Living in the YouTube era, it’s never entirely surprising to see a 5-year-old piano prodigy or a breakdancing toddler go viral—impressive as their talents may be. Half a century ago, those baby Einsteins got their 15 minutes of fame in a more old-fashioned medium: the back pages of LIFE magazine.
Fifteen-month-old Jean Anne Evans was one such child. The Texan toddler was born into a family of ranchers and horseback riders, and first straddled a saddle (with her mother in tow) at the tender age of one month. When LIFE photographer Alan Grant visited her family’s farm near Fort Davis, he found her holding her own atop her 25-year-old horse, Toy Boy.
Despite her prowess, LIFE wrote, she occasionally “betrays her years by dropping off to sleep suddenly in mid-roundup.” Thankfully, her mother's saddle made for just the place to take a nap.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.