GUTHRIE, Okla. (KFOR) – The owner of a horse ranch in Guthrie is being honored for going far above just offering lessons and boarding. Inside the stables, some young girls say their lives have been transformed.
Mary Lou Kultgen has been riding at 3F Ranch and Boarding for eight years. Owner Amanda Colliver trains Mary Lou in the riding style of Western dressage.
Mary Lou tells News 4 that she recently placed 5th in the world in the technique, during the 2022 Farnam American Quarter Horse Association world championship at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds – but that’s not why she thinks so highly of Amanda and her husband, Bill.
“I have seen teenagers come and go through the barn, teenagers that are in need of maybe mental support, in need of support from school, from a bad school situation, from a bad home situation,” Mary Lou said. “They give their time, their effort, and their love to these kids to make them more positive people in this world, and show them that they do matter.”
“It’s brought out a lot of confidence in me,” said 17-year-old Mercy Shearer, who has worked her way up from volunteer to manager. “It’s crazy how, like, I’ve never had a really, really safe place to hang out, and this is perfect and safe, and you really can, you can be yourself.”
“It’s very calming, very healing,” said 23-year-old Taylor Pixton, who is also employed at 3F Ranch. “It’s amazing, I love it!”
“I was in a bad place in my life, and once I started coming consistently, it helped me break out of my shell, just become more of a person,” said Montana Wood, 15, who works part-time caring for the horses.
Like all the girls at 3F Ranch, Montana and her 9-year-old sister, Tamzin, believe horses have a soothing super power.
“They can’t speak but, they just kind of get you, and they’re just there when you need them,” Tamzin said, as tears filled her eyes.
Watching the growth in these girls, and many more like them, is why Mary Lou nominated Amanda for a Pay It 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank’s Adam Kelley.
“It’s clear that her big heart echoes through everything that she does. And because of that, on behalf of First Fidelity Bank and Pay It 4Ward, it’s my honor to present Amanda with $400,” Adam said.
News 4’s Heather Holeman joined Mary Lou in surprising Amanda at the barn with cash-in-hand.
“You make them very productive people and young adults, they love you, you do it with your open heart, your love, support,” Mary Lou told Amanda. “Here’s your $400.”
“Thank you, I appreciate it. Thank you,” Amanda said while hugging Mary Lou.
Amanda is a former 911 dispatcher and has dealt many times with the mental anguish and desperation that many kids feel – including herself.
“Whenever I was younger, my dad took his life,” Amanda said. “My mom, she was like, ‘You know what, I think you need a horse,’ and I said, ‘Okay!’ So, she got me my first horse and I was about ten. And if it wasn’t for that one decision that she made, there’s no telling where any of this would be.”
It all led to 72 horses on more than 200 acres. Some are boarded, some she owns. And it’s where Amanda leads family trail rides, teaches riding techniques, barrels, jumps, equine care, nutrition – and acceptance to all who walk through the stable doors.
“They don’t know who they are, who it’s safe to be around, who they’re safe to talk to and out here they’re able to be themselves, and if they want to open up, they can open up,” Amanda said of the girls she mentors. “And if they don’t want to open up, that’s fine, just pick a horse and just love on it.”
“She’s amazing, she’s done so much for me,” Taylor said. Montana chimed in, “I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.”
Heather Holeman then said to Amanda, “That’s got to make you feel so good.”
“It does, it absolutely does,” Amanda smiled.
If you know someone who is not related to you and is deserving of a Pay It 4Ward award, click here to nominate them.
Pay It 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.