West Linn Student Rides to Fourth in Equestrian Competition

Kaylyn McGrady, junior, scored big this April in the IEA championships.

Thirty-five thousand horse riders across the nation competed, and Kaylyn McGrady, junior, prevailed. Placing fourth in varsity horse riding, McGrady is making a name for herself in the equestrian world. She’s been riding for 13 years, but it hasn’t always been a smooth ride.
“People can be pretty mean. They tend to spread rumors and talk behind your back,” McGrady said. “Oddly enough, I find the adults to be the most immature; they’re always feeding into the drama.”
Still, McGrady doesn’t let it stop her.
“I often confront people, but I also just ignore everything they say,” McGrady said. “I know what I want, and I use those doubts to push myself to be better.”
McGrady contributes her passion for horse riding to her mom, Jill McGrady, who has been riding her whole life. The family owns Quiet Rein Riding School, which specializes in getting students ready for competition level riding. Both Jill and Kaylyn McGrady work at the school, along with many other riders.
“The plan was always for me to take over the business,” McGrady said. “I love teaching kids how to ride. I guess it just runs in the family.”
McGrady travels the country with her mom, attending shows, and competitions. She placed fourth in late April at nationals held by the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, also known as IEA.
“There are 11 zones, and every rider competes in a different zone,” McGrady said. “We compete in various competitions throughout the year, and the best riders go on until we reach nationals.”
McGrady is embarking on another horse show soon, but winning at the IEA competition changed her career.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of things,” McGrady said. “Varsity Equestrians are like football players. It’s hardcore. Seeing the competition made me want to try better for next year.”
Even with the competitive environment, McGrady can’t see herself giving up horse riding.
“Sometimes it feels like ‘Dance Moms,'” McGrady said. “All these parents want their kid to be the best, and it can be toxic sometimes.”
“Still, I’ve made some of my best friends in horse riding, and they’ve helped me see that none of what they say doesn’t matter,” McGrady said.
Ultimately, this isn’t the end of the road for McGrady. With more competitions in her future, her career as an equestrian is only getting started.