by Mark McGee

Confidence. Concentration. Control. Consistency. Competitiveness. Character.

Whenever anyone talks about the riding ability of Khloe McSwain those “C” words are part of the conversation. Whether riding in the ring on a Tennessee Walking Horse or competing in show jumping events, Khloe is always centered on the challenge of competition.

At 14 years of age, Khloe, an eighth grade student at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, has been honored with the Youth Dedication for the 2023 Year in Walking Horses. Back to reclaim their 2022 title of Owner-Amateur Youth Show Pleasure World Grand Champion, Khloe and Annie’s Lined With Cash earned the 2023 spotlight ride with four of five first place votes at the 85th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. She also placed second in the Owner-Amateur Youth 12-14 Mares & Geldings class with The Dixie Label.

In seven shows in 2023, she collected three blues, three reserves and one third.

However, her most impressive accomplishment at the Celebration may have been her performance in Section A of the Amateur Three-Year-Old Stallions class riding In D’s Honor for her father Keith McSwain and grandfather Dan McSwain. The stallion is named for Dan.

Khloe rode In D’s Honor two times at Carl Edwards & Sons Stables in Dawson, Georgia, before making her debut with the stallion at the Celebration.

It was only the second show ring appearance for the In D’s Honor after making his debut with Ronnie Spears in the saddle at Fayetteville earlier in the summer.

“I have never been more in awe of Khloe than what she did this past year when she showed in the Amateur Three-Year-Old class,” her trainer Gary Edwards said. “He was green. He has a big motor. He wasn’t ring wise.”

Despite the lack of experience for both the horse and rider as a team, Khloe tied second in the class with two first place votes.

“I tell you what; she kept him under control just like a pro,” Gary said. “I thought she had a chance to win the class.

“She made a flawless ride. That horse didn’t have a clue what it was doing in the show ring. She got him through it like he was a ring wise eight-year-old gelding. It was amazing.”

Originally, Khloe’s sister Maisie McSwain Bauer was supposed to ride In D’s Honor, but she had a family commitment that prevented her from showing in the preliminary class. Keith had originally planned to fill in.

“I went down to the Edwards and rode In D’s Honor,” Keith said. “I had not shown since 2007, but I could have done it. But, Gary said he wanted to put his best rider on the horse and guess who that was? That was Khloe.

“Gary said `you can do this, but our best chance is to put Khloe on’. I don’t mind telling you he is a stallion with a lot of vinegar in him. She rode the hound out of that horse. You look at the tape of the class and it is just incredible. It will make your hair stand up.”

Gary admits he had his doubts despite his confidence in Khloe.

“I told Keith, we are going to do this, bu we are looking for a wreck,” Gary said.” I knew Khloe could handle it, but I wasn’t sure the horse could.”


It is as if God looked down on Khloe when she was in her mother Kelley Aymett-Weaver’s womb, and declared she was going to grow up to be an accomplished equestrian.

When asked if she is a natural, Khloe humble to a fault, shyly answers, “I don’t know. I have just always loved being around horses.”

Her humbleness is one part of her strong character.

“Khloe is humble,” Keith said. “I have asked her a couple of times where she thinks she got her talent from. She really doesn’t like to talk about it.

“I am very proud of the way she carries herself. I don’t want a little girl out there who thinks she should always win. When riders win, she congratulates them. She understands she is not going to win every time she goes into the ring. I am proud of her inside and out with how she handles herself.”

Kelley is equally impressed with her daughter’s strong character and, like Keith, she wants Khloe to enjoy what she is doing whether she wins or not.

“I’m very proud of Khloe,” Kelley said. “She has a big heart. She can put herself in other people’s shoes. She is very well rounded.

“Daddy (World Grand Champion trainer Steve Aymett) would put me in the ring and tell me to have fun. We all want her to win, but at the end of the day, I want her to have fun. It is not about winning every time you go in the ring.”

Khloe is reserved by nature, and doesn’t show a lot of emotion whether she wins a blue ribbon or not.

“If she goes in there and does her best, you are not going to see her poking her lips out if she doesn’t win,” Gary said. “She never says one thing except she only hopes she rode the way everybody thought she should.

“You never hear her fuss or quibble about anything. That is a good trait.”

Khloe may not want to talk about the origins of her riding skills, but Gary has no doubt where her talent comes from.

