Upper level event rider Ashley Kehoe recently returned to the U.S. after spending several months competing in Europe. Settling in at her new home base in Lexington, Ky., she received a call from a southern region Pony Club asking for some help with coaching at the upcoming U.S. Pony Club Championships. A former Pony Club member herself, Kehoe was quick to make time in her busy schedule to coach the riders who were traveling for the competition.
“I was not that kid who had a million horses growing up,” Kehoe said. “My parents were not super into the idea of horses at first, though they eventually became more supportive. But I always had to kind of ride whatever I could and work for what I had.”
When she was younger and first getting into horses, Kehoe didn’t have a pony, but rather she had books to devour.
“Growing up, Pony Club was the most involved with horses I could get. I didn’t have a horse, so I actually went to Championships for just the Quiz portion first. Quiz was something you could do without a horse, and I wanted to learn as much as I could,” she continued. “The mounted meetings were really important to me because it gave me more exposure and experience with the horses. Eventually I went on and competed at Championships with a horse, but I wanted to be involved in whatever capacity I could even if I did not have a horse.”
As life goes, the Pony Club cycle came full circle for Kehoe when she got the call to step in as a coach. The Pony Club’s regular coach, Jill Henneberg, was unable to make the trip with the riders due to their limited budget, so Henneberg called Kehoe to ask her to fill in. “I couldn’t say no,” she said. “It only made sense for me to give back however I could to these kids; I’ve been where they are I know how nerve wracking it was to be coming in for a big show. I wanted to help in whatever way I could.”
Kehoe credits Pony Club with a lot of her education and success today. Throughout her time in the horse world, she has learned the value of hard work and overcoming obstacles. “When everyone else my age was going to Young Riders, I was still a working student trying to figure everything out. Pony Club was like a gateway drug for me, it really got me started with my career. It’s hard to not be born into a horse family, but we made the best of it, and I know a lot of these Pony Club kids now are in the same situation so I can relate.”