Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah E. Coleman
MSEDA runs like a well-oiled machine with the help of scores of volunteers, a passionate and involved board of directors, and many people who pull behind-the-scenes duty to ensure members are informed and organized. Paris resident Chelsea Smith runs the MSEDA website, as well as helps with social media and other communications details. Operating her own communications company for the past two years, she’s found her niche in helping horse people stay on task with websites, social media and marketing.
Learn a bit about how a stick-horse race got her hooked on riding, what her “type” of horse is and why winning isn’t everything.
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Chelsea Smith: Paducah, KY
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
CS: I started riding when I was around 6 years old. We had a stick horse race for Derby Day in first grade and I was given a voucher for a free riding lesson … and I’ve been hooked ever since.
MSEDA: What is your background in horses?
CS: I started riding Saddleseat when I was 6 years old and then expanded to riding several different breeds and disciplines, including Morgans, Quarter Horses, Welsh Ponies--you name it, I rode it.
MSEDA: How long have you been competing?
CS: I started going to horse shows when I was very young. I started competing in eventing when I joined Pony Club. I think was around 14 or 15, so about 13 years ago.
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
CS: I was 13 when I got my first horse, Kenya Beat That, or Kenya as I called him. He was a scraggly OTTB who had been retired from William Woods University’s Equine Program.
Bourbon Chase. Photo by JJ Sillman.
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
CS: I own two OTTBs named Bourbon Chase, “Brew,” and Just Jeeves, barn named “Jeeves.”
MSEDA: How did you get your geldings?
CS: I purchased Brew from Ellen Murphy in 2014. I adopted Jeeves from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program in 2016.
MSEDA: What horses do you compete (and what do you compete in?)
CS: I currently compete Brew in eventing.
MSEDA: How long have you been a MSEDA member?
CS: I’m honestly not sure. During my teenage years, I was a member for a few years and then I’ve been a member since 2015 I believe.
MSEDA: What is your favorite event or horse show and why?
CS: Team Challenge is always super fun. I love all of the camaraderie of the teams and the fun costumes.
MSEDA: What level do you compete?
CS: I compete Brew in eventing at the Novice Level. Jeeves hasn’t really made his debut yet. I am hoping to get him out this year to do Starter at a Combined Test or Schooling Horse Trial.
MSEDA: What are your horse's favorite treats?
CS: Jeeves LOVES peppermints! He lives for them. Brew loves the German Horse Muffins.
MSEDA: What do you do full-time? Do you enjoy it?
CS: I own my own website and marketing firm called Smith Equine Media, LLC. I have many clients in the horse industry, ranging from professional athletes to entertainers to equine membership organizations. I spent most of my time creating social media posts or designing and updating website. I designed and manage the MSEDA website.
MSEDA: How did you get into this job?
CS: I’ve always been a computer nerd, and throughout my college career and afterward, I did a few internships that helped develop my marketing and communications skills. I worked for several well-known equine organizations while I started to grow my business. One day it just got to where I had too much of my own stuff to do, so I started my business and I’ve never looked back.
MSEDA: How long have you been doing this?
CS: I officially started my business on my birthday--April 4, 2016. I went full-time with it on September 1, 2016.
Bourbon Chase. Photo by JJ Sillman
MSEDA: What are your favorite riding accomplishments?
CS: Honestly, I’ve never really been a winner. I don’t come in the top five often. I guess finishing 3rd at Spring Bay Horse Trials last year was pretty cool. I also had a job riding horses for the Kentucky Horse Park Breeds Barn and that was a neat experience. And, in 2016 I had the opportunity to ride in a clinic with Mary King which was incredible and something I thought I would never get to do.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory with your horse(s)?
CS: Before I purchased Brew from Ellen Murphy, I was riding him at Heronwood to help Ellen get some miles on him before he was to be put on the market. I had ridden him maybe three times before we decided to pack up and head to a schooling show at Ballyhigh Show Stables. I signed up for some crossrail classes and they went surprisingly well. So, then I got a little crazy and signed up for a 2-foot class (remember this horse has never ever jumped and barely steers). I went into the ring and made it all the way around. He was SO good. I couldn’t believe it.
I walked out of the ring to find Ellen Murphy and Mandy Weissmann absolutely cracking up because neither one of them thought I would survive. It was hysterical! On the way home that day, I decided that I couldn’t live without him and had to have him. I made a decision I will never regret. He has a heart of gold.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
CS: I’ve ridden in Irideon breeches for YEARS! I also really like my OneK helmets. Very comfortable.
MSEDA: What are your horse's quirks?
CS: Brew isn’t quirky at all. He’s like a super-chill, Quarter Horse-type. Jeeves is a weirdo. He’s always getting into things and making a racket. Every morning and afternoon when he sees me walk out the back door, he yells across the field. You know, in case I forget to feed him.
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
CS: I’m not sure what my goal will be for 2018. We will be moving to Raleigh, NC, this summer and my horses will be boarded. I would love to get Jeeves doing schooling shows at Starter and get Brew out at a few horse trials doing Beginner Novice or Novice.
MSEDA: With whom do you ride?
CS: Marty Whitehouse Riney
Just Jeeves. Photo by Xpress Foto.
MSEDA: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome with your horse?
CS: Brew has been very straightforward, however, I participated in a clinic that scared him last year and I’ve been working hard to build his confidence again. Jeeves has had quite a bit of time off because he has horrible feet. I've had to be incredibly patient with him and it seems to have paid off. We'll see.
MSEDA: Describe your horse in 10 words.
Brew is sweet, handsome and someone you’d Netflix and chill with.
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory?
CS: Growing up, I was lucky because my riding instructor would pick a group of us up after school and we’d spend all afternoon at the barn. I learned a lot just by goofing off and trail riding all over the county with my friends on horses of all breeds and backgrounds. I wish every horsey kid had that opportunity.
Photo by Makenzie Lynn Photography
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
CS: I have three Italian Greyhounds named Zero, Jack and Baloo, and a bearded dragon with no name.
MSEDA: Is there anything unusual about your horses now?
CS: They’re absolutely obsessed with each other. They also look a bit similar. I guess I have a type.
MSEDA: Do you have active roles in horse-related organizations?
CS: Not currently on any boards, but I help manage websites and social media accounts for several through my business.
MSEDA: What are you passionate about other than horses?
CS: I love these weird cat-like dogs that I have. Italian Greyhounds are so fun and they’re super cuddly. I’m also passionate about diet and exercise. I love to run and lift weights.
MSEDA: What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you were younger?
CS: BE YOURSELF. Seriously. You don’t have to fit in. You don’t have to do what everyone else does. It’s totally fine to be the weird horse girl. If you haven’t already found your tribe, you will someday.