“Khloe has a God-given talent and she uses it to perfection,” Gary said. “She is a natural, natural rider. You can just mention what she might need to do and she listens and does it. She learns so quickly. She takes instruction so well.

“She is a good kid first. But, the whole point of it is Khloe is a natural born horse lady. She sits so perfectly on a horse. She never gets out of sorts. Everything she does is just as fluid and as natural as it can be.”

The first Tennessee Walking Horse Khloe ever sat on was Honors, the 2016 World Grand Champion at the Celebration with Larry Edwards aboard for Keith and Dan McSwain. Honors is the sire of three-time and reigning World Grand Champion Justified Honors, and stands at the Edwards Stables.

Khloe’s first experience in the show ring was riding The American General when she won first place in the Youth 11 & Under class at the Southern Championships in Conyers, Georgia, in 2018.

When she was getting ready for her show ring debut, Gary was immediately impressed with Khloe’s skills.

“I told Keith and his dad, Dan, when I first saw Maisie ride that `ya’ll have got something right here’ and that they had no idea what this kid was going to do in her time,” Gary recalled. “That is exactly the way I felt about Khloe the first time I saw her ride.

“I told Keith that not only did you have one great rider, but you have another one just like her in Khloe.”

Gary says riders with Khloe’s talent are generational. He puts her in a category with Maisie, Lisa Baum and Judy Tillett Young.

“I’m telling you, she is going to be big stuff in her time,” Gary said. “She is just hitting the surface of what she is going to do. In the first place, she has nice horses to ride. In the second place, she just has a knack for knowing what to do.

“I’m just eaten up with how she handles a horse and does it so well. You never see her jerk on one or make a bad move. I’m not trying to blow her horn. I am just telling the truth.”

Khloe, like Maisie, got her start in show jumping competitions. Keith admits he wasn’t sure what would happen when Khloe first rode a walker. He need not have worried.

“Khloe knows how to show a horse, not just ride a horse,” Keith said. “She doesn’t get covered up. She knows how not to do that. She knows how to slow down in the curves. She knows how to go for the win.

“That is something she learned very young. She sat at rings when she was two or three years old and watched class after class. And, she learned how to do it by what she saw.”

Khloe also credits her show jumping experiences with helping her know how to show a walking horse.

“I am really good at spacing myself in the ring,” Khloe said. “I always want to get away from people. I am really good in doing that with jumping horses too in knowing how to space myself between jumps.”

While she has a God-given talent, Kelley likes to think Khloe also is the result of strong family genes in terms of her riding ability. Her grandfather, Steve, remembers that from the time Khloe was born all she wanted for Christmas and birthdays was horses. Her brother, Lake, also trains walking horses.

In the grand scheme of things, Khloe had no choice but to pursue a career as a rider. Keith stresses Khloe is never far from a show ring in her mind.

“When she was a little baby girl, two or three years old, she would go around the dining room table like it was a show ring and do a mock show,” Keith said. “She did it with walkers an then she would actually put pillows down and change leads pretending to be jumping horses.

That love for horses and her willingness to work are hallmarks of her career.

“I think it is instinct, “ Keith said. “God has given her a great talent, but she also has had to work for it. She has been on good horses, too.

“But, you have to know how to ride the good ones too. Her instincts were picked up from her genes. She is fun to watch.”


Khloe has been in a show ring riding a Tennessee Walking Horse 38 times in her career, coming out with the win 24 times. Gary has been the one to put her in the show ring each time.

In order to be successful there needs to be a special connection between a rider and a trainer. Such is the case with Khloe and Gary.

“I think Gary has taught me a lot,” Khloe said. “I know when he puts me on a horse I will be able to ride it because he would never set me up for failure.”

Kelley says Gary can do no wrong in Khloe’s eyes. From the very beginning, it has been a mutual admiration society between the two. After her quick success with jumpers, Keith decided it was time for Khloe to follow in Maisie’s show ring career and add Tennessee Walking Horses to her equestrian resume.

“I said let’s take her down to Georgia and see what Gary thinks,” Keith said. “Lo and behold we went down there. Gary brought one horse out, then he brought another horse out, and sure enough she could ride them all. Her start and ability to compete came from Gary.”

Keith knows by watching Khloe’s actions in the ring what Gary is saying in her ear on the radio.

“When Khloe is in the ring, if Gary says to her to go to the rail she goes to the rail,” Keith said. “When he tells her to drop her hands, her hands go down.

