Jessi Fortin and Sach O’ Lena, a 22-year old quarter horse, compete in single poles at the Ellis River Riders Gymkhana on Oct. 3. The photograph is black and white to highlight the purple used in memory of Kathi T. Kyes, who passed away in April. Submitted photo

NORTH JAY — Sach O’ Lena is continuing her winning ways this summer.

Sach O’ Lena, owned by Kyesland Stables in North Jay, takes a dinner break during a gymkhana in Andover on Oct. 3. Submitted photo

Lena was born May 24, 1998. She was purchased by Kathi Kyes, owner of Kyesland Stables on Old Jay Hill Road, in August of 2011.

“When I was growing up, 20-year olds were retired,” Kyes’ daughter Jessi Fortin said.

In July 2014, Kyes and Lena were named Adult Reserve Champion at the Ellis River Riders show in Andover.

Kyes served on the board for Ellis River Riders, so she didn’t compete as much the last few years, Fortin said.

Ellis River Riders is a training-type club dedicated to the education, skill advancement and confidence building of all riders. It holds gymkhanas and open shows for all ages and skill levels.


Kyes passed away unexpectedly on April 6.

Fortin stepped down from the Ellis River Riders board earlier this summer, giving her more time to compete.

“The last two summers, mom rode in two shows, I competed in a couple classes,” Fortin said.

On Sept. 26, Lena and Fortin placed third in single pole, first in pole bending, fifth in barrels, third in keyhole, and third in gambler’s choice: backthrough. They were also named Adult Grand Champion.

According to Wikipedia,, gymkhanas are a collection of timed speed events. A keyhole race is a speed event in which the horse and rider team with the fastest time in completing the event wins. Horses running this event must have speed, but also the agility to stop quickly in full stride, turn, and bolt directly back into a run.

“Gambler’s choice is a class for day shows,” Fortin said. “We don’t know what it will be until the day of the show. In backthrough, you back up through the barrels and then race back.”


“I’ve only ridden at shows this summer. We’ve had no practices this summer other than those shows and when I’ve taken Lena to play,” she said. “We placed first in pole bending both weekends.”

On Sept. 26, Lena and Fortin also competed in two pairs classes.

“We placed third in shotgun barrels and second in double figure eight,” Fortin said. “Our pair partner rode an 11-year-old mare and we weren’t far behind them in either class!”

On Oct. 3, Fortin and Lena placed third in single pole, first in pole bending, second in barrels, and second in keyhole. They were named Adult Reserve Champion.

The 2020 Ellis River Riders Gymkhana Season was also dedicated that day in loving memory of Kathi Kyes.

“Sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards in order to get back on the trail you were supposed to be on. It’s hard to ‘start a new path’ but if it’s your true path, things will come together and you will find yourself,” a statement Kyes made, is featured on the plaque presented to family members and was later placed on the clubhouse.


Lena is also used in Lead Line and Walk/Trot classes for younger riders and competes in 15 classes before getting to the adult classes, Fortin added.

Jailinn Fortin and Sach O’ Lena, a 22-year old quarter horse, compete in single poles at the Ellis River Riders gymkhana in Andover on Sept. 26. Submitted photo

“Lena is often referred to as “Two different mares” because of the way she acts depending on who her rider is,” Fortin said. “My daughter Jailinn has to kick Lena to get her to go in Walk/Trot. When I’m riding, she can’t wait to take off.”

“A few years ago, mom was riding Lena when a woman came up to compliment her on the horse she had used in Lead Line classes. The woman couldn’t believe it was the same horse,” Fortin said.

Kyes always rode Lena, Fortin said.

“I relax and don’t care, Lena was normally mom’s ride,” Fortin said. “We’ve gotten better as a team this year, I was more comfortable riding her. Mom should have been riding her.”


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