Frequently asked questions

Will there be riding in the Marin Ranch School program?

We are emphasizing on-the-ground skills with horses and around the barn and property which are rarely taught in a traditional riding program. So while riding is not part of Ranch School, we have found that many of our "equestrian" students value this opportunity to connect with the horses on a deeper level and gain knowledge that supports them in their riding lessons and out in the world.

Is it necessary to have horse experience?

Absolutely not! We are here to meet your child where they are. Our students will gain hands-on experience with horses in our 10 weeks together which will be a confidence booster and excellent entry to riding should they wish to start. If your child rides already, this is a great adjunct program to deep dive into horse care, management and ground skills to complement their equestrian pursuits.

Do we need to buy boots? What equipment do we need?

Sturdy footwear like a hiking boot (or a rugged riding or Western boot) is preferred. We will be on our feet most of the session standing, walking to and from pastures, and doing chores. There is a possibility of boots getting wet when the rains come or cleaning out water troughs. You may be able to find used children's riding boots at Saddles to Boots and other consignment tack stores. Wearing layers of clothing will be important. Our location on the coast can go from sun to fog and back very quickly. Jackets, fleece, etc are advised. Hat if sensitive to sun. Water bottle. We will have fresh water available for refills.

What are your COVID policies?

We will be following the guidelines outlined by Marin Country for youth programs. We ask that if anyone is not feeling well to please stay at home and that if you or anyone in your household has been exposed to the virus please let us know immediately so that we can best assess how to proceed. We have a hand washing station and hand sanitizer available. We will be outdoors at all times and distancing 6 feet or masked when closer. Jess and Stephanie will be masked at all times and will ask all program particpants to wear masks. The Golden Gate Dairy Stables and Ocean Riders of Marin has taken steps to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus and posted Healthy and Safety Guidelines to be adhered to by all members of our community for the duration of the public health crisis. Please read them below and let us know if you have questions. You understand that we are commited to keeping you, ourselves, our families and community safe from the spread of this virus. If we (or anyone we have been in contact with) tests positive for the coronavirus, we will notify you immediately so that you can take appropriate precautions. Health and Safety Guidelines for the Golden Gate Dairy Stables: • The Golden Gate Dairy Stables will remain closed to the public during the public health crisis and only Ocean Riders members or program participants are allowed on the site to ensure physical distancing standards are met. • All members will maintain physical distancing protocol (6 ft). • All members will wear masks on site when others are present. • All members will wash hands immediately upon arrival before touching anything and bring/wear personal gloves while on the site. • Only one person in the office and washroom at a time. • All members will wear personal gloves while handling horses, feed buckets and all community property.

What happens in a day at Ranch School?

Great question! We will start each group in Circle in our historic hay barn with a check-in -- we will touch on our moods/current feelings, perhaps a recap from the previous week, and an overview of the learning themes for that day. This is great time to share wins -- and also feel supported by the group if someone is struggling (with a concept/issue/feeling). We will be setting up a container for safety -- both physically and emotionally -- from day one. Each group will include ranch chores such as washing/filling water troughs for the horses, mucking stalls, bringing manure to the compost pile at our neighboring Green Gulch Gardens, making feed mashes for elderly horses, loading hay, preparing stalls/barnyard for rainy season. We will be "going with the flow" of what needs to be done in regards to the season and the daily needs of our ranch community. Then we will move into the horse experiences. This is where we will be tapping into both horse skills AND equine therapy, the process of utilizing the relationship with the horse as a vehicle for self-awareness and personal growth. Activities will range from herd observations, natural horsemanship exercises and positive reinforcement training, as well as personal introspection. Every week builds on the previous one. While our aim is about learning, it is also about having fun and soaking up the grounding, nourishing experience of being outside in a beautiful natural setting and partnering with magnificent animals. Please feel free to reach out to us with any other questions.

What are your cancellation policies?

If we need to cancel a class for weather or health reasons, you will be refunded for that session or a make up session will be scheduled. There are no refunds for otherwise missed classes.

I really want my child to do this, but he/she keeps telling me 'no'. How do I know if Ranch School is a good fit?

In our experience, we have found that participants will be happiest and most engaged if they have a genuine curiousity and love for animals/horses. Most, if not all of our participants (and their teachers), are horse-crazy individuals. We are all-horse-all-of-the-time. Signs that your child may be inflicted with horse-crazy: Points out horses while riding in car Horse/pony on birthday/Christmas wish list. Every year. Reads books about horses Watches Heartland and/or seeks out other movies/shows with horses in them If your child is more interested in sci-fi or robotics, we probably aren't a fit. And that is totally ok. We bet there is a perfect program out there for him or her.

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