“Horses are my passion. They always have been, even before I was born my mom claims.”
Never any doubt about that when Ellie Wiles talks about her distinct involvement with horses.
“I’ve been riding and working with horses ever since I can remember. I like everything about and to do with horses,” the Southeast of Saline High School senior insisted.
Yet, Ellie is a most diverse 17-year-old very active and a leader in many school and other community groups.
“No matter what I’m involved with, my horses are always my first priority, really,” she declared.
Actually, it’s an all in the family deal for the Gypsum horse enthusiasts. “My mom grew up with horses and really was working with horses all the time before I was born,” Ellie claimed.
Her mother Rosetta Wiles has continued to ride and show horses to be her daughter’s biggest horse inspiration. “Mom has always helped me to improve with my horses making sure I had top horses to ride,” Ellie appreciated.
“My brother, sisters, my aunt Bethena Hemphill and my cousins all like working with horses. So, it must be in the genes,” the most congenial smiling young lady surmised.
While she’s had several horses in her short lifetime, two early ones still stand out in Ellie’s memory. “Prancer was absolutely the best horse ever,” she claimed. “That bay gelding was so soft, such a nice all-around horse. I learned the patterns riding him, and he even knew how to jump.
“I fell in love with horses because of Prancer. Sometimes I’d just lie down and rest on his back,” Ellie continued. “Prancer lived to be 32-years-old, and I still miss him.”
Of course, her pony Blackjack has special fondness in Ellie’s heart, too.
“I rode him in the speed events, but I’ll always remember running kegs. Blackjack would stop at every keg, see if there was anything to eat, and then usually tip it over,” Ellie grinned. “I’d kick and kick to try to keep him going but it didn’t do any good. Blackjack was just a typical pony, but a great one in my opinion.”
With siblings the oldest Gunnar, Krislynn and Emily, each two years apart, and Ellie two years younger was the baby.
“They all rode and showed horses in the Eastern Kansas Horseman’s Association (EKHA),” Ellie noted. “But, my brother and sisters got to join 4-H before I did. I was so excited when I finally got to show horses in 4-H, too.”
With four kids and a mom at a show, sharing horses is a requirement.
“It was hard deciding who would ride what. A fight over who got to ride the best horse,” Ellie admitted. “Still whoever practiced the hardest at home would usually get their choice. Because Emily and I were often in the same class, we usually rode different horses. So I typically rode the same horse that Krislynn did.”
Entering many varied classes at the home county Tri Rivers Fair in Salina, Ellie collected top awards in horse competitions. She was crowned runner-up for the fair queen crown. “So now, I’m hoping to win the pageant next summer,” Ellie commented.
The Kansas State Fair at Hutchinson has always been an anticipated highlight for the family. “All of us have qualified for the fair several years and placed in the top ten,” Ellie said.
It was really a busy time for Ellie there this year. “I qualified in 17 classes at the district show, and competed in all of them at the state fair,” she noted.
That might be a record number qualifications and her record of top placings would sure approach being an all-time best.
“You can only take three horses to the state fair,” Ellie said. “So I had Holly for speed classes, Daisy in performance and The Kid in 4-H two-year-old competitions.”
In the toughest field one can find, the sorrel mare Holly took Ellie to first in flag racing. “Holly is a running horse, but she did well in trail and ranch classes, too,” Ellie credited.
Several top awards were collected in halter and rail competitions with Ellie’s chestnut mare Daisy.
Undebatable proof of Ellie’s horsemanship ability came when she showed her palomino gelding called The Kid.
“There were two parts of the 4-H class, pleasure riding and an interview,” Ellie explained. “I was reserve champion in the interview division and placed fourth overall. I was really proud of The Kid.”
Ellie and her outstanding versatile mounts took home 12 rosette ribbons, each signifying placing in the top ten of a class. “The goal is always to be top ten,” she said. “I was really happy to win that many awards in my 17 classes.”
Of the large collection of state fair rosettes Ellie has won throughout the years, a seventh place always eluded her. “Mom was keeping track, she even made a special sign about that for my stall. Then I finally placed seventh in one class,” Ellie said.
Everybody knows when the Wiles family arrives at the shows. “We have a long trailer, with complete living quarters pulled by a semi-tractor and Mom’s at the wheel,” Ellie said. “We’ve had a few traveling problems over the years, but we always got there one way or the other. Our trailer is like part of the family, too.”
In one of the toughest EKHA age groups, Ellie has collected many yearend class awards, including three highpoint age-group buckles.
At the state show in Washington, Ellie was crowned this year’s EKHA Queen from a talented court of pretty cowgirls.
Her school and community involvements are many and diverse including scholastics, cheerleading, athletics and singing. “I’m pretty busy, but I really enjoy everything,” Ellie admitted.
Serving in both 4-H and FFA leadership roles, Ellie participates in judging competitions, too. “I was fourth in the district FFA horse judging contest, and I’d like to do more judging,” she said.
Despite it all, Ellie finds time to give riding lessons. “Horses are so important to me that I want others to learn and enjoy everything horses have to offer,” she said.
While she’s ridden mostly in horse shows, Ellie expanded out this year competing in rodeo barrel races. “I went to rodeos nearby and placed in the money some so I’ll probably enter more rodeos, too,” she added.
With high school graduation just months away, furthering her education and horses are both on the horizon.
“I’ve had several academic and equestrian scholarship offers and tentatively now I intend to go to Colby Community College,” Ellie said. “I would like to be on both their equestrian and rodeo teams if it can be worked out.”
From that two-year school, Ellie looks to attend Kansas State University. “I want to major in education, be a teacher or a counselor,” she said.
Plans also are to pursue a spot on the K-State Rodeo Team, possibly the equestrian team there as well.
“I really appreciate all of the support my family has always given me in everything I’ve done,” Ellie acknowledged. “My mom, brother, sisters, Aunt Bethena, cousin Alaura and everybody who’s anxious to help me in every way.”
Thanksgiving is an anticipated holiday for the horsey family. “We’ve been taking our horses and enjoying the time riding together at Kanopolis Lake. It’s a fun time,” Ellie said.
Looking to her career as a teacher, Ellie sees no letdown in her time with horses. “I plan to continue showing, maybe rodeo more, and also give lessons, help others as much as I can.
“My passion for horses just keeps getting stronger,” Ellie Wiles verified.