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Stick horses more than one-trick ponies

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Haden’s handmade toys delight kids, benefit public library

The presence of colorful hobbyhorses appears to be one Chisholm Trail Roundup tradition that is sticking around.
The horses are the invention of longtime rodeo supporter Linda Haden, who used to be an avid competitor as a kid, along with her husband, Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden.
Haden’s stick horses have been a big hit with the kids since she first began selling them ahead of the 2016 CTR event. Now in its fourth year, the tradition continues ahead of this year’s June 13-15 rodeo, with the $15 horses already available for sale at Printing Solutions and Wendy R Gifts.
Each year, all proceeds from hobbyhorse sales support a different local cause. This year, the stick horses will create a stable source of funding for the Dr. Eugene Clark Public Library’s summer reading program.
“I try to pick a different charity every year,” Haden said. “This year, I wanted to give to a cause that would help teach kids.”
The horses’ popularity was a bit of a surprise to Haden, who donated the proceeds to Caldwell County flood relief the first year.
“It took off all on its own,” she said. “A Blanco County donor matched the money we raised that first year, and so the $4,000 we made really became $8,000.”
Haden made all of the horses by hand herself the first two years, but beginning last year she got some help from Chase Lore at Capital Farm Credit.
The number of horses has grown from 250 to about 350.
Kids who find themselves in possession of one of the unique toys get an opportunity to horse around at the Chisholm Trail Roundup. Prior to the last day’s events, children get to participate in the hobbyhorse race, where Hall of Fame Rodeo Clown Leon Coffee leads them around the arena as they gallop around and play in the dirt.
“A lot of kids don’t get that much outside time,” Haden said. “For many of them, it’s their first time in an arena.”
This year, there’s a new wrinkle to the hobbyhorse game – unicorns. Haden said she’s made 40 of them and that so far, all of them have been spoken for.
But horn or not, one thing remains consistent.
“Every horse is unique,” Haden said. “You won’t find any two that are alike.”

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