Carousel Ranch Stories


There are moments in life that are just meant to be…times when things align so perfectly and allow us to reach a new level. For Carousel Ranch and all of us who work here – this was one of those moments. Just days before Heart of the West, we received an email from Nastya Popandopulos who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. She shared that she and Victoria Kokaleva were in the process of developing an equine therapy program aimed at providing support and healing to Ukrainian war veterans and children who have been directly affected by the frontlines. She shared her vision of a creating a program that provides a safe and nurturing environment where participants can interact with horses, fostering a sense of connection, trust, and empowerment. A place where they aim to address various trauma, anxiety, and stress, while promoting emotional resilience and personal growth.

In early September, an initial zoom meeting with Denise formed a true connection. Nastya shared that she herself had been experiencing some mental health issues from the constant daily stress. She explained how Victoria...

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Written by Rick Delia, Cody’s dad & former Carousel Ranch Board President

I think back to the end of 1998 / beginning of 1999. I believe that was the time frame when Cody started. He was such a little guy at the time. We were right at the beginning stages of understanding what we needed to do to help him start to succeed. We were dealing with doctors and specialists and therapists and grandparents and...the list goes on. About 6 months prior we had found out that our son had a stroke before he was born. We assembled a team of clinical staff that went to work right away doing what they could to help him. For an infant, doctors and therapists are not a lot of fun. We needed to add a component that was not only challenging, but FUN!

And…we found Carousel Ranch!!

From the moment we stepped foot on their property, we felt like we were part of the family. Denise and Becky were so warm, friendly, caring and knowledgeable. But, most importantly, they were fun! They explained everything to us. From that first experience on the back of the horse - Cody was...


Written by a Carousel Ranch dad, about the day that Ayla warmed his heart with her incredible spirit and wisdom far beyond her years.

"The other day I was at Carousel Ranch in Santa Clarita, CA, a place which provides equestrian therapy for special needs children. For many years my son went there, before he decided to stop. Years later, out of nowhere, he asked to return. His mother and I gladly obliged his request, and as I was walking around the property noticing the amazing changes that had taken place in the three years of our absence (the arena is now covered, a play area had been constructed, landscaping was everywhere) my thoughts were interrupted by a voice.

“Hi. How are you?” a little girl near me asked, the question like a hug, because it was warm, and you could tell that she meant it. I looked down. She was tiny, but she had a smile so big that it nearly tipped her over.

“I’m fine. How are you?” I replied.



Jimmy recently completed the Ready to Work! program and we couldn't be more proud of him!

In the words of his mom...

"That was a fabulous ending to an incredible program. Your program has given us new hope! The doctor insisted that Jimmy would never be able to work and support himself. He was greatly discouraged, thus the bravado. While it may be true that he will need some subsidy, he can still work and be a contributing, valuable member of society. You have done an incredible job and it is literally life altering for my son.

Jimmy gained skills, confidence, knowledge and appropriate workplace behavior and an excellent work ethic. I cannot imagine where my son would have gained all of this without this program. He is now truly "work ready" where he was nowhere near "work ready" before. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this viable, critical program that has set my son up for success in life!"

**Jimmy was one of two students that recently worked a shift at Wolf Creek Restaurant (photo above) shadowing a server. He is...

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Chase is six years old, diagnosed with autism and rides on Saturday mornings. These words from his mom say so much about some of the ways that he benefits from his time at Carousel Ranch...

"We recently traveled back to Chicago, which is where I grew up, to visit family and friends. I have flown with Chase 4 times. Each time was incredibly hard. The airport is extremely loud, and can be too much for Chase sensory wise. So much so, that one time we almost were not allowed to board the airplane because Chase couldn’t calm his body, had intense anxiety and was having pretty big meltdowns.


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Justin began riding at Carousel Ranch when he was only a year old. His mother’s words describe his experience far better than we could hope to.