Every little girl, at some point in her childhood, has dreamt of having her own pony. For some, this dream fades as they grow up. For others, however, this passion for horses only gets stronger with age. These are the girls who never get tired of watching Velvet Brown ride to victory in the Grand National and always secretly wish they could ride the black stallion on that deserted island. They all grow up with one motto in life. A woman’s place is on a horse!
The sport of equestrian has been growing in popularity among teenage girls, especially the young elite. Many teens with celebrity parents have been using equestrian to make their own mark in the world. Seventeen-year-old Stella Keitel is one of these girls. With celebrity parents Lorraine Bracco and Harvey Keitel, Stella has found her own limelight on the back of a horse.
When Stella was five, she accompanied her mother on the set of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. When she got to ride some of the movie horses, it was love at first stride and she has been riding ever since! Stella now competes at the national level and trains at Top of the Line Stables in Chestnut Ridge, NY/Montvale, NJ with head trainers Leslie and Joe Sorce, with whom she has grown extremely close. She explains, “Joe and Leslie have not only been my trainers and friends, but have also been my inspiration to never give up.”
It was Leslie and Joe who found Stella her current horse, a beautiful Dutch Warmblood called Bada-Bing, named by Bracco, of course, after that infamous club in The Sopranos. Stella and Bada Bing, or “Otto” as he is called in the barn, had a rough start but after a lot of hard work and frequent training, they turned out to be a great pair. They began showing together last summer in the Small Junior Hunter Division and placed in both the Lake Placid and Vermont competitions. “Those ribbons, even though they’re not from finals or in outrageously large classes, are the ones I am most proud of because Otto and I went through a lot, and both worked very hard to get them,” said Stella.
Although equestrian is a great way for Stella to do something of her own, being the child of two celebrities can present challenges in the show ring. Leslie Sorce explains that when Stella competes in shows, she sometimes feels additional pressure because everyone knows who she is and may be expecting more from her. In reality though, everyone in this sport is in the same situation. Horses tend to put everyone on a level playing ground. No matter who you are, there is always the chance of an embarrassing spill or a bad round. In horse shows, the judges don’t look at the rider’s last name, but how well the horse and rider complete the task at hand. “She has to build herself in the ring, and build a name for herself,” says Leslie.
Stella’s parents are very supportive of her riding career. “My mom, Lorraine Bracco, and dad Harvey Keitel, have also been there for me. My mother religiously attends my shows and is most definitely my biggest fan,” says Stella.
This year, Stella began to show Otto in the hunter ring in April. She is hoping for solid, consistent rides that will help her and Otto establish a name for themselves. Placing, however, is not her main objective. She explains, “I like to focus on my horses and whether I’m doing all I can to ride them to my full ability, which I never think I am!”
Stella Keitel is not the only famous name to be heard in the show ring. Many other stars’ daughters have been in the saddle from an early age. Bruce Springsteen’s daughter, Jessica Rae, Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter, Stephanie, Glen Close’s daughter, Annie Starke, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s daughter, Georgina, all have a passion for riding horses!
From July 8 to August 22, Top of the Line Stables is offering a Summer Day Camp for those as crazy about horses as Stella! For more information on the summer programs, go to
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