How I Started Working Internationally with Horses

Riding Horses Around the World!

FEI Competition in Romania riding for the USA
I’ll never forget that feeling I got when I saw my flag hanging amongst the others. I was the ONLY rider from the United States at this FEI Competition in Romania where I competed up 1m-1.30m on green horses. 


As a young girl, I always was known as the “dreamer.” I was the girl sitting in the classroom closest to the window, gazing into the distance and imagining far away lands and undiscovered worlds. More importantly, I saw myself galloping and soaring through the air on horses in these new and foreign lands. My childhood daydreaming didn’t stop with adulthood and I eventually found myself flying solo on a sixteen hour flight towards my first opportunity to work with horses abroad. It was my 21st birthday the day I flew to Belgium for the first time, six years ago. So how did I do it?

Back in my hometown of Rio Vista, California, the world seemed quite far away indeed. The small town, with a population of roughly 7,000 people, didn’t offer much knowledge or education in regards to faraway lands and nations. In fact, I had never met anyone who had travelled extensively apart from my own father who had travelled in his youth with the military. Although I saw photos of the Great Pyramids of Giza in the history books, and read about the Ancient Greeks and German military, I had never met anyone who had actually seen the pyramids in real life with their own eyes. Or talked to a person from the other side of the wall, so to speak. Or seen any of these historical places that seemed so very far away from Rio Vista.

Riding Marwari horses while working in India
Training Marwari horses in India

Although I didn’t know how I was going to travel and see the world, I knew that I was going to do it. A voice within me didn’t need to know the how and instead I simply focused on my dream and my goal of traveling to exotic lands atop a horse.

My entire family was military. Joining the military seemed like a logical way to travel. I even found myself speaking to an Airforce recruiter when I turned 18 in a serious attempt to realize my dream of travel. But the military could not guarantee travel with the freedom that I so craved, and the biggest deal-breaker for me being that there were no horses or horse positions offered through the military. I couldn’t risk giving up several years of my life working in a field I had no interest, so I continued my education with horses in the hopes that the how would soon reveal itself to me.

Playing Polo in Egypt
Working at a Polo Club in Egypt

I attended an International Equestrian College. Surely, an “International” school would be able to help me get work abroad… or so I thought. Once I reached my graduating quarter and got access to the “job book” I realized how not-so-International they were. Deciding that I couldn’t sit around and wait a second longer for my dream to come true, I took out my laptop and began researching stables across the Atlantic. I sent out dozens of emails and a copy of my resume before landing that first International job in Belgium. The job was going to be hard work and cost me all my savings for the flight ticket, but I figured the risk was worth gamble if it allowed me the opportunity to follow my dream.

Now, six years later here I am sitting in Bali, Indonesia watching the sea of colors mix in the sky. The ocean waves crash around me, the horses hoofprints ebbing the sand. I didn’t need to know the “how” all those years ago. I just needed to believe in myself. I am thankful that I chose to invest in my dream. It has led me to amazing places. The first time I saw the pyramids with my own eyes in real life, tears  of happiness streamed from my cheeks. The first time I gazed at the Taj Mahal, climbed to the top of the peak to see the Tiger’s Nest Temple, or rode a horse in my first International Competition…I felt all my dreams come true. I am thankful for my experiences and opportunities. The highs and the lows. They have made me who I am. They have tested and challenged me and although it was never easy, this life of wanting but not knowing, I have never regretted getting on the plane.

Believe in yourself. Chase after your dreams. Even if you don’t know “how,” go for it anyway. The “how” will be shown to you…

Riding Horses in Bhutan
Riding Horses in Bhutan, one of the “Happiest Countries on Earth.”

Published by Krystal Kelly

Krystal Kelly is a California girl on a Quest to see every country. She is a certified FEI II Show Jumping coach and has worked in over 20+ countries with horses on 5 continents. She is an award winning author, podcaster, youtuber, film documentarian and clinician. She is founder and CEO of Equestrian Adventuresses and The International Equestrian. Her mission is to help empower women around the world to ride horses.

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