My name is Kayla Wren Barteau, but my folks and many others who have known me since I was young, all call me Hudi. My dad gave me that nickname when I was really little and it kind of stuck to me.
I don’t remember too much about the dinner show years. I have been told I was the pet of all the kids that worked at the barn and a bit of a chore for my older brother and sister to watch over. I do remember I spent a lot of time being dragged around in a little red wagon.
When we moved up to Illinois I was three years old. I do remember all sorts of things about being young and growing up in a house that was on over a thousand acres. There were loads of horses around, but I think when I was young I took horses for granted. There were always horses in my life and so I did not realize that some kids would have done anything to be around so many horses. I didn’t know anything different than that there had been, and always would be, horses in my life.
My parents are both pretty well known horse trainers and my older sister, Kassie, won a lot and is very well known in the FEI Young Rider division. My older brother, Jamie, was a featured performer at the Arabian Nights dinner show, and when he was 12, he was the world’s youngest circus bareback rider.
I played around with the horses here and there when I was young, but mostly when we went to shows, I would help in the show office or run tests from the arenas in to be scored. The few times I did mention wanting to ride, my mom said I had to take lessons. I did not want to do that. Back then I thought lessons were just people bossing you around on horseback, and as the youngest of four children, I had enough people bossing me around already. So…I did not ride much.
I didn’t get what most would call the “riding bug” until I was almost 17 years old. I went to florida to visit my mom when she was there one season, and while I was there she lent me some riding clothes and let me ride her FEI horse GP Delano. I knew I could not ride well. Then but he made me feel like I might be able to figure this stuff out…and..it was fun! So I started taking lessons.
My mom let me try out for the FEI Jr/Young Rider championships on her horse, Dilly, and we made the team by the skin of our teeth. NAJYRC was so much fun! It is great to be part of such a huge competition and to see how the top partnerships really worked together. I started to become inspired.
People might think life would be easy for the daughter of Kim and Yvonne, but while they are fair and good parents, they did not hand things to me. I worked seven days a week to prove myself in the barn and my title was working student for a reason. Working students work. Lots of hours with no complaining. I worked at the barn with everyone else, but had added responsibilities in the house as far as chores went, so I had little to no free time. I am not complaining, although I must admit I did argue with my parents from time time. However, I grew to love all the horses that became part of my journey and I see how this sport can be so addicting. It is now quite clear that one can never get as good as she might hope to. I find it worth a try though because I have learned so much in just a few short years! Not just about the horses either.
Riding and working in the barn with the many individuals who come here to try and become trainers is sometimes a recipe for conflict. While at first I thought my mom a bit odd with all of her personality assessments, I now understand why. Knowing how and why individuals differ from each other and from my own type helped me to understand why some of the conflicts occurred in the first place.
I got so motivated about riding time that I asked my high school principal if I could do what it took to graduate early and go to Florida with my mom for a real winter season. It happened. I also achieved the scores for my USDF silver medal while I was there.
So I am STILL a working student STILL a young rider but I am looking forward to learning enough to become a permanent fixture in the sport and business I have come to love!