Kayla Sims soundly disproves the notion that it takes a pile of money and a trainer to show horses. Instead, she uses other assets available to her: a dedicated family, talent and hard work, mixed with some good luck. A well-written essay for a 4-H competition was the first step in a journey that led this 16-year-old from Walnut Grove to the Fall Harvest show in Columbia and it could take her much further.
On this leg of the trip, Kayla and her horse “Red Stylin Midnight“ earned sixth place out of 28 entries in Trail and eighth of 35 in Western Pleasure. They also entered Showmanship and Horsemanship. This level of performance is a major accomplishment, considering that her horse is only two years old.
“She’s taught him everything he knows” said her mother, Lee Anne McKinley. “I’m so proud of her.”
Simply obtaining her well-bred sorrel gelding was a huge win, and Kayla did it by writing that 4-H essay. A local breeder donated the essay prize, a registered paint. He’s a grandson of Invitation Only, one of the hottest quarter horse sires in the country.
But when Kayla brought him home as a yearling, he was barely halter broke and fought getting in the trailer. At that time, said her mother, “I thought, ‘what are we getting ourselves into?’ But he’s really come around.” Kayla’s stepdad is disabled and her mother works at McDonald’s, so a professional trainer was not an option. But their family traditions include know-how.
Lea Anne said, “I was raised on horses and my kids have been raised on horses. She’s been showing ever since she could walk.” But no one forced Kayla. “She chose to do this,” said Lea Anne. “We eat, breathe and sleep horses.” Even without a trainer, expenses are an issue. It took a couple of paychecks to come to the show, Lea Anne said. “It takes every penny I have to make sure she (Kayla) does this.”
Lea Anne said she knows several kids at the show who are “just like Kayla.” Why do parents go that extra mile? “It keeps them out of trouble,” and it “makes them a more responsible adult,” said Lea Anne. But mostly it’s “for the love of the horse.”
Kayla said one of her goals is to attend MU for vet tech training, and maybe even to become a vet. Her goal for her horse is to take him to the annual Paint World Show in Tulsa.
“That’s my lifelong dream, to take a horse that I’ve trained myself up there and place,” she said. As for her weekend in Columbia, which might serve as a step on her journey toward the World show, Kayla said, “I’m pretty happy. He’s maturing into a great horse, very level headed.”
She almost didn’t write that essay, she said. Now she’s glad she did. “He’s the best thing that’s happened to me,” said Kayla.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story written by Denise Henderson Vaughn and Emoke Bebiak for use on the website for the Fall Harvest Horse Show (Columbia, Mo.) and is used here with their permission. Learn more about the horse show online at http://web.missouri.edu/~dhvqp4/raisingchampions/index.html.