Photo by Julia Shelburne-HittiThe Senior Equitation Championship at the World's Championship Horse Show always showcases the very best in Saddlebred equitation, and this year was no exception. The incredibly strong class on Thursday evening was won by Kaylee Atkinson, a name that may be unfamiliar to some in the show horse world now, but certainly won't be for long.
Kaylee rides her mount CH I'm McDreamy under the direction of Kellie and Dalton Budd at Select Show Horses. Here are five things you probably didn't know about this year's Senior Equitation World's Champion Of Champions.
Throughout her 30 years in the business, Vicki Reed rose from a Saddlebred novice to one of the premiere owners, amateur exhibitors and even breeders of the day. From World’s Champions to her beloved retirees, the equestrian life is her true passion, so when a severe stroke threatened to take all of that away from her last year, she refused to let it, fighting in a way that inspired her fellow equestrians, and recovering in a manner that was nothing short of miraculous.
Starting her own barn had never been on Keen Behringer’s to-do list. It was simply too risky when there were more dependable options.
“I would’ve been more comfortable just getting a job and collecting a paycheck,” Keen said.
But then the barn she was training for closed in early 2013, and everything changed. She soon found herself navigating the uncertain landscape of starting a business, battling countless obstacles along the way. Now, four years later and against all odds, she has Sublime Saddlebreds to show for it. It stands as a testament to not only her own dedication, but the dedication of countless friends and family members – a place where integrity and personalized care unite to bring out the best in both horses and riders alike.
"I've taken a number of business calls while hanging on Tigerlee like this,” Ali DeGray said, her right arm flung over the withers of the reigning Amateur Five-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions Memories Of Cabo, as he rested in his stall at the American Royal.
The chestnut gelding and Ali had a nearly undefeated first season together, winning in nine of their ten show ring appearances, from River Ridge to Louisville, and earning another two blues that very week in Kansas City. He was, by all accounts, one of the most celebrated show horses of the year, but to Ali he is only “Sammy,” just as the multi-titled World’s Champion CH Tigerlee is simply “Tiger.”
Fanfare doesn’t mean much to Ali. At 26 years old, she is keenly aware that she comes from a privileged family, one that is able to provide her with horses like Sammy and Tiger, and give her the opportunity to show them at the highest levels, but there is much more to her than her background and show ring record would indicate. She is a woman of substance; fiercely in love with her horses and other animals, hard working, approachable, filled with unlimited appreciation for all her life’s blessings and determined to utilize those blessings to enrich the lives of others.