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Stories from a Featured Rider - Get To Know Kelly Sapp


Kelly Sapp performing

Have you ever dreamed of hopping on a horse, flying across the ground, turning on a dime and sliding to a stop? For Southern States® customer and Legends® horse feed user, reining horse trainer - Kelly Sapp, it’s more than a dream, it’s a way of life. Born and raised in the horse industry, Sapp has started and trained horses in a variety disciplines from hunters/jumpers to barrel racing to reining.

“When I was a kid, my dad took in the neighbor’s ponies they couldn’t ride and had me ride and fix them,” explains Sapp. After many hours in the saddle Sapp’s dad rewarded him with $100. Sapp says, “I thought this is cool to get paid to ride horses.” And so Sapp’s career as a horse trainer began.

From those “pony fixing” days, Sapp moved to breaking colts and then tried his hand at a variety of other riding endeavors to become as well rounded as possible. He has since taken the knowledge gained from the other disciplines and applied it to his day-to-day reining training. As a reining horse is the epitome of a well-trained horse, Sapp believes the skills he learned from the other disciplines help him perform superior reining patterns with his mounts.

Today, Sapp runs his family’s San Up Farm nestled in the foothills of King, North Carolina. He is responsible for the care and training of 20 reining horses, that either are shown by Sapp or their owners. San Up also has a small breeding operation. As many customers can’t afford a horse that is ready to walk into the reining ring and compete, Sapp says his breeding operation can help those customers obtain a young prospect. In addition to his duties at home and on the road with the San Up team, Sapp is a judge and sought after clinician.

In the past decade reining has grown in popularity and become an increasingly mainstream sport. With a scoring system that even the inexperienced viewer can understand and fast paced action in the arena, reining has become a huge spectator sport. Not only is it good for Sapp’s business it’s good for the horse industry as a whole to get such positive attention. Reining is so mainstream now, Sapp was interviewed by ESPN’s SportsCenter after winning at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio.

A modest Sapp remarks, “I didn’t get into the horse business to win awards, I wanted to ride a horse.” As true as that may be, one look at his resume and you will see he has won his fair share of accolades. Most notably Sapp is a three time All-American Quarter Horse Congress Reining Champion. “The first time I won I thought ‘I have arrived’,” explained Sapp. “Win number two showed everyone the first time wasn’t beginner’s luck, but win number three that was the most enjoyable.”

Whether his customers are looking to win their first event, or looking to be in the top standings at Congress, Sapp is committed to helping them achieve their goals.

Sapp is most proud of taking his students who have little experience, training them and watching them have success when they compete. “The look on their faces the first time they get a good score is magical,” explains Sapp. Likewise he enjoys taking a “problem horse” and giving it the time and attention it needs to turn around and be successful. “It’s moments like those that remind you why you got into the business,” Sapp notes.

Success in the horse world is a team effort. Sapp is enthusiastic to have Southern States as part of his team. “Southern States truly cares about how they can help enhance my nutrition program and help my horses perform to the best of their ability,” says Sapp. Southern States Equine Nutritionist Dr. Marty Adams and Feed Sales Technical Representative Jason Callicutt have visited San Up to help determine the best feed plan. Today Sapp feeds his horses Legends CarbCare® Performance. He is also feeding Legends GastroTech® Supplement to improve the gastric health of one of his top performing horses, that experiences gastric upset when competing.

“As a horse professional, I’m not an expert at nutrition so being able to rely on Southern States’ expertise to help me develop my nutrition plan is great,” adds Sapp. “Now that I have a team partner in Southern States, it helps bring my program to a whole other level as I know my horses are getting the best nutrition they can get.” Southern States and Legends are proud to be part of the San Up Farm team. We wish Sapp and the entire San Up Farm family continued success in their endeavors.


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