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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spots before their eyes

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jessica Lawwell, 6, has been showing horses since she was 3. This year, she'll show in classes for ages 11 and under.
(Submitted photo)
From the time Beth Lawwell was a baby, horses have been a part of her everyday life -- and that tradition, passion and love for the breed is being passed down to her children. Her husband Josh and their two children, Jessica, 6, and Johnathan, 2, are horse crazy about spots.

"Altogether we have about 16, I think," said Beth, who works full-time at Heritage Medical Center. "We spend every day at the barn. Jessie gets home from school at 2:30, everyone changes and we go out to the barn."

Family tradition

Beth is the daughter of walking horse trainer Ronal Young. Over the years, Ronal has trained Spotted Saddle horses as well, a breed in which Beth and her family are deeply involved. Ronal is best known in the Spotted horse business for a horse named Jesse James.

The Fall Champions for the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (SSHBEA) begins Wednesday, and this year Beth's little girl is showing in lead line (Beth is sitting out the competition due to a knee injury).

"My 6-year-old daughter has been showing since she was 3, and I grew up showing walking horses ... but we always trail rode Spotted Saddle horses. I started showing at age 3. My daddy and granddaddy both train -- so I decided not to be a trainer," she laughed. "It's all I've ever known."


Beth admits there are a lot of similarities between her saddle horses and walking horses -- many trainers crossbreed to get the best of both breeds -- but there are many differences, too. One big difference is that Spotted horses are not shown with padded shoes (performances classes).

The thing about Spotted Saddle horses that's so enjoyable to the Lawwells is their versatility.

"We can go trail riding with them one weekend, then camping the next, and we love the laid back aspect of SSHBEA," Beth said, explaining the show aspect of the breed is also great fun. "My son even goes trail riding with us. He sits right in front of me. My kids are both little social bug; they love it all."

Years ago, Beth even met husband trail riding, and since then, he's also become fully immersed in the breed.

True winners

"We're all ate up with it," she said. "We are in it seven days a week."

Beth Lawwell, left, is the daughter of horse trainer Ronal Young.
(Submitted photo)
So much so, that in 2009, Josh Lawwell won the Model Stallion class with Riptide Rush, a horse owned by Kay and Lee Adcock of Shelbyvile.

That same year, Beth won the SSHBEA World Championship in the 2-year-old amateur division with a horse named Hurricane Dickie. Their daughter topped the great year off with a reserve world championship in leadline.

"That was a great year," laughed Beth.

Helping hand

Several of the Lawwells' Spotted Saddle horses are trained by Jennifer Broadhurst. Beth breaks some of Jennifer's babies, and then Jennifer in turn provides finishing touches on the Lawwells' show string.

In 2007, Jennifer showed the Lawwells' Fancy Twist to one of SSHBEA's Model Mare Championship. She's also campaigned their horses Ritz Colored Me, Days of Thunder and Dancin In Dallas (showing this ear in the Senior Model Mare class) to many blue ribbon rides.

Of course in addition to the horses Jennifer will be showing for the family, the biggest focus of the 4-day event will be Jessica. She'll be showing in the 11 and Under Trail Pleasure with Spotlight at the Ritz, and the 11 and Under Equitation (a division that judges the rider's form).

Support crew

Liz Gassaway instructs Jessica on her form, which requires several lessons a week. This is all on top of Pee Wee rodeo competition, which Jessica has also taken a liking to.

"Thank God Liz and I are friends and she just lives down the road," laughed Beth. "She even comes to the house and picks her up for me sometimes."

Also proudly cheering in the stands will be Judy Young (step grandmother), Jeannie Young (grandmother) and Tommy and Peggy Lawwell (grandparents).Beth Lawwell, left, is the daughter of horse trainer Ronal Young.

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