South Dakota’s Kenzy Ranch: Fifty year legacy began with one mare |

South Dakota’s Kenzy Ranch: Fifty year legacy began with one mare

Frank Kenzy shows Ratlin Pepper in 2009. He is the second generation of the family to be involved in the American Quarter Horse business. Photo courtesy Frank Kenzy
Kenzy |

The Kenzy Ranch of Iona, South Dakota, was recognized on January 6 as a South Dakota American Quarter Horse Association’s Fifty Year Legacy Breeder, fifty consecutive years registering American Quarter Horses.

Harry Kenzy who would have been 100 years old this year, received the Legacy Breeder Award in 2009. He bought his first registered mare in the early 1950s, and most of the 30-some horses on the ranch stem from that first original mare, said Frank, Harry’s son.

That mare, Sealy, was born in 1946, sired by Billy Green, with the dam’s name listed as a Wood mare, purchased from a Mr. Wood.

Now Frank and his wife Jerri Lynn and son Myles are the next generations to keep the ranch going.

“A lot of our horses are versatile. That’s the all-around horse, and it’s really what you strive for.” Frank Kenzy

The stud that has brought much success to the Kenzys is Annies Little Pepper, the mainstay of their breeding program. The horse spent several years in the top 25 in the reined cow horse sire list, as well as top 100 on the cutting sire list. His colts have done well in several disciplines, and his offspring are good minded, Frank said, “the disposition we want.”

Many of Annies Little Pepper colts make good roping and steer wrestling horses as well. “They just make all around good horses that everybody seems to get along with.” His colts have won $270,000 in the cutting and reined cow horse worlds.

Frank and son Myles raise and train their horses, working them into whatever is the best fit for them: cutting, cow horse, roping, or more than one discipline. “A lot of our horses are versatile,” Frank said. “That’s the all-around horse, and it’s really what you strive for.”

Annies Little Pepper is no longer standing at stud, and the Kenzys have purchased another stallion, a five year old named Freckles CB, sired by Dual Rey and out of Frecklesareinstyle. Frecklesareinstyle has earned over $190,000 in the cutting world. Frank plans on showing Freckles CB and crossing him with some of the mares they have.

By the time he was ten years old, Frank was breaking and training horses. Along with his dad, he was putting thirty days on them, riding them for neighbors. The youngest of six children of Harry and Inez, Frank’s childhood revolved around horses. “That’s all we did, was ride. Neighbors would come over, we’d ride. Or ride without them.” He remembers traveling with his dad when they hauled mares to breed. The horses would be loaded on an old cabover truck and make an all day trip to be bred, often in Nebraska at Howard Pitzers in Ericson or Lloyd Geweke of Ord. It was heady stuff for a ten year old. “It’s pretty influential when you’re nine or ten,” Frank said, “to see those ranches, meet those people, and hang out with that caliber of people. It really builds a fire, a desire” to be involved in the horse world.

He did not compete in rodeo, and in his late twenties, began cutting and showing. In 1990, the family built an indoor barn, and he rode horses for the public, riding about 120 a year.

When he and Jerri Lynn’s kids: daughters Charli and Erin and son Myles began high school rodeo, they no longer rode outside horses but focused on their own. The kids did well at high school rodeo. Erin won three South Dakota High School Rodeo cutting championships and Myles won the tie-down, cutting, and reined cow horse titles in high school rodeo, plus three all-around titles. All three qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo, always aboard Kenzy horses. Myles is a freshman at Gillette (Wyo.) College, competing in the tie-down and team roping there.

Most of the horses from the Kenzy Ranch are sold privately, but occasionally they are sold at auction. This year, two horses will be sold at the Black Hills Stock Show. The first is a three year old buckskin gelding out of an Annies Little Pepper daughter. The second is an eight year old cow horse purchased as a yearling. Myles showed the cow horse in high school rodeo the last two years, winning state both years, and the horse was a S.D. AQHA High School Horse of the Year. He’s won $5,000 in earnings in the cow horse, and has been started in heeling.

Harry, who passed away in 2009, liked the Poco Pine pedigree and for a couple of years, bred his mares to some sons of Poco Pine and Texas Pine and Pines Chico studs in the area that could be accessed. One of his early success stories was from the early 1970s, when he raised a son of Me Quick Too, a stallion, and sold him, as a two-year-old, for $2,500. “That was a crazy number for a horse back then, to get that kind of money for a stud,” Frank said.

Troy Hayden has bought twenty or thirty of Frank’s horses through the years, and really likes them. “They’re very athletic and good-minded,” he said. “They’re really trainable, and just good horses to get along with.” The Rapid City, S.D. man has semi-retired from ranching; his son Ryan is on the ranch, located between Gillette and Buffalo, Wyo.

Hayden, who competes in the cutting and ropes occasionally, has won several thousand on Hi Ho Pepper, and also has a ten year old rope horse from Frank who his sons, Barry and Ryan (his third son, Eric, is in Texas) rope on, as well as his grandsons. On the ranch, an eleven year old mare named Annie, out of Frank’s stud, is an all around horse. “We use her for everything, every day,” he said. “Any little kid or novice rider can ride her.”

Hayden related a funny story involving a Kenzy horse. Several years ago, he bought a two-year-old from Frank and showed him in the cutting. He started roping on him, and lent him to Myles to rope calves on him. The horse was a better rope horse than cutting horse, and two years ago, Hayden sold him back to Frank; Myles qualified for the National High School Finals twice on him and is riding him in college.

In addition to the horses, the Kenzys have a cow/calf operation and put up hay. Charli is married to Adam Jastram and the couple lives in Rapid City; Erin has a son, Jace, who is three years old. Jerri Lynn is chief financial officer for Karl’s TV and Appliance, Inc., a TV/audio/appliance/furniture store based in Gregory. Frank’s mother Inez, who is 90 years old, still lives on the ranch.

Seeing what is coming next is what keeps Frank going. He loves the anticipation of what the horses might be, “to see what the babies are going to look like when they hit the ground in the spring,” he said. “Starting the two-year-olds, and seeing what they’re going to be like, and halter breaking the yearlings, and seeing what they’ll be like. I think that’s what pushes anybody, doesn’t it?”

“You always have got to see what the next crop brings. If you have no desire for that, there’s no point.”

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