Rider Spotlight: Mackenzie Moran

Sep 24, 2022 - 3:31 PM

Meet our next TIEC Rider Spotlight, Mackenzie ‘Kenzie’ Moran. At only 22 years old Kenzie works as the barn manager for local 4* event trainer and rider John Michael “JM” Durr at Durr Eventing. She is also known for her TikTok videos under the name @kenzie.eventing, which boasts over 15k followers, and where she shows her life working in the barn, gives grooming advice to followers, and does product reviews. 

Kenzie has both competed and groomed during many TIEC shows, including Hunter/Jumper, Eventing, and Dressage competitions. She currently competes her trainer’s former 2* horse, SL Belly, in the 1.0m Jumpers and Dressage with the goals to move up to the 1.20m divisions and to get her bronze medal in Dressage. 

Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Moran

How did you get into riding?

My grandpa had horses when I was younger, and I would always beg him to let me ride his horses.  Eventually, my mom decided that she didn’t want to have to drive me all the way out there, so she started letting me take lessons at a local lesson barn. And it just went on from there!

How did you get start working for Durr Eventing?

I’ve been working for JM for about two years now. I made a Facebook post that I was looking for a working student position, because where I’m from in Texas, there’s really not that much quality training for Eventing, and I wanted to explore a little bit. During this time, COVID was also happening, and I also couldn’t really do college the way that I wanted to. So, I posted what I was looking for, gave my qualifications and said I could travel anywhere. At this time, I had also gotten a free lease on this horse that I could take and I was all excited. My trainer at the time recommended me to JM and we set up a phone call. And two weeks later, I was in North Carolina with my horse.

Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Moran

Tell me about the horse you are competing, SL Belly?

[SL Belly] is a 16 year old Selle Francais mare that we call Bella. My trainer, JM Durr, owns her and he’s being super nice and letting me ride her. He used to event her when she was a little younger, and then when she decided she didn’t want to do the upper level stuff anymore,  he stuck her in a broodmare program where she had a foal. It was too late to breed her for the next year, so he decided why not just see if she wants to event again. We brought her back up a little bit over the course of a year, and she told us she does not want to do Cross-Country anymore. She’s just too careful of a horse. Now we’re just doing Dressage and Jumping, and I have the goal in Dressage to get my bronze medal. We’re currently doing novice level Jumping at 1.0m. Hopefully we’ll get up to the 1.20ms – that’s the goal – but right now we’re not doing anything too crazy. We’re just trying to get to know each other and see what she actually wants to do in her life! 

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is completely different. I show up to the barn at seven o’clock the latest and I start making up the grain. I get everyone fed, bring in and turn out horses, and do all the typical morning things. I’ll have JM’s first horse ready for him when he arrives at the barn. And then after that, if we’re at home, I get into a routine of bathing horses, getting more ready, and repeating the process. I also clean tack, treat any medical needs, and get ready for the next show by doing housekeeping stuff. Then, usually around three o’clock, we’ll start doing evening routines and bring horses in, take horses out, and start feeding.

There’s a lot of little things that happen in the middle of everything as well. At some point during the day I’ll ride, and usually JM gives me a lesson every day – or at least five days a week. If JM is away for a clinic or course designing, I also ride all of his horses, which is usually about 6 a day. And if we’re at shows, it’s pretty much sunup to sundown, getting the horses, making sure they look as good as possible, making sure our area looks as good as possible, and braiding. I try to do some braiding on the side, just to make a little bit more money, but every day is completely different.

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Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Moran

What’s your go-to grooming product?

My absolute favorite product to use every single day would definitely have to be the Pink Stuff. It’s the hair moisturizer stuff that is my all time favorite go-to for everything.

Who is your favorite horse to take care of?

Well, Bella, just because she’s mine and I love her. But of JM’s horses, if we’re not being biased, it would be Stanley, whose registered name is Blue Rodeo. He’s an Advanced horse and I’ve gotten to watch JM bring him from Preliminary all the way to Advanced. I just love that horse. He’s the most quirky thing you’ll ever meet in your entire life. You can’t clip him. We used to not be able to pull his mane or bridle path, but I have gotten him to the point where I can. We have gotten to know each other very well over the years. He’s just my favorite. He’s so sweet, and once you bring out his personality and he starts to trust you he’s just hands down the sweetest horse, and the most fun to be around in the barn. He’s definitely my favorite.

What advice would you give young riders looking to work in this industry?

Don’t be afraid to take risks; that would be my best advice. It’s really easy to get caught up in being scared of new things, being scared of people just because they’ve done 5* or they have a big name, but most people are really nice. Most people in the event world also understand what it’s like to be young and coming up the levels, or trying to come up the levels without access to funds. Many people are willing to help young riders that are ambitious and want to learn. Don’t be afraid to take risks. If that risk involves traveling across the country to become a working student, just because you feel like it’s right, do it. You’re never going to get anywhere by staying the same.

What does TIEC mean to you?

When I was younger, I remember I would get to see all of my friends come show at [TIEC] and I thought it was the most beautiful place ever, just by seeing their pictures on Instagram. Now [TIEC] is basically like home to me. It’s so cool. There are so many amenities: you can go and get yourself a Starbucks coffee, eat a nice dinner at Legends Grille, or you can go eat classic American food at Roger’s Diner. There’s the beautiful Cross-Country course – we love using the “WEG Hill” for our gallops. The barns are absolutely beautiful. And there are so many things to do and so many people there all the time. It’s a very good facility to be close to, and I love it.

Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Moran
Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Moran

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I want to thank JM, as he is the absolute best. I’ve worked for a bunch of people in the industry, and some have taken advantage of my work ethic and ambition just so that they can get their stalls cleaned or their tack cleaned. He’s been the absolute best person to work for, because he genuinely cares about me as a person and wants to see me succeed. I don’t think that’s something that you can really put a price on, with a boss or a trainer. He genuinely cares about his people, and that’s something for which I can’t express my gratitude enough.


Thanks for chatting with us, Kenzie! We look forward to seeing you back at TIEC, from the barns to the competition rings, soon.  

Do you know a  talented groom who should be featured next? Let us know! 

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