Good Guys: Lawrence Goldman for Ride On

February 19, 2015   Danielle Beurteaux

The Beach Point capital executive on how Ride On’s therapeutic horseback-riding program is helping his daughter and others.

   Lawrence Goldman and daughter Alissa

Every Saturday for more than ten years, Lawrence Goldman has driven his daughter, Alissa, 45 minutes to her weekly horseback-riding lesson. But these aren’t regular lessons. Alissa takes part in Ride On’s therapeutic riding program.

As a child, Alissa was diagnosed with autism, and her father wanted to include a therapy that would help develop her core physical strength. "She really took to it," Goldman says. "Riding focused her and helped center her. She looks forward to doing it every week."

Goldman, 53, is chief administrative officer and general counsel of Beach Point Capital Management, an $8 billion, credit-focused hedge fund firm based in Los Angeles, with offices in New York and London. Ride On is a nonprofit organization that provides adaptive riding — horsemanship modified for riders with cognitive and physical disabilities and taught by trained instructors — and a range of therapies. These include hippotherapy, a form of therapy that uses the movement of the horse to improve the rider’s control, strength and balance, guided by a physical, speech or occupational therapist. Ride On has ranches in Chatsworth and Newbury Park, California. Goldman began taking his daughter to Ride On in 2004 and in 2010 was asked by the organization’s co-founder and executive director, Bryan McQueeney, and board member Barry Nadell to join the board.

Goldman has seen first-hand the benefits of horseback riding for Ride On clients’ physical well-being and notes that there’s a social aspect as well. "These are kids and adults who tend not to be as social, especially if they have autism," he says. "Ride On gives them an opportunity not only to be social with the horse and the people leading the horse, but also with the other riders."

He’s come to learn the benefits of hippotherapy for disabled children. "Especially for kids with cerebral palsy, it’s had an amazing effect on these young kids’ ability to sit up better and breathe better," Goldman says.

Ride On provides a second career for many of its horses. Most are donated — after working as show jumpers, dressage or driving ponies — and then trained by Ride On. It takes a special horse with the right disposition to be a therapy horse, says Goldman. "Horses who do have a natural instinct know they’re carrying special cargo," he explains. "The calmness about them helps keep the riders calm."

The demand for Ride On’s program has been growing over the years, and one of Goldman’s prime goals is to expand the organization. To create a location on the west side of Los Angeles, Ride On has submitted a proposal to take over the equestrian operations at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, where it would create a therapeutic and hippotherapy riding program alongside riding for able-bodied equestrians. The organization also has launched a program to provide treatment to veterans.

When Goldman first broached the subject of equine therapy with his daughter’s developmental pediatrician, she, like many doctors, wasn’t familiar with it. Now he finds it’s become more accepted in the medical community. "We all know in our hearts it’s been good for our kids," he says. "But there’s now more research taking place to document the effectiveness of it and what it means for different populations."

For Ride On’s clients, being on a horse offers freedom and a unique opportunity to interact with animals and fellow horse lovers. Goldman would like to offer that opportunity to many more people. "It’s so rewarding to see the smiles of the riders every week," he says. "It’s my time each week with my daughter. It’s rewarding for her and rewarding for me as well."

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