Are you interested in learning more about student sessions? Then you've come to the right place!
RRM's mission is to revive the spirit, rescue the equine and mentor the child. This page is to give you resources and hopefully answer some questions you may have about our youth mentorship program!
Student sessions are designed for youth ages 4-17 years old that could use some hope and uplifting in their lives. Everyone's walk in life looks a little different, and if we can use horses to bring the hope and healing offered by Jesus Christ into a child's life we're all for it! The students we see typically are struggling with depression, bullying, drugs or alcohol, a divorce of their parents, a loss of a loved one, a big life change (such as moving to a new school or home) or something similar. We have no regulations on who can attend sessions outside of our age limitations and that the student must want to attend.
Student sessions occur 8-10 weeks out of the year, twice per week for 90 minutes each. Registration opens the first Monday of every month of sessions (May - September) and closes when sessions are filled. Please register by using the form at the bottom of this page. Email or phone is also available but not preferred.
Students are paired with a RRM adult mentor and sessions are student led. Students spend the first few minutes of their session working alongside their mentor to accomplish a simple farm chore. Then they can choose to work with horses in a variety of ways (riding, grooming, ground training, photographing, painting, bathing, hand grazing etc.) or a non-horse related activity like crafting or gardening. We may take the opportunity to pray for your child or tell them about the love of Jesus Christ during the session if the opportunity presents itself.
Sessions are currently held at a shared facility until we have the means to purchase our own ranch. Currently on-site sessions are located at Highview Equestrian Center in Byron, MN. We do have the means of bringing sessions to a group of students if necessary - please contact us for more info on this!
Refuge Ranch Ministries
Additional Information and Liability Form
The sole reasoning behind starting Refuge Ranch Ministries (RRM) is to build God’s kingdom in this world. Then it is to provide a safe and loving place for children, horses & families to experience hope, healing & encouragement. In each session there is one main focal point – to mentor the child.
This is achieved by inviting the children to come exactly as they are. The leaders & volunteers at RRM work diligently to pair the kids with an activity or horse that will encourage them toward hope, repair & personal growth.
All session activities are chosen at the discretion of each individual leader. Some of the activities available include working with/riding horses, crafts, games, gardening, chores and life skills. A secondary goal of our session program is to educate kids in equine safety and horse husbandry. All activities with the children are structured to accomplish our primary goal of creating a safe and loving environment to mentor the child.
Sessions are filled on a first come – first serve basis. You will be contacted via phone or email to confirm your session.
The only requirement for children coming to a session is that they want to be here. Our program is open to all children ages 4-17. On occasion, based on need, age exceptions may be considered. Session leaders work hard to adapt each session to meet the individual needs of each child. While we do not wish to turn any child away, there are a limited number of sessions available each week and we cannot guarantee a session for every child who wants one. Also, a release of liability form is necessary for every person on the property for each calendar year. If a child is brought by someone who is not their legal guardian, RRM must have a current release form completed upon arrival by the parent/guardian in order for the child to participate in farm activity. Forms can be found online or be filled out upon arriving at the farm.
The cost of student sessions is $20/session. We try to subsidize the fee down to $5/session when possible through God's grace & our fantastic financial sponsors. Please contact us if financial assistance is needed.
We ask that a child’s parent/guardian or approved caretaker be on the property at all times during the child’s session. We hope for this time to be relaxing and enjoyable for everyone. Here are some ideas for that time as well as some general safety rules.
- Read or relax in one of the areas provided. If you need help finding a comfortable spot please ask a leader for help, they will quickly assist you and get back to providing undivided attention to the child in session.
- Seek out a private location for a time of quiet reflection & prayer.
- Get plugged in as a part-time volunteer!
- Play or be involved with kids who are not in sessions. Please keep your children not in sessions with you at all times.
- Watch your child during their session. We do ask that you watch from a distance and help us to maintain a one-on-one relationship with your child with limited distractions.
- Taking pictures of your child is permitted and encouraged. We ask that parents use discernment regarding space given to their child & the leader during the session.
- The horses, dogs, chickens & cats welcome visitors. You’re welcome to visit any of them but please do not enter the fenced in areas or feed any treats without a RMM leader present.
The focus of our session’s program is to love and encourage children towards hope & fulfillment. This is an extremely unique process as each individual child is unique. However here’s what a ninety minute session will typically look like:
Chores – Almost every child and leader will complete a small chore at the beginning of the session. This time is designed to teach the importance of serving others by giving through the work of your own hands. Often this opportunity empowers children in knowing that their efforts can make a difference to those around them. It also enables leaders to better understand each child each day, and gain perspective for the best use of the following time.
Working with horses – The majority of children who come to RRM are drawn to the farm because of the horses. The kids will learn to correctly approach, handle, groom, ride, round pen & more during their sessions.
Crafts – For the children who do not wish to spend time riding horses, the farm has assembled some wonderful craft options for them & the leader to use. Our large equine canvases are an example of a fun “horse painting” activity for those not wishing to ride.
Play – Often, the most valuable time in a child’s life is to allow and encourage kids to be kids by playing! Many children choose to spend their entire session entirely engaged in playing games.
Sessions can include one or many of the above components, or sometimes something entirely unique. Together, the leader and child determine the best course of action for each session time. Session leaders do their best to listen and creatively respond by using the resources of the farm to support and encourage the children.
Clothing & Equipment Requirements & Recommendations:
*Shoes/boots with closed toes and closed heels are required. Shoes/boots with little or no tread and a heel are recommended.
*Long pants are recommended for riding.
*Nothing can be hanging down around the neck or tied around the waist while riding.
*All sessions take place either in the unheated indoor arena or outside so layering clothing is ideal.
*We recommend a water bottle & sunscreen/bug spray if necessary
For the safety of the families and horses we request that everyone park in designated parking areas and that cars do not drive into the actual yard (it is typically chained off). If closer parking is necessary we can accommodate, just let the greeter know upon arrival.
We hope this helps clarify what Refuge Ranch Ministries is and what it stands for. If you’re interested in finding out more about scheduling sessions, donating resources or volunteering please contact us!
Upcoming Session Dates:
Cost of sessions is $20 each, payable via cash or check the day of your session.
Release of Liability form must be filled out annually for everyone visiting RRM.
Contact our student session advisor, Abby Zylstra for additional information or questions at (507) 440-0838 or firstname.lastname@example.org