Young Rider Chases Big Dreams

By Weaver Leather  •   4 minute read

Young Rider Chases Big Dreams

I was 20 when we got the paperwork approved and started our first session with kids. I knew this was what I wanted to do from the time I was about 13, so if felt like a long time coming!

Mattie Stockman

Meet Mattie Stockman, founder of Wild At Heart Youth Ranch

Young dreamer Mattie Stockman founded Wild at Heart Youth Ranch when she was only 20 years old! Learn more about this amazing journey and how it led her to ride with one of our very own endorsees Ken McNabb Horsemanship in the following interview.

How did you become involved with horses?

I always loved horses as a little girl, but they weren’t something my family was into at that time so my exposure was more through Aunts, friends, that sort of thing. I had my first real ride on my best friends pony as a 10-year-old and from that point on I was stuck. My siblings and I sold off a bunch of stuff to pay for our (I guess “my”, since I stuck with it) first horse a little while before I turned 12. I still have her 12 years later and its been a long ride… her and I have been through a lot together.

How did you learn about Ken McNabb?

I actually learned about Ken and his program through Justin Hatfield. We have gotten to watch Justin grow as a trainer and horseman under Ken for years and I was really honored to get the chance to learn from him myself this year.

Where do you currently work?

Currently I am running my own nonprofit equine program, Wild at Heart Youth Ranch. We work with kids ages 8-18 and primarily rescue horses, pairing them together with a mentor. I founded the program going on three years ago now and have really enjoyed growing through the journey so far. I also work part time riding and training for another local equine program to pay the bills!

What are the goals within the program at Wild at Heart Youth Ranch?

Our goals currently are just to reach as many kids as possible in and around our community, and to provide safe, quality programming for our kids who are enrolled to provide opportunities to make the greatest impact for change in these young people’s lives. Horses and most aspects of the farming/ranching lifestyle are the perfect source for teaching the simplest life lessons from patience, work ethic, to boundary setting and we do our best to bring as much of that lifestyle as we can to kids who are typically exposed to a much different type of environment.

Where is Wild at Heart Youth Ranch located?

We are located in Stanwood, Washington.

What role do you play at Wild at Heart Youth Ranch?

I am the founder and currently acting as Executive Director… a loose term here meaning I do everything from day to day chores, herd management, to youth sessions, coordinating volunteers, and fundraising.

In what ways do you see the Ken McNabb 3-week course helping you as you move forward?

The three-week clinic really provided me with a better foundation as I work toward a higher quality and better functioning equine side of our program, something that I believe I will always be pursuing as there is always room for improvement. I also want to work towards making our equine program more self-sustaining financially and this clinic felt like the right first step in that direction.

Any additional facts about yourself?

Hmm, I always have a hard time with this question. I come from a larger family; I grew up with 4 siblings plus whoever may have been living with our family at the time. I have a 2-year-old German Shorthair Pointer named Oakley who is my best bud and goes everywhere with me from the feed store to hiking trips. I love the outdoors, going to horsemanship clinics and classes in the area, art when I have the time and I have been picking up leather working as a hobby recently and having a blast with it. My favorite thing to do after a long work week of riding and teaching is still probably getting on one of my own horses to go for a ride to decompress.

If you want to learn more about Wild at Heart Youth Ranch, or if you are interested in helping with the project, head over to their website,

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