|| 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
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
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