Making Horse Shows Fun for Kids

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AQHAHow to help youth succeed in the horse-showing ring while having a great time.

AQHA Professional Horseman Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi, makes sure that showing is both fun and educational for youth. He sees to it that his youth riders get the most out of their horse show experiences, because he believes firmly in the benefits of youth showing. It builds character, confidence, leadership, responsibility, persistence and countless other life skills. Tom offers some tips on how to help kids succeed in their show ring endeavors.

Find the Right Horse

For kids to have fun in the show ring, they’ve got to have the right teammate, and they’ve got to start with classes they’re interested in, Tom says. “I always give them the option to do what they want, and I try to find a horse for it,” he says. “We try to buy horses that have a foundation that we can shape.” He looks for horses with talent, gentle dispositions and willingness to tolerate young riders. “The toughest part is finding broke horses that the kids’ll like, and that the parents and I want to have around,” he says. “Their personalities must click, or you’re wasting time and money.”

Tom often suggests older, all-around horses for beginning riders.

“The kids’ll stay in the business longer if parents worry more about buying a nice horse that’s fun to ride and show, rather than one that’s going to win every time,” he says. “It’s a problem when parents buy an expensive horse the kids aren’t ready for and can’t get along with. There’s too much pressure because of what the horse cost, and they’ll burn out sooner.”

Tom McBeath resides in Union, MS, where he owns and operates McBeath Farms, a training facility that specializes in youth and amateurs. Tom has coached and trained multiple world and Congress champions. He is very active in the state affiliate, MS Quarter Horse Association, where he has served as a 2 time past president. As an AQHA director, Tom serves on the youth committee and on the Affiliate Council as the Region 9 Representative.

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