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Horses earn their keep at Timberline Ranch

Rural Detroit Lakes business celebrates 25 years of providing horseback rides

Ann Tyge has 26 horses at Timberline Ranch, which opened in 1997 and provides horseback rides for riders of all skill levels. Tyge and her husband Tim, a 1976 Detroit Lakes High School graduate, pay for all the horses' needs through fees collected by rides.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Timberline Ranch is a hidden gem in rural Detroit Lakes. For 25 years it has provided trail rides for all skills of riders, but more importantly a second life for horses previously on their last leg.

The adventure into rescuing horses began in 1997 for Ann and Tim Tyge. Their children had grown into adults and their water sports equipment collected dust. They decided to sell their lake house and buy a ranch.

When Ann Tyge takes in a horse, she often has to nurse it back to health, mentally and physically. Only the temperament-tested horses are given the privilege to provide rides on the 100 acre ranch.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“I grew up around horses and have always loved them,” Ann Tyge said. “It was time to try something different.”

The intent of having a horse or two transformed into a rescue that puts the horses to work by giving 3½ mile trail rides on the 100-acre ranch to earn their keep.

“Each ride lasts about an hour and I give two rides every day, one at 9 a.m. and one at 11 a.m.,” she said, adding all rides are by reservation only and require at least two people. “Some days, I can be ready with a day’s notice and other days it may be three days before I have an opening.”


Monte (left) is part of the assisted living crew at Timberline Ranch. They require a special diet due to improper care of their teeth.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The ranch started with nine horses and now is home to 26, which includes four miniature horses and a donkey. Some horses were gifted to Tyge when the owners no longer could care for them and others were purchased at a sale where they were destined to be slaughtered.

Miles the horse is one of those slaughter pen stories. His rib cage was pronounced, hair was falling out and his halter had grown into his face.

“Someone took a picture and sent it to me,” Tyge said. “I didn’t live too far from the auction, so I got him. He was pretty cheap since the sale is based on weight. I don’t look for a horse to rescue, but if I hear or see one that needs help, if I can, I will.”

After about eight months, the horse returned to a healthy weight under her guidance. While the scars of the halter remain, he has become a go-to when giving senior citizens or children trail rides.

“Miles has a lot of miles on him,” she said. “It’s amazing the experiences he had left no damage when it comes to faith in people.”

Not all horses are able to overcome mental blocks. Tyge explained if a horse is skittish they don’t receive the honor of giving trail rides.

Since the trail rides began, Tyge said, most of her business comes from residents in other states. Families return annually, or folks visit lake country and learn about the opportunity to take a meandering ride on rolling hills and wooded landscape.

Each rider is matched to a horse based on the rider’s personality, and the horse's. The weight of a rider is also considered. Tyge explained a horse can carry 25 percent of its body weight, and that includes the 50 pound saddle. She added the total rider weight cannot exceed 225 pounds.


Timberline Ranch is celebrating 25 years in business in rural Detroit Lakes. Horseback rides are offered by reservation.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The rides conclude for the season after the leaves have fallen.

“Typically, that is when it is getting cold and we get snow,” she said.

While the acreage provides food, there are still horse feet to be trimmed, vaccinations to be given, teeth care to be done, supplements for arthritis to be purchased and so on. The rides also pay for the additional caretakers Tyge hires. The ranch provides three part-time jobs.

“It is expensive, but I have the acreage,” she said. “I enjoy being around horses and taking care of them. I enjoy being in nature, too. It’s a win-win. But, I need people to come ride because that is what pays for it all.”

Tyge explained her ranch is not a rescue technically, which means there is no supplemental funding.

To reserve a ride, call 218-847-3886. Timberline Ranch is located at 19243 County Highway 25, Detroit Lakes .

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