Peruvian Paso horses now call children’s ranch home
Six-year-old Robby Mee reins "Joe" to the left as he follows Tony Jacobson in a training ring during a riding lesson Saturday at All the King's Horses Children's Ranch.
Learning the ropes
As Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 7:00 pm | Updated: 4:06 pm, Mon Dec 31, 2012.
Standing before a horse named “Joe,” 6-year-old Robby Mee is excited about starting his morning ride. The youngster will be assisted by a wrangler, Tony Jacobson, who is teaching the boys and girls at a children’s ranch about horses.
All The King’s Horses Children’s Ranch — located near the San Pedro River in Benson — is a 90-acre property that offers abused and neglected children refuge in a nurturing environment. Established in 2004 by Ana Lucore, the ranch currently houses eight children who have been rescued from unfortunate circumstances.
“The children who come to us are provided with an environment of social, physical, educational and spiritual support,” said Lucore. “We work very hard to help these children develop their abilities and we introduce them to a variety of new things hoping to spark new interests."
Couples serve as “house parents” and take care of the children assigned to them, offering them guidance and direction. In Robby’s case, the 6-year-old has been adopted by Terry and Katie Mee, themselves house parents at All the King’s Horses.
Sometime in December, the ranch received a donation of two Peruvian Paso horses, gaited horses that are known for their smooth rides. The two, Joe and Vivaro, are 11 years old and were raised together. Lucore believes the horses will make a great addition to the ranch by introducing the children to additional responsibilities that come with caring for horses, along with an understanding of how to work safely around the animals while learning how to ride.
“The horses are a wonderful way for the children to start 2013 with something new to look forward to,” said Lucore, as she watches Jacobson brush Joe before saddling him for the children to ride.
“I’ve been working with both horses, and Joe is the only one gentle enough for the kids,” said Jacobson. “Vivaro is not ready as a children’s horse, so I’ll be riding him. He’s too high energy for kids and needs a lot more work.”
While the children are riding Joe in a round ring where they’re learning about balance, reining and control, Jacobson’s goal is for the youngsters to build enough confidence in their riding ability to go out on trails near the ranch.
“Horses are amazing creatures,” he said while placing a saddle on Joe. “I’ll be working with the children who want to learn how to ride so they build that special bond with a horse. Trail riding is a wonderful activity that gives the horse and rider an opportunity to get out and enjoy nature.”
As part of the riding lesson, Jacobson shows the children how to brush horses, picks up all four feet to check for rocks and other foreign objects before mounting up, and talks about feeding programs. Once in the round ring, he demonstrates how to hold the reins properly and shows the child how to rein the horse in both directions and come to a complete stop.
“Bringing the two horses here is another great activity the ranch offers these children,” Jacobson said. “Horses require a lot of care, so the kids that want to learn to ride are going to have to help with cleaning, brushing and general maintenance in order to earn the privilege to ride.”
After lifting Robby up on Joe’s back, Jacobson leads them into the ring and watches as Robby gathers the reins, sits straight and tall in the saddle and pushes the horse into a walk. “This is only his second time on Joe, so he’s doing great,” Jacobson smiles. “It’s a lot of fun to watch how well these really young kids do around horses.”
As she watches Robby, Lucore talks about how fortunate the children’s ranch is to have a wrangler like Tony Jacobson. “It’s amazing to watch him with the horses and the children,” she said. “He comes with a wealth of experience with horses and he’s an excellent teacher. The children listen to him and follow his instructions.”
For the past 15 years, Jacobson and his wife have traveled seasonally and worked for ranches and resorts in California, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and South Dakota. “I always said that when I retired, I wanted to work with children and horses,” he said. “Since my retirement, I’ve spent my summers doing just that.”
Jacobson’s experience as a wrangler and horseman is well documented. He has trained a string of horses for a resort, served as a trail guide at several ranches in the above named states and was in charge of the horse program for the National Park Service in Big Bend National Park. During that time he tested and became certified at the highest horsemanship level with the National Park Service. He also spent four seasons at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota, driving tours throughout the sanctuary.