Keeneland Magazine

WINTER 2014

Keeneland, Investing in Racing's Future since 1936.

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54 WINTER 2014 K KEENELAND.COM hand crafted The McKinney children ended up becoming legends in the ski world. Tamara McKinney was a three-time Olym- pian (1980, 1984, and 1988), held 18 individual World Cup wins, and in 1983 was the frst American woman to win the overall World Cup title. Steve McKinney was a world-class speed skier who was the frst person to break the 200 km/h (124 mph) barrier. Between 1974 and 1987, he set seven world speed skiing records. It was in the ski world that Ouisha frst started making and marketing her wool hats and headbands. But, even- tually, Kentucky called Ouisha and her sister Laura back. Laura now runs Stony Point Thoroughbred Farm, and the sisters work together to raise and show young jump- ers. Laura also does boarding and foaling and sales prep for yearlings and broodmares. "I have a project horse right now that I'm working on teaching jumping," Ouisha McKinney said. "I'm over at the farm every day, helping out. There are a lot of jobs that can't be done without both of us working together. And, truth be told, I'd go crazy in about two days if I only did my art all day long. I have to have that outside exercise. I need that balance." In July the sister team enjoyed their frst grade I victory as breeders when their horse Tom's Tribute won the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar. Ouisha McKinney helped buy Tom's Tribute's granddam On Hand when she was a yearling. McKinney was hopeful Tom's Tribute would run in the Breeders' Cup World Championships Oct. 31-Nov. 1. "That for us, is like a triple home run," she said. Crafted with care When Ouisha McKinney frst started selling her wool and chenille hats and wool headbands, she set up at a premier ski trade show and started talking to a nearby vendor. "He said they had received 150,000 orders (for a dozen hats) that weekend, and I remember thinking, 'I have no desire to do that. Absolutely none.' Numbers don't impress me. I want to know my customers and have some sort of personal connection with them. I enjoy knowing that what I'm making for them will touch some- thing in their lives or in their hearts," she said. Often customers will send heartfelt thank-you notes to tell her how much her creations mean to them. "One lady wrote that her coffee just tastes better in my mug. Another customer wrote to say that she had been going through a tough time, but looking at my mug each morning [with a picture of her dog] was helping to put a smile on her face every day," McKinney said. "That's what I'm all about — bringing a smile to people's McKinney and assistant Della Neidig hand-paint ceramic bowls in a studio fashioned from a former sunroom. The artist typically paints three to four hours a day, leaving her time to work on her farm. something everyone can enjoy. Who doesn't need a mug for their coffee in the morning? And, having one with a hand-painted portrait of your dog on there just makes it even more special." A family of horse enthusiasts McKinney frst moved to Kentucky from her native Maryland in 1962, when she was just 10, after her stepfather, Hall of Fame steeplechase jockey Rigan McKinney, purchased Lexington's Stony Point Farm. "My stepfather met my mother in Maryland when she was riding for him, and he convinced her to move. He told us, 'If you build cars, you live in Detroit, and if you raise horses, you live in Kentucky,' " McKinney said. Still, McKinney's mother, Frances, wasn't sold on Kentucky's gray winters, and she took the family's eight children — including Ouisha and her sisters, Laura and Tamara, and their brother, Steve — to live near Reno, Nev., where the children all grew up skiing competitively. Their stepfather held down the farm in Kentucky, and Ouisha grew up splitting her time between Lexington and the mountains. "It was wonderful," said McKinney, who was primarily homeschooled but also attended Sayre. "I got to have both experiences."

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