By Trishna Buch
Take a shy, quiet and timid child. Put her around horses. And watch that child turn into
a confident, independent young woman, who can talk about her love for horses and
all other animals for days, weeks, months and years to come.
That is the story of 15-year-old Caislee Ellerd. When she was three-years-old
Caislee was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
“When we would go out to restaurants, and people would talk to her, she would
just throw a tantrum” Michelle, Caislee’s mother, said. “I didn’t know what to do,” Michelle
added. “I mean, I couldn’t exactly tell people not to talk to her.”
Fortunately, a change in Caislee’s personality came about when she was a toddler
(around the age of three) and went to a birthday party at Ponyland in Angleton. “Her
face just lit up when she was around the animals” Michelle explained. “And she really
comes out of her shell when she’s around the horses and ponies”.
Caislee, who is the youngest in her family—she has two older siblings—is the first
in her family to venture into the world of horses, riding horses, taking care of horses
and being around horses. Michelle told me that she and her husband had never previously
worked with horses, let alone been around them, but this changed when they
noticed Caislee’s passion for the animals. “Now our days revolve around our animals.”
Along with owning six horses, Caislee and her family also own a donkey, tortoise, dog
and several other animals. “Our horses are either ones that we bought or ones that
we rescued,” Michelle told me.
As I spoke to Michelle and Caislee, I received the full understanding of their love
for animals. And not only for Michelle and Caislee, but also for Caislee’s father. Michelle spoke about her husband’s
love for the animals and said “we have two blind mini-horses and those are his number one. He will always check
to make sure they are safe and healthy.”
So it’s clear that the entire Ellerd family is fond of animals. But I was interested in knowing how the horses have
changed Caislee’s life. “I have become a lot more confident because of them,” she told me. “I can talk to anyone, for
hours, about horses.” She also told me that she plans to turn her passion and love for horses into a career. “I want
to be a horse chiropractor or a horse dentist, but I’m not sure yet.” Caislee also told me that she is home-schooled,
which gives her plenty of time to take care of her horses and practice for competitions. “Being home-schooled
means that I don’t have to worry about missing school or falling behind. I can do it at my own pace and when I have
Of course, the majority of Caislee’s time goes into taking care of her horses (and other animals) and preparing
for competitions. Caislee is a barrel racer, who has competed in several races around Texas in her years as a rider.
She will next be seen participating at the STYRA (South Texas Youth Rodeo Association) event in Brenham on April
14th. Following that, she will be seen at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo on April 16, April 19th, April 20th and
And Caislee has huge goals in terms of competing. She wants to go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
one day, as well as eventually making it to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. She also spoke highly about her
three idols—Martha Josey, Hailey Kinsel and Amber Lee Snyder—all of whom are riders and racers. “I’ve even met
Martha Josey once,” Caislee told me. Josey is just one of the many riders and racers that Caislee has met, with the
list including Tuff Cooper, Cory Solomon and Fallon Taylor.
And for those of you who are interested in riding, but aren’t sure whether to pursue it, Caislee wanted to
encourage everyone to go for it. “It’s a lot of hard work but it’s also very rewarding.” However Caislee’s mother, Michelle,
added that you need to be willing to put in a lot of time and hard-work if this is something you plan to pursue.
“Most people think of riding as easy, but it is definitely not easy,” Michelle said. “You can’t just get a horse, ride it
once in a while and that’s it. You have to groom it, take care of it, take it to exercise and just make sure it’s healthy.
It’s like having a toddler, forever.” If you are interested in seeing Caislee ride, you can have the opportunity
to do so at The Galveston County Fair and Rodeo next month. And if you are passionate about animals, Michelle
told me she is willing to take volunteers to help out with their animals. Simply contact her at 409-370-6828.