By BECKY MALEWITZ
Sisters Kelley and Darcy Reeve know horses.
The Garden City natives have years of experience under their belts racking up awards that now decorate the shelves of their parents' home, including multiple American Quarter Horse Association World championships.
Kelley, 28, the 2004 AQHA Amateur Trail World Champion, has loved horses from the beginning.
"My dad has Reeve Cattle Company, so they have horses out there for the cowboys to check the cows. Before I had a horse, I would go out every weekend with my dad. He goes to work at like 6:30 in the morning every day. I would go out there rain, snow, every morning, and I would pet the horses," Kelley said with a laugh, adding "I think that's when they realized that this girl is serious about horses."
Knowing nothing about showing horses, Kelley had to start from scratch, and her family learned as she did. After several years, Darcy decided to try her hand at showing.
"When Darcy started, we were already showing at a really high level, so when she started at age 12 or 13, she got to start up here," Kelley said, demonstrating by holding her hand up in the air. "I had to start down here."
"So I don't always tell people I paved the way for her ... but I paved the way for her," Kelley said with a laugh. "She got lucky because she didn't go out and pet the horses when she was younger."
An advertising major at Kansas State University, Darcy defended her titles in amateur western riding and western pleasure at the American Quarter Horse Association World Championships last November. She will be competing this weekend in the Texas Amateur/Big Country Show in Waco, Texas.
"It's kind of taken over," said Darcy, 21. "It's what I think about all day. You go on the websites, there's gossip websites for horse shows, there's article websites and all sorts of stuff. It's what I do in my free time."
Darcy attributes her involvement with horses to a number of factors, including her older sister.
"Kelley rode all the time and started the showing thing, and I liked it, so I started pursuing it. So I just kind of followed in her footsteps," she said, adding, "Then I kind of went on to do my own thing in it while she was kind of doing her own thing."
The sisters have continued to be involved with horses, but over the years, their paths have diverged.
Darcy continues to show but hopes to someday use her advertising degree and move to a larger city and work on commercials. If that happens, horses still will be involved in her life.
"I would like to keep the horses on the side and have a job in a big city working with advertisements," Darcy said, adding, "If something comes up where I can do advertising and incorporate it with the horses, like a horse publication or something, that would be amazing.
After graduating from K-State in 2008 with a degree in social science and a minor in animal science, Kelley, took on a new role with horses by coaching a college equestrian team in Tennessee.
"I won the biggest prizes I wanted to win, and then after that, once you hit the top, once you actually achieve your dreams, the only place to go is down, so I wanted to focus on helping other people reach their goals and at the college level," she said. "It was a full-time job riding horses, but more importantly, training others on horses, which is what I love most of all."
As much as she loved the work, Kelley eventually decided she wanted to find a coaching position closer to home.
While she is waiting for positions to open up in Kansas or surrounding states, Kelley is living in Dallas, working with one of her family's trainers trying to experience horses from yet another perspective.
Both sisters agree that horses have shaped their lives and appreciate everything that has happened with them so far.
"I'm so thankful to have all the opportunities I've had and all the friends I've made," Darcy said. "I have, you know, 100 different families all across the country just from people I've met. It's just amazing all the people and experiences."