Little cowboy learns lessons of life with his beautiful mare named Willow

Growing up with animals can teach kids a lot of different things: patience, kindness, responsibility.

Hank Boyd, who is only four years old, can ride a horse like a true cowboy. Willow, his 18-year-old mare, and he live a ranch lifestyle in Montana.

The Boyd family—parents Amy and Ben, as well as their three children—moved from California to the Treasure State (a nickname for Montana), where the cowboy culture is alive and well.

Hank started seeing cowboys and immediately wanted a cowboy hat and boots. Knowing that all cowboys ride horses, the aspiring ranchero couldn’t wait to get started. As a result, Willow will be welcomed into the family in October 2021.

“He had a connection with her from the beginning when we got her,” Amy, 30, told The Epoch Times. “There’s so much value in letting your kids be raised around animals. There’s a connection that, I feel, is different from just playing with friends.”

Hank would initially simply walk the much larger Willow around on a lead rope. Hank, on the other hand, was soon up in the saddle and doing all the things that real cowboys do, such as brushing and feeding.

While Willow is constantly grabbing her little owner’s hat, Hank’s favorite thing to do is give her treats.

“She knows that she’s going to get treats, so she gets excited for him,” Amy said. “When we go down to the field, she comes running right up to the gate, happy to see us, but especially him. She definitely favors him.”

Watch the playful Willow tossing off Hank’s hat:

It’s been wonderful for Amy to witness the close bond develop. Her son has gained confidence as a result of riding and caring for Willow every day after kindergarten.

The family lives on 16 acres of land and has dogs, chickens, and a horse. When sisters Molly, 10, and Hannah, 8, were taking riding lessons, Hank would observe and learn from them.

“They’d go and get the stuff to saddle up, and now Hank just runs and grabs the saddle himself, copying what they do. Now he does it all,” the mom said.

Personality-wise, Willow is a little stubborn and Hank can act silly, bringing out her playful side. The result is pure fun and laughter.

Amy considers teaching kindness to her three children to be “the most important thing.” And the proud mother believes that animals, like humans, can teach children a variety of skills.

Amy stated that the children contribute significantly to the daily care of the animals, and that each small task becomes a playful lesson.

She said: “We have to care for this animal; somebody has to go feed it and somebody has to brush it. Even with the chickens, we have to feed them and go collect the eggs. They provide for us; we provide for them type thing.

“It really helps teach them responsibility from a young age, because you know, we’re going to have this animal and have fun with it and ride it, but we also have to be responsible.

“It’s good to see your kids succeeding and just kind of doing things on their own. It makes me really happy.”