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Barrel racing caught the attention of this R-S Central senior

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Kiley Keller with horse Otis during competition and at home. Photo contributed.

Watching youtube videos during the toughest days of COVID-19 last year sparked a new interest and a challenge for one 18-year-old R-S Central High School student.

Kiley Keller became interested in barrel racing while watching the videos and subsequently she began to investigate the possibility of becoming a barrel racer with her own buckskin horse Otis and competing on the rodeo circuit.

The daughter of Craig and Morgan Keller of Forest City, Kiley actually self-trained to become a competitor in the rodeo circuit with her partner, Otis.

"I trained myself," Kiley said. She said she set up trash cans as barrels in fields and with the help of some friends, she took training seriously. Some friends even offered their arenas for training.

After training in 2020, she began to compete in North Carolina and South Carolina and has won some competitions in 3D and 4D categories, she said.

1D", "2D", "3D" and "4D" are terms that denote the first, second, third and fourth divisions in barrel racing, says the internet. Divisions are determined by taking the fastest time ran by a horse on a specific track.

"The world of barrel racing is insane," Kiley said recently. "You can work your way up to so any different levels."

Kiley sustained a minor injury while doing a practice run at a rodeo competition last year and she couldn't ride for about a week.

"Everything was messed up," she said. She had just gotten a new saddle and was not accustomed to it. She admitted she was a bit nervous about getting back in the saddle, but once she did she was okay.

Kiley said she is never anxious at rodeos when the gate swing open and she and Otis begin the race toward the barrel.

"Once I go through the gates, I do not hear anything. I am so pumped up," she said

Unfortunately about three months ago Otis fell in a hole in the pasture that was filled with briars and got hurt.

"So I haven't competed since then," she said.

When it appeared Otis was near recovery and Kiley could ride again, he fell in another hole and he is still recovering.

In addition to taking care of Otis, Kiley has two other horses, Dexter and Rooster, for which she is also responsible.

A senior at Central, Kiley is completing her academic studies at Central, rides when she can and also works at The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run in Columbus.

"I clean stalls, take care of the horses and give medications," Kiley said of her work at the horse sanctuary.

Although about to graduate and a person who loves horses, she is not planning an equine career.

"I will always have horses, but I don't think that will be my career," she said.

Right now she plans to become an esthetician and specialize in the beautification of the skin.

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