By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – Although the temperature was in the upper 90s, competitors weren’t fazed at the June 20 horse show at the Multi-purpose Building in Coffeeville. Horse enthusiasts had traveled from across the north half of Mississippi, jockeying for points in almost a dozen different events sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Western Horse Show Association.
Tri-Lakes is one of a dozen Mississippi Horse Show Associations, but has earned a reputation as offering a competitive field for horse enthusiasts working toward the state finals or 4Hers preparing for the district show which was held last weekend in Batesville.
The season for Tri-Lakes kicks off in March and continues through August 8, with state competition scheduled September 10 – 13.
“The state show is one of the biggest horse shows in the southeast,” reports Chuck Browning, who is serving his first year as president of the Mississippi Horse Show Association. Browning is also a member of Tri-Lakes and had several family members competing in the June 20 show.
“We are all working hard to qualify for the state show,” Browning continues. “That show lasts for four full days, it is a monster.”
While that state show is still several months away, Tri-Lakes has three horse shows remaining and the point spread is tight. Tri-Lakes horse always sends numerous entries for the state horse show, according to Yalobusha County Extension Director Steve Cummings, who provides behind-the-scenes organization for the Tri-Lakes competition.
“This show has a good reputation, there is a lot of competition,” Cummings said, adding that the facility is a big plus.
Browning is also quick to brag on the county-owned facility. “It is a great facility, it provides easy access, is user friendly and the rent is great,” Browning reports.
It is not all about competition, the contestants also learn sportsmanship, responsibility and have fun, Cummings adds.
“This is a great show,” agrees Judy Reed, a regular competitor who travels from southern Panola County to compete, along with her eight year-old daughter, Mary Gracen. “It is a family atmosphere and the people are very helpful.”
Reed has only been around in recent years, but some of the contestants date back a generation. Now working in a supportive mom role, Lisa Byford recalls her days showing horses as a 4-H student under the direction of Cummings.
“Back then it was stock trailers and cable fences,” Byford reports.
Now her daughter, Casey, is a regular 4-H competitor and one of almost dozens of competitors at the June 20th event, competing in a variety of classes including halter, western, gaited, barrels, pole bending, quads and English event.
In each event, there are age groups which include classifications for 18 and older, 13- 17 and 12 and under. Halter classes also offer competition for six-and-under or nine-and-under, depending on the event.
The timed events, which include barrels, pole-bending and quads are scheduled last and the classes have been so large that shows have lasted until 4 a.m. Sunday morning, according to Cummings.
“This is good family entertainment and there is no charge to attend,” Cummings reminded. The next show is scheduled July 17 in Coffeeville, so grab your hats and come on out.