2019 - Year in Review

Hello Special Spirit Family,

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and want to wish you a very Happy New Year!

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2020 is the year of the RAT, which is the first in the rotation of the 12 Zodiac signs. In addition, according to Chinese culture, it is a sign of wealth and surplus and is supposed to bring luck into the New Year. Therefore, here is to a year of wealth, surplus and luck for us all in 2020.

We had a wonderful 2019; here are some of the highlights.

The success of Special Spirit is thanks to all of you, our clients and supportive donors, this is what you helped us achieve in 2019. THANK YOU!

We had a very successful year and did over 2,000 lessons with Cassie as our main instructor, with help from our wonderful volunteers. Cassie you rock!

This has been an exciting year for all our riders. Some highlights, Jack C finally mastering the posting trot with his favorite mount, Gidget, and Abi A reaching the milestones of holding the reins in both hands AND having her legs grown enough that her feet fit into the stirrups. Many more students have started practicing and improving their posting trot, steering, 2-point, and even a little cantering! Our volunteers have tried a little bit of everything this past year; some cavaletti work, a touch of some drill team practice, and trail rides both long and short. 2020 will be an exciting year with always more progress to be made and fun to be had.

Girl Scout Troop #5371 is preparing their Silver Certification that will be installed early 2020. Troop #2031 came to the ranch and built an awesome sensory trail for our riders. They made colorful boards with different textures to be touched, painted rocks along the trail for visual pleasure, a long rope with different colored balls and bells to be rung, an abacus to be played with, and different colored pool noodles hanging to ride through. It has been a big hit with all of our riders.

The Help Group School’s program “Kids Like Me” continued their group riding lessons during 2019. Many return riders, many of them now riding on their own.

Welcome to Tara/Gidget and Monty, we had the great fortune to get an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, Gidget, donated to our program. Thank you George for donating her to us. Monty, an eight-year-old quarter/draft mix is a much-needed gelding for our young adult riders. Thank you Monica.

We continued our relationship with the work program at Verdugo Hills High School. Volunteers Eddie and Devon did their hours at the ranch. Eddie loved the horses and participated in many of our lessons along with giving lots of TLC to our horses. Devon, great with computers, helped us sell items we no longer needed on craigslist and FB marketplace, bringing in money to our scholarship fund.


Jake Reynolds an Eagle Scout with Troop #89, raised money to build a beautiful greenhouse. The greenhouse will introduce all the participants to organic gardening and basic horticulture and introduce fruits & vegetables into our diets.

Loyola High School and National League of Young Men, choose Special Spirit as their philanthropic project. About 40 young men performed their Valley Service Project at the ranch, along with many of their parents. They did a fantastic job cleaning up at the barn.

All through the year, Tierra Del Sol and ETTA’s volunteer groups came to help keep the farm clean and tidy and all our plants watered.

We had the pleasure of hosting All Nations Church special needs group for 2 weekends in May. It was a fun time for everyone and included horseback riding, grooming, and playing with the Danny’s farm animals.

Our summer camps in partnership with Danny’s Farm were a success. The kids that participated were able to enjoy several activities as we provided horsemanship, riding, petting farm, games, arts and crafts, gardening, farm science, and lots of fun. On the last day, we had water play and a pizza party.

Nadia and Nonna of JohnHart Real Estate represented Special Spirit in the 3-mile “Walk For a Cause”. Nadia & Nonna arranged for Rios Tacos to come to the barn and they offered fantastic free tacos, raising money and awareness for the walk.

Kathryn Barger, 5th district supervisor honored us with a visit to the barn in October. Kathryn Barger has ensured efficient and effective services and programs to significantly improve the quality of life for foster children, seniors, veterans, those with disabilities, and those with mental illness. Alex and Calvin got a chance to show off their riding skills, making her very impressed with what we are doing at the ranch.

Eileen McDaniel hosted an EAGALA network meeting at the barn in October. This is a great way of keeping up with what is happening in the “Equine Assisted Psychotherapy” EAP world. The networking events are for therapist, horse professionals and enthusiast to share your experience in the equine assisted learning field, and to anyone interested in enriching and changing lives through equines!

At Mount St. Mary’s University - the MBA Culminating project is the last component prior to graduation, a team of students work on issues facing an organization, to help find solutions. The team works under the supervision of a faculty member to ensure the quality of the project. This year we asked the team to help us with grant writing and an updated profile on Guidestar.org. Grant writing for small nonprofits are very cumbersome, a great presence on Guidestar can help reduce time spent on grant writing and more time to provide services to those in need. The results from the MBA research team was presented to us on December 7, 2019 and we are now working on implementing the findings.

For Halloween, we surprised the kids at Stonehurst Elementary School and walked the farm animals from Danny’s farm along with our miniature pony Jasper to the school for the kids to enjoy. The looks on the kids' faces were priceless when they were brought out to see their surprise one class at a time and saw all the animals and several of us dressed in Halloween costumes. We were quite the sight walking through the streets of Shadow Hills to get to the school LOL

Sadly two of our beloved horses crossed the rainbow bridge. We lost Lucy in August and Kona in September. They will both be in our hearts forever and their presence at Special Spirit is missed tremendously.

A big thank you to our wonderful veterinarians, Dr. Robertson at Select Equine and Dr. Rachael Ostrom Sachar at Twin Oaks Equine, they both go over and beyond in helping our treasured therapy horses. Pat Phillips for taking care of all hoofs.

We also had the pleasure of gathering at Eva’s house to celebrate the holiday season. We played the white elephant game and Eva made her special Swedish meatballs and served “Glögg”, a traditional Swedish hot drink. Fun was had by all that attended.

Finally yet importantly, we would like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers for their hard work and dedication. Without them, we would not be the success that we are today. Moreover, thanks to all of you for choosing Special Spirit as your equine therapy ranch. We love what we do here and strive to be the best we can possibly be.


Best wishes for 2020!

The Special Spirit Team





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