Local equestrian wins world championship
BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
The first time Kate Kielceski rode a horse she knew she loved it.
She was just four years old, but her love for riding developed and by age seven she was competing in horse shows.
And she stuck with it. First competing in local shows, then regional, then national, and now at age 17, Kielceski is a world champion; twice over in fact.
Kielceski, of Montrose, daughter of Steven and Lory Kielceski, won the American Morgan Horse Association’s Gold Medal Finals in Saddle Seat Equetation at the World Championship Horse Shoe in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Additionally, she won the Reserve World Championship Title.
“It was really rewarding to win a world championship,” Kielceski said. “It was my fourth time showing there, and winning was an unexpected surprise.”
Kielceski’s hard work and dedication to her horse, “Hermitage Avatar,” and her coach Alicia Fraser at Scottfield Stables in Forest Lake, paid off as her more than 10 year showing career culminated in a big way.
Fraser, who was born and raised in Montrose, owns Scottfield Stables, and has been training Kielceski and her horses for many years.
“It is the most prestigious award a saddle seat rider can win,” Fraser said. “And she won it at a pretty young age.”
The win automatically qualifies Fraser for a tryout bid to be on the United States Equestrian Foundation National team.
If Kielceski were to qualify, she would compete on the USEF Team USA that will travel to South Africa in December 2012 for the Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup.
It is a decision that Kielceski is weighing heavily. She is trying to decide whether or not to travel to New Orleans, La., in May of 2012 to try out.
The choice isn’t easy for Kielceski who is currently shopping for a college to attend next fall.
Her first choice is Penn State, and said that it may be tough to find a way to work around being in college if she makes the USA team.
“If I made the team, I think I would find a way to make it work,” Kielceski said. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”
For Fraser, 28, of Forest Lake, seeing her students shine is an amazing accomplishment.
In addition to Kielceski, another student from Scottfield, Audra Lee, 9, of Binghamton, N.Y., also won a pair of world championships.
“Morgan horses come from all over the United States, Canada and as far as Austria to compete in this event,” Fraser said. “And for two local girls to both come home two-time world champions is no small feat.”
Having shown horses all her life, the move to open her own training facility was natural for Fraser.
At 13, Fraser started teaching lessons to others, by 15 she was training horses and by age 19, Fraser had the opportunity to lease her own barn. At age 22, she bought and opened her present day facility.
“I got really lucky to be a business owner at such a young age,” Fraser said.
It’s no wonder that she has been successful, because since she opened the business in 2003, she has had five world champion riders at Scottfield.
And Kielceski said that she loves the atmosphere of being around the horses.
“There is a great network of people,” Kielceski said. “And it’s a sport you can do at any age. You see kids showing, all the way up to people who are 60 or 70 years old. You can’t get that anywhere else.”
The atmosphere at Oklahoma City was electric for Kielceski, who went in with confidence having shown at the World Championship three times before.
“I wasn’t extremely nervous,” Kielceski said. “But I didn’t think that I would take gold. It was a surprise.”
Now that she’s riding high from her gold medal, Kielceski said that she plans to continue to show horses through the beginning of next season before she leaves to go off to college.