“When she goes in every class, Gary tells her we aren’t going to ride too hard the first way, but the last way of the ring we are going to try to win. It is interesting to watch Khloe in the ring.”

Gary feigns credit for Khloe’s success. He praises Keith for being willing to provide her with great horses. He gives kudos to Khloe for her natural skills.

“Keith is helpful because he puts her on nice horses,” Gary said. “‘As far as people teaching Khloe stuff, you can kind of give her a little hint here or there as to what to do. She is the real deal, I’ll just tell you.

“It is hard to teach somebody who knows as much as you know. I am in awe of what Khloe knows.”

It is a family atmosphere around the Edwards Stables, and Khloe is a big part of that family.

“Gary will tell you Khloe is the apple of his eye,” Keith said. “Those are the words he uses.

“Every time I talk to Gary he is interested in what she is doing. It is a great relationship.”

Keith has to fight back a tear or two when talking about how well Khloe and Gary work together.

“You have to give all of the credit to Gary and the whole Edwards bunch,” Keith said.

“Khloe has come to it and it has been natural, but Gary has put his heart and soul into both Khloe and Maisie.

“I can get emotional about it. It has been amazing.”

Paige, Gary’s wife, refers to Khloe as one of the best juvenile riders she has ever seen. Again, Gary deflects any acclaim.

“We are mighty proud of Khloe’s accomplishments,” Gary said. “As far as us taking credit for anything she does, we don’t even try to do that.

“She is some kind of rider. I am thankful to be associated with her.”


It is true Khloe has a lifelong love of horses, but the bond she has with Annie’s Lined With Cash is the strongest one.

“Annie and I have a real connection,” Khloe said of her gray mare. “We just clicked.”

The American General was the first horse Khloe rode in walking horse shows, but it was more of a family horse.

“My Dad showed The American General,” Keith said. “Maisie showed him. I showed that horse, and then Khloe showed that horse. Khloe never really thought about The American General as her horse.“

Gary searched for a horse for Khloe and found Annie’s Lined With Cash. The chemistry between horse and rider was an instant one.

“Annie is by far her favorite horse,” Keith said. “That is her forever horse.

“She has The Dixie Label and Dixie Label is a great horse… a multi-grand champion. But, Annie is her favorite horse of all time.”

Keith recalls how happy Khloe was when he told her about her new horse.

“I could see the feeling she had on her face,” Keith said.” A lot of horses might come and go, but she said ‘please, Daddy, don’t ever let Annie go’.

“Annie will never go. We have 11 retired horses at our farm. When Annie retires she will be right there with them.”

Khloe is not scared of anything in terms of horses, but her no fear approach was tested the first time she rode Annie in the Celebration in 2019.

“I will never forget the first time they went down the chute at the Celebration,” Keith said. “Slim (Moore) was trying to hold her and the horse spun around on her.”

It was not the first time “Slim” Moore had helped a McSwain in a tough situation. An employee of Carl Edwards & Sons Stables for 55 years, he once caught Maisie in mid-air when she first started riding at age seven.

“Khloe’s eyes got big as saucers,” Keith said. “I said, `Khloe you take ahold of her and get her in that ring’. She looked at me and got her in the ring. I don’t know of many juvenile riders who could handle a horse like that. In the beginning I’m not sure she wasn’t scared.”

Kelley pointed out it can sometimes take four people to hold Annie while Gary or Slim get ready to warm her up. But, once Khloe is in the saddle, the mare calms down. Gary admits he would be hesitant to let just any rider take Annie for a trip around the ring at the stables.

“There aren’t many kids who can ride Annie,” Gary said. “We have several people come to the barn to ride horses, but I never let anyone ride Annie. She is a ball of fire. I don’t want anybody to get hurt.

“But, when I put Khloe on her it is just like perfection. We have had her five years. They tied her third in a one-night show this past year.

That is her only third in five years. The rest are firsts and seconds.”

The two only get to ride together three or four times a year, but their bond stays strong.

“I think Annie loves her, and she loves Annie,” Kelley said. “When she sees Khloe she knows exactly who it is. I hate they aren’t able to get together more often.”

A portrait of Khloe and Annie is the first thing that draws your attention when a guest walks in Kelley’s front door, more evidence of the special bond between them.

“Every time Annie shows, no matter where it is, she does not quit,” Kelley said. “She gets better and better throughout the class.

“She loves being in the ring. She just comes alive when she is in there. Annie has personality.”

