Keely McIntosh and So Live Helau

By: Kady Abrahamson

Keely McIntosh, the 27 year-old Grand Prix rider, really enjoys her “Life as an Amateur”. Keely has been riding since before she could walk. Originally being from Houston, TX where she grew up on her mother’s farm, she now resides at Booth Show Jumpers in Lexington, KY with her incredible string of 6 horses. Within those 6 horses she has 3 Grand Prix horses, 1 Amateur Hunter/Hunter Derby horse, and 2 Grand Prix prospects. Not only is Booth Show Jumpers the home of top competition horses, but a home to rising stars as well in “Guinness”, a newborn foal out of Chloe (via surrogate), one of Keely’s top Grand Prix mounts, by Tobago Z. “Guinness” was named after an Irish beer since he was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Chloe also potentially has 3 more babies on the way via embryo transfer. 

Enviro Equine team member, Kady Abrahamson, sat down with Grand Prix rider, Keely McIntosh, for a Q and A on her life of being an amateur rider:  

Q: Why did you choose to stay an amateur versus turning professional? 

A: “As an amateur instead of a professional I feel that I can give the horses all of my attention. I am blessed and very grateful to have the opportunity to stay an amateur. At the moment I think that allows me the time and clear head space to care for my horses to the best of my ability without extra distractions.”

Q: Have you ever had aspirations to become a professional? 

A: “The word “professional” does not necessarily mean you are automatically a better rider. If the right situation came up I would have no problem switching my status to professional instead of amateur. However, that has not necessarily been an aspiration of mine. Adrienne Sternlicht, WEG team gold medalist, is a great example of how you can technically be an amateur and still be one of the best.” 

Q: What do you think the pros and cons are of being an amateur versus being a professional? 

A: “There are a lot of pros to being an amateur, which is why I have chosen that path. Previously mentioned, it allows me to have complete focus on my own horses and give them the time they deserve. Holding an amateur status also allows me to ride in a larger variety of classes than a professional would. Of course becoming a professional and bringing on clients would take away some of the negative stigma that comes with being an amateur rider in the Grand Prix’s. No one knows how hard you work and the devotion you put into your horses except for you. Seeing my horses healthy and successful is enough satisfaction to outweigh any possible negative stigma from others.”

Q: Do you keep your horses with a trainer or do you have your own farm? 

A: “I take care of my own horses at my mother’s farm based in Lexington, KY next to the Kentucky Horse Park. There are plenty of amazing programs and barns to choose from, but this is another way for me to control the exact program my horses are in. I also believe that I personally love them more than anyone else ever could, so of course I want them as close as possible with the best life as possible.”

FUN FACT: “I still take my (27 yr old) retired children’s jumper mare swimming in our pond.”

Keely and Inne Van De Plataan