Barrel Racing Toward A Dream Ella Crum is Paving Her Own Way in the World

Barrel Racing Toward A Dream

Ella Crum is Paving Her Own Way in the World

Ellen Keaton

Ashland Beacon

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What comes to mind when you think of little girls? Barbie dolls, frilly dresses, play makeup and dollhouses?  That may be the case with most little girls, but with Ella Crum she preferred the outdoors and a barn with goats, pigs and horses.  Her love for animals was obvious at a young age when she began showing goats at the Boyd County Fair at only seven as a member of the 4-H Cloverbuds group.  Over the next 10 years, Ella became a fixture during the fair showing chickens, rabbits, goats, and breeding animals. As a result, Ella won several grand championship ribbons for her efforts.  


Ella loved showing the farm animals; however, her real love was with horses.  She began riding at the young age of three.  By the time she was six, she had entered her first competition riding saddle seat.  Ella said, “I started riding quarter horses when I was eight and developed an interest in barrel racing.”  The next year at age nine, Ella became part of the Boyd County 4-H Saddleite Drill Team where she competed at the 4-H State Horse Show.   

Krissy Jones was the 4-H horse leader at the time. “Ella came into the 4-H horse club as a typical horse-crazy little girl.  It was amazing to watch her learn and grow with her horse, Holly, even at a young age.  Even though she was young, she was motivated and had a drive to succeed that you just don’t see in many kids of that age.” Jones continued, “I was always impressed with her attitude.  Her willingness to try anything and give all her effort is surely what has allowed her to accelerate in her sport.”

By the time she was 12, Ella had entered her first Junior Rodeo with Holly.  There Ella found her passion.  “Barrel racing is one of my favorite events because everybody has the same pattern, but everyone’s horse and circumstances are never the same. It kind of goes the same with every event, but in barrel racing, you are going to have horses that run really fast and open. You have to set them up hard to turn. Then, you have some horses like my horse, Holly, that you have to push really hard to get past the barrels and then ride your guts out to be able to make the run.”

Ella is a member of the Boyd County High School Rodeo team and a member of the West Virginia High School Rodeo Association.  She explained that the Kentucky rodeos were nearly six hours away from the Ashland area.  In those circumstances, riders can ask for a waiver from one state to join another state that is closer.  “Through the High School Rodeo Association, I have been able to make some of my closest friends and take hold of opportunities that I never would have had.”  Ella has participated in rodeos in many states.  She also qualified to participate in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Wyoming this past year in four different events.  Most recently, Ella participated in the Battle of the Blue Ridge which is a multi-state high school rodeo event in North Carolina where she placed in the top points for barrel racing in both rounds.

Imagine a large animal charging full force sharply around barrels.  This could be a recipe for disaster.  Ella shared, “It can be dangerous.  You can hear my mom in the videos going “oh my goodness” if the horse slips or there is a little bobble I need to fix.  My dad’s like ‘just go out there and do it. You can do it.’  He’s always pushing me to be my best.”

Ella’s mom, Teresa Crum added, “I am a bundle of nerves watching Ella. You’re excited and nervous at the same time. When they open the gate or she nods her head, I take a deep breath, pray for safety first and hope for a good run.”  She continued, “I often tear up watching her perform knowing that she is doing what she loves, and it shows—through her hard work, dedication, and hours of practice. There are times as a rodeo parent you must wipe the tears, be the encourager, and lift their spirits, especially if a run did not go as planned. Rodeo is a family event. There are plenty of late nights, long drives, and lots of memories made.”

In January, Ella was awarded a scholarship from the Kentucky Fair Association for her accomplishments in 4-H.  She was nominated by the Boyd County Fair Board for this honor. Ellen Keaton, fair president recalled, “I remember my first year as president looking out and seeing the cutest little girl holding onto a lease with a goat at the other end.  I couldn’t decide if she was pulling the goat or if the goat was dragging her! It’s amazing to see the accomplished young woman she has become, and it was an honor to nominate her for the scholarship.”

Ella loves riding and competing, but she is also an exceptional student with big plans for her future. She will graduate high school this year and plans to attend Morehead State University in a pre-veterinary program.  As for her future plans, Ella commented, “I plan to graduate college, finish vet school then I’d like to open my own facility to breed horses.  I want to be the vet to take outside horses in and breed them, do artificial insemination.  I would also like to have my own brood mares and breed them and sell those colts and get them started in training.”

Although Ella does not plan on being on the college rodeo teams, she plans to continue riding rodeos through professional associations. Teresa added, “I will forever be grateful for this time with Ella, and I am proud of her accomplishments and achievements. For as long as she is rodeoing, I will always be on the sideline telling her to be safe, wishing her luck, love you, and have fun.”

There is no doubt with the determination and drive Ella has shown, she will succeed at anything she does. She is grateful for the support from her parents in guiding her future.

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