When Jamie Kellock arrives in Lima, Peru, her first priority will be settling Jessica Phoenix’s Pan American Games veteran, Pavarotti, into his South American digs. But when things quiet down after the Canadian eventing team’s arrival, Kellock will make a beeline to the dressage arena, where she’ll slip out of her role as the Olympian’s head groom and into one she’s held even longer—sister of Lindsay Kellock, who is riding at her first major games for Canada.
“Honestly, that’s what I’m looking forward to most—just seeing Lindsay compete,” said Jamie, 24. “Lindsay has worked so hard for this and for so long. I’m just so excited for her and so proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Five years Jamie’s senior, Lindsay admits she always acted “a little too cool” to hang out with her younger sibling at the barn. They started riding together at Sunnybrook Stables in Toronto, which was managed at the time by their mom, Jennifer Kellock; their aunt, Sue Bundy; and Lindsay’s godmother, Olympic dressage rider Ashley Holzer.
Jennifer’s professional riding career mostly ended after having children, but her two daughters picked up where she left off. Lindsay, 29, took to riding as soon as she could clamber into a saddle and by the age of 12 had committed to dressage, but at first, Jamie preferred the view from the barn aisle to the one in the irons.
When she finally caught the horse bug around 8, it was of a different strain.
“Right from the beginning, Jamie was not having it with dressage,” Lindsay said with a laugh. “She was a lot more gutsy than I was. She would jump anything. I remember one time I was teaching her how to canter and the horse decided he was going to take off and jump a jump on his run back to the barn. And she thought it was funny!”
Jamie admits that she never cared much for dressage. As for her sister’s lack of “guts,” however, she vehemently disagrees.
“Lindsay is SO brave! She rides all the babies and super-hot young horses, and she’s not afraid at all. She probably thinks I’m a little crazy for wanting to do eventing, but that’s fair,” Jamie said with a laugh.
Despite differences in discipline, the Kellock sisters have followed similar career tracks. Both skipped college to dive into their equestrian careers, despite mild protests from their parents. Lindsay spent a few years as a working student to two-time Olympic dressage rider Jacquie Brooks and seven years as Holzer’s groom and barn manager.
Jamie made two runs at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, earning team bronze in 2014, all while grooming for Phoenix, who she’s trained with since her early teens.
“We couldn’t afford to do it any other way,” Lindsay said. “We didn’t have money behind us, so we had to work for it. Our parents have always been insanely supportive. They bought us our first horses, but then they basically said, ‘If you really want to make a living at this, you have to go out and make it work.’ ”
The sisters are managing to do just that. After two years running her own training business, Lindsay will compete at the Pan Ams aboard Chloe Gasiorowski’s 11-year old Hanoverian mare Floratina (Fidertanz 2—Rubina, Rubin Royal OLD). Since pairing up, they’ve yet to score below a 70 percent, and given that Lindsay has two additional Fédération Equestre Internationale-level mounts—Sebastien and Final Cut—she hopes her days representing Canada on an international stage are just beginning.
Jamie, meanwhile, finds herself in much same position Lindsay was in at her age, spending most of her time bringing along Phoenix’s youngsters and conditioning her competition mounts. But she also has some promising prospects of her own. She hopes to move her Irish Sport Horse Summer Bay up to the three-star level later this summer.
When the two sisters talk shop, Lindsay’s advice to her younger sibling stays consistent—be patient.
“I will always tell her, ‘Get as much experience as you can, no matter what you’re doing, before going out on your own,” Lindsay said. “Whether you’re grooming or just being in a top professional’s barn, there’s no experience like that. I groomed at the Olympics in Hong Kong and London, at the Las Vegas World Cup, and I have to say now as a competitor going to my first major games, I know exactly what to expect. There are going to be times when you’re going to feel like, ‘When is this ever going to happen?’ I stayed at Ashley’s for seven years, and there were times when I didn’t know if I was ever going to get there.
“My advice, again and again, is just keep working hard and keep going at it,” Lindsay concluded. “Immerse yourself in those atmospheres with professionals, learn from them, and it will come.”
Jamie won’t be the only one on the Kellock family tree immersed in the professional atmosphere at Lima this year: Hanna Bundy, the sisters’ cousin, is coming as Lindsay’s groom. Bundy grew up eventing with Jamie and is only pinch-hitting for Lindsay’s usual help.
As both young women stand ringside to cheer Lindsay on, they’ll be watching not just as family, and not just as staff, but as riders who see Lindsay’s story as a road map to success. Although Jamie jokes that the jury’s still out on just how trustworthy that map is.
“Because of both our schedules, I don’t actually get to lesson with Lindsay very much, but the running joke is that’s not by accident,” Lindsay said with a laugh. “I keep telling her that we have to see how Pan Ams go, then maybe, if she does well, she can start coaching me.”
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