The Von Holten Ranch: “A Family Heritage”

Von Holten Ranch is a new trail riding facility near Sedalia, Missouri owned and operated by David and Brandy Von Holten.  Sedalia also happens to be the home of the annual Missouri State Fair.  Von Holten Ranch has been in the Von Holten family since 1906, making it a celebrated century farm.  

In December of 2013 David and Brandy realized their dream when they were able to purchase the homestead.  David resigned his job as the manager of a tool and equipment rental company in order to build their vision of a trail riding facility, while Brandy continued her job as a science teacher, having taught 4th grade science through college level.
 
David and Brandy aren’t like any other trail riding facility owners.  They both come from backgrounds in high level competitive sports, and were actively competing when they met in 2003 and married in 2005.  David was an avid dirt bike racer for 12 years, in grueling two hour races on whatever terrain the course offered at that time.  Brandy competed in full contact martial arts for 22 years.  Like many young athletes who leave home in search of athletic opportunities and coaching, Brandy moved by herself to Missouri for a chance to train for the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.  Though the Olympics never happened for Brandy, she made the national team and represented the USA in international competitions held in Italy, Scotland, Puerto Rico, Aruba and the U.S.  In kickboxing Brandy held a record of 10-0, owns a bench press state title in power lifting and even had one professional cage fight.  Her last match was in April 2013, where she qualified for nationals as a “World Class Athlete”.
 
Then Brandy got bitten by a different competitive bug…extreme cowboy racing.  Her last fight and her first cowboy race were exactly one week apart but had completely different outcomes.  In Brandy’s first competition with the UHCA (Ultimate Horsemen’s Challenge Association) she was able to compete in two separate divisions; Novice and Intermediate.  She finished last in the Novice and was disqualified in the Intermediate for going over the allotted time.  For Brandy, a humbling experience for a seasoned international competitor.  This outcome served to light a new fire for Brandy, propelling her to finish the year with a third place overall in the Novice and a sixth place overall in the Intermediate.
 
This is where ACTHA started for Brandy.  She entered her first ACTHA event in January 2014 where she won her first blue ribbon and was instantly hooked.  Convincing a friend to go with her to Arkansas for a halter series Brandy finished in second place in the pleasure division and made a startling realization.  ACTHA would allow her to train for extreme cowboy races in a more casual competition manner or as Brandy says “with a lot less stress”.  So successful was Brandy’s new training methods that in the 2014 season of UHCA she earned herself a buckle and a championship saddle.  Because UHCA races are double sanctioned as EXCA (Extreme Cowboy Association) races Brandy qualified for the EXCA World Championships held in Hamilton, Texas.  The World Championship is a three day event, where the rider’s first two days scores are combined.  Only the top ten rider’s advance to day three and Brandy made it, in the nail biting number ten position.  She placed 6th overall in the EXCA World Championships, impressive for someone who only took up the sport 18 months prior.
 
Brandy’s competition horse is a big palomino named KTM.  A quarter paint blend with the personality of a Golden Retriever and cantankerous pony, combined.  KTM is the last colt born from Brandy’s childhood mare that she got on her 9th birthday and lived until Brandy was 32.  He is named after the brand of dirt bike David raced when they met.  David has traded in his racing helmet for a cowboy hat and his dirt bike for a trusty steed, a retired roping horse name Diesel.  Diesel, an appropriate name for him because sometimes it’s hard to get him going but once you do he can go forever on the trails.
 
Following the World Championships Brandy returned home to Missouri and entered another ACTHA event.  Though she wasn’t technically required to move up to the Open Division she decided she was up for the challenge and apparently she was.  One point away from a perfect score has pushed Brandy to set new personal goals for 2015, including making it into the ACTHA 100 point club, placing in the top 4 in the UHCA, a top 10 finish in the EXCA and getting her colt ready for competition in 2016.
 
Together, David and Brandy share their immense love for outdoors.  By starting Von Holten Ranch they have been able to combine all the things important to them, the heritage of a family owned farm, the great outdoors, and their love of horses.  At the end of the school year, Brandy will join David and work full time at Von Holten Ranch.  
 
Von Holten Ranch is nestled in the “Gateway to the Ozarks” in the north central part of Missouri.  This means that the terrain is rocky without being rocky, hilly without being hilly thereby making it a great combination for all level of riders.  
 
