Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 29, 2013

Along for the ride

Local equestrian, 19, competes in barrel racing competitions

MEYERSDALE, Pa. — Many young girls have a fascination for horses, but often that interest fades with time. However, for one area teen, the passion has only grown.

Kaitlyn Crissinger, now 19 years old, discovered her love of horses when she was just 9, during a visit to a stable in Garrett County.

Crissinger has always been small in stature, but she felt invincible atop an “old lesson pony” named Blaze, igniting an interest and passion that has led down many trails and to many adventures.

“I was a little scared at first, but excited and I loved it,” she said.

She quickly mastered riding, and during an outing with her trainer,  she said she discovered barrel racing.

Barrel racing is a rodeo competition in which a rider and horse race against the clock through a clover-leaf pattern course, maneuvering around three barrels in the center of the arena.

The sport requires the horse and rider to be in sync as they move through the challenging course.

Eager to improve and expand her range of skills, Crissinger began learning the techniques of the sport.

So enthused by their daughter’s excitement, Jeff and Roxann Crissinger bought Kaitlyn her own horse just six months later. Rocky, a quarter horse, towered over young Kaitlyn, who at the time was just over 3 feet tall.

“Rocky was a roping horse, but his owner sold him because he was ‘too much horse.’ Too much horse, here I was 70 pounds and I had no trouble with this 1,200-pound horse, over 15 hands tall,” she said with a laugh. “His old owner couldn’t believe it when he saw me with Rocky.”

Both faced the task of learning new skills and techniques. Less than a year after she first climbed atop the lesson pony, Kaitlyn and Rocky entered their first barrel race and have been charging forward ever since.

Kaitlyn continues to compete in more than 20 events each year as a member of the National Barrel Horse Association and the Western Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo Association. She is ranked in the top five of her age division in the rodeo association.

These competitions have led Kaitlyn, her dad and Rocky on many adventures, but Kaitlyn faces each with the same level of excitement she felt the first time she sat in the saddle.

“Every race is exciting to me; the thrill is always there,” she said. “I have a real need for speed, but only behind the reins, not behind the wheel.”

The average retirement age for barrel racing horses is 24, but Kaitlyn is confident that Rocky, now 19,  has many more years of competition ahead of him. Barrel racing can be physically demanding for the horses, and Jeff and Kaitlyn provide Rocky with the best possible care to minimize the possibility of injury.

Kaitlyn and Rocky consistently post scores in the range of 17 seconds, scores that are comparable with those of championship riders.

Earlier this year, the Crissingers’ stable welcomed a new addition, a 2-year-old quarter horse named Azzie. Azzie has quickly adjusted to her new life, far from her South Dakota home.

Kaitlyn has been busy working with Azzie, training her for riding and plans to eventually train her to barrel race.

“She is really smart and is learning quickly,” Kaitlyn said. “She is a little mischievous, though; she loves peppermints and will only take them from me and she likes to nip at people, everyone but me.”    

Like Azzie, Rocky has some unusual preferences.

“He loves pancakes. Each year, when we go to the fairs, I have my pancake breakfast and so does he,” she said.

Watching Kaitlyn preparing to ride Rocky, Jeff said, “To think this all started with a pony ride. She was comfortable from the first moment. This is something she can do for the rest of her life.”

The Crissingers’ journey has not been without some bumps and bruises, but all agree that the benefits far outweigh the hazards.

“We have had some injuries, but she loves riding,” Jeff said.

“I have had three sets of crutches and last year I had a pretty bad fall. Horses can be unpredictable and you have to be careful. I always wear a helmet when I am riding,” Kaitlyn added.

Jeff said he has enjoyed watching Kaitlyn’s confidence grow and her skills improve, proud of the young woman she has become both in the saddle and out.

Kaitlyn is enrolled at Frostburg State University in the pre-med program. She plans to pursue a career as a pediatrician. She said she knows horses will always be an important aspect of her life, but said, “I might have to take some time off for medical school.”

Kaitlyn remains small in stature — just 4 feet, 8 inches tall — but has found that horses and barrel racing is one area of her life that is completely unaffected by her height. Once she settles in the saddle she is a fearless and determined competitor.

“This is one sport where height doesn't matter. If anything, my size gives me an advantage,” she explained. “And I have a real competitive streak. I like to win.”

Contact Angie Brant at

Text Only
Local News
  • Overturned tanker upsets Oakland Overturned tanker upsets Oakland

    OAKLAND — Two large commercial wreckers were being used at mid-afternoon Wednesday to upright a tanker full of liquid propane that overturned several hours earlier in downtown Oakland and forced evacuation of the business district.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Park Service opens Canal Classrooms Park Service opens Canal Classrooms

    CUMBERLAND – The National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday for a new program called Canal Classrooms, which will offer students pre-K through fifth grade accredited classwork on the Canal Place grounds.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • CODY EVERSOLE Eversole named 2014 Kelley Award winner

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser High School senior Cody Eversole was named this year’s J. Edward Kelley Award winner during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Potomac State College.
    The award is presented to an outstanding male student-athlete in each year’s senior class.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire

    CUMBERLAND — A South Cumberland home destroyed by fire last July was given a second chance recently after the owner decided he wanted to remain a part of the neighborhood and had his house rebuilt.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mineral BOE gives $18K to library

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to give the Keyser-Mineral County Public Library $18,000 for fiscal 2015 and to give the Piedmont library an additional $1,000 out of carryover funds.

    April 16, 2014

  • The Eichhorn family Local family says hosting New York City children in summer is ‘wonderful experience’

    CUMBERLAND — Sonya and Christopher Morgan of Cumberland always planned on a hosting a child through The Fresh Air Fund Volunteer Host Family Program. “Christopher always said once we had kids of our own we were going to do it. When our son turned 6 we said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” said Sonya.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • City, county officials to talk baseball at work session

    CUMBERLAND — During today’s Allegany County Commission work session, a proposal to study the possibility of bringing a professional-level baseball team to the area will be vetted again, this time with participants from the city of Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in West Virginia

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • JIM HINEBAUGH Hinebaugh seeks Garrett County commissioner post

    Jim Hinebaugh recently announced his candidacy for Garrett County commissioner. A Garrett County native and lifelong Republican, Hinebaugh graduated from Southern High School and attended Frostburg State University before entering the U.S. Army via the draft. After serving as an enlisted member, Hinebaugh completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He retired as a colonel/06 in 1995 with almost 29 years of service including eight years overseas.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Brief - 04/17

    April 16, 2014

Must Read
News related video
Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence Obama, Biden Announce $600M for Job Grants Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Boston Officials: No Bags at Marathon Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing