Become a Champion for one of our fabulous program horses!
The horses of Ocean Riders are the true champions of our outreach programs where they inspire joy, confidence and connection and teach skills to foster a future generation of compassionate leaders. Your support allows them to continue providing the deeply valuable service of teaching, healing, and empowering humans to be their best selves.
How it Works: When you Champion a horse your donation goes directly toward supporting our outreach programs for under-resourced communities. All of our horses have independent owners who donate their time and their horse’s time to our programs and cover the costs of their horse’s daily life, but there are many operating expenses for our non-profit programs and we count on donations for everything from the art supplies to building the covered arena that we need to run programs year round.
What you Get: Your name will appear on our website next to the horse you’ve chosen to champion and you will receive a letter updating you on your horse’s work in our programs including pictures of them in action so you can see the smiles they bring to children’s faces. And of course you are always welcome to visit your chosen Champion at the Golden Gate Dairy Stables!
Lucky Little Bear
Horsenality: You can’t miss Bear’s flashy good looks with his golden Buckskin coat and he knows it! Bold, playful, and highly intelligent, Bear loves to be the center of attention. In a herd of other horses Bear is dominant so he can be bossy at times, but he will respect another horse if they set a firm boundary with him and he is also very playful so loves social time. Even with people, Bear prefers to be in the leadership role so he holds his human partners accountable for communicating clearly with him and being assertive when necessary, but he is also extremely sensitive and responsive to gentle energy, making him an excellent partner to practice balancing kindness and firmness to achieve both trust and respect.
Work and Education: Bear was trained as a Working Cow Horse, a highly competitive and athletic sport requiring focus, intense bursts of speed, and turning on a dime. While Bear loved chasing cows and thrived at it (even winning big money) the sport was hard on his body and his owners used him like a tool rather than a partner so he is relieved and grateful to have found his “forever home” at the Golden Gate Dairy Stables where he enjoys his new career as a therapist and has a strong bond with his “mom” Jess.
Family and Relationships: Bear’s best friend is Pico and their favorite game is tug-o-war. These two will use anything they can get theirs mouths on to play with and they are well-matched in terms of dominance so its difficult to tell if either of them ever win the game. Bear’s brother is an English Bulldog named Chunk (whom he tolerates) and sometimes they play tug-o-war together too!
Interests: Chasing cows (and coyotes when they try to enter his pasture!), playing with toys like balls & cones, tug-o-war with Pico, playing “at liberty” with his mom (a dance between human and horse without any ropes or other tack so the horse is completely free and responding the human’s body language and energy), being groomed while he naps, TREATS!
Program participation: Bear is an excellent teacher for young children and new riders because he is so sensitive and smart and he loves showing off his tricks to an audience.
Horsenality: Apache is simply dreamy. He is a dashingly handsome, well-mannered, athletic and highly intelligent Leopard Appaloosa gelding. Ample “go” makes him a powerful, fun horse to ride and respectful “whoa” makes him kind and safe. He’s very engaging, a bit stubborn and not afraid to tell you what he thinks. Loving, comical, colorful and mischievous this 25 year old horse has so much heart and energy that he leaves younger horses in the dust…then he likes to take a nap! It is highly possible that Apache is a descendant of the Indian Appaloosa horses of the Nez Perce tribe who lived in the plains west of the Rocky Mountains and were renowned for their uniquely intelligent, hardy and spotted horses.
Work and Education: Before being adopted by Marcy, Apache was a winning barrel racer and often a parade horse. He can be ridden both Western and English and secretly enjoys first testing your skills in either discipline and then delivering a magnificent ride.
Family and Relationships: Apache and Pico are best friends and like to cause trouble together. Apache, encouraged by Pico, thinks it’s fun to run away, kicking up his heels in laughter when it’s time to leave the pasture and go back to the barn, like two naughty kids who don’t like bedtime. Apache definitely has a sense of humor!
Life Events: On June 14, 2015, at 23 years old, Apache underwent an emergency surgery with only a 50% survival rate but he surprised veterinarians with his remarkable recovery. Love, dedication and a deep connection with Marcy was a critical part of his healing. In December 2016 Apache was there for Marcy following a family tragedy and the resulting aftermath she continues to experience. They saved each other in many ways and continue to do so. September 15th, 2017 is the 7th Anniversary of Apache’s adopted life with Marcy.
Program participation: Apache LOVES to work collaboratively as a team with humans and other horses. His DISC leadership style is a “high S” which stands for Steadiness and emphasizes cooperation, supportive actions, sincerity, and dependability. His expression is always one of pure joy and peace whenever he participates in the programs.
Horsenality: Rooster, AKA Hershey’s Red Man, is a left-brain introvert energetically but known for his great love of people and need to be in the middle of anything going on. If you are mending a fence he will be right there in your face as you work. He is clever, can untie knots faster than Houdini and if you are not paying attention he will take the reins in his teeth and lead you! Rooster has become the resident artist of the Golden Gate Dairy Stables and enjoys creating masterpiece works with paint on canvas. He considers himself an Abstract Impressionist and his use of color and space has been described akin to the art of Rothko or Picasso. He has recently evolved to painting pieces of furniture and sold a set of side tables at auction!
Work and Education: Rooster spent the first few years of his life as a colt training in Johnson City, Tennessee at the Rocky Ten Ranch, before moving to California and spending several years working in a 4H program with children where he attended many parades and shows. He then moved to the Double N Ranch in Turlock and adjusted to a short career in cattle ranching. At the age of 9 he came to the Golden Gate Dairy and is now the resident artist, having taken up a new career in painting.
Family and Relationships: Rooster doesn’t like to see himself as a horse so he is dominant to almost all other horses, asserting himself as superior and deserving of more hay. He once met his match in an equally dominant horse and they were best buddies and spent hours playing and seeing who could finally win. That horse has since left the stables and Roo is currently taking applications for a new playmate. Rooster is part of a herd know as the “Redheads” or “The Side Hill gang” which includes Karizma and Flame.
Program Participation: Rooster loves a good children’s event and giving a steady first ride to any beginning rider is his specialty.
Nicknames: Pico Perfect
Horsenality: Pico is a Pinto gelding of unknown heritage as he was rescued from an auction on his way to slaughter. His body scars are proof of an unhappy beginning in life, but despite his traumatic past Pico is extremely friendly, animated, and playful often nodding his head at anyone walking by hoping to get a treat. Although we don’t know the details of his past, it is clear that Pico’s story is one of true resilience, forgiveness and repair. While he remains highly sensitive with humans, it is obvious that he has a deep desire to connect with people and he has had to overcome much in order to still be able to access this trust. A very special horse, he has incredible wisdom in his eyes.
Family and relationships: Pico has a deep bond with his “mom” and has taught her more than any other horse. He can be dominant and a little bossy with other horses but also very affectionate. He loves to be with his herdmates and is very uncomfortable being without them, forming intense bonds with them. His best friends are Apache and Lucky Little Bear and Pico is so attached to them both that he gets upset and whinnies repeatedly when they leave the stables for a ride. He also loves Chunk, the English Bulldog who will exchange kisses with Pico whenever he can.
Interests: Playing tug-o-war with Bear, snuggling with Chunk, and exploring the land on a trail ride (on or off the trail!) Pico’s biggest challenge is overcoming his fear of getting saddled due to his history of abuse, but once saddled (a process that is done very slowly and gently with full focus and intention) he is a confident and amazingly surefooted trail horse who shows his love of exploration by bopping his head on the ride with true enthusiasm.
Program Participation: Since his adoption Pico has learned to overcome his distrust of humans and has proven to be an amazing program horse because he requires his human partner to be fully present, focused and calm to earn his trust. Although he can’t be ridden by program participants because he requires an extremely experienced and subtle rider, Pico loves to connect with human partners on the ground where we always want to begin our relationship with a horse. Pico responds to pure focus, clear communication and gentle boundary-setting with expressive gratitude and a rewarding connection.
Horsenality: Flame is a bright and sweet (and handsome!) 27 year old Arabian who, like many Arabians sometimes “sees dragons.” Wanting to take excellent care of himself and his rider he has always been alert to everything around him. By age 18, he’d seen enough of the world and relaxed some, becoming a wise trail horse who could show younger horses that it is ok to cross a bridge or pass through the sprinkler at Green Gulch farms. He is a highly sensitive horse who can read human intentions closely. He makes it really clear that if you treat him with respect for his natural dignity and emotional needs, all will be well, but he does not respond to force. He’s very good at showing a person exactly how he feels about life at any given moment, from ears to tail tip he speaks clearly about what he’s feeling. And like all horses, Flame always lives in this moment. He is a very good teacher of the skill of being present.
Work and Education: Flame is an excellent student of Natural Horsemanship and was very grateful when his person finally learned some of those techniques. “At last,” you could see him thinking, “she’s learned how to talk to me in my language.” He especially likes working “at liberty” (without a halter or rope). Flame has been doing Volunteer Mounted Patrol for Tamalpais State Park for many years, helping to keep the trails safe and accessible.
Family and Relationships: Flame has had his main person Jane since coming to Muir Beach in 1996, and over the years a small team of other riders, including Patty (now Bo’s person), Judith, and Sara. He is in the herd known as the “Redheads” because they are all chestnut and live together on the Side Hill.
Interests: Food. Food. Food. He loves having his face stroked when he’s relaxing by the tie bar. Pausing to gaze into the distance when coming down a high trail and thinking philosophical thoughts (and reminding his person to stop and admire the landscape).
Program Participation: In recent years, as he’s become more calm about life Flame has participated in children’s programs at the barn. He has also been working with his long-time second person, Judith in leadership training programs where he demonstrates just how sensitive a horse can be to human body language and intentions.
After a very long and well-loved life Ace passed away in 2019, his soul now rests in greener pastures. Thank you Ace for all you shared with us, the gifts you gave from your heart and soul we will carry with us always.
Nickname: Piglet (because of his love for taking mud baths!)
Horsenality: Ace is an Appaloosa Gelding who lived at the Golden Gate Dairy Stables for almost 20 years and although we didn’t know his exact age we believe he lived until the human equivalent of almost 100 years old! Ace was a wise, stoic, loving, affectionate, animated, kind-hearted gentleman. He lost most of his teeth in his elderly years so we fed him ‘baby food’ – mashed up pellet soup which he loved. Ace was one of the kindest horses ever and selflessly offered the gift of himself to countless children. Ace loved napping in the arena with his buddies, going to pasture (but only after a big meal of mash since he couldn’t graze out there like the other horses) and taking mud baths when our arena forms a pond in the winter.
Relationships: Ace got along with EVERYONE, but his best friends were a group known affectionately as the “Gerrys” (or the geriatric herd due to their elderly age) which includes Rascal, Jalapeno, Freedom, and the “young-un” of the group at 17 years old, Mojito.
Program Participation: Ace was involved in every camp or program Ocean Riders has provided. He was a steady go-to reliable champion we could always depend on for all children’s programs. He will always be loved by all the local Muir Beach children in our Barn Owl program. His favorite activity was getting groomed and having his thick tail braided.
Nicknames: BoBo, Bolicious
Horsenality: Not only is he devastatingly handsome, Bo is also a true sweetheart. He was born in the mountains of Kentucky but rescued at the age of 8 because he wasn’t being fed enough to eat. He was brought to California and to a better life where he would never go hungry again. Bo is a gaited horse so he is a true “Cadillac ride”! Bo loves music, especially Hawaiian ukulele played by Bruce Barlow! He enjoys being groomed and having coconut oil combed into his mane and tail until it shines. Bo also loves long trail rides, especially with his buddy and neighbor Rascal, the ex-racehorse because they are well-matched in terms of pace and endurance. Bo is a skilled soccer player, kicking the rubber ball all over the arena and thinking of himself as the Spanish CR siete of the equine world!
Work and Education: Bo has some dressage training and understands basic dressage commands, collection, bending, moving off the leg, and side passing. He is also well trained in natural horsemanship working at liberty (completely free with no ropes or tack).
Family and Relationships: Bo plays hard! Due to his over-enthusiasm during play time he needs a fence between himself and others for their safety. However, he is a lover and he plays kissy face through the windows of his friends’ stalls when he is in turn out. He will take any opportunity to cuddle with any willing participant, horse or human. He adores people (especially if they have a treat for him) and he has many human fans at our barn.
Program participation: Bo is involved with the natural horsemanship portion of the programs, helping participants learn to establish partnerships based on trust, respect and authenticity. Friends: Bo is especially fond of Rascal and they will often visit through their stall windows. Sometimes Bo will sneak bites of alfalfa right out of Rascal’s mouth when he puts his head through his window to chew!
Nicknames: Rascal, Rasc, Honey Bunches of Oats
Horsenality: Rascal is a goofy, kind-hearted “gentle giant”. The only Thoroughbred at the Golden Gate Dairy, he is easily the tallest horse at the ranch. Standing at an impressive 17.2 hands tall (which means his back is almost 6 feet off the ground!) this former racehorse might tower over you, but he has nothing but love and affection to give. His days of racing at Golden Gate Fields, Bay Meadows and Del Mar are a distant memory now but he his happy to have found his “forever home” in Muir Beach. He is secure, confident and kind, making him an ideal companion on trail rides for his equine friends who can be a bit more skittish, lending them confidence in scary situations.
Relationships: Rascal is a member of the “Gerries”, a herd of older horses who are enjoying semi-retirement together at the Dairy. Their “geriatric” age has earned them this endearing nickname and they love to relax, nap, and hang together in the pasture or the arena. Rascal has many equine friends at the stables and is often seen sharing his hay with his next door neighbor Bo who likes to take bites directly out of Rascal’s mouth!
Program participation: When Rascal retired from the world of competitive racing, he transferred his natural enthusiasm and dedication to his new job loving kids! He takes this job very seriously and can be seen stepping much more carefully and cautiously with a child on his back than when he hits the trail with an experienced ride, covering ground swiftly with his long strides. While he is energetic and powerful, he mellows instantly and instinctively around children and loves to be pet and fed treats. Now in his golden years Rascal is still winning the race by capturing the hearts of humans!
After a long battle with Lyme Disease that Ziggy fought with heroic stoicism knowing how important he is to so many, he now gallops in greener pastures in comfort and peace. A truly magical being who touched countless lives with his love and affection, Ziggy is always and forever in our hearts
Nicknames: Zigster, Pink Pony, Little Monster
Horsenality: Ziggy is small but mighty! He is ridiculously adorable and in the winter his fluffy coat makes him look like a horse crossed with a chinchilla. He is very confident with humans and herd-mates alike. He loves attention from visitors to the barn who are drawn to his cuteness. Because of his big, ground-covering trot, he was tried out as a Ride and Tie horse (a long distance endurance sport that involves two humans and a horse running and riding over back country terrain) but Ziggy’s opinion was that it took way too much effort and that was the end of his Ride and Tie career! He is sweet, talented, intelligent and well trained, but he likes to make his own decisions and that decision often involves eating.
Family and Relationships: Ziggy is both social and independent, and can handle himself in any herd without getting overly attached to a specific horse. He loves people but he is dominant in most horse herds and takes control of all the feeding tires until finally choosing which one he’s going to focus on, putting both front feet in the tires to let others know this is what he’s chosen. His best playmates have been Bear and Pico who round out a fairly balanced cycle of dominance. Along with Apache, they’ve been known as the “Bennington” herd due to the variety of coat colors and patterns.
Interests: Food, naps, and cuddles! Ziggy can be very playful with the ball or cone when the mood strikes him. Pico can be seen offering him the ball for a play date and Ziggy refusing the gesture. Once Pico gives up, and if Ziggy has the energy, he will choose the ball and initiate the game. It’s all on Ziggy’s terms earning his nickname Little Monster.
Program Participation: Ziggy has been one of our ‘go-to’ program horses for many years. He is patient and quiet with the children, and wonderful for leading, riding and grooming. His soft roan coat feels like angora which makes him a favorite for grooming. And he grows a ‘beard’ in the winter which makes him look like a gremlin pink pony. Children love to braid his thick tail, or his mane, and sometimes, even his beard!