Keyworth Taking Equestrian Talents to Savannah College
The bond between human beings and animals is one that has been unbroken for centuries and yields the greatest qualities among both parties involved. Addison Keyworth has unlocked that truth through her own long-standing stint in the sport of equestrian.
The Valley Regional High School Class of 2023 graduate grew up in a riding household, as her mother rode horses her entire life, so Addison followed suit in her footsteps. While she additionally competed on the Warriors’ volleyball squad, she will be continuing her exceptional equestrian career as she simultaneously attends the Savannah College of Art and Design.
“I grew up riding, and I am at the barn every day, and it has been my real passion,” says Addison. “I grew up with a pony named Barry, who taught me a lot about caring for animals, and then at 13 years old, I got my current horse, Liam, and he has been my everything. We finished third at a national competition two years ago, which was my most proud moment. We also won a class at Nationals last year.”
As she spends her winters down in the Sunshine State of Florida and then travels to New York and Vermont during the summer for various horse shows, the prime season for Addison and Liam is the fall, during which regional and national competitions take place. No matter how many miles she logs across the East Coast, she never goes far without her very best friend.
“We compete at the 3-foot-3 and 3-foot-6 levels, which refer to the height and type of jumps we make,” Addison says. “The partnership with an animal is different from being on any team. I will do anything and everything for him, and it is euphoric to be with him after a big win.”
The training regimen for both Addison and Liam is quite the rigorous grind. No matter if they are training together or separately, they are priming their muscles, minds, and bodies for absolute peak performance come competition day —additionally motivated by the mutual love for each other.
“I ride six days a week with Liam, and then he also gets three lessons a week,” says Addison. “We also work with an instructor on grid and lateral work to build him up. It is so conscious in my mind to take care of him and treat him like the great athlete he is. We are working to build up his muscles, but he also needs his light days of training, too. He makes me want to keep doing this.”
In Addison’s mind, it was a predetermined outcome that she would become a collegiate equestrian student and competitor, and she will work hard to balance barn and book time alongside her mane companion.
“I knew I always wanted to ride in college, and it is a big deal for me. I loved Savannah so much and talked to their coach once I was accepted,” says Addison. “I knew I would not be able to live without Liam, so he will meet me at Savannah after winter break, and I will give him the best life once he is down there.”
The friendship through the sport does not conclude with Liam, as Addison has also amassed a great collection of stable mates who she admires and is ready to encourage and comfort when needed.
“My barn friends are the best ever,” Addison says. “We all have the same goal at heart; we all do it because we love it. It is a big thing for me to watch your friends succeed. It is a heartwarming feeling to see them succeed and also back them up during their rougher days.”
Addison has learned to compartmentalize personal accomplishments through her various travels and to simply take everything in perfect stride, much like her favorite cohort and teammate.
“Through equestrian, I have learned to take my own success and separate it from my success with other people,” says Addison. “It is about you and your own journey and progress. I just take my own success at my own rate.”
Warriors’ volleyball Head Coach Sofia Cullina explains that Addison showed her aptitude and tenacity on the court and, even when equestrian obligations took her away from the squad, she demonstrated her heart was never far from her mates.
“Addison always upheld the values of the volleyball program and was consistently aggressive on the court,” says Cullina. “She was always kind and compassionate towards her teammates and the coaching staff. Even when she was competing in equestrian and couldn’t be at volleyball, she found ways to support the team, like reaching out before the game to let her teammates know she was always rooting for them. We are confident she will have a bright future with success in what she chooses to pursue. She will be missed in the gym this upcoming season.”
VRHS Athletic Director Lewis Pappariella adds that Addison has excelled on so many stages whilst being a Warrior, and has no worries that her gains and successes will persist into college.
“Addie possesses many traits that have allowed her to have success as a student-athlete at VRHS and beyond,” says Pappariella. “She is a hard-worker. She will put in extra time to work on her skill set so she can perform at her highest level. She is a great teammate. She brings positive energy and enthusiasm to support team success. She has excellent time management and organizational skills. She was able to balance academics, volleyball, and equestrian.”
Addison’s ultimate final objective and path in equestrian is still to be determined at the moment, but the adrenaline rush and emotional life that being around the barn gives her will not be departing anytime soon.
“I always want to be in the equestrian community. I may want to take it up as a pro, but I am undecided on that,” says Addison. “Yet no matter what, I always want to be involved in it the rest of my life. It is my source of happiness.”