Well, Paints of Course!
Photos and Story by Lyn Odom-Cherenzia

It's always interesting to hear how people get started with a certain kind of horse. For Larry and Sue Willard of Kiowa, Colorado, it all started out with a colt. Married in 84' Larry and Sue had been showing Quarter Horses. They had a nice mare named Spanish Foxy Lady that they decided to breed to a paint stud. Foxy threw a fine looking colt that was later gelded and trained to be a ranch horse. Friends of the Willards kept on encouraging them to show the ranch gelding at paint shows. They took him to the Pueblo Paint Show and cleaned house in pleasure classes. Larry and Sue decided to use Foxy as a brood mare and now 18 years later, the 24-year-old mare has served the Willards well by producing 3 registered paints and 2 breeding stock foals. Larry has gone on to become one of the finest working cow horse trainers in the Rocky Mountains.

Native to Nebraska, Larry grew up on a ranch and has been breaking and training horses all his life. He spent his youth rodeoing, riding saddle and bareback broncs. He tried his hand at bull riding too. He rode 5 bulls and got hurt 5 times; he went back to his real talent, riding horses. His family is a ranching family and has been in the beef industry raising black baldies for years, so there has never been a shortage of cattle for Larry to rope. Larry was a charter pilot following his years in the service, and also after completing his degree in Business Administration with a minor in Ag Economics at Chadron State University in Chadron, NE.

Larry and Sue travel the country showing their own paint stock as well as horses Larry is training for reining and cow horse competitions. Larry trains "outside horses" fulltime and limits his training to 6 horses at a time. That's riding 3-4 times a day, 7 days a week on different mounts that are in different stages of training. On their 2000-acre ranch where he and Sue are raising roping cattle, they have the perfect classroom for a horse that's been born and raised to work cattle. Larry and Sue compete in the NRHA (National Reining Horse Association), the APHA (American Paint Horse Association), and the NRCHA (National Reining and Cow Horse Association). Sue is also the Show Committee Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Paint Horse Association. Larry holds judge's cards for APHA, NRHA, IBHA (International Buckskin Assn) and PtHA (Pinto Assn) and judges 5 - 10 shows/year as well as several local open and 4-H shows. He's an avid roper and competes in local jackpots as time allows on he and Sue's stallion, Im Major Lucky. Larry is also a National Director for APHA and currently serving on the Rules Committee. He is the past president of RMPHA having held a 3 year term and has been on the Board of Directors for over 10 years & active on several committees of the club.

During the hunting season, Larry works for JML Outfitters in the Flat Tops region of Northwest Colorado near Meeker. He has made many friends & has lots of stories to tell about the "city guys" that he escorts up and down the mountains on horseback.

Larry's days are filled with teaching, coaching and training, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge with kids through 4-H riding & judging clinics. On the whole teaching concept, Larry's greatest desire and pride comes from having his students be self sufficient horsemen as he is not a "room service" type of trainer. He emphasizes through his teaching that his principals & theories can work on any horse in any discipline. He is willing to spend the amount of time necessary sharing his lifetime of experience with those willing to learn.

Larry philosophy in training is to teach the individual that owns the horse how to ride. Larry works with people to make them understand why things happen. A specific stimulus gets specific reactions and that"s what he teaches his students to use on their horse. "Mostly you’ve got to stay out of the horses way," said Larry. Once trained, horses know their jobs and you've got to give them the cues that work for them to perform their best.

"People and horses that I've trained or schooled from the beginning that go on to have success is the greatest reward for me." Larry, now 56, is enjoying his work and lifestyle. His ability to train horses and work with their owners has been proven over and over in the show ring. A recent student in her mid 30's that had never shown horses before is now placing and winning in the non-pro NRHA and the novice amateur reining. This is her first year of showing.

The Willard's "Horses and Horns Ranch" is home to the 17 head of registered paint and Quarter Horses they own, as well as registered Corriente cattle. Larry specializes in "reining and all around horses" and can be contacted at (303) 621-2506 or you can email them at: ljwillard@earthlink.net.

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