Hometown: New York, New York
Growing up, Lillie Keenan played almost every sport and a lot of instruments, but had a hard time finding something that she truly loved to do. After months of prodding her mother, who had ridden as a kid, Keenan got on a pony when she was six years old and she hasn’t looked back since. She began training at the age of seven with famed trainer Andre Dignelli, with whom she trained for 12 years. During that time she earned numerous accolades and equestrian titles in the pony, hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions, and has continued her winning ways in the Grand Prix ring against the world’s top horses and riders. Her talent, focus, and determination have made her a role model for young riders across the nation.
Keenan’s bigger titles started at the 2010 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) where she won the Equitation Classic. The following year she won the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals and took fifth place in the 2011 USET Talent Search East. An excellent performance aboard “Vanhattan” at the 2012 North American Junior and Rider Championships secured Keenan a Team Gold medal and individual fifth place. She went on to win the 2012 North American Equitation Championship and was Reserve Champion in both the USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final and ASPCA Maclay Final.
2013 was a massive year for Keenan. She won both the Individual and Team Gold medals at the North American Young Rider Championships with “Londinium” and then clinched the two most prestigious junior equitation titles in the country – the USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final and Maclay Final – a feat that few riders have achieved. She also made her debut in internationally-rated jumping classes, earning top-ten placings at the Hampton Classic, WIHS, and National Horse Show. Keenan was also crowned Grand Junior Hunter Champion at the Devon Horse Show and Reserve Champion at the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championships, so it was no surprise that she was awarded the 2013 Junior Equestrian of the Year by the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF).
In 2014, Keenan began proving herself as a contender in the grand prix ring. At the Hampton Classic, she and “Balance” took second place in the $20,000 Hampton Classic Jumper Challenge and third place in the $40,000 Longines Cup. At the National Horse Show, Keenan took fifth place in the $250,000 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix World Cup qualifier and Keenan was awarded with the show’s Sportsmanship Award. She then made her Nations Cup debut competing for Team USA at Ascona, Switzerland, and in Bratislava, Slovakia, where Keenan was the team anchor.
Keenan began her 2015 season with several top placings at WEF before heading to Europe where she competed successfully in the U.K. at the Harthill-Bolesworth CSI2* before taking a third place with “Super Sox” in the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy at the Hickstead CSI4*. She also scored second place in the Chantilly CSI2* in France. The USET awarded Keenan the 2015 Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy which is presented to a young rider in one of the Olympic disciplines who exemplifies both sportsmanship and horsemanship. At just 19 years old, Keenan turned professional while a freshman at Harvard University. That summer she also made the move to train with Ireland’s Olympic Bronze medalist Cian O’Connor at his Karlswood Stables near Frankfurt, Germany, where she took on a new training regime.
Keenan’s work with O’Connor began paying off early in 2017. She took third place in both the $380,000 Douglas Elliman CSI5* Grand Prix at WEF and the HITS Great American $1 Million Grand Prix with “Super Sox.” She was presented with the 2016 Maxine Beard Award by the USEF, which is presented to young riders who show great potential to represent the U.S. in Nations Cup competitions and international championships. She again focused on European competitions, where she took first and third place in the Under 25 classes in La Baule, France and third place in the Sancourt CSI2* Grand Prix. At the Hickstead CSIO5*, Keenan and “Super Sox” took third place in the King George V Gold Cup. She also competed in several Nations Cup competitions, and her clear round aboard “Super Sox” in the Nations Cup Final CSIO5* in Barcelona, Spain, helped Team USA clinch the bronze medal. The pair also took fourth place in the Negrita Cup at the event.
Keenan had a great start to WEF 2017, claiming victory in the $25,000 Hollow Creek Farm U25 Grand Prix with “Be Gentle” and taking second place in the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup CSI5* with “Skyhorse.” She and her long-standing partner “Super Sox” then took fourth place in $216,000 Wanderers Club CSI4* Grand Prix and 12th place in AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Coachella before helping the U.S. Team win the Silver medal in the $100,000 FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO4* at HITS Ocala. In April 2017 Keenan purchased Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s top horse “Fibonacci 17,” the horse on whom she won a Team Bronze medal for Germany at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Following the new addition to her top-string of horses, Keenan began competing on the Global Champions League as a member of the ‘Paris Panthers’ alongside Ireland’s Darragh Kenny, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, and U.S. riders Jack Towell and Jennifer Gates. She was the star of the Wiesbaden CSI4* in June, claiming one victory, two second places, and a third in the Grand Prix with “Fibonacci 17.”