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Empty Saddle


Memorial Foundation
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The formation of the Empty Saddle Memorial Foundation was inspired as a result of the accident and untimely death of Neal Hermanson at 23 years of age. Ned and Kim, his parents, knowing the important role that horses played in the development of Neal’s character and spirit as he grew into a young man, wanted to encourage the horse and rider connection in the lives of other young people and the resulting benefits of that relationship. As a result, with the help of friends and neighbors, the concept for the foundation came into being.

The Empty Saddle Memorial Foundation seeks to honor and memorialize lost loved ones whose lives have been shaped by the bond, the partnership, between horse and rider, and whose character and spirit were shaped by their time spent in the lives of their horses. Exemplified in its motto, “Mend them, Teach them” the Foundation honors the respect for our lost loved ones as a catalyst to do good for our young folks. ESMF carries out this goal through financial aid for medical expenses and through educational scholarships.

The ESMF was officially constituted as a North Dakota organization by meeting of the founding directors on April 6, 2010.

Our first honorees were Neal Hermanson and Levi Wisness. The 2011 honorees: AJ Franzen, Kyle Sperry, & Richard Bahn. 2012 honorees: Harris Goldsbury, Gary Rindahl & Glen Hutchinson. 2013 honorees: Jack Sjol, Kelby Indegard, and Clarence Jorgenson, 2016 honorees: Raymond Gilstad, JayDee "JD" Hutchinson, and Alvin Nelson, 2017 honoree was R.D. "Doc" Nelson. The Neal Hermanson Memorial Ranch Rodeo and Ranch Horse Competition are put on in honor of Neal and the profits generated from these events were the original source of seed money and have continued to help support the ESMF, a separate entity. Also, the generous support of many other individuals has helped in furthering the ESMF purpose. This memorial ranch rodeo and ranch horse competition, with the blessing of those putting it on, have allowed the ESMF the opportunity by which we are publicly honoring and memorializing new honorees into the foundation. Honorees have been recommended by the selection committee and chosen by the Board of Directors.

There has been approximately $51,500 in medical aid and scholarships given out since the foundations inception. Scholarship applications can be obtained by contacting Kim Hermanson; awards committee chairman. The website for information about the ESMF is www.emptysaddlememorial.com . We as Directors welcome and encourage any and all questions or thoughts you might have regarding the ESMF.

The ESMF has been established to honor horsemen no longer among us. The time spent with their horses instilled character strengths in them that we all admire. Trust, confidence, respect, humility, sacrifice, leadership, and self discipline are some of the strengths acquired and admired. It is our hope these strengths will be aspired to by our youth. The honorees inducted into the foundation will be continually recognized as assets are generated for scholarships and medical financial aid for area youth.

Apply for Scholarships, Apply for Medical Aid, Memorials Received, Scholarship Recipients, Medical Recipients,

If you would like to mail a donation Please mail it to:

ESMF (Empty Saddle Memorial Foundation)
PO Box 785
Watford City, ND 58854