Article originally appeared on OZMA of California's journal.
When we were working on our new Fall capsule we envisioned folding in new pieces that captured our core sensibility—clothes made thoughtfully, meant to be worn and loved, worked in and lived in—with an added feeling of effortless expansiveness, an easy comfort in wild, natural spaces interwoven with a sense of possibility. Naturally, when thinking of how and where to best capture that vibe, we thought of longtime OZMA friend and muse Nicole Granato and Holistic Ranch, her home and wide open heart-space/horse haven in Joshua Tree.
A place for beauty and respite, Holistic Ranch is more than a working farm, it is also a place of sanctuary: Nicole and her partner Kahn, with their young son Finn in tow, have dedicated their land and livelihood to saving horses destined for slaughter. Home to permanent equine residents Chief, Chloe, Gigi, Margot, Baby May, and a rotating cast of other friends rescued from unseen certain tragedy and on their way to new forever homes after rehabilitation, the homestead is full of love and animals, creativity and opportunity, a place for healing and renewal. We were able to steal Nicole away from the endless beautiful work of farm life to talk about the quiet mindfulness of horses, the idea of “rewilding”, and how clothes should feel.
How did you end up in Joshua Tree— or what came first, your decision to start rescuing and rehabilitating horses or moving? Or did those things happen in concert?
We had owned a house in Joshua Tree for a while and one day decided we couldn’t live in a city anymore, this was in 2018! We wanted space, we wanted to be away from toxic fumes and noise, we just wanted to reconnect with nature and feel free. We made the decision and two weeks later were living in our home in Joshua Tree.
You have had a deep kinship with horses for most of your life, how did you make the leap from simply being a lover of horses to liberating and saving horses from slaughter?
It all started when my husband and I were driving by a breeding farm one day and were horrified by the things we saw. We were led to a horse that they were getting “rid of” and the minute we looked in his eyes we knew we couldn’t leave him. We started learning about the abuse and horrible painful life of racehorses and then did a deep dive into the slaughter industry. We had the land and saw that this could be a place they could come to and heal, be reconnected to their natural world and essentially, on a small scale, rewild them. I feel so deeply we owe horses so much for where we are in the world, like, humans literally wouldn’t have been able to survive without them. The way in which they are treated breaks my heart.
How do you describe your connection to horses and how is that emotional connection and communicative understanding similar or different to your relationship with humans? What is valuable?
Horses saved me as a young girl. I never felt safer and more at peace than when I was in a barn. If I was mucking stalls or cleaning tack, grooming or riding, I was happy. I am a person who loves people but doesn’t get really close to many, and I feel horses are the same. There is a very instinctual connection that horses make with humans, it doesn’t use words but is based on feeling, emotion, and mutual understanding—and that’s how I am. There is so much value in listening to your body and trusting your instincts but also being quietly mindful of the beings around you. I think I learned that from them at a young age. They are truly incredible animals.
How does the work you do inform your partnership? Your mothering?
I feel like partnership and mothering is always an evolving relationship. Through my horse mentor I am really learning more patience and finding ways in which to communicate that are different from my own. That is what horses require, they just want to be understood in the ways they know how to communicate. Don’t we all?
With the seismic shifts of city>wildness, have you noticed any shifts in personal style due to your labor and lifestyle? How should clothes feel?
Well, I have always been a jeans and t-shirt/throw on a dress and walk out the door kind of girl so not much! I do believe that anything you have in your closet should be something that can almost go with anything. I love versatile pieces but also very simple and classic pieces. Though what I wear now must be able to withstand these working days.
What are your dreams for yourself and your family? What is filling your cup right now and what rich promises are on the horizon?
We are opening Holistic Ranch General Store in a month here in Yucca Valley! We are so excited to be bringing a place where people can access high quality regenerative & organically grown produce. My husband and I talk a lot about loving doing things, creating things, seeing a need and meeting it. We feel so fortunate and grateful to be able to do what we do here. We will be launching a lot of our own products as well which we are very excited about.