0 comments / Posted by Ann Wilt

We are happy to honor one of the best lesson horses ever as Willy celebrates his 30th birthday this week.

Born in South Dakota, and originally named and registered as Dakota’s Diamond Sam, the Quarter Horse who stole the hearts of many a Knollwood Kid came to the farm as a three -year old.  Legendary horse dealer Gary Lohman thought Willy had the brain to make a wonderful lesson horse, and he was right, as usual.

Side note, Gary’s brother Mike is also a great horseman, and has found many of our current lesson horses for us.  Brinkley, Forest, Pony Frank, Tony, Fred, Sparky, and Picasso all came to us through Mike’s great eye for horses. He and his family operate Southwind Ranch in Eagle where they teach, train, and sell horses.


Back to Willy’s story …

From the beginning, it was evident that Willy would be a big player in the Knollwood lesson program. Willy and his perfect jog trot with the consistent rhythm of a metronome has taught countless, and we mean countless, riders to post. Even the most timid riders feel they can ride when they encounter Willy’s calm personality. He’s a big golden confidence builder.


In his younger days, Willy was the fastest horse in the pasture. Over the years, he may have slowed down a bit physically, but he still maintains his sense of humor in his stall and in the arena. While enjoying the box stall life with his fellow senior citizen Brinkley, Willy enjoys ‘escaping’ from his stall while it’s being cleaned or bedded. Of course, he trots to his slip stall where he enjoys his senior feed every day while kids brush and tack him for lessons.

Oh yes, he’s still teaching lessons, and would go insane if he didn’t have a job to do. Willy is still a master of tiny tot lessons and of walk and trot bareback lessons. He does occasionally get caught up in the moment and canter a few strides if other horses in a group lesson are doing the same.

Few horses have the sense of humor of this one. Over the years, he’s been dressed up as a witch, a nerd, a scarecrow, and even as a pommel horse for gymnasts. As usual, he takes it all in stride with a sigh.


Willy fears only one thing in the world, and it’s aerosol spray. He’s terrified of fly spray and can hear it from across any arena. His kids have learned to spray a towel out of his ear shot, of course, and wipe it all over Willy to keep him comfortable  during fly season.


These days, he’s a member of our ‘Entitled Old Gelding Club,’ and enjoys whatever he wants. He loves the sun on his back outside, as well as his cushy box stall next to his friend Brinkley at night. Of course, Willy’s stall also happens to be next to the feed room, so he begs every evening for some extra goodies to help him through the night. Every night.

We’re celebrating Willy’s birthday on Saturday, May 5. Please stop by and tell him what he’s meant to you and to wish him a Happy Birthday.  He’s truly one in a million and we are so fortunate to have known a soul like his.


In celebration of his three decades, Willy would appreciate gifts of carrots and apples. He is a health nut, and doesn’t eat candy, but really loves a good carrot.


Happy Birthday, Willy!


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