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Help bring the horses back


September 2020’s Glass Fire did a number on many homes and businesses along the Sonoma Highway in the upper Sonoma Valley, among them The Pony Express, a 40-year-old nonprofit that mentors troubled youth by pairing them with horses.

While all of the organization’s horses survived the conflagration, much of the ranch’s infrastructure was destroyed. Video posted on The Pony Express website vividly documents the devastation. Compounding the losses, not all damages are covered by insurance, which has prompted a number of supporters to step up. These benefactors, according to Pony Express executive director Linda Aldrich, include the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Jackie and Larry Simons, Western Farm Center, Bar ALE Feed, Heritage Salvage, Friedman Brothers, Garton Tractor, the Engineering Contractors Association (ECA), and “loyal friends and family.”

But additional help is needed. To “bring our horses home,” more than 3,000 feet of perimeter fencing has been rebuilt—an $80,000 uncovered expense. But a hay barn still must be brought back online. Aldrich has set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for necessary repairs.

The Pony Express was founded in 1982 by Aldrich, a recently divorced mother of two looking for a “second chance.” The organization’s programs, according to its website, teach kids “how to build relationships that are grounded in trust, respect, communication, and teamwork. In saying yes to a relationship with a 1,000-pound horse, kids learn the importance of establishing boundaries and making good choices, [which creates] leadership and life skills. . .”

“Second chances can be blessings, disguised as lessons and oft-times learned the hard way,” Aldrich recently wrote in an email. Still, she feels “thankful” and “hope-filled” as she looks forward to welcoming youth and horses back to the ranch.

To learn more or to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit or