Published August 19th, 2020 at 6:00 AM
Dressed in a pearl snap shirt, spurred boots, cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses, Cody Heim tosses a saddle onto Cactus, a massive horse that looks plenty strong enough to carry the 26-year-old.
Meanwhile, young kids ask him if they can pet Cactus while he gets Selena, a smaller and trepidatious horse, ready to ride.
Heim could do this all day, and he has been for a large part of his life.
He and business partner Michael Green opened up the Watkins “C” Ranch for it’s first night on Saturday, August 8. The two have come a long way to make this happen.
Green’s grandfather started the original Watkins Ranch in 1989 on a small seven-acre plot of land in Atchison, Kansas. His mother sold it in 2015.
Five years later, Green is opening up the spiritual successor to the ranch on a 28-acre patch of land at 3605 N. 59th St., Kansas City, Kansas. The land used to be used for a rock quarry, and is just 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City.
Green and Heim grew up helping out on the original ranch, but left ranching behind when they went to college, where they both studied business.
Heim left his position as a manager at FedEx to follow his dream and help Green on the ranch. His main job is to tend to the horses.
“When you can take an animal that’s terrified of you and in just a few days, these horses are so trusting as a creature that they can become like your best friend,” Heim said. “It’s incredible.”
Green takes on most of the marketing, and helps run the ranch’s sister company, Horse for Help, with his mother. The nonprofit’s goal is to provide therapeutic riding for veterans or those with special needs.
Watkins “C” Ranch is open Monday through Friday, offering riding lessons, trail rides, private and corporate events as well as date nights where couples can go horseback riding and have dinner on the ranch.
To see more of the ranch, watch our video above.
Jacob Douglas covers rural affairs for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America.