Ben Richey Boys Ranch had worked to develop a horseback riding program for many years but the program never seemed to be able to get off the ground.  In early 2012, Sheila Surgeon, an experienced horse owner and rider approached the Ranch with a proposal.  She developed a plan that would bring together committed volunteers, community support and even a few horses. Under the determined guidance of Sheila, the Horse Program was kicked off in September of 2013.

The Boys Ranch Horse Program is more than just a trail ride managed by experienced wranglers.  The boys actively participate at every level of care for the horses.  They groom, feed, clean stalls and work in the horse barn.  Boys are assigned horses based on the temperament of both the horse and the boy. Horseback riding comes only after basic care of the facility and the horses.


While some may consider horseback riding to be a simple recreational activity, those who know horses know better. Aside learning the responsibility of caring for a horse there are numerous benefits for the boys.

Strength and conditioning: Riding a horse for an hour provides the same calorie-burning benefit as a 30 minute jog or bike ride.  Additionally, properly riding a horse helps the boys develop coordination and muscle control.  Riding and reacting to the movement of a horse affects almost every muscle group.

Mental Acuity: Focused concentration is an absolute must for horseback riders. This concentration begins before the horse is ever saddled. Following every proper step requires the rider to think through what must happen before the ride. Once the ride begins the boys must continue to focus and pay attention to the movement of the horse.
Stress Relief: Horseback riding can relieve stresses from the day or a particular situation. With focus on the horse and the immediate task, worries are often forgotten and new memories are being made.
Self-discipline: The boys learn that every action performed while riding or near a horse will elicit an appropriate reaction from the horse. If a boy is agitated, the horse will let him know very quickly that the behavior will not be rewarded. Often, without the boys realizing this, the horse becomes a teacher. The boys learn to properly communicate with the horses in both voice and body.
Patience: Learning to ride a horse requires learning a whole new skill-set. Through guidance of staff and volunteers, the boys are taught the steps required to ride. The boys also learn that over time a special bond occurs between the horse and rider. With regular riding and development of skills, it will become apparent to the boy that the relationship with the horse takes time to develop.
Self-confidence:Learning and practicing the art of horsemanship allows the boys to develop a higher level of confidence. Having the true skills to properly care for and ride a horse give each boy something special.


The horse barn is complete and the boys are busy with riding, feeding and mucking stalls. And, with the addition of the new Horse Program at Ben Richey Boys Ranch in Abilene there comes a genuine need for all the parts and pieces that make it work.

Items needed for the Horse Program include:

  • Saddles
  • Tack
  • Blankets
  • Hats for the Boys during parade season
  • Ropes and roping dummy
  • Feed and hay
  • Arena lighting
  • Boots-the boys grow out of ’em in a hurry!
  • Monetary donations. Your donations help support the Horse Program.

Several horses have been gifted to the boys and if you have a “Good, bomb-proof, kid horse,” that you would like to donate, please let us know.

Additionally there is a need to build an arena at the Ranch. With the help of volunteers and monetary donations this plan can easily be realized. If you have welding skills or are a licensed electrician and can donate your time please let us know. As with all gifts to the Ranch, you contribution is tax deductible.