If you want to hear character-building stories, go no further than Kailyn Groves.

Groves, a senior agri-business major, remembers fondly the day her first horse arrived at the Escott Ranch. For 20 dollars, the blaze-faced sorrel gelding was theirs. His name when he arrived was Kaycee, which was the same as her younger sister. Groves would share this horse with three siblings in total, including sister Kaycee and brothers Hugh and Harland. 

Kaycee, whom they called Kaycee Boy, was a tough old steed, missing his left eye. Despite his limitations, the Groves children loved him fiercely. Admittedly, since this was Kailyn’s first ever encounter on her own with a horse, she was a bit scared of him. “I was pretty food motivated at that age. My mom said if I didn’t get on him and go, I wasn’t going to get lunch. So, I hopped on, and it was pretty much go, go, go from there,” Groves recalled. The same threat was used to entice Kailyn if she was ever thrown from her horse. “My aunt told me after I fell off and didn’t get back on, I wouldn’t get lunch, so I had to climb on and try again. That taught me always to get back up and get back on, regardless of what I was doing.” 

Kailyn Groves competing in Goat Tying. Groves is a champion in this field.

Kailyn Groves competing in Goat Tying. Groves is a champion in this field.

Kailyn was proud to take Kaycee Boy to the neighbors houses for branding. “I remember just sitting there on old Kaycee,” Kailyn reminisced. “I was proud of my horse.” 

After getting used to riding, which occurred in pretty short order, Groves would start her rodeo career. Kaycee would be a trustworthy companion and teacher, as Kailyn tried her hand at Barrel Racing, Pop Race, Crepe Paper Race, and the Keyhole Race. The arena education she received would launch something great for Kailyn- an impressive career with a high school state championship in Cutting and impressive college performances in Barrel Racing, Breakaway Roping, and Goat Tying. 

When not in the arena, Groves and her siblings would visit Kaycee Boy in the pasture on the way to their grandparent’s house. Having him close to their backyard provided them access to play with him whenever they wanted, something the Groves children did often. 

After about a year at the Escott Ranch, Kaycee would pass away in the pasture where the kids visited him often. “We only had him a year, but honestly, it felt like we had him forever because we did so much with him in such a little amount of time.” 

Hugh, Harland, Kailyn, and Kaycee Groves on Kaycee Boy

Hugh, Harland, Kailyn, and Kaycee Groves on Kaycee Boy

A few years after Kaycee was gone, each Groves kid would eventually get a horse of their own. They would develop a passion for rodeo that each felt likely stemmed from those early experiences with Kaycee Boy.

This story is posted as it appears in the Heart River Voice (February 2024  |  Vol. 6, No. 2  |  p.7)

To view this column online, please click here.