Chickasaw Nation
The Kliewer family, from left: Phil, Addison, Abbey and Milli at an equestrian competition in Oklahoma City.

Chickasaw Siblings Make Memories Along Equestrian Trails

Gene Lehmann, Chickasaw Nation

Tucked away among the stalls, concrete pathways and dirt arenas at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds complex, two Chickasaw equestrians relax with bottles of water and engage in casual conversation.

Such calm moments are fleeting for Abbey and Addison Kliewer. When the call to compete echoes through the building’s loud speakers, their actions are fast and serious; horses are blanketed and saddled; sequined riding attire is donned; knee-high riding boots are tugged into place; horses are combed and curried; mom, Milli, double checks everything and then checks it again for good measure, as only a horse show mom can.

Their dad, Phil, takes it all in with a father’s immense pride and enthusiasm. He doesn’t sling saddles into place nor does he wield a curry comb. What he does do is provide all the essentials so the girls can compete and succeed. He is the enabler for the horses, funds the insurance, and quietly keeps tab of victories that could lead to college scholarships for both his daughters on equine riding teams.

A photo of the Kliewer trophy gallery probably would be proof enough. Trophies, silver belt buckles, a championship silver-ornate saddle, ribbons and plaques fill every nook and cranny of the home and ranch operation both located in Cordell, Oklahoma.

Exploring Options

Eighteen-year-old Abbey is scheduled to graduate very soon. Studious, serious and focused, Abbey is hoping to earn a scholarship competing with equine teams at either Oklahoma State University or Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Abbey, very self-directed, is an online student who assists without much parental interference in her academic pursuits. Abbey is looking at equine teams at about any Division I University, but would prefer to stay close to home. Her desire is most likely to compete in the Big 12 conference. Kansas State would be OK, as would Texas Christian or even becoming an Aggie at Texas A&M.

Her father is a lifelong University of Oklahoma fan. He bleeds crimson. But, he takes it all in stride with a heavy sigh that the university he loves does not offer funded equine opportunities for his beloved daughters.

This summer will be one full of competitions. Abbey may even delay college for a year to rack up more trophies, buckles and saddles in order to sway Big 12 schools. She’s building a scholarship-worthy resume and hopes universities will take note.

Just like major college football or basketball, it boils down to “what have you accomplished” in order to obtain a much coveted scholarship, Phil Kliewer explains. Title 9—the federal government mandate stipulates women’s athletics be given as much attention as men’s athletics—leveled the playing field and has extended opportunities for women to compete in many nontraditional sports, he adds.


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