Katie Ramsey got her first pony at age 5 and fell off too many times to count.
But her persistence in getting back up, getting back on and riding translated into a spot on Kansas State University's Equestrian Team after she graduates from Friendship Christian School in the spring.
She's one of five riders to be signed to the elite team.
"These five riders will add tremendous athletic and academic depth to our existing roster," said Kansas State head coach Casie Maxwell. "They hold tremendous pride in the academics, have passion for riding and competition and love the K-State family experience, all of which I believe will make them great additions to our program. We are excited about their wealth of experience in the arena and expect them to be impact players for our team."
Ramsey's "wealth of experience" began when she went to pony camp.
"I wasn't very good at first," said Ramsey. "But I knew I love horses and wanted to learn."
Her mother, Patty Ramsey, said soon she started taking Katie to riding lessons at Hunter's Court Stable. The drive from Gladeville where they live took only 30 minutes, and soon it was a penciled-in appointment.
Ramsey said her first show pony was "Perfectly Pie," and she learned the ins and outs of riding and showing with the little pony.
She began to excel in the sport and soon progressed to her next pony named "Charade."
"He was a lot harder and forced me to learn everything," said Ramsey.
Ramsey learned the "flat" class, where she rode around the ring with her pony. She also learned to jump fences.
One pony her parents bought her was named "Champlain Parade." Her mom said this pony was a beautiful Palomino and at first would not walk into the ring for Katie. The trainer teaching Katie used his biggest horse to nudge Champlain into the ring. In 2008, Katie and Champlain won the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Championship in the medium green pony hunters division.
Katie has competed in horse shows for years and managed to maintain a straight-A average throughout high school.
She moved from ponies to horses when she was 14 and won several ribbons and points with "Gonato," another horse her parents bought for her.
"I think Katie just has a natural talent for horses," said her mom. "She's just a little person, but has such a talent with the huge horses."
At 5 feet tall and 110 pounds, Ramsey's steeds over her career may appear overpowering. However, people say she is a horse whisperer and can turn any "rogue" horse into a champion.
Her college coach said she will compete in the Wildcats' hunter seat squad, where she will mainly jump during competition.
"In 2012 Katie earned impressive placings in the 15-17 large junior hunter divisions at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and the Washington International Horse Show," said Maxwell.
In 2011, Ramsey was the North American League High Point Children's Hunter Rider. And the list of winnings is near endless.
Ramsey's mom said if she ever wanted to find her daughter, all she had to do was look to the barn. While Ramsey said she doesn't literally eat, sleep and live horses, she is on the back of a horse more often than not.
"Kansas State is one of few schools that is NCAA in equestrian," said Ramsey. "I was so happy when I received the scholarship."
She had to send a video of her riding and a resume for both her equestrian activities and her academic standings.
"I really haven't had a lot of time between competing in horse shows and keeping up my grades," she said.
She's never made lower than an A on her report card. She visited Kansas State, toured the campus and met with the riding team's coaches.
Ramsey said she's proud of her accomplishments, along with being able to represent the equestrian team at Kansas State the next four years. She said for several years she was laughed at while a novice competitor.
"I really wasn't that good," she said. "But now I feel this is a shout out to all those who made fun of me. I'm very happy."
Ramsey said it's all about tenacity and holds true to the old saying "if you fall off the horse, get right back on."
"It's taught me so many life lessons," she said.
Mt. Juliet News managing editor Laurie Everett may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 46 or firstname.lastname@example.org.