Kougar Column 12-16-2021

Posted by Robert Lukens on 12/16/2021

How about a sleigh ride? Maybe not this year as the snow is quickly melting, but as a child, some of my most treasured memories are in the back of a horse-drawn sleigh at Christmas time. Each night, I read my sons’ Christmas stories, and I notice the pages with horses in the snow.


My grandfather, a western Dakota rancher, was a collector of anything that a horse pulled. When he passed, my father was able to keep one of his horse-drawn sleighs for us to enjoy during the winter. We had two horses trained as a team, and we would ride through the alfalfa fields as if we were floating on air. The prancing horses would lead us with great majesty and strength that, years ago, helped our ancestors settle on these great plains.


My grandfather from eastern North Dakota often told stories of his first time working the land on our northern farm. He would say that the team of horses knew the land better than he did. My great-grandfather trusted the horses to keep his young son safe as he plowed the field in the pre-tractor society that raised him. When I was younger, I rode in cattle drives, bringing the cows from one pasture to another. At the young age of 12, I was fortunate to ride horses that knew more about cattle than I did. 


A trusted team of horses, as my grandfather's first plowing pair were, or my first round-up required, takes skill and repetition to develop. Though the horse drawn plows have left the fields, our ranches and rodeo hands have core skills in their ability to recognize, find a quality, acknowledge it, and train it into a horse. The skill of working with horses is something we regularly witness here in the Kadoka Area. Our youth work with the great beasts, from summer rodeo to our numerous parades and CTE courses. Our Kadoka Area gives students the opportunity to learn about horses in their general education classroom, making students more employable for our local businesses and supporting our local economy, building our legacy from generations past and generations to come.




Robert Lukens

Kadoka Area Schools

MS/HS Principal