‘Horses are good for you,’
say ministry ranch owners
JUNCTION CITY — Mike and Jeanie Langley acknowledge that their ranch ministry a few miles from this Lane County city is not unique. There are lots of equine-oriented ministries and therapy organizations today.
That shouldn’t be surprising, considering how special horses are as part of God’s great creation, the Langleys say.
“Our own experience is that horses are good for you — inside and out,” said Mike. “And our strong conviction that we can learn much about our relationship with God and who He has created us, individually and collectively, to be as we interact with His creation, particularly, horses. What a gift, what grace to have this opportunity. Nothing quite steps up like a wild horse and says,’God made me!’ ’’
Seven miles northwest of Junction City in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range, Wild Ones Youth Ranch was officially organized as a Christian non-profit outreach six years ago. But it developed gradually during the prior decade.
“In 2000, shortly after moving to our farm, we began sharing our few — at that time — horses with our kids’ classmates and friends from church. We were very much interested in mustangs, particularly the BLM Kigers from eastern Oregon,” said Mike, referring to horses managed in herds there by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
“We bought an older stallion and younger one, acquired a few mares and began breeding,” he continued. “The more mustangs on the ranch, the more kids we needed to play with them … More mustangs — some given to us, some rescued or adopted. More youth — homeschoolers, foster kids, special needs kiddos, some homeless youth. It wasn’t even as though a vision for ministry was developing. It was just happening. We were already sitting pretty deep in the saddle.”
More kids and horses necessarily meant a plan and organization for maximum safety, enjoyment and faithful stewardship. The Langleys received moral, physical, prayerful and financial help and encouragement from a number of people. A board of directors was formed to guide the outreach.
The Langleys describe Wild Ones Youth Ranch as a Christ-centered place for youth and their families to learn about and enjoy creation through hands-on experience with the mustangs.
The ranch now offers programs for kids from age 3 through post-high school. There are group and private lessons, summer camps, seasonal events and volunteer opportunities at least three days each week, from January through November. The summer camps run from mid-June through August four days a week.
Ministry is a natural orienation for the Langleys. Both from the Midwest, Mike and Jeanie met in Eugene while they were part of Shiloh Youth Revival Services, an outreach of the 1970s.
“We married in 1979,” said Mike. “The vision and personal commitment to the Gospel we share has kept us busy in a number of ways over the years, through church youth groups, leadership, music and evangelism outreaches, and homeless outreach volunteering.”
Vocationally their experiences have also involved ministry. .Jeanie served as director of Lane Pregnancy Support Center, now Dove Medical, in Eugene for more than 20 years. She continues at Dove as an administrative assistant and program facilitator. Mike managed The Glenwood Restaurants in Eugene for more than 15 years; participated in forming an outreach to homeless youth, Hosea Youth Services; and then served 15 years as its diirector in various capacities, including drop-in center and program director, retiring in 2015.
The Langleys raised a daughter and two sons and now enjoy helping them raise the couple’s seven grandchildren, who are all enthusastic participants at Wild Ones.
More than 20 mustangs are now utilized at the ranch. They are from six different BLM herd management areas in Oregon. Many of them are Kigers and a few are their offspring, born at the ranch. Wild Ones also has two BLM burros adopted from Nevada.
“I do believe our approach and experience, under Jeanie’s directing, mentoring, and discipleship is pretty special,” said Mike. “We have an awesome staff; all who have ‘risen through the ranks’ so to speak, … were some of our earliest kiddos … It’s pretty wonderful.”
For more information, go to wildonesyouthranch.org