Kelsey Russell got her start in the sport of endurance in 2008 when she looked after U.S. team veteran Valerie Kanavy’s horses over the summer in exchange for being able to turn out two of her own horses on Kanavy’s property. The following winter, Russell began training with Kanavy, making her competitive debut soon after. The young rider has quickly made a name for herself in endurance, earning many top finishes for the United States.
Russell has secured top finishes at the FEI Junior and Young Rider Endurance World Championships in 2011 and 2013, earning sixth and fifth, respectively, which is only fitting as these are the best American finishes at an Endurance World Championship since Kanavy claimed a Gold medal in 1998. Russell’s finish in 2011 helped the U.S. team finish in fourth place.
She also won Team and Individual Gold at the 2011 Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North riding My Wild Irish Gold.
Russell rode Destiny Gold to the CEIYJ2* win at Dupuis Piney Pig to kick off the 2012 season. She continued her winning ways at FITS, where she won the CEIYJ2* with AF Big Bucks and the CEIYJ1* with My Wild Irish Gold. Russell ended her year with another win in the CEIYJ1* with Just Gold.
In 2014, Russell and My Wild Irish Gold placed third in the CEI3* at the North American Endurance Team Challenge. She then rode Genuwine Gold to top honors in the CEIYJ1* at Berwick.
Outside of endurance, Russell is also an avid barrel racer and participates in pole bending. The college sophomore also competes in western pleasure classes to complete her well-rounded equestrian resume. Russell, who considers her favorite part of endurance to be the connection between horse and rider, looks to stay involved in the equestrian world and help horses by becoming a veterinarian.