November 25, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Animal lover and volunteer Kay Brown isn’t one to shy away from hard work. Her busy life includes her job of working with disadvantaged teens, her yoga classes, her volunteer hours for the Nebraska Humane Society, and her horses.

Brown loves all animals, but one look around her rural Omaha home and visitors know which animal reigns supreme in her heart—the majestic horse. Of course.

“Yeah it doesn’t take long to know this lady loves horses,” Brown says referring to her living room. A quick glance around and you see horse pictures, horse lamps, horse statues, a horse calendar… oh, and by the front door is the obligatory horse riding equipment. Yes, Kay Brown is serious about her horses. She currently has two horses. One is hers and the other is a rescue horse that she is working to rehabilitate.

Brown first caught the horse bug when she was a young girl growing up on a farm outside of Flandreau, S.D. An older sister had a horse and Brown first started helping out and doing chores to care for the animal. It was then that she developed her work ethic.

“Being the youngest, I pretty much got all the jobs at the bottom of the rung,” she said.

Nowadays, Brown is used to being tapped to do, well, just about anything.

Early on at the first International Omaha, a world-class, worldwide horse jumping competition held each year at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, Brown became the go-to person for those in need.

“Kay can you…” was heard early and often there. Brown takes it all in stride and has the rare yet highly sought gift of always keeping her cool. Her jobs at the International have included giving tours to school kids and groups. She loves dealing with all the youngsters, especially the ones whose attention spans tend to drift. “I’m right there with them. I think they’re great,” she said of some of the groups.

Other times she’s playing chauffeur, taking out-of-towners around the city during their stay. Or she’ll just make the rounds to the different stalls, checking to see what the riders and their crews might need, fulfilling any last-minute requests for items that may have been forgotten or misplaced.

“It’s all different but I love it all,” she says. “It’s pretty much go, go for four days,
24 hours.”

And then there’s the job Brown often finds herself doing that isn’t for the sensitive of stomach or smell. With a sturdy “muck rake” Brown gets down and dirty and starts to shovel the…horse doo-doo.

“There’s a lot of it,” she says. “A single horse can produce 50 pounds a day.”

It’s a job that not everyone would be able to tackle with aplomb, but Brown does.

“I come from a family where you just help people,” Brown says with enthusiasm.

All the help and work also have a side benefit for the diminutive Brown. She stays in fantastic shape. A former fitness instructor and Tai Chi practitioner, Brown is becoming more “seasoned” rather than aging. Working with horses, doing chores, Brown isn’t going soft.

Don’t believe her? She’ll tell you to poke a finger at her rock-hard obliques.

“That’s from a lot of raking, a lot of throwing hay,” she says, explaining how she stays so fit. “It’s cross fit on the farm.”.

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