By SUZANNE WARING
Kenny Lacey, 51, has learned to take on the unknown. “I always go find out about it. At times I have said, ‘Not for me,’ but at least I have poked my nose in to see what something was all about,” he said. Following a lead to a new experience was how he found Montana.
Lacey grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. After he graduated from high school, he went into the Air Force. Upon completing his military obligation, he worked for his father. Watching his father who owned a construction company for 30-some years, Lacey realized that this was not the work his father would have chosen if he could have picked a career. Through poor decisions and bad luck, the company failed. Lacey then watched his father, who ended up with nothing, day-in and day-out toil, die of cancer. Reminded of his father’s heartbreaking life, Lacey knew he had to seek varied experiences for himself and to pick work he enjoyed. He knew he wanted to work around horses.
Following that interest, Lacey raced horses and rodeoed for some time in the South. During one of those winters in San Antonio, a trainer friend encouraged Lacey to try Montana. Following up on the suggestion, Lacy spent a number of years in Billings and a few years in Miles City. Mostly he was training horses and working as a farrier. Six years ago he went to Roundup to trim the hooves of a horse that had been difficult for the farriers in the Roundup area. After Lacey’s success with that horse, word got around the community that he had the skills to work with troubled or troublesome horses.
“It makes all the difference when you have a soft touch and a love for horses,” said Lacey.
While he was working with the horses in the area, he got to know the Roundup community. He decided he had found home, so he moved to a “little place” at the edge of town. He found that his business of training and shoeing horses at any given time would be backlogged by 200 or more horses.
In 2013, Lacey was involved in training a horse to race. They had done all of the aspects of training, but hadn’t had an occasion to get the horse comfortable with a crowd. At the Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City that year, Lacy leaned on his horse racing experience and rode the horse in the annual race. He was out front and 40 feet from the finish line when the deafening noise from the crowd and the pressure of all the unexpected experiences that day caused the horse to crash into the rail. Luckily it remained upright and on the track. In the process of being dropped on the other side of the rail, Lacey took out the railing and posts. If the horse had gone over the railing with Lacy, it would have probably killed him. The horse continued to the finish line in first place, but that didn’t count because there was no rider. Lacy ended up with a broken jaw, torn-up knee, fractured hip and vertebra, among other injuries. It took a long time to heal, but today he can still ride a horse.
Lately his horse has been visiting another family. He has enjoyed helping out a couple with achieving their dream of living in the country and having horses to ride. The husband has a disability, and Lacey taught them to ride when they bought a horse. He sent his own horse, Ed, to live at the couple’s place, so both could ride simultaneously.
As Lacey appraises his varied life, making Roundup his home has been a positive experience. He enjoyed all aspects of caring for and racing horses as a young man, but he had learned a lesson. He needed to give up racing because his body could no longer endure the wear and tear. He continues to take pleasure in training horses and doing the job of a farrier. He also enjoys helping others when they have a project that includes horses.
“If it doesn’t work out, the opportunity has been a lesson. If it does work out, you are onto something new,” he said. “You don’t want to be full of regret when looking back on your life and say, ‘What if I had tried that?’”