Northern Lights Cutting Center Sparks Equestrian Interest in the Northland

Talmadge River Ranch, home of Northern Lights Cutting Center, is Open for Private Lessons

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s something you may have taken part in as a kid at least once or twice – horseback riding.

FOX 21’s Brett Scott digs deeper into the competition world of cutting and shows how one local family is looking to share their talent with adventure seekers living in the Northland.

“I think they’re shocked that it’s something they can do even though coming into it they’re not sure,” said JoLynn McDonald, owner of Talmadge River Ranch home of Northern Lights Cutting Center.

More than 30 horses are held to a high standard at the center situated along Lakewood Road in Duluth.

“I primarily focus on cutting, which is a competition with cattle,” said McDonald. “I do a lot of lessons and kids camps.”

It’s a practice dating back to the old days when cowboys first used horses to treat and doctor their cattle.

The task, becoming a competitive competition for ranchers — a game of sorts to see who had the best four-legged beast for separating a single cow from a herd, preventing it from getting back with the rest.

“We travel all over the country to different competitions,” said McDonald.

McDonald dabbles in a little bit of everything on her family farm.

Soon, two of her kids will head down to Fort Worth, Texas to compete in the National Cutting Horse Association World Finals and a chance to win scholarships as well.

“I also do a lot of team-building events and confidence for people who want to learn how to ride or learn to do something with their significant other or their friends,” said McDonald.

Not only is she a highly skilled horseback rider, but she also has a passion for sharing her talent with those young and old.

“I can put people on horses that I feel will take care of them,” said McDonald. “It teaches them so much about taking care of an animal whether they are an adult or a kid, and what it takes. It’s relaxing for people, and a fun thing to do together.”

Many riders quickly find out compassion goes a long way whether you’re chasing flags in the barn, or cattle out in the open.

“Horses are a flight animal, you have to respect them. I am fortunate enough here to have highly trained, good horses who have kind of been there, done that.
They’ve had years of training,” said McDonald.

The empathetic equestrian animals at the ranch are ridden almost daily by members of the family.

“Horses are a great outlet for kids, adults, and really anybody,” said McDonald.

In return, the gentle giants give kids, couples, or those simply looking to try something new, so much in return.

“I think people are surprised they can do it. It’s very empowering for them to come and get on a horse and do this,” said McDonald.

McDonald typically does summer camps for children, but COVID-19 is putting somewhat of a damper on the tradition this summer.

She is, however, offering private lessons.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Northern Lights Cutting Center, LLC.

The facility is located at 5428 Lakewood Road in Duluth, Minnesota.

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