Local equestrian finds success in and out of the show ring
RIPLEY, Ohio — Finding a passion in life is something that many people spend years seeking.
For Keara Fulton, an ambitious and highly-decorated equestrian from Ripley, the passion for training, riding, and showing horses began at eight years old.
17-year-old Keara Fulton said that she has always had an interest in horses. Her late grandfather owned more than 15, and she remembers growing up around them.
“I’ve always been into it,” she said. “It kind of runs in the family.”
She recalled when she was eight years old, and was visiting the Bethel Feed Mill while her brother, Dylan, was working there. She said someone from RRR Farms, a multi-level training facility for both horses and riders, encouraged her to visit the farm to begin lessons.
“They already had me competing after six weeks,” she said.
This started her streak of successes in competitions. Fulton competes in both English and Western competitions, and has won at all levels. Among the many awards she has won from competitions, she won the Chris Baltz Award last year, the Brown County Sportsmanship Award the year before that, and most recently, the Grand Champion spot in the 77th Annual Owingsville Lions Club Horse Show.
During her time at the Owingsville competition over the Fourth of July weekend, Keara showed the newest horse in her collection. She owns a total of four horses, three of which are full-bred Tennessee Walking Horses, and the fourth is a mix of Tennessee Walker and potentially Quarter Horse, Keara Fulton said.
Her parents, Joe and Tyonna Fulton, took pride in sharing that Keara Fulton has independently earned money from cleaning stalls and babysitting to support her endeavors.
“All the horses she has so far, she has bought on her own,” Joe Fulton said.
That pride her parents share carries over to many of her successes in life.
“She’s done really well in everything she’s done,” he said. “We’ve been pretty proud the last few years,” he shared in regards to her recent successes in competition.
Family support runs through all generations of the Fulton family. Joe and Tyonna Fulton are only a couple of her biggest supporters. Her brother comes to as many shows as he can, and Keara Fulton said that her grandmother and step-grandfather come to every single show.
Not only has Keara Fulton purchased her own horses, but she takes much responsibility in training and maintaining them. She has been training her newest colt since he was only three weeks old, she said. Two of her horses were previously trained when she purchased them, but dedicates five to six hours of riding and training between her horses at least three to four days a week, she said.
In addition to becoming a highly-decorated competitor, she said that she enjoys getting to spend time with her horses.
“When I’m with my horses…I build a stronger bond,” she said. “I learn something new every time I ride them.”
When she is not participating in shows, she is volunteering her time to help others who are competing. At this year’s Charity Horse Show in Brown County, Keara did not compete, but volunteered to run judge’s cards back and forth in the ring, and help others prepare for competition.
Among the time spent at competitions, on the road, riding, and training, Keara Fulton is a full-time student at Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington High School, and is also taking college-level classes at Southern States to obtain her associates degree. She is a straight-A student, who was recently inducted into the National Honor Society, and takes her education very seriously.
“She knows her school work comes first,” Joe Fulton said.
Keara Fulton recalled that during one of her shows, she was actually on horseback, calling in to a Zoom session for her college-level classes. Her dedication to schoolwork will lead her to either Morehead or Wilmington colleges to focus on Pre-Veterinarian studies. She is also very involved in Future Farmers of America, 4-H, the school’s Student Council, and the Junior Fair Board.
This summer, Keara is gearing up for one of her biggest competitions yet, The Tennessee Celebration. The 11-day competition is held in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and has many levels and types of competitions for Tennessee Walking Horses and their riders. Keara Fulton said that her favorite part of competing is the social aspect.
“I like meeting new people, I don’t really care what place I get,” she said.
Despite her sportsmanlike attitude, her performances continue to impress.
She will be participating in this year’s Brown County Fair after her show in Tennessee. Not only does she enjoy showing in her home county, but shared her passion and dedication to the community.
“It’s not really like a competition, it feels like a family/friendly show,” she said.
She plans to continue showing, riding, and training far into her future. Her potential college choices allow students to bring their own horses for the Equine Teams. This guarantees her dedication and passion for the equine community will be carried with her, along with the rest of her successes and the many to follow.