A long career devoted to community…
Colleen Kelly first started her career in exercise physiology, and now some 34 years later has just retired after rising to the level of Visiting Adjunct Professor and world leader in her field.
A third generation horse & dog trainer, Colleen trained all her own horses, many who won at National Level in many different horse sports.
Colleen was the only judge to receive 100% in the dressage judge’s exam, and has judged at Sydney Royal Show, and been key note speaker at the Grand Prix (world’s highest level) Judge’s Training Seminar held that year in Canada.
Recently retired, Colleen leaves the profession as world No. 1 in her field to devote her time to writing and working with her passion…uniting people with disabilities and animals.
Work with disabilities
Colleen first donated a lecture to Riding for Disabled at Arundel Park in the early 1990’s to help train their coaches – nearly 30 years ago – and thus started her long career teaching disabled riders, therapy programs, specialist autistic programs, hippotherapy and uniting horses and dogs with people with disabilities.
Colleen has worked with many para-equestrians around the world, including famous Paralympic Medallists, and has received four awards from Riding for Disabled, and many more from therapy programs around the world. Colleen trained three horses in a row to win National Championships Classes in Dressage for Paralympians.
Everyone remembers Colleen’s performances with “Patch the Wonderdog” and “Rex the Wonderhorse” starring together – both at liberty in the massive open fields of places like the Vision 21 Expo at the huge Carrara Facility on the Gold Coast where either her dog or horse could have simply run straight into the crowds – because they were at liberty!
Every clinic Colleen has ever done has included a Friday night lecture, and the night is always run by the local Riding for Disabled or Therapy Program, and Colleen has always donated 100% of the proceeds to their working with dogs and horses programs…however – who would have thought that after nearly 30 years of training animals for people with disabilities – that Colleen would wind up in need of a service dog herself!
Colleen’s breast cancer story…
After being invited to speak at the world’s most prestigious event – the World Equestrian Games, Colleen discovered not long after she moved to the USA that she had breast cancer. Sadly just after her third operation, a double mastectomy, she had to have two urgent MRI’s in a row, due to dangerous blood clots, and was allergic to the contrast dye, which sent her into thyroid toxicosis. After many months of recovery she was left not only deaf, but in constant pain in her ears, and the added nightmare of constant screaming non-stop high level tinnitus.
But, instead of surrendering to her disability, Colleen found a young dog in need of rescuing because it had become quite unmanageable, and trained it to be one of the world’s most famous service dogs! See Amber on Facebook
Amber the Service Dog did 80,000 miles just in the 2015/2016 season travelling to nearly every state in the USA, and every province in Canada, even Mexico! At every tour stop where Colleen was working with either able bodied or disabled riders and handlers, Colleen used Amber to demonstrate how even the most sophisticated training can be done without force, without spurs, and without dressage whips…simply using reward. And, the same can be done for horses – and WIN at Olympics!
You would think that Amber the Service Dog’s videos would go viral when people heard that Amber taught herself to tell Colleen when her blood pressure went dangerously high and to take medicine and lie down…but in fact the video that went viral was the one with Amber listening to the GPS…looking left out the window when it said left, and right when it said right. And, crying as soon as she heard the words “in the next …yards you will have reached your final destination”. That’s what happens when you travel 80,000 miles a year travelling to train other horses and dogs and listening to GPS!
- Personal reference from the First Lady of Kentucky
- Horse Talk TV Interview – Aus
- Speaking of Horses Interview – USA
- University of Kentucky
- FEI Dressage Festival – Key Note Presenter
- Equine Extravaganza
- Averett University
- University of Queensland
- Pegasus Pony Club
- Queensland Horse Council
- Paracombe Pony & Equestrian Club
- Kellyville Riding Club
- Suncoast Pony And Riding Club
- OFFICIAL JUDGE: Sydney Royal Show
- Riding for Disabled – Tall Timbers
- Wandin Park 3DE
- Appaloosa State Championships
- Equicon Conference Vic
- Missouri State University
- Meredith Manor, WV
- Asbury University, KY
- Midway University, KY
- Penn State (New Bolton Center)
- Horse World Expo (MD and PA) several times
- Equine Affaire, CA, OH, MASS several times
- IRELAND: Key Note Presenter – Dublin Royal Show (Aga Khan’s Nation’s Cup – Show Jumping).
- Official Judge: Sydney Royal Show
- Wandin Park 3DE
- STATE CHAMPS: Appaloosa (Dressage)
- CANADA: Grand Prix Judge’s Clinic – Key Note Presenter “The Rider Mark”
- STATE CHAMPS: Arabian Horse Ascn (Dressage)
- ACT State Dressage Association
- Dressage Rider’s Training Association
- AUSTRALIA: National Horse Festival
- STATE CHAMPS: 3DE/ Horse Trials.
- WorkCover Authority of NSW
- Kardella South Pony Club
- Riding for Disabled Awards
- AUSTRALIA: National Disability Conference: Key-Note Presenter
International Level Events
- United States Equestrian Federation: Speaker – National Training Conference
- World Equestrian Games (Kentucky, 2010)
- International CCI*** Sydney and Melbourne
- FEI North American/Canadian Grand Prix Judge’s Clinic – key note speaker
- The ISRB Symposium co-hosted with the University of Kentucky, Asbury University, Midway University and Kentucky Horse Park – Key Note Speaker 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 (now retired)
- Royal Dublin Show, Ireland – Key Note Speaker
- World Championships – Friesians – Key Note Speaker
- Rolex – testing & demonstration booth for the ISRB
- World Reining Championships – testing & demos for the ISRB
- CHINA: Inter Pacific – Key Note Speaker & Presenter
- NEW ZEALAND: National Event, Wellington, NZ
- AUSTRALIA: National Championships Key Note Presenter
- CANADA: Presenting at 2017 National Event, Toronto
- RIDERS WITH DISABILITIES: Colleen Kelly has worked with many RDA/Para State, National, WEG & Paralympic medalists.
Police & K9 Units
- Houston Police
- Austin Police
- Lexington Police
- London Metropolitan Police (Queen of England’s Mounted Guard)
- NAPEC (Police National Championships)
- USA National Police Colloquium Kentucky
- Tampa Police
- Alburquque Mounted Police
- Lord Strathcona Mounted Garrison – Canadian Mounted Police
Colleen Kelly receives video from the First Lady of Kentucky:
Awards & Major Achievements
- Only Official Judge to receive 100% in the Judge’s Exam
- Presenting at the world’s highest event – World Equestrian Games
- Plaque from the London Metropolitan Police for donating training & education to their unit – the Unit that Guards the Queen’s of England’s Mounted Guards.
- Worked with Para-Equestrians who medalled several times at the Paralympics.
- Colleen Kelly has donated hundreds of hours to clubs and therapy programs around the world to use a lecture/presentation as a fundraiser for their club, and raised an estimated quarter of a million dollars disabled programs around the world.
- Four awards for her work with people with disability and animal training.
- Started both Victorian State Vaulting Association and Tasmanian State Vaulting Association and was State Representative to the National Council. When Colleen moved to the USA she then started the Florida State Vaulting Association, and a local club Paris Vaulting in Kentucky.
- President of the International Society of Rider Biomechanics and co-conveynor of the International Symposium with the University of KY, Asbury Uni and Midway Universities.