A lifetime passion for horses led Kellie Leyen to pursue an individualized equine experience for people. With inspiration from travel across North America and work experience in similar facilities, Kellie knew what was needed to do to build her dream. Owners Darryl and Kellie Leyen created this dream with Horse in Hand Ranch in June of 2012 and, after more than a decade of operation, have continued to learn and grow. Drawing people locally, from Western Canada, and beyond, Lacombe County is the ideal site. Ease of access and visibility from QEII simplifies transportation, especially for visitors.
From the beginning, the business vision was to support people and horses, and Darryl and Kellie built their ranch to fill a need they saw in the industry. They share a desire to create an inclusive, welcoming, and informal space that provides opportunities for anyone to try new equestrian experiences.
The HIHR crew pride themselves on their flexibility – and willingness to meet the needs of sport-specific or breed-specific events ranging from vaulting to equine-assisted therapy. The crew highlighted the individualized experience that a community member could share at Horse in Hand Ranch. Customers range from ‘passionate hobbyists’ to professional riders preparing for performance or competition. All are welcome, and all will feel welcome in this unique community.
Developing more in-house programs has enhanced the coaching and training side of the business. Owner Kellie is also the head coach and teaches programming based on Foundation Horsemanship, safety, and having fun with the animals. Demand for this type of horsemanship education continues to grow, and Kellie intends to grow along with it.
Kellie and General Manager Darren Halpin also work with other like-minded facilities in a consulting capacity to offer advice and learnings from a decade of business growth. As customer needs arise, they continue to evaluate new opportunities. A willingness to diversify combined with a growth mentality allows them to stay on top of industry changes. Whether it's boarding or events-based facilities, they take pride in sharing their experience with others.
The ag industry provides a space for the Leyens to express themselves and create the life they want to live. They are thankful that their customers trust them to care for their animals and love sharing their home with the community, both ‘horse and human.’
Horse in Hand Ranch partners with the Alberta Equestrian Federation for their central Alberta events. According to their website, the “AEF is dedicated to the well-being of equines and works for the equestrian community in the province.” They also partner with Can Praxis, the leading equine-assisted therapy provider for the veteran and first responder communities. Kellie and Darren shared that both organizations focus on serving clients through support and education, providing a valuable service that is highly specialized. They are proud to contribute to groups that make a big difference in the lives of the people they serve.