A Port Townsend High School alum not only made it to this year’s Pinto World Championship Show, but was also named a world champion in horse showmanship, in addition to making it into the top 10 in two riding events.
Kaytee Gibeau graduated from PTHS in 2017, but the 18-year-old started riding her grandfather’s pack mules when she was 2, and began competing with her own horse when she was 6.
“I kept with it because I truly love it,” Gibeau said. “Horses are something you never really master. There’s always more to learn, and I think that’s what keeps me hooked.”
In addition to competing at open and breed shows since she was 7, earning her a number overall highpoint wins over the years, Gibeau also competed on an equestrian team for all four years of high school.
“I rode for Port Angeles, as Port Townsend didn’t have a team,” Gibeau said, who’s earned 12 gold, silver and bronze medals, besides qualifying for state four times and for regionals twice.
Gibeau attended Pinto World Championship Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 11-23 with her horse Gilbert, as well as her mother, Paula, and her trainer, Elizabeth Wagner, from Port Angeles.
“She’d always dreamed of competing at this show, and finally got to do it,” Paula Gibeau said.
The biggest hoops Kaytee Gibeau had to jump through were the costs of not only entry fees, but also hauling her horse from Port Townsend to Oklahoma and back again.
“My mom and I took turns driving, as we would do 700 miles daily,” Kaytee Gibeau said. “I was up against around 30 kids in each of my classes.”
While Gibeau doesn’t believe “you can ever be truly prepared” for the Pinto World Championship Show, she felt “pretty good” about her performance in the showmanship and Western Pleasure categories.
“Showmanship is my favorite, and Western Pleasure is my horse’s favorite,” Gibeau said. “The hardest part of the World Show was comparing myself to the other competitors. I started out feeling like I wasn’t worthy to be there, but I found my confidence right before the showmanship round, and that’s when I wound up winning my world championship title.”
According to Gibeau, the most challenging part of an equestrian career is learning how to accept defeat.
“Nobody likes losing, especially a competitive person like me,” Gibeau said. “The older I got, though, the more I realized not all horse shows go as planned, and all you can do is practice and try again.”
But as far as Gibeau is concerned, the upside is weathering those losses has made winning a world title all the more rewarding and surprising for her.
“It was so shocking,” Gibeau said. “My first two classes, I had some faults, and didn’t even make it back to the finals. Winning a world title was something I dreamed about as a 6-year-old kid.”
Paula Gibeau told The Leader she’s “never been more proud,” watching her daughter win a world championship in a class “that she has worked so hard at perfecting.”
Kaytee Gibeau’s advice to anyone interested in following in her footsteps is simply to work hard.
“Horses are animals of repetition,” Gibeau said. “You just have to put in the work, every single day.”