In the heart of Montana, where the rugged beauty of the sky stretches as far as the eye can see, there lived a young woman named Jaelyn Quenzer. Born and raised in the simplicity of the small town of Baker, amidst ranching families and agricultural legacies, Jaelyn was unfamiliar with the Western lifestyles of many of her classmates.

Not everyone is born into ranch life or the intricacies of farming; some, like Jaelyn, come to it by chance, driven by a thirst for adventure or a longing for connection with the land. For these individuals, the journey into the heart of Western life is not merely a matter of birthright but a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the boundless possibilities that await those brave enough to embrace the unknown. It wasn't until fate presented upon her an unexpected gift that her life took a captivating turn.

At sixteen, Jaelyn would form a relationship with a young gentleman named Colton. Colton grew up on Cedar Pocket Ranch, near Rhame, an amazing location to breed and raise horses. Colton introduced Jaelyn to the lifestyle, and she was hooked, which wasn’t a hard sell with the beauty of the North Dakota countryside.

Jaelyn was introduced to horsemanship in the form of an older mare named Rose. Rose was dependable and kind, but still, she was Colton’s horse. A borrowed steed is a different feeling than one you can call your own.

Rose and ReignAs Rose grew older, Colton knew that the rides on her would need to be scaled back, impacting the newly found passion for equestrian activities that he had introduced to Jaelyn. Rose served her time as a hand and needed retirement. Understanding that temperament and disposition are not something to let go of Colton decided to have Rose provide a foal to keep her legacy going.

On several occasions, Rose had the opportunity to become a mother, but the stars just did not align. Each pregnancy the kind mare had did not last to full term. While Colton was hoping for Rose’s bloodline to remain around, it seemed unlikely, but it was worth one more try.

Tucked away in a barn on a prairie landscape, in what Jaelyn and Colton would share as a miracle, Rose would give birth to a beautiful little sorrel filly. Jaelyn would get to witness the event, a rare occasion for many horse owners. The foal had four white socks, a blaze with flecks of color, and Rabicano spots on her belly. The baby would be a gift for Jaelyn, who recalls the excitement of seeing her for the first time, and the thrill of naming her. Jaelyn felt Reign was the most appropriate.

Jaelyn spent the last two years forming a bond with the mare. When talking about Reign, Jaelyn beams with excitement. “She was always the sweetest baby. She is really special.” Reign meets Jaelyn at the gate, not fighting to be caught. After years together, Jaelyn shared that Reign is pretty much “bomb-proof,” a big feat for a creature so young and still in training. Reign has the attitude of her mother, which has Jaelyn counting down the days until she can take her first ride.

Rose, Reign, and JaelynReign’s mother, Rose, would pass away this winter after enjoying the last few years of retirement, but not before giving Jaelyn the amazing gift of a first horse. This amazing little filly secured Rose’s legacy.

When the time is right, Jaelyn plans to train Reign as a ranch and barrel horse. Jaelyn shares that they are “chomping at the bit” in anticipation of the next stage in their relationship. Regardless of the success in the arena, as long as the two can frequent the countryside with long rides, possibly trailing some cows or just out for leisure, that will be their ultimate success.

The introduction to the Western lifestyle has influenced Jaelyn’s career plans as well. She is in her last semester as an Agriculture Sales and Services major with an Equine Management minor at Dickinson State University. After her studies and time spent on Colton’s ranch, Jaelyn is now a cowgirl. She has Colton, Rose, and Reign to thank for her initiation, which forever changed her life.

This story is posted as it appears in the Heart River Voice (June 2024  |  Vol. 6, No. 6  |  p. 18). To view this column online, please click here.