Richard and Mary acquired what is now Mountain Magic Ranch in 2001, eight years after they began what became a serious passion for Gaited Mountain Horses, including the Rocky Mountain Horse, the Mountain Pleasure Horse and the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse. It was their vision then to have enough space to allow horses to run “free” as they had done for thousands of years, to breed and foal naturally, and to give the offspring the confidence and sure footedness that comes from open space. So, what began as a family idea in 1993 with three mares and a stallion, grew to a herd of over 200 choice Rocky Mountain Horses.
Horses were not always a part of Richard’s and Mary’s lives, although Mary was one of those fortunate few who not only dreamed of, but had a pony when she was a child. It was only when they got actively involved in a therapeutic riding program for disabled and disadvantaged children – Horsepower– in Castle Rock, Colorado that they saw and experienced what few people ever do. They learned first hand that the gentle spirit and guiding ways of a powerful animal can break barriers, giving the gift of speech to some who could not speak, and the gift of independent walking to some who had previously been restricted to wheelchairs, and confidence, self esteem and independence to all others when riding. Mary was recognized for her work and received the National Volunteer of the Year Award from Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH).
Richard and Mary began to ask, if horses could do that for people with special needs, what could they do for a family that wanted to play together and teach their children responsibility along the way? It was then that they visited a professional acquaintance of Richard’s in Kentucky whose family had been raising these breeds for five generations, Al Prewitt. As a piece of history, someone borrowed one of his family’s horses to “ride the country for five months to tell people President Lincoln had been shot.” When he returned he was so impressed with the ride he wanted to buy the horse. The same thing happened to Richard and Mary. One weekend, not five months, of riding these smooth, gentle horses and they were sold. They bought four, then four more and…
Eight years later Al and Richard became partners as Richard bought into Al’s love of the breed, and Al thought Richard’s dream of letting horses grow up naturally would produce a better riding horse made sense.
Unfortunately within a couple of years Al passed away unexpectedly, but his dream lives on at Mountain Magic Ranch. Richard remembers sitting with Al in his car in the middle of a pasture one morning and watching the whole herd of mares and foals running in a huge circle around them. Out of nowhere Al said, “This is just what heaven is going to be like.” Richard thinks Al was right.
Over the years, Richard and Mary have enjoyed a wide variety of activities with their Mountain Horses. Some of the most memorable experiences include: rounding up cattle, endurance riding, showing, trail riding in national parks and forests such as Grand Teton, Redwood, and Black Hills, riding on the beach in California, the annual horse round up at MMR, initial handling and gentling of foals, putting miles and miles on horses that have recently be started under saddle, and trail rides and camping trips with family and friends.
Since starting the dream of Mountain Magic Ranch, Mary was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. She is now unable to spend time with her beloved horses, however, during the course of her debilitation, the horses provided her with comfort, care, and companionship. The horses sensed her needs, just as Mary had observed them sensing the fragility of the children she worked with at Horsepower.
Today the goal is what it has always been – to raise a horse naturally with a great temperament, and match each to an owner or family who wants an incredible riding experience and a deep personal relationship.
In addition to the ranch, Richard works in his business in Denver, AUCTORIS. He is fortunate to work with owners of large private businesses and other very successful families throughout the country preserving the business and wealth from loss through estate taxes, and allowing it to remain in the family for multiple generations in the future.
My bio… Hmm… I’ve been asked to write these things a few times. In the past I have always followed the traditional ways, you know… I did this, I did that, I studied here and I worked there. I’ll get to that in a minute. A persons bio is their life story or life history. I’m here to tell you that my life wouldn’t be a life worth telling about if it wasn’t for my wife. As the story goes, I wouldn’t be half the man I am without her, nor would I have been able to experience or accomplish all I have. Now back to the original program.
It has been said that the best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse. I can attest to that. Other than my wife and children, horses are directly responsible for changing my life, taking me places, showing me what’s real, and not to take anything for granted. I grew up around horses on our family farm. However, I rarely appreciated the ways these magnificent animals can touch you so deeply. That is until my move west.
I grew up in Pennsylvania. Always an avid outdoorsman, hunting, fishing, trapping, I dreamed of going west from a very young age. After high school, and ready to conquer the world, I moved to Montana at age 18. I lived there for over a year on my own working for the state installing culverts in back county roads. Biking to work in the Montana winter, and living pay check to pay check to eat, I realized all too quickly I needed to further my education if I wanted to get anywhere worthwhile.
I moved back to Pennsylvania and several years later, graduated from Shippensburg University where I majored in Criminal Justice and minored in Psychology. It was always an ambition of mine to pursue a law enforcement career, more specifically, mounted law enforcement. I had visions of patrolling the back country wilderness like back when the west was wild and lawless… but that was then.
After graduating college, I interned as a police officer for a while, then took a job as a private investigator and worked various undercover assignments. There was even a short lived career as a insurance adjuster. The corruption one gets exposed to in all these professions was discouraging. One summer, I decided to go back out west for the first time since living there as a kid. I took an extended trip to Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area. This is when life changed for me. I spent a good deal of time riding the hills, talking to the people and absorbing the way of life again. Something in the person I am changed, I knew I needed to be back here, and since then I’ve never been the same.
My yearning to live in the west, live a life of honest work and learn to see life for what it should be lead me to managing a guest ranch in Wyoming. This is when I met my wife Dollie. We managed the guest ranch as a team for about 8 years. During that time I was also a licensed outfitter providing back country pack trips and hunting experiences. We ran about 60 head of horses and mules used in our guest ranch and outfitting operation.
Many of the horses were of the gaited variety. When you spend almost every day for 5-6 months a year in the saddle riding the “hills” of the west, it doesn’t take long to see the advantages of gaited horses. My wife and I also trained many of the horses we used in the operation, from BLM Mustangs to Paint Horses we foaled ourselves. We were regularly approached by many in the community to train their personal horses as well, training most of them specifically for the trail – to ride and pack.
During these years I had the privilege of talking, riding the back country, pounding the mountains and spending time on the trail with many of the best, most skilled horseman you’ll never hear of. Men and women who do it because they love it as it’s tied hard and fast to who they are, not for fame or fortune. These mentors of mine worked with many of the names you see in the media today. Through those experiences I took a firm grip on what makes a great trail horse. Also, what is needed to manage and train these horses for the trails and back country.
I‘ve no idea how many total miles I have riding through the true wilderness. I’ve sweated leather in some of the easiest as well as most rugged country a horse has seen. From wide open river valleys and swimming rivers, to treacherous mountain shale and cat walks only feet in width hundreds of feet up on sheer rock. I learned and was reminded many times that when pounding the mountains of the back country, counterfeit skills will get life to quit you early. There are some facets in life you cannot explain and it’s darn near impossible to teach a person. Being 8 to 10 hours via horseback from the nearest road in the wilderness you form relationships with horses.
You learn to depend on and trust one another as your lives depend on it. The times spent with a horse under me in the mountains gave me opportunities to see and do things most never will. These opportunities gave me a vision to see what’s important in life, my life. I’m fortunate to have married an amazing woman who has “the horse gene”. I’m habitually in awe of her connections, skills and abilities with these astonishing animals. Working with her in cahoots with my mentors has made me the horseman I am today.
We have been at Mountain Magic Ranch since April 2011, enjoying the opportunity to grow and manage a business founded by a kind and gentle man who has a passion for his horses and the breed. Also, with the knowledge and advice Mr. Hartmann’s daughter brings to the ranch, we have the recipe to produce and finish some of the best gaited mountain trail horses available.
Mountain Magic is nestled in the beautiful Madison River Valley in a small community founded by kind, hard working people. What’s not to love?
So give us a call, send us an e-mail, arrange a visit with us and these amazing horses. We’ll look forward to meeting you.
Like most people in this industry, I have been around horses all my life. I guess I am the cliché of the little girl who worked mucking stalls and feeding in exchange for ride time. I idolized farm managers and trainers for actually getting paid to work with horses! I savored anything they would teach me, or any information they gave me in answering a zillion questions I asked them. I took riding lessons, both English and western, and relished the opportunity to ride anywhere every chance I got!
I attended college at the University of Arizona in Tucson on a full academic scholarship where I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry, Physics, and Math. While I was a full time student, I continued my equine education working and studying at the University of Arizona’s Thoroughbred Breeding Facility where I learned the intricacies of running a large scale breeding, training and sales operation.
Besides learning the tremendous value of incredibly hard work at all hours of the day and night, my course of study also included stallion management and collection procedures, breeding mares (live cover in hand and AI), pregnant mare care, foaling, post natal mare and foal care, weanling management, yearling management, herd management, equine confirmation and performance, halter training and handling, yearling sales prep, under saddle sales prep and on the equine business side – sales and marketing. I am forever thankful to the UA for this experience and the education I received to continue to pursue my dreams of working with horses.
