The cold, crisp December air whisks over the Castro Valley hills and through the spacious barn of Maddox Training. Twenty-four hooves slam into the ground forming U-shaped divots in the dark brown dirt. The muffled sound mixes with the occasional instruction or spurt of laughter. A musty horse smell of hay and wet dirt wafts through the barn. Six horses weave in and out, snorting cold air with poised riders on their backs. The partnerships perform; some with ease and some with horses intent on causing mischief. The riders occasionally stop to smile and laugh. Concentrated and in control, Freshman Ruby Trost-Goldhammer rides a chocolate brown horse in the middle of the crowd.
Trost-Goldhammer first decided that she wanted to ride horses when she was nine years old, Trost-Goldhammer’s mother Ariel Trost said. She was on a trail ride in Costa Rica and the horses were very slowly ambling along until they reached the beach.
“All of the horses just took off galloping as fast as they could,” Trost said. “Ruby is not usually the one to like scary unexpected things but I looked behind me at her galloping, on a horse, completely out of control and she had this huge smile on her face. I had never seen her so happy before.”
She has always loved animals, Trost-Goldhammer said. When she was younger she asked her parents for a dog but they refused. However, Trost-Goldhammer persisted and seven years later they finally agreed, Trost-Goldhammer said.
“She is so smart and she is incredibly nice and caring but what I think is her best trait is that she works very hard,” freshman Emma Broening said.
Trost-Goldhammer works and rides at Kelly Maddox Training in Castro Valley four days a week. On Sundays, she gets up at 6:30 a.m. and works at the barn from 8 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m., Trost said.
“I think that a lot of people assume that because I ride everything gets paid for but I pay for a considerable portion of my lease and I work at the barn for hours in order to afford to keep doing this,” Trost-Goldhammer said. “It’s really important to me so I am willing to put in that work.”
Trost-Goldhammer is hardworking, mature, and focused, Trost said. “What I really admire about Ruby is that she is always willing to work and go the extra mile; whether it’s interning here and on the weekends or doing her scholarship fund.” said the Head Trainer of Kelly Mattox Training in Castro Valley Kelly Mattox.
In 2015, Trost-Goldhammer started a program called Taking the Reins which gives scholarships to students to go to horseback riding summer camps, Trost-Goldhammer said.
“I recognize that I live in Piedmont and I get to ride horses,” Trost-Goldhammer said. “ I am super privileged. That is why I started the scholarship.”
The scholarship is Trost-Goldhammer’s mitzvah project, Trost said.
In the Jewish tradition, some temples have their members do a mitzvah project when they are having their bar or bat mitzvah, Trost said. Kids normally will take half to a third of their gift money and donate it to a charity. Sometimes kids decide to fund their own project using that money, Trost said.
“I was looking for what charity I wanted to give to and there wasn’t really one that stuck out to me,” Trost Goldhammer said. “My mom said, ‘Well you can do your own,’ and I thought, ‘Well, that’s true. Even if it is just for a summer I can still use this money to send kids to camp.’”
Trost-Goldhammer now relies on the money collected from fundraising to run the scholarship project, Trost said. In the past she has been allowed to organize and collect money from food sales at events at her barn. She has also sold tickets for a donated spin class at The Dailey Cycle.
One of the largest obstacles that Trost-Goldhammer has faced in putting together this project is how much organizing it required, Trost said.
She locates children who receive school lunches by talking to administrators and schools, Trost-Goldhammer said. She meets with the children a week before camp and gives them a tour so they know what to expect. She also makes sure that she is a CIT or Camp Counselor the week that the child is attending camp.
“I want the kids to know me.” Trost-Goldhammer said.
She has sent five kids to summer camp with the money she has earned. Luckily, at this point she has not turned down any applications due to lack of funding.
“Our kids have horses and are able to have the luxury of riding and sometimes I don’t think they totally appreciate it. I know that she really appreciates it. I think that in life it’s always important to pay it forward and give back.“ Mattox said.