Riding the rangePublished 11:31am Tuesday, June 25, 2013
“Ever since I knew what a horse was I’ve ridden horses,” Otto said. “As soon as I was out of college, got married and had a house, I had a horse.”
Otto and her husband, Mike, bought 427 acres of land southwest of Battle Lake in 1995. In 1996, she bought eight horses and Silver Sage Guest Ranch was born.
A horse enthusiast since her time as a young girl in Parkers Prairie, Otto, her husband and her three sons have dedicated their livelihood to the creation of one of the most scenic ranches in the area.
“I just had the idea one day that I wanted a guest ranch,” Otto said. “Guests really enjoy the beauty of it. Some have said it looks like Montana coming over the hills.”
In the scenic wooded hills of the property, the Ottos have created a unique vacation destination for area resorters. A campground with 12 sites welcomes visitors to a relaxing getaway into the rural countryside.
But the stable is where Otto does the work she loves.
The ranch offers a number of opportunities for riders and enthusiasts of all ages. Over the years, Silver Sage has offered kids programs, riding lessons for all ages, trail riding, sleigh rides in the winter and the Silver Sage Saddle Club group.
“I don’t have many drawbacks with this job,” she said. “My husband kind of had to develop it after we got married, but now he loves horses.”
One of Otto’s favorite activities is the horse camp she puts on every summer. Each week, Otto and her instructors teach 10 kids riding skills. While some have horses of their own, the ranch offers to match riders with one of their 40 horses. Campers stay in cabins on the grounds and perform a show demonstrating their skill at the end of the week.
With the enthusiasm she shows her campers, Otto creates a fun atmosphere for serious learning — 75 percent of students return for another year, according to Otto.
“We’ve helped a lot of kids get into riding and equestrian interests,” she said. “I want to make sure that they’re really learning how to ride, so we keep the group small.”
Silver Sage Guest Ranch is open Tuesday through Sunday, with open riding from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ranch host hundreds of guest each year, from Boy Scouts to wayward travelers. It’s the connection she forms with her many customers that Otto said she enjoys most of all.
“The best thing is the people,” Otto said. “We all seem to share the same love of horses. You can talk to someone and feel like you’ve known them for years.