This story has been updated to correct an error.
ARMONK, N.Y. – Reed Kessler was raised in Armonk, riding and jumping horses from the time she was six, and will be representing her home town in the 2012 London Olympic Games beginning Saturday as the youngest equestrian in Olympic show rider history.
Though she moved with her family to Kentucky three months ago to pursue her riding career, Reed, who is 18, will go to London with Westchester in her heart.
“We made the move as a family to support Reed’s career and we love the new life in Kentucky,” said Reed’s father Murray Kessler. “We are a riding family and Reed’s love of riding has taken her to the Olympic Games. We’re all very excited and appreciate all the support from everyone back home.”
With both parents having competed in show jumping at the amateur level for three decades, it’s no surprise that Reed, who grew up looking up at horses, is so comfortable in an Olympic sport where the top riders are often in their late 30s and 40s.
The Kesslers recently sold the family farm – Kessler Show Stables, LLC. -- and have relocated a new spread in Kentucky’s horse country. Reed’s mother Teri runs the farm and still competes along with Murray and Reed, the family’s Olympian.
“This has been a whirlwind with the move and Reed qualifying for the Olympics,” Murray Kessler said. “Reed has been taking it in stride, answering all the media requests and dealing with the sudden fame. Her Facebook and Twitter accounts have gone from the hundreds to the thousands.”
Reed, who turned 18 on July 9, reached the required age for riders this year. She will join her team, which includes McLain Ward of Brewster, who is 36, Rich Fellers, 52, and Beezie Madden, 48, in the first phase of competition on Aug. 4
“It would seem Reed just made the age requirement with the Games beginning on the 28th, but the requirement is that a rider must turn 18 in the calendar year, so she was set on Jan. 1, 2012," Murray Kessler said. "The challenge has been the increase in height on jumps, which comes after a rider has reached 18. The new heights are a big adjustment, but Reed had done very well with it.”
Reed’s partner for the Olympics is a 10-year-old chestnut mare named Cylana, with whom she paired to win the 2011 National Show Jumping Championships.
With Reed focused on the Olympic challenge, the family will settle in London over the next few days as the Games begin with opening ceremonies Friday evening.
“I just got back from Paris where the U.S. team was competing in a warm-up event,” Kessler said. “I’m on my way back to join Teri and Reed. It’s going to be a wonderful two weeks for us.”