Living in the city and wanting to ride a horse creates a complicated equation.
Living in the city and desiring to learn horsemanship skills, ride in in the country and maybe even compete in horse shows make a more complex situation.
Living in the city and with all one’s heart wanting to own a horse, have a place to keep it fairly close but yet without having to feed and care for it in the middle of the winter add to seemingly endless problematic issues.
These and more with wide variations of each and all face children, adults, families, everyone, in cities everywhere even with maybe just an inkling of desire to become involved with horses they’ve only previously dreamed about.
Uh oh, so the analysis most of the time is: “We’d sure like to know more about horses. They’re so romantic and would be so good for us. But, it’s really just too much trouble to have anything to do with horses, and besides that it’d cost too much, and we are too busy already the way it is.”
So sadly, again that’s frequently just the way it is, or quite similar at least.
Well, the way it is in many cities, and even in Topeka, and surrounding communities, for those who aren’t aware of the Rocking V Ranch.
Jerry and Ingrid Vandervort understand the serious dilemmas faced by those interested in horses.
With horses always an important part of their lives, they both attended Kansas State University and met later in part by their mutual interest in horses.
After being married, the couple located in southwest Shawnee County where Ingrid (then Erickson) grew up, and has developed “Topeka’s Finest Equine Center,” providing solution to the nearly every stigma facing even those with a tinge of interest in horses.
“I grew up in the same general area where we are now, and my familyalways boarded a few horses. I showed horses extensively as a youth and amateur, participated in judging contests, actually about everything to do with horses, and then graduated with a degree in journalism from K-State,” Ingrid briefly reflected her background.
“We both have full time jobs, so we rely on excellent employees to keep the Rocking V Ranch
going,” Ingrid said.“ Jerry was into the roping aspect, received a scholarship for tie down roping on the K-State Rodeo Team. He grew up in the Kansas City area, worked for Benjamin Stables, and even at the Woodlands Race Track. His degree was in agriculture education, and he’s the vocational agriculture instructor at Washburn Rural,” continued Ingrid, now employed at the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“Our employees are our Godsend. It hasn’t always been this way, but Thomas and Jose have been here more than ten years. Give credit where credit is due. We couldn’t be where we are today without them. They do all of the daily work, upkeep and even repairs at the Rocking V Ranch,” she credited emphatically.
One hundred thirty-five acres in Shawnee County eight miles south of Topeka with big red barns, seeming endless white board fences, freshly mown lawns and pastures, appropriately identified with an over gate Rocking V at the entrance, make even an unconscious driver take a second take when passing the most picturesque and immaculate Rocking V Ranch.
“It’s been a continuous building process over 20 years for us to get what you see now. We had an apartment we lived in the barn even with our children until we built our home nearby. We’re still busy long hours here every day after our off-ranch jobs, but it’s nice to have our home away from the main ranch facilities,” Ingrid said.
While there are places where both employees could live at the ranch, they have their own families and homes away from the job. “That’s better for them, too, and we also hire high school students for weekends and other part time help,” she added.
There are 32 large 12-by-12 box stalls with individual runs, as well as small pastures with shelters. “Both of these boarding options include use of the largest privately owned indoor and outdoor fully-lighted arenas in the area,” Ingrid noted.
Especially important to certain urban families, the ranch provides feeding and daily turnout services, so owners actually don’t have to work with their horses except when they desire.
“This is really important to some families that are involved in so many school and community activities, but they still definitely want to have horses for recreation and even showing,” she commented.
Additional horse and owner amenities include wash racks with hot and cold water, thermostatically-controlled fans, tack storage, easy trailer parking, clean restroom facilities and even a park with tables and grills, for those families who want to spend a day at the ranch, maybe even bring along friends and neighbors.
Especially notable, and perhaps unique to Rocking V, is the stall cleaning procedures. “Our staff cleans every stall twice every day. That’s always been our policy, and our boarders seem to really appreciate the added service,” Ingrid affirmed.
Careful selection of rations is key to the Rocking V services with a portion of the quality brome hay produced right on the ranch. “We put everything here up in small square bales, but we also have to buy some additional hay each year to supplement the twice daily graining,” related Ingrid, pointing out that boarders have access to ride trails over much of the ranch.
With facilities capable of boarding more than 50 horses, the ranch has about 30 different horse boarders. “Still, we do have a handful of box stalls available for rent at the present time,” Ingrid said.
There are also facility memberships for horse owners who don’t board horses there, but want a place to ride. “For an annual fee, non-boarders and their family can bring their horses in and use the facilities to exercise them, or just to have fun,” she stated.
Western and English riding lessons are provided by three instructors. “There is a high demand for lessons by our boarders and others who want to become better riders of their own horses. We also do have safe horses available for riding and learning by all levels of riders,” Ingrid related.
Many horse events are conducted throughout the year at the Rocking V Ranch which is available for groups to host horse shows, clinics and other related competitions.
“We’ve been hosting a fall horse show circuit for more than ten years with all volunteer assistance, and it’s become very popular to allow riders to keep riding into the fall after other shows have been completed. We had a show in October and also have shows scheduled in November and December, with circuit awards and drawings. Western classes are in the morning, and hunter-jumper events are during the afternoon,” Ingrid said.
“Your event can be inside or outside depending on what’s desired and the weather. We can accommodate more than 200 guests with clean restroom facilities, tables, chairs, food service area and a full announcing system,” Ingrid explained.
The ranch is also available to rent for weddings, receptions, birthday parties, dances or any social gathering looking for that certain atmosphere.
A western store, which had been operated at the ranch for several years, was closed this summer.
While Jerry Vandervort has generally traded his lariat for golf clubs, he still has a top rope horse and can be coaxed to shake out a loop and prove his skills are intact.
Their 14-year-old daughter, Jordan, is following in her mother’s boot steps successfully competing in horse shows with Palomino and American Quarter Horse Association class successes to her credit.
“She has her duties helping at the ranch too, as does our son, Justin, 11, but he could care less about riding and participating in horse shows,” Ingrid related.
“It’s hard at times to keep up with everything, but we’re really proud of all the services we provide for horse enthusiasts. Rocking V Ranch is the only complete approved horse boarding, training, show and event facilities in Shawnee County,” Ingrid clarified.
“We certainly intend to keep the Rocking V Ranch as ‘Topeka’s Finest Equine Center,’” she concluded.