The Dixie Label, a gray gelding, is an equally important component of Khloe’s success.

“Dixie Label is a gentle giant,” Khloe said.

“He is very sweet and always tries his hardest.

“His size was intimidating at first. But, I grew to love and trust him.”

As Steve pointed out, Khloe’s love of horses started almost right after her birth and has never waned. She loves feeding treats to her horses and the Edwards’ barn is a perfect place for her.

Gary and his brother Larry are unlike many trainers. They buy carrots by the 50- pound bag and peppermints for treats for the horses in the barn. Some trainers discount the practice of providing treats as a detriment to a horse’s performance, but not the Edwards.

“Khloe loves her horses,” Gary said. “She feeds them peppermints, talks to them and walks into the stall and rubs them.

“You see kids who go to the barn and you get the horse ready. They get on and ride, get off and hand you the reins and drive off.”

But not Khloe. The barn is a second home.

“Khloe is a horse woman,” Gary said. “She loves to talk with them. She enjoys being around them.”

Both Khloe and Maisie have competed for their share of blue ribbons, but Keith also stresses the love of horses drives them more than awards.

“Khloe would rather give the horses treats than to ride them,” Keith said. “She is constantly feeding the walkers. She sits with them. I have seen both of the girls lay down in the stall and read while spending time with them.

“I like blue ribbons. The girls compete to ride for blue ribbons. But, the blue ribbons are not why they are there. They are competitors, but they love just being with the horses. I am really proud of that. Both of them have taught me it isn’t about the blue ribbons, but taking care of the horses.”


Many juvenile walking horse riders start in lead line classes, but Khloe’s first lead line experience was on a show jumping course starting at Brownland Farms in Franklin, Tennessee.

“I remember Keith and I went to Brownland Farms when Khloe was probably three, maybe four,” Kelley said. “Keith said, ‘we need to get her a jumping pony’.

“We went out in the field and there was Angelica. I said she would just be perfect. She’s beautiful. I wonder how much they want for her?”

When they heard the price, plans changed, but only slightly.

“I picked her out, but we didn’t buy her,” Kelley said. “Khloe wound up showing her in a lead line class that year.

“I thought I knew about horses, but I am in over my head with the jumpers. It scares me to death. Every time she jumps it takes my breath away.”

Keith bought a pony named Comet for Khloe. Their first time together was less than perfect. Maisie helped Khloe get used to the pony.

“Khloe got on Comet in Atlanta,” Keith said. “There were some kids playing in our barn and a drone flew over Comet. Khloe went left and the horse went right.

“Those kind of things can kind of mess you up as a kid. Maisie got her back on. Maisie was real good working with her. She took her slow.”

Keith took Khloe and Comet to Franklin to work with David Jennings, a Grand Prix rider who also trained Maisie.

“David said. ‘I will give her a lesson’. Khloe was natural. She became pretty good with a little jumping horse.”

Khloe has moved up the ranks of show jumping and has won a number of awards in competitions across the country. In 2022, she won the Pennsylvania National Indoors Childrens Hunter Finals Stake. The top 75 riders, age 17 and under, in the country are invited to compete at this show.

Her show jumping trainer is Macy Wesson. Keith travels about 25 weeks a year with Khloe on the show jumping circuit with stops in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Florida and Franklin, among other stops. He also traveled around the country with Maisie.

“It has been an honor to be able to go with both of them,” Keith said. “What a privilege to travel with Maisie and then travel with Khloe.”

Along the way, Khloe has been able to use her jumping experience to boost her performances at Tennessee Walking Horse shows.

“Even though they are very different, they both give me good skills to use in the ring,”

Khloe said. “I think jumping helps me to have a better feel for riding walking horses.”

Gary agrees with Khloe. When she enters the show ring she is in a zone, a skill also very necessary to navigate a show jumping course.

“The jumping stuff she does I think has helped her be more ring wise,” Gary said. “She knows when to make a move and when to lay back.

“Do what you need to when you need to do it and it pays off. That concentration level is so high when they are jumping those horses.”

Whether riding jumpers or walkers, Khloe has won her share of awards. The dedication in

“The Year in Walking Horses” is an exciting addition to her honors.

“I never expected Khloe to get this,” Keith said. “I am very proud of her.

“I just want everyone to know that without Gary there are no McSwains in the horse industry, and there is no Khloe in the show ring.”