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Our Story

When the pandemic turned our world virtual and spiked the sense of isolation that society was already trending towards, we were inspired to offer an experience that would get kids off screens, outside in nature, and back together in person. The ranch was a safe space to do just that and it also happens to be the space where we feel most grounded, authentic and connected.  The first semester of Ranch School groups launched in the Fall of 2020 and in spite of the masks and initial distancing (we didn’t see the faces of our first cohort of students until over a year into the program!) we learned, laughed and grew together and experienced that special bond of being a herd.

Why Horses?

Horses perceive and respond to energy, emotions and subtle body language cues as a means of communicating.  They are both extremely powerful and extremely sensitive.  They are always honest, authentic and congruent, meaning their intentions are in alignment with their behaviors.  Partnering with them offers us the opportunity to tune in to our own energy, emotions and nonverbal signals to communicate, connect and set boundaries as needed.  Horses are naturally social creatures and model for us how to be positive, contributing members of the herd.  We will be partnering with our wise equine teachers in fun and engaging learning opportunities and working together to care for them, enjoying the rewarding experience of contributing to a community and laboring with a purpose and passion.


We ensure, to the best of our abilities, that our horses live a healthy, well-rounded and species-appropriate lifestyle.  This includes having the freedom to frolic and have fun, to experience empowerment, agency and choice, to have privacy and safety, and (possibly the most important of all) the freedom to be themselves.  These are all foundational intentions of Ranch School and they are just as true and as necessary for the horses as they are for us.

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie Holdenried is a certified equine-facilitated educator (CEIP-ED) and holistic nutritionist. She creates and facilitates programs and workshops for women, youth and recovery groups with the goal of helping individuals find greater self-awareness by connecting to their own intrinsic wisdom. She is an avid horsewoman who graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and the sixth-generation of a ranching family in Northern California.

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Meet Jessica

Jessica Pinto, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Equine Interaction Professional in Mental Health(CEIP-MH) who is inspired by the profound impact animals have on our sense of self and our way of being in the world.  She is a lifetime horsewoman and lover of the outdoors who grew up in Marin in the 80s when horses and ranches were woven into the fabric of the county. It was on those ranches that she received the most valuable education of her life. Jessica has been working, learning and evolving in the field of equine assisted therapy and learning since 2005. 

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