Imagine training horses for over 50 years. Dick Kiesner has done just that. This trusty pair of cowboy boots have seen day in and day out working with horses and their riders. He was even named Minnesota’s Horseman of the Year in 2018.
As I pulled up to Dick’s farm in Buffalo, Minnesota, his wife gave me a friendly wave and chickens ran across the yard. Dick came out with his scuffed up cowboy boots in hand and told me his story.
“I’ve trained horses in Texas and Kentucky…I trained around Chicago too. Well, I'm 84 now, and I've trained horses for 50 of those years. Both my father and grandfather did as well. I’ve trained horses for my whole life. It’s been great; I really enjoyed traveling around and competing.”
I asked him how long he had been wearing this specific pair of boots.
“I don't even remember; probably have had these for 20 years.”
He told me about the time he had a stroke and had to take a break from riding. He said:
“I was gonna ride one day and I got right next to the horse and thought to myself, “My balance isn't good enough and I'm gonna confuse him.” It was a horse I knew and liked, and he doesnt deserve this. So I said, ‘I'll just wait.’ They said it would take me three years to get back to where I was. That's why I'm glad that I do other things.”
Do you have a favorite place you have ridden or traveled with the boots?
“I would have to say Texas. That was a good place; that's where I met Barbara. I was just outside of Dallas. In a little town.”
I asked how they met.
“She had a friend whose horse I was training. She said, ‘I've got somebody I want you to meet.’ I said I have a lady now, and I gotta break up with her. She was a nice person but we were going different ways.
Sometimes you just know.
Barbara was a cutie, I'll say that. It's been good. We've been married 30 years now. It’s hard to believe.”
I asked him what his favorite thing is about training horses.
“The relationship you build with the horses. My favorite horse was named Nino. I've had a lot of them that I really liked, but he was a great guy. He was born here on the farm and he just died three years ago, but he was a really good friend. You kind of get that way with them.
At first they're an animal that you are riding and then later on they become a friend, and later on they become a really good friend.”
We chatted for a while. Dick told me he used to really love telling stories, but doesn’t remember as many anymore. All about his teenage years and some cherished stories about him and his friends hauling their horses in Montana.
We wrapped up talking about the great community he is a part of.
“You have to enjoy it. You can’t worry about it. If you get on a great horse, it's like dancing with a prince; or I should say a queen or something. They are so nice to get along with. They really are. Way different than, say, a dog. A dog wants to tell you he loves you; he'll lick your face off. Horses rarely do that. You have to earn their trust. But the other day I had a horse out here and I tried to get him into the gate and he put his head right there, so I sat there and talked to him. They are some of the smartest animals.”