Some may call it fate, some may call it destiny, but to others it is divine intervention. When Andy Isaacs walked into a hair salon owned by Rita Kay more than 30 years ago, their lives would be changed forever, and together they would embark on a journey of favor and miracles that would be defined as “Many Marvelous Ways”. This by the way is the title of a book that Rita Kay is currently writing.
Rita Kay was a single mom with three kids and a business. One year later they would be married. As with most couples, Andy and Rita Kay talked about long lost childhood dreams. Born and raised in the suburbs south of Dallas Andy always wanted to live on a ranch where he could raise horses and cattle, while Rita Kay wished for a horse with every birthday candle she blew out.
A couple devout to their faith, neither could deny their feelings of being called upon for a higher purpose. Andy was certain he was called to move to the country and believed that they would be responsible to feed a large number of people. At the same time, Rita Kay was being inspired in many marvelous ways to have a Christian leadership camp for teens. Through prayer for clear direction, the two dreams consummated and the vision of Morning Star Ranch was born.
So the couple, who had never lived in the country, would take a leap of faith. Their childhood dreams and experiences would guide them down a path filled with faith, hope and a love for horses.
In December of 1996, Rita Kay and Andy purchased 166 acres with only a pole barn and a hog trap in Milano, Texas. With their savings they bought an A-frame cabin and moved it to the ranch and Morning Star Ranch Ministries began. Two years later their vision of a non-profit ministry was approved and they began the exciting experience of building facilities.
After the tragedy of 911, donations dropped drastically. The journey now seemed to be all uphill. In 2010 they reached a plateau where they felt they could go no farther because of a lack of funds. Around that time Andy and Rita Kay agreed to let a lady who they never met book the cabin for the weekend to hold a small family reunion. Before they left, she told Andy and Rita Kay that Morning Star Ranch was the perfect place to hold ACTHA rides.
Not wanting to waste any time in learning about a source of income that could be used to support their ministry Rita Kay and Andy attended a ride in Mineola, Texas later in 2010. Here, they participated as riders in a CTC to learn exactly how events worked and become educated in the duties of the ride host. With their maiden ride behind them Andy and Rita Kay decided that they indeed had the ideal venue to host ACTHA events and becoming ACTHA ride hosts would be the perfect opportunity for them to raise much needed funds for their own non-profit.
Now, four years later Andy and Rita Kay will host their 30th ACTHA ride on March 29, 2015. As Rita Kay says “just at a time when we were wondering if we could keep our ministry open our prayers led us to ACTHA. The proceeds from the rides and donations from this new family of friends have kept this ministry afloat! For the first time, we have the money to repair and improve our facilities.”
Monies from ACTHA rides have not only benefitted the ministry and their leadership camp for financially challenged teens, but ACTHA riders as well. With the idea of hosting the perfect weekend getaway with your horse, family and friends the amenities at the ranch are plentiful. They have three dorm style cabins that can accommodate 45 people, 12 trailer hookups, 25 outdoor stalls, and a dining hall where they serve 6 great meals over the weekend. For those choosing to camp out there is more than enough room to set up tents, pens and even generators close to the dining hall.
Southern hospitality doesn’t stop there. Neighboring land owners with adjoining properties happily allow Rita Kay and Andy the use of their land for their events. As their 30th ride approaches Rita Kay and Andy have become skilled event planners. A staff of 25 volunteers (many met during ACTHA rides) and teens from MSR leadership program all work together to ensure a smooth running event. Jobs ranging from greeters who aid in parking trailers, registration staff, judges and judges helpers, and kitchen staff ensure that ACTHA riders are well taken care of throughout the weekend.
Fun at Morning Star Ranch’s ACTHA events isn’t limited to just trail riding, camping and getting together with friends and family. At every event Rita Kay and Andy offer their guests a number of other opportunities to participate in throughout the weekend. These range from Friday night spa parties (and who doesn’t love a good facial or makeover) hosted by Rita Kay whose day job is a Director for BeautiControl Cosmetics, educational clinics and seminars, prayer meetings, and Praise and Worship Service outside on Sunday mornings.
As experienced ride hosts Rita Kay and Andy have some advice to offer potential, new or even current ride hosts. First, make a newcomer feel as comfortable and welcome as possible. Many riders will return to an event because of the hospitality of the host(s). Secondly, good organizational skills and prior preparation to detail, ensures an easy transition for arriving riders.
Helpful ride host hints:
• Greeter’s- have a list and a chart of designated trailer and hookup parking.
• Many returning riders have preferences and needs; do your best to accommodate them.
Registration- to expedite this process prepare rider packets ahead of time in clear storage bags that include rider registration information, rider number, agenda, flyers on extra events and meal tickets.
Stalls- if you offer stalls assign them before your guests arrive by fixing a clear plastic page protector with the rider and horse’s name attached to the stall door.
While some of these details may seem unnecessary, for Rita Kay and Andy it is the attention to fine points, welcoming generosity and delicious meals that keep riders returning to their events time and time again.
The celebration of Rita Kay and Andy’s 30th ACTHA ride will be a sensational opportunity for not only the riders but the whole community. Diamond Wishes Children’s Charity is hosting a live and silent auction with $20,000-$30,000 in donated auction items. Items range from designer jewelry and watches, western purses, décor, furniture, a lap top computer, a mountain bike and ultimate gift baskets for men, women and baby. 100% of the proceeds will go to further the vision at Morning Star Ministries.
Upcoming Rides at Morning Star Ranch
March 28, 2015
March 29, 2015 (30th Ride with a goal of 100 riders)
May 16, 2015
May 17, 2015
September 26, 2015
September 27, 2015
October 24, 2015
October 25, 2015