Petting zoo helps foster a love of animals

Pamela Kramer-Glickman is never happier or more at peace than when she is around her animals — and she is around her animals a lot. There’s her “handsome” quarter-horse Stanley, her Palomino pony Daisy, her Suffolk sheep Julian, Gittel the pygmy goat, her chickens she absolutely adores, and Marla, the pig, who sits under her desk while she’s working at home, warming her toes.

These animals and more

make up Pammy’s Pony Parties and Petting Zoo, which is partially housed at U.K. Equestrian at Rancho Cielo in Rancho Santa Fe. Her parties and petting zoo go on the road while riding lessons and an upcoming summer camp will be held at Rancho Cielo.

Pamela Kramer-Glickman and a young rider.
Pamela Kramer-Glickman and a young rider.

“I encourage children especially to be around a horse ranch, they learn so much more than just riding,” Kramer-Glickman said. “They learn compassion for animals and it builds their self-esteem. They learn discipline, accountability and responsibilities. They learn to love and trust an animal as a friend. They have a sense of family and camaraderie with other riders. Age makes no difference.”

The ranch was previously owned by Ginger Hill and was called Rancho East. Kramer-Glickman said she was lucky that Hill welcomed her in with her quarter-horse Stanley, her Palomino pony Daisy and her sheep and goat.

“To find a ranch that would let you bring in a baa-ing sheep and goat was unheard of it, as it might scare the horses. Ginger's attitude was it’s just another farm animal. The horses will learn and adjust,” Kramer-Glickman said.

In September 2016, Graeme Dixon purchased the 11-acre ranch and renamed it Rancho Cielo — it is now home to about 85 horses in a newly spruced-up facility and barns. Kramer-Glickman was grateful that he allowed her sheep and goats to stay on, sharing the feeling that children could learn a lot from visiting with the animals.

“He had a vision of wanting lots of children and grown-ups to learn to ride. He enjoys the sound of the children and the pure joy and happiness it brings to the ranch,” Kramer-Glickman said.

Through the ranch’s business U.K. Equestrian, children can start beginning lessons with trainers Dixon and Shayna Gale and continue to ride either for pleasure or to go on to compete in local shows.

Kramer-Glickman has taught horseback riding to children for over 40 years, beginning in her native Canada. She also worked as a veterinary assistant and is an insured horseback riding instructor, camp director and teacher.

She has always loved animals and moved to California from Montreal nearly 30 years ago with her childhood horse and her filly. The horses passed away at the ages of 27 and 25 and a heartbroken Kramer-Glickman wasn’t sure she could ever own a horse again.

Her whole life changed after a friend asked her to visit her horse in Del Mar at Far West Farms, owned by Sandy Arledge. At Far West Farms she saw horses and foals everywhere, chickens running around, some goats, a cow, peacocks, rescued rabbits and guinea pigs, and dogs.

“I had only seen this many animals in a zoo. All the animals got along, the dogs did not chase the chickens or the horses. The peacocks walk along and did their own thing. Life seemed balanced and in harmony and chickens came when you called their name,” Kramer-Glickman said.

She was hooked on the farm life and bought a quarter-horse from Arledge and then got some chickens of her own — she would’ve never thought that chickens could be such loving creatures.

“They had personalities, they were affectionate and I felt like it was Christmas morning every day when I collected their eggs,” Kramer-Glickman said.

She became more than just a horse rider but a small farmer, purchasing baby bunnies, a baby goat and helped nurse a baby sheep back to life, bottle feeding it while it lived in her home. As her little farm grew larger, she created Pammy’s Pony Parties and Petting Zoo to take the show on the road.

“I couldn’t wait to bring them to preschools, senior homes and share my new experience. There is so much unconditional love all around us,” Kramer-Glickman said.

One of the things she enjoys most about her traveling petting zoo is the joy it brings. She watches as children with learning disabilities or people who are overcoming cancer find their strength again and feel powerful by riding a horse or leading as goat; she delights seeing children cradle a chicken or give her big fluffy sheep Julian a snuggly hug.

“I’m getting a chance in my senior years to do something I love,” Kramer-Glickman said.

Kids enjoy the animals at Rancho Cielo.
Kids enjoy the animals at Rancho Cielo.

Kramer-Glickman loves seeing children coming straight from school to the ranch for lessons or training, caring for their own horses or visiting her sheep and goats. She has led several children through training to get their “Animal Handler’s License.” Having the license allows them to come visit and care for ponies, goats and sheep on the Rancho Cielo property, giving them a sense of responsibility.

“When they’re at the ranch, they’re not inside by a computer or playing video games, they’re out in the fresh air. It’s so wonderful,” said Kramer-Glickman, noting the therapeutic feeling she gets from being on the ranch after a busy day, taking a leisurely horse ride in beautiful Rancho Santa Fe. “You go out and you just feel like you’re in a different world. It doesn’t seem to matter how stressful my day is, I can come here and just exhale.”

Kramer-Glickman said beyond that sense of calm and unconditional love, there is so much to learn from being on the ranch. One of her favorite lessons to share with kids is that when they are walking or riding a horse or goat, you have to pick a focus point and go toward it and the animal will follow your lead.

“It is my philosophy in life that if you have a plan and look ahead to where you want to go, you’ll get there,” Kramer-Glickman said.

U.K. Equestrian is located at 18547 Aliso Canyon Road. Pammy’s Ponies upcoming Summer Equestrian Camp will allow campers to learn about all the basics of horse care through games and activities. In addition to feeding, grooming and equine education they will also get to interact with pigs, sheep, ducks, goats, rabbits, chickens and more. To learn more, visit Pammy’s Pony Parties & Petting Zoo on Facebook.