Von Holten Ranch is a complete trail riding facility with miles of well-marked trails, electric sites, cabins, covered stalls, a guest shower house, and an on-site dump station.  Each electric site comes complete with their own fire pit, a 10’ X 85’ graveled parking area, a 20’ X 85’ grass area, 20/30/50 amp hookup and most are pull through spots.  For those who don’t camp the Ranch has three cabins available to rent where you can choose between a queen size bed or two twin beds.  Each cabin comes with a mini fridge, commercial heating and air conditioning, a microwave, fresh bed linens and all the country charm one cabin can handle.  Covered stalls are 10’ X 10’, lined with lime and have water readily available.  The guest shower house has three toilets and three showers on both the men’s and women’s sides.  The men’s room is on the left because as we all know “women are always right!”  The on-site dump station can be accessed from either direction and has water available to aid in clean out.  Future plans for Von Holten Ranch include a rustic restaurant and a state of the art indoor arena.
 
Von Holten Ranch is like many facilities that host a variety of events as Brandy and David strive to make a successful business and continue with the growth of their century farm.  The spring started out with the Von Holten Ranch hosting an ACTHA CTC Buckle Series in March, April and May, four weekends of competition over eight days, with the best six out of eight determines the overall winner.  The summer heats up for Brandy and the Von Holten Ranch as she resumes her competition in the UHCA and EXCA, but this time events will be held at the ranch.  
 
The July 18th UHCA event will bring all the flash and flare country music singer Josey Milner needs for her upcoming video for her song “Down by the Bonfire”.  This rising country music star already has the song “Cowgirls” reach the top 75 in the U.S., and part of her upcoming song will be sung while riding Brandy’s palomino KTM.
 
August 1-2 showcases the Von Holten Ranch as they host the 2nd Annual Missouri State EXCA Championships.  Being a natural teacher and a believer that education is the key to success regardless of the endeavor led Brandy to start a two level equine club dependent on the participant’s availability.  Level 1 participants attend one training day, one competition day as a competitor or volunteer and two days with a clinician.  Level 2 offers two training days, two competitions as a competitor or volunteer and four days with a clinician.  Trainers are hand selected and proven to be a valuable training resource.  Scheduled for 2015 VHR will host trainers Lee Hart, Shane Irvin, Ashley Purdin/Pioneer Horsemanship, Annie Chance, Johnie Clem and Vanessa Schmalz.  All are available to all levels of riders from youth to seasoned competitors.  Participants in the VHR equine club are eligible for a variety of perks dependent on their level of participation.  Offers range from website feature to VHR Equine Club jackets and coming in 2016 VHR Equine Club buckles.
 
Events are offered at Von Holten Ranch almost every weekend including charity poker rides and Fall Festivals.  However, Von Holten Ranch is designed for trail riding enthusiasts.  In fact, the trails are where Brandy and David have added their own personal flair to trail riding.  There are ten sets of ten items to find on the trail.  For example, 10 bird houses, 10 American flags, 10 horse shoes, 10 license plates, etc.  Literally, there are 100 items to find while on the trail, making a leisurely trail ride an exercise in sharpening your observational skills.  For those wanting to sharpen their obstacle skills at their own pace, Von Holten Ranch has a permanent horse playground. 
 
ACTHA events resume at Von Holten Ranch beginning in July with 9 more competitions in a Halter Series.  Each of these 3 day events will include a combination of CTC’s and AOC’s.  In keeping with the flair of their own personal touch and fun for their riders Brandy and David are ingenious at theme rides.  
 
Celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary during their last May CTC they used the theme Las Vegas wedding, since that is where they were married.  Not one to miss the hilarity of the situation the couple had obstacles entitled “runaway bride”, where riders had to don a veil, “slot machine winner” and “Elvis Presley”.
 
With September’s competition being held over Labor Day weekend there will be an additional award for the contestant that most looks like “Rosie the Riveter”.  
 
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, all prizes and obstacles will be pink on one of the competition days.  And yes, there will be an additional award for the pinkest horse and rider.  Countless amenities, beautiful trails, creativity and fun all rolled into one for ACTHA riders at Von Holten Ranch make this trail riding facility one not to be missed.  For more information on Von Holten Ranch please visit www.vonholtenranch.com, and you can find them on Facebook at Von Holten Ranch.
 
Upcoming ACTHA events at Von Holten Ranch:
 
July 10, 11, 12
 
September 5, 6, 7
 
October 9, 10, 11