Marin resident gives 120-acre ranch to therapeutic horse-riding group

A Kentfield resident has donated a 120-acre ranch to a Nicasio organization that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons to people with disabilities and their families.

The 60-acre Halleck Creek Ranch said the acquisition of the nearby RockRose Ranch will allow it to expand its programs to serve more Bay Area residents.

“Right now it is a time for the celebration of this gift for our community,” said Josie Plaister, president of the Halleck Creek Ranch board. “We’re going to take it very slow in terms of planning out our next steps. This is a big change for Halleck and we want to plan not only for the next year but also have a long-term plan and vision as we start to expand our program.”

The donor, Maja Kristin, said she had initially planned to sell the ranch, which is used as an equestrian boarding and training center. However, Kristin said the prospective buyers were not interested in keeping the horses or maintaining the character of the property.

“I began to realize that was more and more important to me,” Kristin said. “Also I was very committed to making sure the caretaker family could continue to live and work there. All of a sudden I thought, ‘Well why don’t I just donate it?’”

Kristin has been a longtime donor to Halleck Creek Ranch’s horse riding program, which began in 1977 as a gift by western Marin residents Duane Irving and Joyce Goldfield. The ranch provides horse riding lessons to about 130 participants in the Bay Area each year who have conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Down syndrome and learning disabilities.

At the time Kristin decided to donate the property, Halleck Creek Ranch was looking for ways to expand its program and serve other groups such as veterans, she said.

“It was perfect timing because I saw the property I have really lends itself to that kind of expansion and they were ready to make that next step,” Kristin said. “So I really think it worked out beautifully for all of us.”

RockRose Ranch includes 20 acres of pasture, two barns, a horse arena, a round pen, an obstacle course and about 5 miles of trails.

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