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In 2020, two friends were horseback riding in Three Rivers, CA. One was a teacher and business owner, the other a semi-retired Therapeutic Riding Instructor. These two ladies would talk while they rode, sharing thoughts about their kids and grandkids, riding adventures and education. These conversations inspired them to research programs around the country that combined horseback riding and reading. They found such programs combining reading and riding, not as a gimmick to get kids to come, but as a well-researched and proven way of associating reading with a positive outdoor activity. This can be key in building literacy in students. They began to dream of building a program of their own.

Then the pandemic hit and these seeds of dreams were put on pause. This did, however, give these two friends, Cathy Fitzpatrick and Debi Witschi, time to do more research and planning, eventually forming their ideas into a real possibility. 

In 2021, while the pandemic was still raging, Cathy and Debi realized it may just be the perfect time to start an outdoor program. Literacy rates were falling, and many students were looking for things to do outside. And so, Ride to Read was born! Horses were trained, volunteer horse handlers began to practice special skills with the horses, and volunteer teachers formed our lesson plans. The pilot program started that year with just two students.

Another very gifted educator, Neva Wright, came on board and began to help build the curriculum for teaching students both on and off the horse, as did another amazing teacher, Cherie Schultz. Soon, struggling readers found their way to the Blue Oak Ranch!

In 2022, Ride to Read formed its board of Directors, held its very first fundraiser, and officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, largely due to Bob and Donna Thomas (Board Member and Treasurer), and one very generous attorney. 

The Directors and Officers of Ride to Read believe that God has placed just the right people together at just the right time to help students in a new and innovative way. As teacher Neva says, "If you can just change a child's attitude about reading, you've done a lot. If you can give a child confidence, it affects everything else in their life, including reading!"

And that is exactly what we hope to do!

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