At the tender age of nine years old, Kaylee — the older of the Mills’ two daughters — was training her very first horse. “I was given a two-year old that I wanted to do all the training on. No one else was allowed to touch it,” she laughs remembering.
She was incredibly successful throughout High School Rodeo, winning the Breakaway Roping at the B.C. Finals. But it wasn’t until Kaylee attended the European Trainer’s Challenge in 2009 that she began to seriously consider training horses as a career.
“I was 19 years old at the European Challenge,” Kaylee says. “We were given Swiss Mountain horses to work with and start. I really learned how important foundation is on a horse and to stick to your program. I didn’t actually get on my horse until the last 15 minutes of the last session before the final — all of the other trainers had got on in the first or second session. It was important for me not miss any steps, which paid off huge in the end. My horse was so soft, he really felt broke already at the finale.” Kaylee walked away from the challenge as the European Junior Trainer Champion and has never looked back.
Youngest daughter Kelcie has just graduated from high school and enrolled in a dental hygiene course at Olds College — but that doesn’t mean that she will be away from the horse scene.
“I just bought three young projects that I am excited to bring along,” Kelcie says. “After I’m done school I would love to be on the professional rodeo circuit and training and selling barrel horses.”
Kelcie also contributed to the Mills family rodeo legacy by qualifying for Nationals almost every year.
Kaylee has returned to the Mills Ranch to work and train full time with her father after several months at a training stable in Fort St. John, B.C.
“I have been working with the younger riders — teaching barrels, poles, goat typing and some roping students. I’m really looking forward to building a solid lesson program with a good string of horses.”
Luckily, both sisters have their entire family behind them, supporting and encouraging their goals and aspirations — horse related and not.
“The fact that my parents and all my siblings are involved with horses has been really cool,” Kaylee comments. “Sharing the same passion has allowed us to be a really close family.”