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Just horsing around

‘Cowboy Dave’ finds fit at Wolfe Ranch

T-R PHOTO BY CHUCK FRIEND
Dave Smith, ranch manager of Wolfe Ranch near Marshalltown, stands beside one of the decorated Christmas Trees that will be available for viewing during Christmas in the Stables at the ranch Dec. 13 and 14.

Ever since he was 19-years-old and just out of high school in Nebraska, Dave Smith has had a love for horses. Today he has a job that keeps him “horsing around,” and it fits him perfectly.

“Cowboy Dave,” as he is known to many who have met him, is ranch manager at Wolfe Ranch of Quakerdale, located on Highway 30 east of Marshalltown. As ranch manager he cares for the horses, maintains the property and grounds and bales hay. He also teaches riding lessons and oversees camps such as My Pretty Pony Camp, Cowboy Camp, Stronger than the Storm Camp for Marshalltown elementary children affected by the 2018 tornado, Knight Camp and Story Time in the Stables for pre-school age children.

Riding lessons are available for people 5 years of age and older. Smith said anyone who is confident around and on a horse can sign up for a one hour weekly lesson for six weeks or for six days straight in the summer if visiting in the area.

Smith graduated from Bellevue West High School in Nebraska in 1988, and it was not long before he bought his first horse.

“I bought my first horse and saddle for $1 and had to ride him home because I did not have a trailer,” Smith said. “I worked in a cabinet shop and the foreman was into horses. He was the one who got me interested as well. We worked in the shop until five in the afternoon, then he taught me how to roof houses and we did that until dark. Then we went and played with our horses.”

Smith said he has been involved in repair and construction for some 30 years. He got married and moved to Iowa in 1995, was remarried in 2006, had a daughter in 2010 and took the job at Wolfe Ranch on April 1, 2018.

“The job is a good fit for me with my love for horses and with me getting older and slower,” Smith said. “I still do some repair work and still get to play with horses.”

Other things available at the ranch that Smith oversees is facility rental. The ranch can be rented for birthday and anniversary parties with or without horses. The entire facility can be rented for overnight or weekend retreats and people can rent horses for trail rides — either escorted or not. Arena riding is also available.

A big event coming up Dec. 13-14 is Christmas in the Stables. Friday hours are 3-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Santa will be at the ranch the last two hours of each day to allow children or families to have their photos taken which they can purchase. Vendors will have items for sale. The pork producers will grill burgers for a lunch on Saturday.

“Last year we had 200-300 people and would like to have at least that many this year. We will have decorated stalls for people to vote on their favorite — money that will be donated for the best vote will be used for caring for the horses,” Smith said.