Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week, we salute Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch of Bend, Oregon.
This week’s honoree:
Mission Statement: Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch exists to Rescue the Equine, Mentor the Child, offer Hope for the Family and Empower the Ministry.
Vision Statement: Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch exists to provide a safe and positive experience for children and families to learn about the saving hope of Jesus Christ in an authentic western environment.
Please tell us more about your youth programming and where the horses fit into the bigger picture.
Horses fit so well into this program due to their sensitive nature and the unique connectedness that happens between a horse and rider. Kids are taught about equine safety and animal husbandry, but on a foundational level there is a myriad of lessons that are learned on a daily basis between the kids and the horses: trust, appropriate boundaries, sensitivity to another being, to name a few. All the sessions are one on one so no child gets lost in a group.
Every time a child has a session they are asked to do a 20-minute chore, a form of giving back to the ranch, which in turn can give the child a sense of ownership, self-worth and belonging. During our sessions, the kids are taught how to groom and tack up, and then more general riding safety and equine care. What is unique about their time with the horse is that having a thousand-pound focal point allows for the child to let those conversation barriers come down and for the rider and mentor to really bond through the love and care of that horse. Not every session has horses involved as some are centered around the woodshop, gardening, playing games or even just talking on the grassy hill.
Where do your horses come from?
The ranch has been a horse rescue for the past 20 years. Some of our horses have been merely rehomed here due to financial or property loss, some have been donated to us by wonderful owners and unfortunately, many have been rescued from tragic situations. We do not possess any law-enforcement abilities so almost every horse that CPYR rescues has been purchased in some form. To date, the ranch has assisted in over 300 horse rescue operations.
Due to the property size of Crystal Peaks and the desire to keep the herd healthy first, we do have to be somewhat selective in the horses that we are able to take on. Gratefully, due to our thriving Similar Ministries department, we are able to redirect folks to over 150 other ranches around the world where horses can potentially be placed. In addition, we have a donation page on our website where folks can post their horse for adoption.
It appears that your ranch is really a threefold rescue–you are helping the horses, the youth, and even the property itself. Can you tell us more about the work you did with the original property to bring it to its current state?
The original property was literally a cinder pit, being mined for cinders. Yet it was what the Meeders [CYPR’s founders] could afford at the time. This was 8.9 acres that absolutely no one wanted: it was ruined beyond realistic repair. It is amazing what a little horse manure and water can do! Both Troy and Kim spent many tireless hours, days and months moving lots of rock, patchworking leftover sod and tossed-out trees to help give the land life. Troy’s experience and knowledge in landscaping coupled with Kim’s eye for artistic detail have given Crystal Peaks the finishing touches that make this place look like a quaint western town.
What’s a ‘typical’ day like at Crystal Peaks? (If there is such a thing!)
A typical day at the ranch looks something like this: the staff gets here in the morning and checks into the office for emails and their schedule. On certain days we all meet up for horse class to work with specific horses or we will work on projects for the duration of the morning. Then the kids come! The afternoons are filled with kids doing typical ranch chores like scooping manure, filing bird feeders, doctoring horses, watering gardens and grounds keeping. We typically have on average 20 to 30 sessions a day where kids can choose to ride, groom or paint a horse, spend time in the woodshop making a project, spend time gardening, making jewelry, playing games or even having a water fight on the grassy hill.
How many volunteers help at the ranch?
Currently, we have close to 60 very involved volunteers that are either here every day or rotate in throughout the week. Over the years we have had thousands of volunteers come through this place, with beautiful willing hands and hearts. Every year, the ranch volunteer coordinator chooses a handful of individuals to come and volunteer full-time at the ranch for the session season. These amazing helpers have the opportunity to learn to function as staff while they are here and assist the ranch with the horses, the kids and the families.
Where does your funding come from?
Our funding comes from a wide gamut of sources, from sweet grandmas that have a lifetime love and passion for kids and horses all the way to matching-donation programs through companies. We have no affiliations with government agencies.
Any upcoming events or fundraisers we can share?
The ranch is always buzzing with activity! Summer is definitely a fun time. We are looking forward to our annual Hoe Down on July 25th. We have monthly fellowships (dinner, worship music and a message from Troy or Kim.) We will also have a summer wrap-up party in August, harvest days in September and October and then our barn sale in November. All of our upcoming events are featured on our calendar.
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected] Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.