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Crystal Young goes nose-to-nose with her horse Bumblebee at Reclamation Ranch. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Reclamation Ranch helps individuals with therapeutic riding, equine life coaching

MITCHELL, S.D. — Prince William is everyone's favorite horse at Reclamation Ranch.

The social animal will walk right up to visitors, allowing anyone to pet or feed him. He's one of several horses over 20 years old on the ranch, which sits just a few miles south of Mitchell.

The ranch features 11 horses, according to Crystal Young, who, along with her husband, operates Reclamation Ranch — a place where children and adults can go for birthday parties, riding lessons and, most importantly, therapeutic riding.

In 2013, Young and her husband, Quinton, purchased the property with intentions to raise their two children there. Both grew up with horses and knew it'd be a great place to be with family, and have horses. But it evolved into so much more.

That same year, Young went through a certification program to become an equine gestalt life coach, which is a method of horse-human healing. Along with the coach, the horse and an active partner examines their life and choices with a focus on designing a positive future, Young explained.

Along with life coaching, Reclamation Ranch also offers therapeutic riding, called the SpiritHorse Program, that started in 2015 with Helping with Horsepower, a nonprofit based in Mitchell. The SpiritHorse program assists individuals with special needs in reaching full potential, Young said, through interactions with horses.

Clients are given one hour each week with a horse and instructor, beginning in May — the start of the riding season. It typically goes through October, Young said.

And after two years of the horse program, the amount of clients has tripled, with approximately 15 riders this year.

"And the crazy thing is it's only year two of this," Young said.

Possessing a meaning and a purpose

Walking around the ranch, it's still a work in progress.

Young and her husband both have full-time jobs, which leaves little time to work on the ranch. But slowly and surely it's becoming the vision that the Youngs have for the property.

The nearly 20-acre property has a large riding arena, a barn decorated for parties and gatherings, a riding trail, a storage barn of reclaimed wood — called the "cat barn" because of the family's many cats prowling the building — and lots of space for horses to roam.

"I just feel like it's another opportunity for our community to have an outdoor, down home fun, go-play-on-the-farm type of experience," Young said.

The name for Reclamation Ranch holds a lot of meaning for the Young family. Young's father-in-law enjoys taking old, unused and recycled material and repurposing it.

And with a family to support, Young said, her family can't always buy brand new stuff. A lot of the horse tack, materials and even dirt on the riding arena is donated. But the ranch has reclaimed it.

And that's the same idea Young tells her clients in the riding, therapeutic riding and in the equine gestalt coaching sessions.

Although Young, who also works at the Creekside Veterinary Clinic, has been around horses her entire life, she said there is nothing quite as rewarding and fulfilling as her coaching and therapeutic riding sessions.

And she's amazed it all started with simply raising her own family.

"Initially it started out as family bonding time, and it's grown into watching other families bond.

..." Young said. "It's amazing being part of that transformation, of not just the children, but families as well."

Young had no idea Reclamation Ranch would be in her and her family's future, let alone the success it's seen so quickly, but she's glad for the opportunity.

"I knew I wanted to do something big, meaningful and purposeful and make a difference. I didn't really know how or what," she said. "I've always been drawn to horses, and like I was saying, when things are meant to be and in the proper time, it just flows together, simple and it's easy. "

A grand vision

After owning the property for approximately four years, the Youngs already have big plans in place.

First, they'd like to expand, adding more acreage for their horses. They also have plans to clean up more of the property, add to the trail, insulate the riding barn for year-round sessions and develop a outdoor arena.

But the first goal is to obtain a wheelchair lift.

Next weekend, Reclamation Ranch, along with Helping with Horsepower, will be having a fundraiser from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Highland Mall. Here they will be fundraising through silent auctions and raffle items to pay for a nearly $6,000 wheelchair lift.

The lift will go in the riding arena at Reclamation Ranch, to help those with physical disabilities get onto a horse. And with this small, yet pricey, addition, even more people can utilize Reclamation Ranch, which is all Young can hope for. And she has her family and friends to thank for the ranch's success.

"We've got some really good family friends, and I don't know how we got so fortunate, and people just enjoy coming out and doing physical labor. And so do I," Young said. "... This isn't work, this is play."

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