August 6, 2012
By Allison Armstrong The American Quarter Horse Journal
Kailyn Ogle and Sneakn Past the Mark are competing in the hunter hack and working hunter classes at the 2012 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show. (Shane Rux photography)
It’s been a tough year for Kailyn Ogle and her family. But participating in the 2012 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show has become its own reward for this Edmond, Oklahoma, youth rider.
Thanks to some great rides in the preliminaries on August 4, Kailyn is finishing her last year of youth eligibility by competing in her two favorite classes, hunter hack and working hunter, with her American Quarter Horse, Sneakn Past The Mark, aka “Elliott.” But while there’s no doubt that Kailyn and Elliott are doing what they love to do, they came very close to not coming to the Ford Youth World at all.
It all began with the passing of Kailyn’s grandfather in November 2011. Kailyn’s mom, Karen, had qualified Elliott and her own horse, Pact With Power, aka “Harley,” for the over fences classes in the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
Kailyn’s grandfather, Ron Presley, had been terminally ill with lung and heart problems for some time, but as the World Show approached, his health was quickly declining. Then, the night before the preliminaries, he took a turn for the worse.
“The night before prelims, (Mom) spent the night at the hospital just talking with (my grandfather),” Kailyn explains. “After prelims that night, he passed away. She didn’t want to show at all (after that). She was emotionally exhausted – we all were – but my grandma insisted that she show. I really encouraged her to show, too, because I knew that’s what made her happiest and that’s what my grandpa would want.”
Because of her family’s encouragement, Karen chose to compete, sporting her father’s U.S. Navy pin on the collar of her jacket the day of finals. She finished the World Show by winning two top-five placings on Elliott and earning the reserve world championship in working hunter on Harley.
“She had the best rides I’ve ever seen her have on both of our horses,” Kailyn says proudly. “It was just really special.”
But the Ogle family’s troubles were far from over. About a month after his triumph at the World Show, Harley came up lame in his hocks.
“Every week, I could see him getting worse,” Kailyn says. “It was hard to watch him degenerate like that because he’s such an athlete.”
The Ogles’ veterinarian, Dr. David McCarroll, diagnosed Harley’s lameness as rapid bone degeneration in his hocks and confirmed what Karen and Kailyn already knew: that Harley’s competitive show career – as well as his riding career – was over.
“He’s been a wonderful horse for us for the past eight years,” Kailyn says. “We turned him out with a bunch of broodmares and he’s happy. He looks like a broodmare himself now. But it was hard. Since he was my mom’s horse for eight years, they had such a bond. And between losing my grandfather and her partner, it was a rough six months for us.”
On top of that, Dr. McCarroll died of a heart attack in June 2012.
In the spring of 2012, Kailyn showed Elliott at the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Redbud Spectacular Show in the hunter events. During the show, there was a free day, so Kailyn and Karen went out to a friend’s barn to ride some young horses. During the ride, Karen’s horse spooked, causing a freak accident that left her badly injured.
“She sheared her scapula in half, broke her collarbone in five places, broke four ribs, punctured a lung, fractured three vertebrae and got a concussion,” Kailyn says. “It was an ordeal. She spent about three weeks in the hospital.”
For Kailyn and Karen, spending time with their American Quarter Horses had always meant spending special time together, and after the accident, Kailyn realized she was facing the possibility of riding and showing without her mom by her side.
“I still went out to the barn, but it was really weird without my mom,” Kailyn explains. “I never realized how much of that was stuff we did together, so when I was facing that I was maybe going to shows without her and we wouldn’t be able to do this together anymore, I didn’t know if I wanted to keep doing that.”
Kailyn chose to stop riding altogether while her mom was in the hospital and considered never showing again.
Kailyn’s trainer, AQHA Professional Horseman Kelley Watts-Rampey, also of Edmond, Oklahoma, had other ideas.
“Kelly pushed me to get back in the barn,” Kailyn says. “At first, she didn’t care about (me) showing. She said, ‘Just get back in the saddle, and you’ll feel better.’ Of course, she was right.”
After a month, Kailyn started riding six days a week again and continued riding all summer. For the first time in a long time, she was having fun again by going to the barn and spending time with her horse. When Kelley asked her about possibly showing again, Kailyn couldn’t remember why she’d wanted to sit out in the first place.
“I was having such a good time again,” Kailyn says, smiling. “My mom had finally rehabbed enough that she could come out to the barn and watch my lessons from the car. But my feelings about showing have still changed a lot.”
At this Ford Youth World, Kailyn’s primary goal is to have fun and enjoy spending time with her horse show family and friends.
“This is probably the first Ford Youth World where I don’t feel pressured to go out and be perfect,” Kailyn explains. “Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘Oh my gosh, it’s World Show!’ feeling and the nerves and stress. This year, I haven’t really felt that. I think it’s because I’ve realized there are more important things than doing well at World Show. I’m just here to have a good experience.”
As Kailyn competes at this year’s Youth World, she is supported by her mother, father and brother, as well as her three aunts and uncles and multiple cousins.
“I have the loudest section of people in the stands,” Kailyn says, laughing. “They are always yelling. When (the announcer) called out that I’d made the hunter hack finals, (my family) was screaming so loud, the announcer had to go back and repeat the next person’s number because they were being so loud. It was funny. I know I always have a huge support group.”
That support group includes all of Kailyn’s horse show friends, as well as the people who ride and board at her trainer’s stable.
“If I hadn’t had (those people), I probably wouldn’t be at this show,” Kailyn admits. “They kept encouraging me and giving me the will to go on.”
After this year’s Ford Youth World, Kailyn will be starting her sophomore year at Oklahoma State University. As a biology major, she plans to become a pharmacist for a children’s hospital.
“I wanted to do something that could support my horses,” Kailyn explains. “I didn’t want to give that up.”