September 25, 2013 Edition

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Jackson on fast track
to horse show success

John Bland

In just the span of a few months, 15-year-old Maggie Jackson of Walnut Ridge has made her mark in the world of show horse competition. A sophomore at WRHS, Maggie is the daughter of Steve and Paula Jackson.

Despite getting a late start this year, Maggie was still able to qualify for two events at the State Horse Show held Labor Day weekend in Little Rock. She joined several other more experienced Lawrence County riders, who qualified and performed well.

In the State Show, Maggie qualified for Queens class and Youth Western Pleasure and made it to the finals in Queens and finished in the top 10 in Youth Western Pleasure, for ages 14-18.

Maggie has been training under Scott and Tammy Sherman of Walnut Ridge, who board Maggie's horses at their barn. Scott trains horses, while Tammy helps coach.

"I've never seen a child who is so dedicated to it as she is," said Tammy. While some teenagers only want to ride their horses and skip the hard work of caring for the horses, Maggie would live at the barn if she could," Tammy said. "She does have such a love for it."

Maggie said, "I just love horses. I've always liked them."

Paula confirmed Maggie's dedication to her horses and horse showing. "She has come such a long way in such a short period of time. She has an amazing talent and passion for this sport, and our whole family loves watching her perform.

"She works five to six hours daily with these horses. During summer break, she worked much longer hours," Paula said. "But there is no other place Maggie would rather be."

Those who know the Jackson family would not be surprised at Maggie's prowess in horse showing, as previous generations of the Jackson family have also excelled in this hobby. Her great-aunt, the late Martha Jackson Crank, showed horses for many years and was very successful, according to Maggie's mother, Paula. "From the stories I have heard, she had an amazing passion as well. Must be in Maggie's 'blood.'"

While Maggie's family had trail-riding horses in the past, it had been Maggie's dream to ride show horses, Tammy explained. The Shermans helped Maggie find a horse to try out and then one to purchase. She started showing in June, missing about three earlier horse shows in the season, which started in May.

"She is a great little rider," Tammy said.

Maggie has been riding in the Northeast Arkansas Horse Show Association, which is one of 12 associations in Arkansas. The top five finishers for events in each regional association qualify for state. Tammy explained that 40 to 60 riders usually compete in each event at state.

Two weeks after the State Horse Show, Maggie competed in the Show of Champions in Melbourne. At this event, she won both the Queens class and the Youth Western Pleasure, ages 14-18.

Maggie now has a pole and barrel horse and is working to compete in that competition. "She progressing well on it," Tammy said.

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