Little Man: Kelsie Domer’s Go-To Breakaway Horse

The stoic-looking sorrel gelding “Little Man” knows his job and does it well, carrying Kelsie Domer to sub-2.0-second times regularly.

Little Man and Kelsie Domer in Ellensburg, WA
Little Man has proved himself a consistent competitor under the hand of Kelsie Domer. Photo by Roseanna Sales

Breakaway gelding “Little Man” lends Kelsie Domer wings, regularly stopping the clock in sub-2.0-second fashion and winning ProRodeos across the country.

The pair have been working together for four years, gathering accolades from a 2023 Women’s Rodeo World Championship to a 2021 NFBR qualification—and soon, the 2023 rendition.

When Kelsie Domer backs into the box at a rodeo, competitors know she’s going to give it her all to win the thing or break the barrier trying, and Little Man is on board all the way.

“It’s hard to beat one that feels like him,” Domer said. “From the corner, across the line, he’s very quick and he’s going to stop really hard, too.”

Finding a diamond

When Domer came across Little Man, she wasn’t even shopping for a horse. Friend Chance Thiessen wanted to sell him as a breakaway horse instead of a calf horse and asked Domer to come ride him for sale video.

“As soon as I left, I called my mom and I said, ‘We might be in a bind, because I think I might have to buy this horse.’ I wasn’t even looking for one, but I knew he was really good and all I could think of was, ‘Somebody else is going to buy him and I’m going to have to see him every weekend anyways, and that’s really going to make me mad. So, I might as well do what I can right now to buy him.’”

Domer got to purchase Little Man from Ken, Chance’s dad, in 2019. Registered as Kits Tiana Play, Little Man goes back to Dual Pep on top and Freckles Playboy on the bottom.

Domer had mainly been amateur rodeoing as ProRodeo breakaway started to take off. The first year they had breakaway at Cheyenne Frontier Days—only a few weeks after her unplanned purchase—Domer and Little Man made the short round at the milestone event.

“He was amazing out there because of how fast he was,” Domer said. “I felt like we clicked pretty fast, and his timing was really good.”

Hanging out with Little Man

Today, Domer rodeos full time with daughter Oakland in tow and, occasionally, niece Korli, too. Little Man is all for the pets, nuzzles and treats, but that’s where his kid-friendly nature ends.

“He loves Oakland, and he’s very gentle on the ground,” Domer said. “But when it’s time to do his job, he’s ready. He likes to prance a lot, so he’s not really that fun to ride around. He’s just the kind that wants to do his job and go back to the trailer and get loved on.”

And when he’s at the trailer, he takes full advantage. Domer usually ties him loosely so he can reach hay and water on the ground.

“Shoot, the other day at Bremerton, Washington, he just laid down right there while tied in the sand on the side of the trailer,” Domer said. “He’s pretty easy in that way.”

Little Man takes a rest at a rodeo. Photo courtesy of Domer.

While on the road, Domer prioritizes keeping hay in front of Little Man, and feeds him alfalfa and Running Horse Feed morning and night. For supplements, she utilizes Simply Equine, who build personalized supplements based on a hair sample.

Domer has no plans of slowing down with Little Man, and the two are currently sitting No. 7 with $94,725 in earnings with less than 10 days to go in the 2023 ProRodeo season. She credits Little Man with much of her success this summer, saying he’s carried the team—both literally and figuratively—much of the way.

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