The B.O.K. Ranch has been offering therapeutic riding since 1984 when it was founded by the Kulchin family, who had a long history of involvement with local 4-H programs. When Dede, one of Ann and Larry Kulchin’s two daughters, was working on her master’s degree in special education, she did her thesis on human-animal bonding. In connection with Dede’s studies, the whole family, including the Kulchins’ other daughter Leslie, attended a special education convention where they saw a video on therapeutic horseback riding. The whole family became so excited about the concept of using horses to help people with disabilities that Dede and Leslie enrolled in a five-week course sponsored by PATH (the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, which is responsible for overseeing and advising the therapeutic riding programs in the USA). On completion of the course, Dede and Leslie became certified therapeutic riding instructors.
Ann Kulchin as a young girl riding her horse while her family was living in France.
The family’s Pastor, Jerry Dummler, had seen Norwegian Fjord Ponies at a horse show and he observed that their placid nature would be ideal for therapeutic riding lessons. The Kulchins bought two Fjord Ponies and named them P.J. (Pastor Jerry’s nickname) and Zeke.
Dede and one of her baby Fjords!
In October of 1984 Leslie began instructing six children, and by the spring of 1985 B.O.K Ranch was incorporated and had a board of directors.
B.O.K. Ranch's "Shale" was named PATH's Region 11 horse of the year in 2002.
For several years lessons continued to be held at the Kulchin's home. As the program grew, however, it became clear they needed more space. So, in September of 1991, B.O.K. moved to Hidden Villa, a 1,600 acre educational farm and wilderness preserve in Lost Altos Hills. B.O.K. operated out of Hidden Villa for around ten years before once again outgrowing its surroundings and moving to The Horse Park at Woodside.
Larry Kulchin riding Dutchess.
B.O.K. settled into the Horse Park and held lessons there for several years before trying out a couple of other locations on the peninsula. In the end, the program moved back to the Horse Park, where B.O.K. resides today.
Leslie riding Fuzzy.
The name B.O.K. comes from a combination of the family’s last names (Dede and Leslie had married), but the real emphasis is to let people with disabilities feel pride in their accomplishments and know they will “Be Okay”.
Program Location: 3674 Sand Hill Road, Woodside, CA 94062