The Horses

Our Horses


These are the real stars of our show! Almost all of them have been donated to us and they are our most-used teaching tool. James 1:22 (ESV) tells us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” The instructor can’t ride a student’s horse for them. That student has to hear the instructor’s horsemanship truths and put them into practice on that horse. By God’s grace, our students will have ears to hear God’s truth and faith to put it into practice in all areas of their lives.

Interested in helping support our horses? Click on Contact above or visit our Donate page. You can also find our Wish List if you click on the Partner With Us tab above for more specific needs.

We’ve seen our share of horses through the years and they’ve all taught us something. We have a much better idea of what horses serve our program, though true to form, sometimes they surprise us. If you would like to talk with Mr. Ryan about the type of horse we’re looking for, click on Contact above.


Remembering BOB, April 1997-November 2017

“This horse needs to be teaching kids to ride…”


“…He’s too good to be sitting around in the pasture doing nothing.” That’s what Mark said when he called to tell me he wanted to donate his horse, BOB, to the Ranch. No, that’s not a mistake—“BOB” is supposed to be capitalized. It was short for Bit O Buck, a combination of his mom’s name (Bit O Honey…like the candy. She was a BLM mustang) and his daddy’s name (Arrowbuck, a Paint horse). It was fitting since BOB was also a buckskin by color.


Mark was right—BOB needed to be teaching kids to ride and he taught his share at Wears Valley Ranch and Camp Arrowwood. BOB spent his whole life teaching kids to ride. It started with Mark’s own kids when Mark brought BOB’s mom with him when he moved to Tennessee from Arizona to attend the University of Tennessee Vet school. BOB was born here in TN and was ridden first by Mark and then his oldest daughter, and eventually his youngest daughter and son. BOB inherited more than just his name from his parents—he got his daddy’s face and his mama’s attitude. They would both buck when they got excited. BOB had his share of stories about him bucking around the pen under saddle, even dumping his rider in the dirt on occasion. Under the watchful eye of a trainer, Mark and his family gave BOB consistent, loving, discipline. He became adept at both English and Western disciplines, and through the years BOB won his share of ribbons at horse shows. With a flashy color, and having one brown eye and one blue eye, BOB was easy to recognize too.


I was excited to accept him into our program but wanted to make sure that attitude was gone. At times BOB showed his concern when asked to do something new or something was out of place, usually with the tip of an ear or an eye toward the new thing, but I think it’s safe to say he thrived here. The consistent, loving, discipline in his life bore much fruit. From horse soccer to noodle tag, from jumping rails to herding cows across campus, BOB could do just about anything and if he didn’t already know it he was willing to try. He could babysit beginner riders yet knew advanced maneuvers for the advanced rider to enjoy. He knew his job and he did it well, even at the age of 20. Some count that old for a horse but he was just right. We enjoyed him for 6 great years!


I think BOB is a picture of some of the students at Wears Valley Ranch. Their common thread is that they have a problem in the home that is not of their own making. While it’s not of their own making, sometimes they’ve inherited or learned that attitude from the adults around them and do their fair share of bucking when they get here. BOB was fortunate enough to have adults who gave him consistent, loving discipline, and he ended up thriving because of it. That’s what we give our students while they’re here. Like BOB, we don’t define our students by their past but give them a new set of expectations. It’s our vision to see every person inspired to follow Christ, healed from the past, and equipped to reach his or her full potential.

However sometimes it’s that bucking that gets them dismissed from the Ranch. Sometimes it’s many years later before we hear, if by God’s grace, that loving discipline has born fruit. Yet we trust in the Holy Spirit to do that work in His time.


Thank you, Lord, for BOB and the opportunities we had through BOB to point kids to Jesus!




