Lacey and Kallie Larson

The 2021 Wisconsin State Horse Council Equine of the Year Lacey receives a hug from her owner and partner Kallie Larson.

About 20 years ago, Kallie Larson of Watertown found a treasure at a horse auction when she bought her horse Lacey. Although the dark bay quarter horse-paint cross didn’t come with registration papers, the then 3-year old proved her worth many times over since she became Larson’s partner.

“We bonded right away,” Larson said. “She has always been my go-to horse and my best friend. She has been at my side, and many times my leader, as I further my horsemanship and teach others new skills.”

Because of Lacey’s devotion and achievements, Larson nominated her for the Wisconsin Horse Council’s Equine of the Year award. The organization announced in its January/February newsletter Lacey was chosen as its 2021 award winner.

“I heard about past winners and just got to thinking,” Larson said about why she decided to nominate her mare for the district and statewide award. “She’s my heart horse; she’s touched the lives of a lot of people.”

Larson says her horse taught her how to ride and win as well as how to lose as a means for growth. An all-around mount, Lacey competed well in pleasure, reining, trail classes and gymkhana, both when Larson was a 4-Her and after.

“We’ve done a little of everything,” Larson said. “She is the kind of horse I can compete on, and on the same day, someone who hasn’t ridden in a while can jump on her to carry them to victory. Then a 6-year-old can get on and she is gentle enough to keep them safe.”

At the age of 21, Lacey helped Larson win a buckle during the 2019 show season. That season, Lacey was brought out of semi-retirement after she healed from a potentially life-ending injury.

“She endured to make it through the recovery process and getting back to doing what she loves,” Larson said. “I figured her competition days were over and we were just going to smaller shows.”

However, Larson turned to her best friend for the show season when the horse she was using for competition was laid up.

“(Lacey) was back in the game and didn’t want to be retired,” Larson said. “She even did better than my competition horse.”

Throughout their years together, Lacey has also helped Larson train young horses and served as the demonstration horse at youth clinics Larson conducted.

“There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t learn something new from her,” Larson said. “Now, I share her wisdom with others and let others learn from her directly. She is a treasure and deserves to be honored.”

The horse council offers the Equine of the Year award to recognize the horses, ponies, donkeys, mules or any equine that enrich the lives of one or more humans or has been cast into the spotlight because of outstanding acts, creating a positive image for equines.

Each nomination is first voted on by the district where the horse resides. Its owner must be a resident of Wisconsin and live in the WSHC district in which they are nominated.

After the district has voted on its award winner, the WSHC Board of Directors selects the state Equine of the Year from all the nominees submitted.

Forms for submitting a nomination for the Equine of the Year can be found on the Wisconsin State Horse Council’s website at www.wisconsinhorsecouncil.org.