Written by Jackie McFarland

The seventeen years before Reed Kessler became the youngest rider to qualify for the 2012 Olympics were filled with horses. Her story began similarly to many young girls with equestrian parents; she was sitting on her first pony, Shasha, at six months old. Teri and Murray Kessler were and still are active amateur riders and their trainer then, Katie Monahan Prudent, is also Reed’s godmother.

She quickly moved on from white, round ponies to a short but successful stint in the hunter and equitation arenas, and by age fourteen she was winning consistently in the High Junior jumper division. The next year Reed was competing, placing and winning in grand prix classes, the highest level she could compete in for her age. With a long list of junior and open level accolades, as soon as she turned eighteen the young rider continued to impress at the international level.

At 5’5” and less than 120 pounds, Reed is most definitely a lean, determined and competitive riding machine. She loves the sport, is fully committed to her animals, has a great relationship with her parents and is now, at 20 years old, on her own. With a recent move to her own facility in Guttecoven, The Netherlands, and the family stables in Lexington, Kentucky, she is poised to represent in both Europe and the United States for several more Olympics.

1. Reed found Cylana with Katie Prudent. Under Reed’s riding, Cylana went from a reasonable 1.40m rotund mare to a formidable 1.60m chestnut powerhouse in one year!

2. She’s only ridden Western once, barrel racing at the Washington International Horse Show. “That was fun!”

3. Her favorite color is red (not blue)!

4. Her favorite movie is Thank You For Not Smoking.

5. She would love to meet Emma Watson (she played the role of Hermione in Harry Potter). Reed says, “I think she is a really great role model for young girls. She doesn’t seem to have lost track of who she is and what’s important to her despite her immense fame.”

6. Favorite Book: The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho

7. Favorite Food: chocolate

8. Favorite Song: “Wicked Games” by Parra for Cuva featured in Ministry of Sound – The Weekender

9. Reed has over 79,000 Facebook likes and 25,000 Twitter followers

10. The first American show jumper sponsored by Kingsland, at the LA Masters last fall the autograph line at the KL booth had to be cut off so Reed wouldn’t miss her class!

Photo courtesy of Kingsland

This article was originally published in the June/July 2015 issue of Horse & Style Magazine. Click here to read the entire issue online.