The Community Kids’ Horse

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

We needed another kids’ horse for our growing family, and we didn’t have another suitable one coming up through the home-trained pipeline. My husband Jim and I browsed for-sale websites and asked around, but nearly a year of searching yielded no results. We were willing to shell out some cash, but finding a horse that is sound, kid-broke, and unlikely to spook at common ranch situations like bawling cattle and being separated from his herd buddies in wide open spaces was harder than we’d thought.

Notice I didn’t write “bomb-proof,” because that term is misleading. Any horse CAN buck, kick, spook, run off, etc.; we just want one that is highly unlikely to do those things. Because really, that’s all anyone can ask for.

We finally struck gold in an unlikely spot when one of my husband’s longtime friends offered us the indefinite loan of the Paint gelding that his kids had outgrown.

“Really?” I asked Jim. “You think Hezzy owns a gentle horse that we can trust with our kids? You know they are small children and not PRCA bronc riders, right?”

Jim and Hezzy were part of a wild cowboy crew at the Spanish Ranch nearly 20 years ago. I have heard countless stories about Hezzy that end with “I can’t believe we lived/weren’t arrested/didn’t get killed/roped that elk,” so I was extremely skeptical about placing my small children on a horse from his training program.

“Sure,” said Jim. “He’ll be a good one. Hezzy might skin me on a trade, but he won’t give our kids something treacherous.”

And sure enough, Canoe the Paint horse has proved trustworthy and gentle with our little cowboy and cowgirl. Here he is, saddled, bridled and waiting patiently for a rider.

kids' horse

Canoe takes Grace around the round pen. He is a little tough to turn, if a person wanted to turn him by the traditional method of applying direct pressure on the bit, but he appears to have a very low desire to move quickly. Right now, we value this trait more than snappy turns.

kids' horse

Here, big sister helps her next-youngest brother ride around. While he can be difficult to get moving, Canoe is a champ at following a leader, whether the leader is horseback or footback. He especially likes if the leader stops frequently to pet his neck.

kids' horse

And then Milo felt confident enough to ride unassisted. He even threw his free hand up in the air and spurred a little. Canoe remained unaffected by this change in events.

kids' horse

We are the third family to enjoy Canoe’s stolid demeanor. Hezzy’s kids learned to ride on him, then they loaned him to another family. When their kids outgrew the Paint, they sent him back to Hezzy. In 5 or so years, we will do the same, or pass him onto another growing cowboy family. Until then, I am grateful to have the old Paint horse in our pasture.

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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