At Blazin’ Saddles we have a passion for horses and a desire to help people.”
That objective of Blazin’ Saddles (as stated on the ranch’s website) became very evident during a recent interview with ranch co-owner, Wendy Smith, as she told about herself, the ranch’s history & services and about a special event the organization is planning for July 2 – 5.
Wendy (Swenson) grew up in the Newfolden area. Her father was a horse trader and Wendy grew up riding horses. She said that when she struggled with issues as a young person, she rode horse. Even as a teen, she had dreams of helping people, using the avenue of horses.
Karlstad area residents may be familiar with Wendy, as she worked in customer service at Wikstrom Telephone Company for twenty years.
Horses, however, always remained a big part of Wendy’s life. She attended the Minnesota Horse Training Academy to become a certified trainer and, just six years ago, became certified in Equine Assisted Learning through the OK Corral.
Wendy is not alone in her work at Blazin’ Saddles; her husband, Rick Smith, is also involved as are daughter, Amanda Tungseth, and Amanda’s husband, Josh. (In fact, Josh, Amanda and their children are actually the ones who live at the ranch, which is located west of Newfolden).
Josh and Amanda are also both certified through the OK Corral in Equine Assisted Learning.
Amanda earned a degree in equine science through the University of Minnesota Crookston.
“She was training them when she was fourteen,” stated Wendy in regard to Amanda’s abilities with and interest in horses.
Blazin’ Saddles originally offered riding lessons and camps, but is increasingly working in the area of equine-assisted wellness.
Wendy speaks of wanting to help “people who are broken” and “kids who have messes in their lives.”
She has worked with people who have been abused, have addiction issues and marital problems. She has experienced success working with children who have conditions, such as autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Regarding children with ADHD, she said, “It seems like the motion of the horse gives them a peace and calm…I don’t see things they see at school (such as acting out and reacting).”
Wendy says she can learn about people and people can learn about themselves through how they interact with the horses and how they complete tasks she assigns at the ranch.
“I can see how they do life by the way they are with the horses,” she says.
“A lot of kids today don’t know how to be a team,” she states, noting that when groups of children are assigned tasks at the ranch they need to be able to communicate with each other in order to get the horses to do what they want.
Blazin’ Saddles Ranch is unabashedly Christian in approach.
“I’ve got this father (God) who loves me so much,” is a message Wendy tries to get across to her clients.
Though the ranch has usually only offered its services from April through October, they would like to become a year around operation.
“We are hoping for a building this fall so we can do it year around,” stated Wendy.
In an effort to minister to people and to raise funds for a building, they are planning a big event for July 2 – 5. That event will include horse riding, biking, running or walking routes in the Newfolden and Viking areas, old fashioned tent meetings, meals catered by Red Barn Catering, a free concert by I Am They (a contemporary Christian music band) at the Warren Fairgrounds and “Cowboy Church” in Viking on Sunday morning.
Lots more could be said about this “Ride for Revival” event and the services and ministries of Blazin’ Saddles Ranch. For more information, go to www.blazinsaddles.org
Or, you may reach Wendy Smith at 218-686-8577 or Amanda Tungseth at 218-416-0699.