“Watch those Vanover boys in the horseshow speed events, ride like them, and you can win anywhere.”
More than one ringside observer, even show competitors, have made comments similar to that.
So, when the Vanover name comes over the loudspeaker, sure enough Kyland and Koy are the winners.
Eight-year-old Kyland and five-year-old Koy are sons of Kegan and Heather Vanover of Hope.
Their patterned horse racing ability comes naturally as both parents are also highly successful horseshow competitors with strong equine backgrounds.
“Horses are a family affair for us,” Heather said. “We all enjoy every bit of riding horses and working to improve all of the time.”
Kegan grew up horseback helping with family cattle operations at Norton, while Heather started riding during middle school at Solomon. Both were on the equestrian team at Colby Community College where they met.
“We weren’t on the team at the same time, but we were both always seriously interested in horses,” Heather said.
With Kegan’s degree in farm and ranch management, and Heather’s economics studies, they were set to be involved with horses.
“I have always liked starting colts and increased my abilities working for horse trainer Jamie Stover,” Kegan said. “I also worked for Mike Samples at the Salina sale barn and helped with his personal cattle operations.”
Now Kegan works fulltime at Great Plains Manufacturing, jackpot team ropes and assists neighbors with cattle work. “Kegan trains all of our horses and does an excellent job coaching the boys and myself riding,” Heather credited.
A Blue Cross Blue Shield homeworker, Heather cares for her family and eight horses at their 10-acre Dickinson County home. “Oh, we also have a donkey to pet and feed treats, plus two ponies for the boys’ project,” she noted.
“I was more into pleasure horse riding when we were first married,” Heather said. “But now I enjoy the speed events as much as Kegan and the boys. I’m not as fast as they are yet, but I’m getting there.”
The family rides in Kansas Western Horseman Association (KWHA) competitions and has served in leadership roles for that group. “There are so many different speed classes, it really takes a good horse to compete in every event,” Kegan said.
Kegan’s family had Appaloosa horses, and the most famous horse on their place now is still an Appaloosa.
“We have several good stock horses, but Lightning is the best all-around family horse,” Kegan said. “Kyland learned to ride on Lightning and now Koy is riding him. Heather also got started in the running events on Lightning.”
A diversified speedster stopping the clock with fast times in all age categories, Lightning even serves as Kegan’s mount sometimes. “Mostly I just tune on him for the other family members,” Dad admitted.
“Lightning is the $75 ‘wonder horse’ we bought as a two-year-old, and he really is outstanding,” Heather added.
Horses are the future for the Kegan Vanover family. “We intend to continue participating in horse shows,” Heather said. “The boys are already learning to rope, so we’ll probably also be involved in youth rodeos before too long.”
Expansion is planned for horse operations as well. “When people see our family ride, they always ask if we have horses like ours for sale. Or wonder if we can train their horses,” Heather said.
No public horse training has been done at this point. “We hate to turn them away, but we don’t have adequate facilities to take customer horses,” Kegan said. “We plan to develop a horse training program when we can get more acreage.”
Raising a family in the country with horses is the best life anybody can ask for; Kegan and Heather Vanover agree.