Hayden siblings win world horse show awards


By Mitchell Banks | The Tribune

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Two young horse enthusiasts hailing from Hayden recently won awards at the Palomino Horse Breeders of America World Championship Show in Springfield, Illinois.

Keagan Sullivan-Gilpin, 16, won reserve youth world champion yearling filly with his horse, Bronzed N Elegante, aka Jade.

Nevaeh Sullivan-Gilpin, 14, won reserve youth yearling gelding with her horse, Mac N Ona Blonde, aka Skyelar.

The teens are biological siblings and the adopted children of Paul Sullivan and Cheyenne Gilpin.

While they are both residents of Hayden, Sullivan has worked for Greemann’s Furniture in Seymour for 22 years, and Gilpin has worked at area Subways for 14 years. They have been together for 22 years and plan on getting married in the future. Gilpin said most people know him as the general manager of Subway on Seymour’s west side.

The Sullivan-Gilpins have been showing horses for three years, but the show was the first time they competed in a world horse show.

Between July 7 and 17, the family camped at the living quarters at the show. Gilpin said the show has a very friendly atmosphere, and it was common for people to have a cookout with one another while camping.

When traveling, they take three horses and four dogs with them. The dogs travel with the humans inside their truck while it pulls a 40-foot-long horse trailer.

The dogs are included when traveling because they’re considered family, Gilpin said. One dog is deaf, and the family communicates with it by signing.

Nevaeh said competing was nerve-racking, but she loved going to the show to see other friends her family has met through going to horse shows.

Keagan said his favorite part of going to horse competitions is getting out and seeing friends.

Both attend Jennings County High School, where Nevaeh is a part of FFA and the school’s choir program. Keagan has an interest in football outside of showing and taking care of horses.

Their horses are a part of the halter horse class, meaning they are only used for showmanship. In competition, the horses are judged on their beauty.

Leading up to a show, it’s all about feeding, grooming and conditioning horses, Sullivan said.

When homework and chores are done, Nevaeh said she tries practicing her showmanship whenever she can.

The family’s interest in horses starts with Sullivan, who said he has had horses since he was a teenager.

At their farm, called Cobblestone Farm, they have 10 horses, including one stallion.

Through March and April 2020 when Indiana was under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three foals, including Skyelar, were born on their farm, and everyone was able to experience their births.

Sullivan and Gilpin first met their adopted children in 2017, a year before they were taken in as foster children by them.

A family member needed help fostering them, so Sullivan and Gilpin stepped in to help, and a strong bond developed.

“I couldn’t stand the fact that they’d go back into the system,” Sullivan said.

Being empty nesters for nine years after their two children moved out was also an inspiration for them to become foster parents.

“We decided ‘Why not?’” Sullivan said. “If not us, who?”

Gilpin said when he asked Nevaeh if she would want to live with him and Sullivan, she thanked him because she wouldn’t have to worry about where she would live.

In June 2020, Nevaeh and Keagan’s adoptions were finalized.

“We want other people to encourage other people to consider the possibilities (of fostering and adopting children). There’s a lot of children in the state of Indiana where their parental rights have been terminated that are ready and waiting for adoption,” Sullivan said.

“We chose to take care of these two children because we love them and want them to be a part of our lives, and they are,” Gilpin said.

When the two kids started living with Sullivan and Gilpin, they first were involved in 4-H and then started working toward larger horse shows, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the horses are taken care of every day and have to be fed no matter what the weather is.

He said teaching his children about horses is good for them because they learn responsibility and how to care of other animals and it keeps them busy.

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