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Youth Kelsey Keathly: Inspirational Journey Through Horses
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"The priority isn't on winning with us--it's about having your best ride," Kelsey says. Photo © Jeff Kirkbride

Eighteen year-old Kelsey Keathly of Binghamton, New York has had a few bumps in the road during her lifetime, but she has handled it with a determined spirit and positive attitude. When she was born, she was diagnosed with a complete heart block and had to get a pacemaker installed at the age of five. Despite this challenge, Kelsey fell in love with horses, and, under her mother's watchful eye, she grew up riding and showing horses.

Keathly now shows on the Pinto show circuit in the all around events under the supervision of Jessi Snow. Keathly recently passed down her horse, Investers Norfleet (Normie), to her younger sister, and she is now showing CR Dynamic Impulse (Juice). Kelsey and Juice are currently leading the nation in Youth Pinto Overo Color.

"My trainer really puts the horse first, and because of that Normie has improved so much since we started training with her," says Kelsey, who is currently attending Broome Community College before she plans to transfer to The University of Findlay in Ohio. "I was told that Normie would never make it at the bigger shows, but he proved everyone wrong. The priority isn't on winning with us--it's about having your best ride. Our show team is more like a family."

Keathly has also made her mark in horse judging competitions. Recently at 4H Eastern Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, this driven young lady won the competition, and she was the first ever from the state of New York to win this award. Kelsey was still able to achieve this award after suffering a severe concussion and neck injuries from a head on collision while driving her car in mid September. Keathly and her new horse, CR Dynamic Impulse had plans of competing at the Color Breed Congress in her last year of novice, but her doctors put her on riding restrictions until she healed from her accident. Kelsey and her horse, Normie, had a couple of Top 5's at the Congress last year, but she now looks ahead at competing at the show in 2013 with her new horse.

"She has a positive outlook on life and is a true horse woman," says, her proud mother, Barbara Hogan. "She may not have won a World Championship to date, but she has a dream of doing so. She has had some major health issues growing up but it has been amazing to watch her grow up with her horses. She is a very talented rider, and she loves to teach younger children about horses and riding and she loves giving back."

Hogan says that at the age of eight months after Kelsey had struggled with health issues, the doctors diagnosed her with a heart block. At the age of five, she had surgery to install a pacemaker; when she was a freshman in high school, she had surgery to get the battery changed in the pacemaker; and when she was a senior in high school, she had to get some wires changed out on her device. Every month, she has to hook herself up to what Kelsey describes as a machine that is like a mini EKG machine where there is a phone that connects to the hospital where she gets her pacemaker checked out to make sure it is working correctly. Keathly also visits the doctor every year for a checkup.

"Being a nurse, I have always been paranoid about Kelsey falling off her horse," says Kelsey's mother, Barbara. "But she wears a helmet, and when she was little, I made her wear a protective vest. It is very nerve racking when she had some complications in the past and got very sick, but she has always bounced back. It is her passion and her love, so I couldn't hold her back from riding. My daughter always has ten goals going on at the same time, and I am just so proud of her drive and desire to better herself as a rider and person."

Kelsey tells GoHorseShow that she loves showing at the Pinto shows because the people are so nice and down-to-earth.

"It is a real fun environment and everyone is so supportive," Kelsey says. "I can be myself at the shows and feel so comfortable around everyone. There is nothing like the feeling of showing horses and trotting down the middle of the pen at a major show. It is a feeling you can't experience anywhere else, and I'm so thankful to be able to be involved with horses. They have changed my life for the better."

GoHorseShow wishes Kelsey and CR Dynamic Impulse the best of luck next year at all the shows!


Photos © Jeff Kirkbride Photography

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