Casey Engelhorn of Normal, Illinois, and her brother, Ryan, share a close bond. And horses are at the heart of it all.
When Ryan was diagnosed with autism at age 3, he started equine therapy; Casey—age 5 at the time—tagged along, and it wasn’t long before she was saddling up alongside Ryan for lessons, too.
When Casey graduated from high school, she struck a deal with her mom: she’d attend a local university, live at home and take care of Ryan; in exchange, she’d get a yearling to train and show. That horse was Living In Colour, a 2016 bay overo gelding by Living Large and out of Certified Jewel (QH).
“He’s the first horse I’ve ever owned and I’ve done all the work myself,” the 24-year-old equestrienne said. “My brother and I are the only ones who have ridden him.”
Months before the APHA World Championship Show, Casey found herself dreaming big dreams. “I was laying awake at night for weeks, feeling like I could do well if I went to the World Show. I pitched it to my mom, and I gave her this jar of money I got for graduation. We didn’t know for sure if we were going to come here until last week, and I entered my classes when we got here.”
Once in Fort Worth, Casey planned to show “Oakley” in Amateur Walk-Trot English events as well as Amateur Pleasure Driving. On a whim, she decided to enter Open Pleasure Driving too, and the pair ended up with a reserve title in the open class and were world champions of the Amateur event. It was especially impressive, since Oakley’s only been driving since March. But more than buckles, ribbons and prizes, Casey’s thankful for the opportunity to showcase her hard work with her trusty steed and loving family by her side.
“Winning is a great goal, but at the end of the day, I would just rather be remembered for the hard work I put in and for treating my horse well,” she said. “Oakley inspires me to find joy in the little things and to not sweat the small stuff. Our horses are a reflection of our hearts, and if we pour love into them, we get love out of them.”
But reflecting on her surreal first World Show experience, Casey still feels like she might need to pinch herself.
“Who doesn’t like a Cinderella story?” she laughed. “I guess I’ll have to buy a lottery ticket. This has been a crazy road trip that I’ll never forget.”
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses.