life and when she got to Asheboro, she immediately Google’d ‘horses/barns’ in or near Asheboro and Rosie’s name came up right away.  She is taking lessons to improve her horsemanship and volunteering at the Ranch.
“I’m looking forward to getting to spend time with all the horses.”


Spirit Horse Ranch has a small Board of Directors made up of local community leaders and educators: Brent Scarlett, DVM, June Caviness, Lorraine Smith, and Dottie Davis, who is from the Asheville area but has vast experience with horses.  Also a member of the board, Dr. Patricia Vinocur, a local pediatrician, who feels strongly that this is something that is needed here and will greatly benefit her patients and the community. 


The Ranch has an original tobacco barn on the property, and Rosie has consulted with Mark Trollinger, who renovated The Table Farmhouse Bakery in downtown Asheboro. Rosie wants to preserve a part of Randolph County’s tobacco history and keep the feel of the old barn with its well preserved hand cut logs, while adding much needed room, and a covered porch with a great view of the riding area. 


May 6th Spirit Horse Ranch is holding its first Open House and fundraiser, offering the community a chance to tour the barn, meet the horses and ponies, and learn more about the programs.  There will be a drawing for raffles prizes and t-shirts for sale. All donations are tax deductible.


To learn more about the program, contact Rosie at RGoldstein@SpiritHorseRanchNC.org, call her at 336.736.0640 or visit their website at www.SpiritHorseRanchNC.org. 

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