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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Local Horse Ranch Shares Passion, Skills With Community

Some people ask John Robinson, owner of Robinson Ranch, how can you have horses?

Robinson’s reply: “How can you not?”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Phoenix by his family nearly 45 years ago, Robinson is a life-long lover of horses.

“I’ve been riding horses since my dad put me on one when I was just a kid,” said Robinson.

His lifelong passion drives the work he does at his ranch.

“I do it because I love it,” said the father of four.

For more than 10 years, Robinson has been sharing his love of horses and his passion for working with them with developmentally disabled children and adults.

Robinson opened his ranch, located in the South Phoenix near 16th Street and Baseline Road, in 2000, soon after he first began working with individuals and groups from the Arizona Department of Developmental Disabilities.

“It’s very calming to work with horses,” Robinson said, “especially for

those with disabilities; it gives them something to focus on.”

According to Robinson, equine therapy teaches people that what you bring to a horse is what you get out it.

“It’s the same as when you interact with people,” said Robinson. “Working with a horse is like working with a person who can’t speak–they can only give you your reactions back. If you show fear to a horse, the horse shows fear in return.”

During equine therapy classes, Robinson and his team of trainers work with students one-on-one and in groups. Students learn to work with the horses to get positive reactions from them. Robinson says that a student’s fear, even those very afraid of large animals, tends to disappear within the first two days.

In addition, the ranch also provides therapeutic riding classes for those with disabilities. Students ride the horses, often with side walkers and someone leading the horse to keep students safely astride the animal. These classes help students improve core muscle strength.

The ranch’s trainers are specially equipped to work with people with

disabilities. Not only must they have level-one fingerprint clearance, they are also CPR certified and must attend classes on how to work with individuals who may be prone to physical or verbal outbursts. Robinson Ranch works in partnership with other local organizations, such as Horses Help, and operates in accordance with the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).

The ranch’s 14 horses (the latest addition was born in late March) share two acres of space with sheep and goats. Neighbors have donated the use of an additional two acres, bringing the ranch’s total training acreage to four. Robinson has been offered another three acres. With funding, he hopes to expand the ranch and build a full-size arena on the new land.

In addition to the arena, funding will help build a wheelchair ramp for those who need one. Currently, trainers provide off-site classes at another local organization and ranch partner –Horses Help, which has a ramp.

According to Robinson, the reputation of the ranch grew as family members of his students requested lessons. In 2008, Robinson changed the ranch’s licensing and added to the curriculum, opening up classes to anyone. Since then, Robinson has hired additional trainers to work with the multitude of students (both children and adults of all abilities).

Today, individuals and families of all levels take classes at the ranch. Robinson offers classes from beginner level riding around the ranch arena to off-site trips through South Mountain Park and trailering and camping trips around the state, including Tombstone, Tucson and Flagstaff. The ranch also conducts classes for school groups, merit badge certifications for Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and training for the Special Olympics.

The ranch has certified coaches specifically for the Special Olympics, which takes place in early May this year. Robinson’s therapeutic riding program is designed to help riders train for the equestrian component; additionally, the ranch coaches participants who can ride on their own to take their horses through special movements and patterns.

For other students, the family-friendly ranch teaches a combination of

English and Western riding for beginner and intermediate-level riders.

Riders who reach advance classes can choose to pursue their preferred style. Robinson also offers discounted pricing for parents whose children take regular lessons.

Robinson’s classes tend to fill up fast. Classes run for six weeks with one to two

classes per week. Robinson will be offering a summer class at the covered arena at the Arizona Humane Society in South Phoenix on Saturdays starting May 1st. For a list of programs, visit online atwww.RobinsonRanchAZ.org or contact the ranch at 602-686-6409 or email info@robinsonranchaz.org


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