Q: Where is the Ranch?
A: Click here to see a map! We are located at 284 Byron Rd, Byron Center MI 49315
We are on the South side of the road. The East driveway is a personal residence. Please use the West entrance by the barn.
Q: How and when do I schedule my children for H.U.G.S. session?
A: An application must be submitted in January for the year. Applications are reviewed and participants will be informed of acceptance into the program. Required forms may be submitted online at www.hugsranch.org or be mailed to H.U.G.S. Ranch at 284 Byron Road, Byron Center, MI 49315. Calls will be made in the order of the date and time your application was received to set up session dates and times. Sessions will be limited to available mentors. Individual sessions will be a series of four weeks, one day per week. Children may participate in June or August.
Q: Who needs to fill out a release form to be on the ranch property?
A: EVERYONE! Due to the unpredictable nature of horses and ranch operations, you and each person arriving with you is required to have our current liability release on file before your arrival. A new release form must be filed at the beginning of each year. Due to insurance mandates, anyone who does not have a current/completed release form cannot and will not be allowed to participate in our activities and programs.
Q: Are parents or guardians required to stay on the ranch property during their child's session?
A: Yes. While we require you to remain on the ranch grounds during your child's session you are encouraged to relax at the picnic tables, sit in the meditation garden, or stay in your cars in the parking area. During the first session you may take pictures but we ask that you refrain from following your child during their session. This is their special time!
We realize that if you choose to sit in your car you may be out of view from the office and riding areas. If you will be out of view please inform the office or your child's mentor so we will know where to locate you in the event of an emergency.
Q: Are there any special requirements for the children?
A: Our requirements are: they must want to come and can sit in a western saddle with minimal support. Through willing attitudes, broken hearts and broken lives can find healing. We do expect the children to abide by ranch rules and appropriate action will be taken if these rules are broken.
Q: What should my child wear to his or her session?
A: Due to the unpredictable nature of Michigan weather, we recommend you pay attention to how your child dresses for sessions. Layer if necessary. We also recommend hard-soled boots or shoes with closed heels and toes or riding boots. No sandals or flip-flops will be permitted. Those wearing tennis shoes will not be allowed to ride off lead.
Long pants are required unless they are not permitted for religious reasons.
Shirts or tops must cover the midriff and no spaghetti straps or sleeveless shirts.
For HOT weather
Hat for sun protection - we supply the riding helmets
For COLD weather
Several layers of clothes
Knit hat or cap
Q: Will my child always ride during his or her session?
A: Riding during your child's session is done according to the staff mentor's discretion or the child's wishes so there may be times when he or she does not ride. The children will always participate in some type of ranch chore and then may take part in any number of other activities during their session. They may choose arts and crafts, playtime/games, making a horse notebook, etc.
H.U.G.S. Ranch seeks to offer mentorship, ranch-related activities, wholesome friendships, and horse rehabilitation involvement free of charge to the youths who choose to come. The riding times are a bridge towards these goals. Our goal is to help your child become a safe rider who has learned how to understand and care for horses, not to become an "accomplished" rider. If this is your aim, please speak to Lisa Carter for information about paid riding lessons.
Q: What if something happens and we can't make it to a session?
A: We would appreciate a call at least three days in advance to allow us time to fill the session from our waiting list. However, we do understand that problems and changes do occur last minute. In this case, please call the ranch a 616-312-5254 as soon as possible. Missed sessions will not be rescheduled.
Q: Can I bring my child's friends to the ranch to play and watch while my child rides?
A: Friends are always welcome. You must bring a completed liability waiver in their name to our office before the child may participate in ANY activities at the ranch. Remember, their legal guardian MUST be the one to complete the form. Click here Applications. Then click on the Group Participant, Volunteers, and Visitors Agreement.
Please be considerate of the children that are currently taking part in a horsemanship session. The attention of the children participating in a session should not be distracted from their mentor or staff member. You are responsible for any additional children who came with you during the visit.