Kalena Reynolds’ Attitude of Gratitude

Kalena Reynolds rode Gun Whiz It to the 2019 Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title at the 2019 Adequan® North American Affiliate Championship Show.

By Jennifer Paulson

Kalena Reynolds and Gun Whiz It at the 2019 Adequan NAAC
16-year-old Kalena Reynolds rode Gun Whiz It to the 2019 Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title. (Photo by Waltenberry)

Perspective and mindset are everything, especially when you’re goal-focused and achievement-oriented. There will be ups, downs, and all-arounds, but the mindful rider takes it all in stride and learns from every phase.

That outlook often comes with age, but 16-year-old Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year Kalena Reynolds, Amarillo, Texas, proved that age is just a number when it comes to perspective.

“I just kept reminding myself, ‘No matter how it goes, be happy you’re here. Be grateful for everything that’s happened this year,” Reynolds shared after her run. 

The Journey

Kalena is a lifelong horse-lover—both her parents are trainers and have ridden their entire lives. But the horse-show bug didn’t bite until she was 10 or 11 years old. Before then, Kalena focused on dance—a pursuit she still tries to fit into her now horse-packed life, along with theater, singing, and playing guitar. Having shown reiners for about five years, she’s had her eye on the Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title for at least 3 years.

Gun Whiz It (Gunner x Roll Whiz It) served as Kalena’s mount for the past 3-plus years and on her journey to win the title. The pair is coached by Dany and Fred Tremblay.

“We had a few setbacks,” she admitted. “I struggled at the [AQHyA World Show], and it really shook my confidence. Then we didn’t have a great ride at the Run for a Million, but I was grateful just to be there. There were definitely setbacks, but I pulled it together. I told myself, ‘Whatever happens, happens!’ The biggest thing I learned from all that was to stop overthinking. I always want to do the best I can, but I get in my own way.”

The pair came back to win Rookie Level 1 and Level 2 at the South Central Affiliate Regional Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kalena Reynolds and Gun Whiz It
Kalena Reynolds and Gun Whiz It captured the 2019 Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title in Oklahoma City during the Adequan® NAAC. (Photo by Tammy Reynolds)

The Winning Run

“I was very nervous going in,” Kalena admitted. “I walked in, and my mare spun so good for me! I loped off on my circles and thought, ‘alright, you do your thing,’ and she was amazing for the entire pattern.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for it all,” she continued. “I’ve tried for [the Rookie of the Year title] for a few years. Just to have the opportunity to compete for this is absolutely amazing. I’m so blessed and feel so thankful to have won. Especially to my mare. I owe it to her to win this. She’s been amazing to me, and I’m very thankful.”

Following their big win in Oklahoma City, Kalena planned for “Cecilia” to have a break and some rest and relaxation. The immediate rewards included the mare’s favorite treats: oranges and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Hear More From Kalena!

 NRHA In Our Tracks podcast logo

How did Kalena achieve the outlook she has at such a young age? Listen to her “In Our Tracks” podcast featuring more of her story of personal entrepreneurship (sneak peek: she’s a youth life coach) and for information about the Toyon Ranch Rookie of the Year title. Find it wherever you listen to podcasts.