My kids rode at Challenge for 2yrs, and I volunteered on several occasions. I had wanted to volunteer regularly, but the Ranch Owner is impossible to work with. She has an illl temper and habit of making demeaning comments to kids, parents and volunteers. I spoke to a Board member about this explaining that I couldn’t deal with the Owner’s personal attacks. The Board member was aware of the Owner’s reputation as I wasn’t the 1st to complain. At the time I rationalized that everything else about the Ranch was good for kids. I still volunteered a little and supported fund raisers. Eventually the Owner kicked my kids out of the Ranch over a dispute between she and I when I had the gall to yell back at her during one of her rants. The Owner has a terrible reputation in the horse community for kicking kids out if their parents confront her. Challenge Ranch is a totalitarian regime of bullying and favoritism. I highly recommend against participation in their program in any capacity
Review from Guidestar
I have been volunteering at Challenge Ranch for about 9 years. Over that time, the program has grown some, but has a nice balance between serving a large number of kids, but not continuing to get too big. I have stuck with Challenge Ranch because I have seen the change it can make in a child's life. I have seen children so shy, they would not make eye contact or utter a single word on their first day blossom into outgoing teenagers. Challenge Ranch isn't just about teaching horseback riding, it's about teaching life skills such as eye contact when communicating, thinking about how one's actions affect others, and other common courtesies that many of the participating children might not be exposed to based on their current living situation. Equine Assisted Learning (using the horses to teach) sessions are put together on an impromptu basis when a program participant is showing behavior that might not be appropriate, it is one thing to tell a child something is wrong verses showing them or letting them figure it out through the horses. Now, based on what I have said about the ranch, don't get the impression that Challenge Ranch doesn't teach kids to ride horses, because with all the life skills they are learning, kids actually learn to ride at Challenge Ranch. Challenge Ranch kids participate in games shows, hunter/jumper shows, trail trials, and 25 and 50 mile endurance rides.
I was looking for a place to volunteer in San Diego and stumbled upon Challenge Ranch.
I reviewed their website and came out for a Sunday to help out with a couple of my friends. We were welcomed to the Ranch by Ron and Jane, who described what the ranch did for the young people of San Diego County. We spent the morning and early afternoon helping out with basic maintenance and grooming the horses. We were all invited to join them at their Annual Benefit the next Saturday.
The next Saturday I was floored by how many people (especially kids and families) were at the Ranch. We found out the kids were from group, foster homes, or other challenged walks of life and had been coming to the ranch for weeks to years. They talked about the ranch as their second home and were so grateful of how the ranch taught them friendship, responsibility and confidence. We enjoyed food, live music, and a performance by the kids on horseback. Even though the kids were from all different backgrounds, you could tell they didn't care- they were at the ranch.
This place, their stories, the owners commitment, the energetic horses are incredible to experience. I highly recommend this place.
A beautiful Ranch with about 25 horses and ponies of all sizes and breeds. The Ranch is open six days a week, year round to benefit under privileged and disadvantaged children. The children learn how to ride, general horsemanship and participate in all the ranch activities. The atmosphere is very friendly, the horses are well kept, the young people are well supervised and the standard of instruction is high, with qualified and experienced Volunteers.