For the second edition of our Inspo Interviews about inspirational women in the equestrian industry I had the pleasure of interviewing Krystal Kelly.
Krystal Kelly is a California Girl, joining us from her current base in England for a talk about her life as an Equestrian Adventuress traveling around the world on the back of a horse. She is currently the ONLY FEI II Showjumping Coach from the USA and offers jumping and dressage clinics, yoga for horse riders, and even helps to promote horse riding adventures and holidays around the world. She organizes groups to off-the-beaten path destinations with her own travel company Krystal Kolumbus Travel (like her upcoming trip to Bhutan!) She talks with us today about her life abroad and what it’s like working in 14 different countries with horses and traveling to over 50+ countries including Iraq, Bhutan, Romania, India, Egypt and more!
1) What inspired you to do what you do?
I have always wanted to work abroad with horses. I never felt like I belonged in America to be honest and I felt since I was very young that I needed to go and see the world. I was always fascinated to see the Olympic Showjumping on the television. Seeing top riders from around the world gather in one place to share their love for horses has always been something that drove my passion to seek “unique destinations” and countries most people would never think of going to ride horses! I just recently returned from Iraqi Kurdistan where I got to ride some gorgeous showjumping horses and also meet a few local men who breed Arab and Kurdish horses. They welcomed me like I was one of their family members and treated me to local tea and even gifted me a golden horse statue which now sits on my dresser. I love exploring countries, but exploring different cultures and countries because of a shared love for horses…that is an opportunity unlike any other!
2) Who do you look to for inspiration and why?
I am too busy making my own lists of things I want to do and where I want to go that I don’t have much time to think about what others are doing. Especially because my goal of seeing every country causes a lot of anxiety to others (try telling someone whose never left their hometown why you took a secret trip to Yemen…) and you will realize that you often times have to be the source of your own inspiration. In order to drive yourself to step outside of your comfort zone, take the leap and trust your own judgement and gut, sometimes you have to take inspiration from any means you can whether it be scrolling through Instagram, reading other’s blogs or watching documentaries. I take my inspiration from many outlets and its difficult to pin it down to one specific person. I will say that any woman challenging the system and conquering her goals (whatever they may be) in a male dominated sport / business / culture etc. is always a key source of inspiration for me! I love seeing women “stick it to the man” and empower other sisters around the world to follow in their footsteps!
3) What would you say is your biggest achievement to date & why?
I have many. I’ve started the only horse riding program in the country of Bhutan, and now organize group expeditions there! I’ve fundraised to send a Yemeni girl to University. I’ve driven a junky car SOLO from England to Mongolia and back again. I met my husband in Azerbaijan (he’s German) and taught him to ride horses—where we now own two lovely horses in England and play polo, compete in Endurance and many other horsie-activities. I completed a 1,000 kilometer race on semi-wild Mongolian horses across the Mongolian steppes… I guess you could say there are a number of achievements I am proud of, but I also have quite a number more to cross off my list! I’m a big list maker so whenever I do cross something off I usually replace it with another equally challenging goal.
4) What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is feeling a bit uninspired at the moment?
I think many people when they meet me, often tell me, “Wow, your life is amazing! You’re so lucky!” But the real secret is, I am not doing anything anyone couldn’t do. To be honest, back in 2010 when I first left America to work at my first international job for an Olympic rider in Belgium, the only thing I did that others didn’t was: I got on the plane. Many of my adventures, jobs and goals started with simply committing to getting on that plane. It didn’t matter if I didn’t have much money or I didn’t know where I would end up or how I would afford a return flight should the job not work out etc. It didn’t matter because I knew it would all work out. I would be able to handle any situation I came up against and I had faith that things would all work out in the end. And you know what? It has. So many doors of opportunity opened up for me simply by having the guts to get on that plane and take a chance that I never could have dreamed would be possible.
You don’t need to have all the answers, you don’t need to have everything planned. All you need is the will and a way will be shown. And if the people in your environment or life are opposing your internal goals and wishes and desires then STOP INTERACTING WITH THEM! Reach out to people with similar goals who’ve actually achieved them and start surrounding yourself with people that will lift you up (even if it’s only virtually on the internet for a while!) In this way the internet is really your biggest ally as there are so many inspirational women and horse lovers out there that are happy to talk and inspire other—and even offer them a job or a free bed for the night or a coffee! So get out there and start networking!
5) What are your plans for this year and what do you hope to achieve?
I have a few trips lined up for this year which I’m still looking to fill. I have several open spaces for people to join me on a once in a lifetime chance to visit the country of Bhutan —my all-time favorite country—on the back of a horse! Last year I took a group of 8 ladies and we had such a wonderful adventure that I’m excited to bring another group this year. I also have a few other trips in the making and my filming projects are beginning to pick up. I hope to release a youtube series soon about various Equestrian Adventuresses around the world so please join my Facebook group to keep up to date with the different adventures and projects I am planning as well as getting your horse travel inspiration and contacts from like-minded ladies in the group!
Thank you to everyone at In Due Horse for the feature and I am very happy to continue to follow along on your adventures!
Feel free to follow me on Instagram (https:// http://www.instagram.com/kryskolumbustravel/channel/) or check out my websites: https://www.kryskolumbustravel.com
In case you missed it click here to read the first Inspo Interview with The Sand Arena Ballerina.
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