WE ARE HERE TO INSPIRE YOU
On the wind swept hills, surrounded by the bluffs of the Lakota Badlands, a group of Native American youth brush, bridle and saddle their coveted animals for an afternoon of horsemanship and laughter with close friends. Away from all too common tough home life stands a warm place to ride and finish the days studies, a place safe from the Dakota’s harsh winter months. Believing this is possible, Sage to Saddle with the support of the Pine Ridge community, hopes to provide an indoor horse riding arena for kids from 8-18 years old with an after school program focused on equine relationships and the responsibilities horse care involves. Rotating through arena activities and the required time for completing homework in the attached classroom, students of the program will be given the opportunity to carry on a horse nations tradition with the very animal that made their survival possible.
Our goals are simple due to the factors at hand. On a reservation the size of Rhode Island and Delaware live herds of horses ready to ride and large sections of tribal land. Combined with long, dark winters often averaging frigid temps and a youth population with a hereditary desire to bond with animals 10 times their size.
In the hills just outside the reservations largest community of Pine Ridge, our arena will be open to all youth with shuttle service to and from camp weekdays only starting late October through mid-April. With snacks provided and required homework time, our youth will also be provided with the knowledge passed down through generations from paid staff and volunteers well versed in the Lakota Language, traditions of their nation and animal husbandry. Ponies to 15-hand horses will fill the arena with groups of young riders divided by level participating in all disciplines of horsemanship.
With lofty yet obtainable goals, including trail rides throughout the warm months, student trained horse sales to raise donations and travel opportunities to other native reservation’s festivals, we hope to encourage today’s and future generations sense of pride. This would be a healthy alternative from the prevalent poverty and substance abuse, a major contributing factor to late winter’s “suicide season” a number four times the national average. A time when pressure of 17 people per drafty single-wide trailer, living in chaotic, desperate situations deprives the young mind of positive reinforcement. This is the motivation behind Sage to Saddle, to see the same kids who are so bright and free in the summer months, riding the streets bareback to a friends house, stopping by the market for cold drink to know with help from you that when the winter months hit, they still have a place to go.
Our Team :
A former archaeologist raised by a sports coach and a school teacher, with twenty years dedicated to photographing America’s West and volunteering for organizations from California healing surf camps to Native youth cultural discovery tours. While on photo assignment with Native American horse racing teams for Outside magazine, Nate and Stan realized the need for a winter horse riding facility and a community who would benefit greatly from it.
Riding Arena Coordinator
From quarterback to rodeo wins, this 28 year old Lakota Native and driving force behind Pine Ridge’s horse community has dedicated himself to serving the community through group rides, volunteer firefighting and indian relay team management. A rancher and father of two young boys, Stan is well versed in the demands of animal husbandry and and the knowledge he passes down.
Angela Smith grew up in Utah, exploring the Mountains and Deserts throughout the West, she currently resides in Southern California. She has been involved with nonprofits throughout her life, supporting differing charities and causes through volunteering, increasing public awareness, organizing private donation and events. She currently is supporting local groups involved with homeless families, mental health and addiction issues, and veteran work training programs in San Diego.
Angela works in the fields of software, design, and technology, hoping to provide help and opportunities for communities and populations in need