After graduating college, I applied for and was selected by the Bureau of Land Management for an incredible 5 month internship opportunity at Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range on the Wyoming-Montana border in the Bighorn Mountains. It was there I received the experience of a lifetime studying the wild horses, their behavior, reproduction habits and the public impact on them. My research was posted on the BLM site for one year after the study and acknowledged in the BLM Publication: Demography of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses 1993-2007.
It was during my internship with the BLM that I fell in love with the rocky mountains of the west. I knew whatever direction life took me, I wanted to be somewhere near these mountains, near this way of life. During my internship I also met the love of my life, a man who would soon after become my husband.
Ric was managing a guest ranch in Wyoming at the time. My plans were to go to graduate school at CSU to study equine reproductive physiology. Well, best laid plans are hard to execute when you fall in love… Ric and I got married just one year after and we went on to manage the guest ranch together for about 8 years thereafter.
We ran about 60 head of all breeds of horses (including several gaited breeds) and many mules, provided trail rides to the public, gave overnight and extended horse pack trips into the Wyoming back country, and big game hunts for a week or more at a time in the back country via horseback in the fall. On the side, we bred, raised and trained American Paint Horses for use in the guest ranch operation and sales. I also gave riding lessons and trained outside horses for local folks.
While managing the guest ranch, I had the privilege of working with many horse trainers, knowns and unknowns, where I continued my never ending quest to be a better horseperson. Having a special interest in the wild mustangs because of my internship, I learned how to start BLM horses that had never been touched by a human being before and train them all the way through to being ridden on the trails and packing into the wilderness.
I learned how to ride reined cow horses and the intense pressure of showing these incredible athletes. I learned the skills and knowledge it takes to manage horses in the back country where we were 20 miles via horseback from the nearest paved road. Most importantly though, I learned that I have so much more to learn about these amazing animals, and that each and every one of them have something to teach us.
My passion for horses and the west are only surpassed by the absolute loves of my life – our two beautiful children, Colter – age 10 and Caroline – age 6 who have not only been an amazing part of the journey, but also give me perspective every day of my life.
We have been at Mountain Magic Ranch now since April 2011 and are enjoying every minute of it. Mr. Hartmann is a kind and generous man with a love for his horses that is evident every time you ask him about a “Rocky”. His daughter, Tamara shares this passion equally and her knowledge of the breed can be compared to many of the top professionals in the gaited horse world. The horses themselves are a gentle breed, incredibly smart and willing companions. The ranch is in a picturesque setting within the incredible community of Three Forks, MT where kind, hard working people abound.
So come by and see us, share your stories and passion for horses, we will do our absolute best to find you a new best 4 legged friend! I look forward to meeting you.
Tamara is the daughter of Richard and Mary Hartmann. Her interest in gaited Mountain Horses began in 1993 when her parents purchased their first mares and stallion. In 1997 she and her husband, Dan, established Stone Bridge Farm, a family-owned and operated Rocky Mountain Horse farm in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The focus of Dan and Tamara’s breeding program is to produce family, trail horses with outstanding, smooth natural gaits and willing, friendly personalities. They have produced fantastic trail partners that can now be found across the United States and around the world.
Tamara loves working with gaited Mountain Horses and has been an avid student, soaking up information and determining what works best for her and fits with her natural approach to horsemanship. She has been a gait Examiner for the Rocky Mountain Horse Association since 2006.
In 2010, Tamara began to pursue her interest in Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning. In 2011 she completed Linda Kohanov’s Apprenticeship Program with Epona Equestrian Services in Amado, Arizona. Tamara is now an Epona Approved Instructor and works in partnership with her herd of Rocky Mountain Horses to offer unique vacations from her farm in Minnesota via Equine Connection @ Stone Bridge Farm. The vacations integrate daily riding with introductory Epona activities focused on building awareness and developing skills to succeed with horses and in life.
Tamara is an excellent communicator and facilitator; has worked in the field of Organizational Development; has managed numerous teams; has bred, trained, and sold Rocky Mountain Horses since 1997; is an avid trail rider; is trained in the healing modalities of massage therapy; and is an Epona Approved Instructor for Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.
Tamara is a consultant for Mountain Magic Ranch; assisting with sales, training, management, and administration. To learn more about Tamara’s farm and Equine Connection, visit the Stone Bridge Farm website.