The R.I.D.E. Foundation Hug A Horse Halloween Open House!

Oct 1, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Helping Hands, Lorie Lewis Ham, Reedley News

by Lorie Lewis Ham

As the Halloween season begins, KRL likes to look for fun and unique Halloween events coming up in the area and recently I came across one that involved wild mustangs—the R.I.D.E. Halloween Hug A Horse event. We recently chatted with the founder and CEO of the R.I.D.E. Foundation, Sarah Muzquiz, to find out exactly what RIDE is and about their interesting Halloween event!

KRL: Can you tell us exactly what RIDE is and how it came to be?

Sarah: The RIDE Foundation was formed to help both people and horses. A family friend, Russel, was the first person I helped who had been diagnosed with PTSD. Through the healing power of working with horses, Russell was able to learn to control his emotions in order to gain the horse’s trust. Once I realized I could help people with emotional trauma by working through it with the wild horses, I set out to find work with someone who was doing this exact thing. To my surprise, there wasn’t anyone in the area doing this at the time. No one was working with wild mustangs and using their survival instincts to help teach interpersonal communication to people. I knew I wanted to work with horses and help those affected by emotional trauma. I also wanted to do this for my daughter, this is something we could build together and be proud of. So, I started the paperwork for a non-profit in 2015. We were incorporated in 2017, and The RIDE Foundation was born.

In the beginning, there was one horse, Hobby. In July 2016, I went to the holding facility in Ridgecrest, CA and brought home the first Bureau of Land Management Sales Authority Mustang, Monroe. At that time, participants were also volunteers. We worked with a firefighter, a veteran who had returned from Afghanistan and his girlfriend, as well as a woman who was in an abusive relationship for more than five years.

Today, we care for 10 horses along with many other animals at the ranch. We are at capacity for the property we are on at this time. We now have about a dozen volunteers we can call on to help us, besides our core team members.

KRL: How does the animal rescue side of what you do work?

Sarah: We purchase at-risk, wild mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management’s Sale Authority List for $25. These mustangs are considered unadoptable and are at a holding facility. We bring them to the ranch to be gentled through our programs and then adopted out to approved homes. We also, from time to time, accept owner surrender horses. Meaning private individuals have donated horses that they could no longer care for to the organization. If we have available room for the horse and if it can benefit one of our programs.

KRL: Can you tell us about this type of therapy for people dealing with emotional or developmental challenges and why you feel it works?

Sarah: Equine therapy has been proven to work by many before us in this field of work and study. We feel that by working with the mustangs, it gives an extra layer for both the person and the horse to overcome together. The mustangs we receive are still wild and do not trust humans. These horses have had to survive in the wild and are very sensitive to many things. The mustangs require a person to be very aware of their body language and positioning. Once I have gentled them down a little and they are starting to accept humans as a leader, I invite program participants into the corral to work with the mustangs. The participants practice self-awareness and emotional control techniques in order for the horse to approach them and “hook on to them” (follow them around without any halters or ropes). The horse is a mirror for the participant. If the person is scared, upset, or mad, the horse will not go anywhere near them. As soon as the person controls their emotions and becomes more approachable, the horse will also make the change and go to them. Exercises like this have a big effect on the individuals working with the mustangs. They are learning techniques that they can apply to other aspects of their lives.

KRL: How can people get involved whether to help or to participate?

Sarah: We are holding an open house event on October 22, 2022 at the ranch. This is a great time to come and see what we are all about. We will have a demonstration with one of our mustangs and talk about our programs and what we have to offer our local community. To date, we have not received any state or federal grants. We are volunteer ran and funded by our generous sponsors and donors. We are always looking for more of each of those. Of course, coming to our events or visiting our booth at an outside events also helps. You can also like, share, and comment on our social media, which is a free way to Help us spread the word.

KRL: What is Hug A Horse?

Sarah: Hug a horse is exactly that. Come out to the ranch and hug a horse! We host 2 open house events a year where we invite the public for a fun day at the ranch. We call them “operation Hug-A-Horse”

KRL: Can you tell us more about the Hug A Horse Halloween event? When, where, what all you will be doing for it? Is there a cost?

Sarah: The Halloween edition is an open house style event on October 22 from 11 am-3 pm at the RIDE ranch and Admission is free. There will be $5 horse rides for kids under 60 pounds, a petting zoo including the miniature donkeys for $5, crafts, games, food, silent auction, and more! We will also have a costume contest running throughout the entire event with some fun prizes for the winners.

KRL: What are the future goals of RIDE?

Sarah: Now that we have proven our concept and developed our curriculum, it is time to expand our program’s reach and obtain the funding needed to buy our own ranch in order to grow and help more people and horses.

KRL: Any other events coming up this year?

Sarah: Foothill Training will be hosting a shooting tournament fundraiser in November that benefits our veterans’ program as well as one of the veterans’ organizations we work with. 22’s Militia helps combat veterans suicide by providing necessary help to our valley’s struggling veterans.

KRL: Where are you located?

Sarah: We are located at 24768 E. Kings Canyon Road in Reedley CA.

KRL: Where can people find you online?

Sarah: We are on Facebook and Instagram at @ride.foundation. You can also find us on our website at www.TheRideFoundation.org

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you at Operation Hug-A-Horse in October!

Check out more local Halloween events on KRL’s Halloween and Fall Festival event page!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!

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