Full Name: Hadassah

Birthday: April 22, 2011

Born at the Ranch, Haddie is Mr. Ryan’s horse. Mary, Haddie’s mother, was one of 30+ horses that our farrier rescued. He asked if we would be interested in housing one of the broodmares until she foaled and weaned, with the possibility of us keeping the foal. While Wears Valley Ranch seeks horses that are already trained, Mr. Ryan was willing to take on the responsibility and expense associated with raising a foal. He credits Haddie with being one of the things that has progressed his horsemanship the most. Many of our students have fallen in love with her and look forward to being able to ride her in the future. Hadassah received her name because, like Queen Esther who she is named after (Esther 2:7), she seemed to come to her role in life for “such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)


Hot Rod


Full Name: Holidocs Hot Rod

Birthday: March 23, 2003

Hot Rod is a registered American Quarter Horse Horse. Bred and started as a reining horse, he spent a number of years doing mostly trail rides. He’s everything you would expect from a Quarter Horse–smooth moving and versatile–which is good because we ask him to do just about everything from herding cows to jumping and even recently starting him in training as a vaulting horse.






Full Name: Lucy

Birthday: 1982, maybe…she’s old for sure!

Mr. Ryan originally bought Lucy for his own young children but the Ranch students, especially those 8 and under, quickly fell in love with her. Barely taller than our 40″ horse soccer ball, what she lacks in size she has in heart. Courageous enough to even push around the calves that are bigger than her, she is an amazing teacher for our youngest ones. Few labrador retrievers will follow a student as well as Lucy follows when one of our students is leading her around. Mr. Ryan says, “She’s the best $400 I ever spent on horses!” We’re glad he was willing to share her with us. Her fan club agrees!




DSC_0427Full Name: Pepper

Birthday: 1999, we think

Pepper was given to us by long time volunteers who lead multiple trips to the Ranch each year. But don’t let his name fool you…Pepper isn’t too spicy. He has just the right amount of energy for the occasion! He can elevate his energy to go over a jump or slow to a snail’s pace to make sure that beginner has fun playing noodle tag. We’re grateful to have him in our herd!





Full name: Choctaw Spare Change

Birthday: January 14, 1999

Rocky is a registered American Quarter Horse. He comes to us with an well-rounded resume in both western and english. He is very sensitive to his rider, capable of calmly packing around a new beginner or raising his energy for our most advanced riders. He is a fantastic mirror for his rider.




Full Name: Bashfuel

Birthday: May 14, 1993

Tazz is a registered Appendix Quarter Horse, which means he’s half QH and half Thoroughbred. His story parallels Bob’s story in a number of ways. Tazz came to us because his rider went off to college and Tazz still had years of teaching left in him. He grew up winning ribbons at the horse shows. Tazz and Bob even used to be at the same barn! We’re thankful that Tazz came out of retirement to keep himself and all of us young and going strong.





Full Name: DR18

Birthday: May 4, 2003

What kind of name is DR18?! Triumph was born on a PMU farm in Canada–think like how a dairy farm gets milk from cows and doesn’t want the calves, but these farms want to get pregnant mare urine (PMU) and don’t want the foals. She was just a number until she came to us. Triumph is probably our smartest horse, and she uses her smarts figure out all sorts of ways to get out of working too hard. A jack of all trades, we can ride her under saddle, hitch her up and go for a hay ride, or put the surcingle on her and do some vaulting. We’re grateful for her and all of her personality!


Did you know…

…that Bob, Rocky, and Tazz all used to be at the same lesson barn together some years ago? Though they were all born in 1999 or earlier (that means they’re “old”) they are still having very productive years as lesson horses. Many people think that they’ll get a young horse for their young child to ride and that they’ll both teach each other. Horse people know better than this and often recite the old adage, “Green on green makes black and blue.” In other words, young horse + young rider = recipe for injury to one or both. Horses that are old or older with a variety of experience, with a variety of skills, that have been exposed to and can handle a variety of stimuli, often make the best horses for young or inexperienced riders to learn. We’re happy to have some of them in our program!


IMG_0907…that you tell a horse’s age by it’s teeth? So for some of our horses when
we say we think we know when their birthday is, that means we don’t know exactly but based on the appearance of their teeth we can make an educated guess. A horse’s teeth are always growing in and always grinding down which is unlike our teeth which grow in and then are done growing. Proper dental care is very important for horses, and some of our older horses have special dental issues. Our veterinarian performs yearly dental exams and uses special dental stocks to help keep the horses calm and safe. Here is a picture of a horse getting ready to have his teeth checked.





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