- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

MOBRIDGE, S.D. (AP) - Lyle Lutz is making some lucky child’s Christmas, four hooves at a time.

For the 11th year in a row, Lutz, owner of L&J; Ranch of Mobridge, is giving away a horse on Christmas Day.

Lutz posted an ad, asking children ages 7-13 to write a letter, explaining why they would like a horse and how they would take care of it.

“The first year, we got over 100 letters,” Lutz said. “The last few years, it has been down a bit” to around 40 letters a year.

The Aberdeen American News (http://bit.ly/1P9Fc3M ) reports the letters are read by the Lutz family on Christmas Eve. They narrow it down to five letters and decide Christmas morning.

“When we pick a winner, we ask to talk to the parents first, to make sure it’s OK,” Lutz said.

That includes making sure the family has a place to keep the horse and horse-knowledge.

Then they tell lucky child to come pick up their new horse.

“You should see their eyes light up and their smile,” Lutz said.

This year, Dakota is the horse being given away.

“He’s just a big baby,” Lutz said.

Lutz picks a horse that would be suited to be around children.

“We pick the most gentle one; the easiest one to get along with.”

Generally, the horse Lutz gives out is a weanling; Dakota is almost 2 years old, so Lutz moved the children’s age bracket up.

As a quarter horse, Dakota has the potential to be trained for whatever the child would like to do.

“Quarter horses are pretty good all-around horses,” Lutz said.

Application letters must be received by Dec. 23. Mail to: Dakota, 1404 N. Main St., Mobridge, SD 57601.

The first horse they gave away, Minnie, went to a girl in Minnesota. They went to the High School National Rodeo Finals.

That initial giveaway was sparked by a poor horse market.

So Lutz decided that instead of selling the horse for a low price, he would make some child’s dream of having a horse come true.

He keeps doing it for the children.

“Some of the letters are tear jerking,” Lutz said.

___

Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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