Horses have always been a huge part of Beth Merritt’s life. Beth grew up around horses and has always had a strong love for them. Her grandfather had Tennessee Walking horses and her sister had an Arabian, and Beth rode whatever horses were available to her and showed at local shows. When she turned 18, Beth bought her first horse of her own, a Quarter Horse mare named Skips Colleen. Beth continued to show with her first horse at local shows with her cousin, Debbie Kerr, who also had American Quarter Horses.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Beth joined TQHA and began showing at TQHA and AQHA shows. She had recently bought a grey gelding, Potentially Fatal, from her long time friend Ken Berry, and with his training background she felt ready to compete with him at a TQHA show. Beth smiles when she recalls being the fastest one out there in her first western pleasure class, claiming that if there was an award for the fastest horse, she definitely would have won it. She proceeds to laugh out loud and says she’ll never forget when Tom Green, who was sitting in the stands, said, “Ma’am, you’re on the wrong lead,” as she passed him by. Beth decided that she wanted to begin training with someone, and consulted with her cousin Debbie who ironically suggested Tom Green.
After working with Tom for a while, Beth felt confident and more prepared to return to the Santa’s Carousel TQHA show later that year. This show was very significant for her because her cousin Debbie got to see her show one more time and do well before she passed away shortly after of cancer. Beth and Debbie were very close. “Debbie had always wanted for me to be able to show,” says Beth. “A big reason that I was so passionate about this and wanted to do this so badly was because of her.” Quarter Horses had brought them together and given them something very special to share with each other, which is something Beth will cherish forever.
Beth continued to show in Debbie’s memory, and in 2011 she and her halter horse Check My Package, also known as “Checkers,” earned 10th place at the AQHA world show in the Amateur Three Year Old geldings. Beth had worked with some tough horses over the years, but believes that it was a big part of what made her into the rider and horseman that she is today. Several years ago, when Beth was ready to take a break from horses altogether, Anne Phillips and her granddaughter Leah offered for Beth to show their grey mare Heavenly Pose in novice events under the guidance of Steve Fowler. “I have to thank Anne and Leah for offering me the chance to ride Posie and rebuild my confidence.” Beth and Posie were extremely successful in their time together, winning multiple circuit champions and all around awards. They also earned seventh place at the 2015 Novice Championships East in the Amateur Western Riding.
Now Beth shows her three year old red roan gelding, Knowing I B Good, in the amateur and novice amateur western events at TQHA shows. When asked what her favorite thing about “Mikey” is she laughs as she pulls the reins out of his mouth and says, “Not his chewing.” Beth fell in love with Mikey when she bought him last spring because of his laid back disposition, and as the two have gotten to know each other better, Beth has discovered that he is “Such a card, in a good way!” and that he has more personality than any other horse she has ever owned.
Beth doesn’t just show at TQHA events. She is very actively involved in the association, having previously served Region III as a representative and also as a president. Several years ago, current TQHA president Jerry Allen asked her to consider running for TQHA’s Second Vice President position, which Beth was elected to, and now she serves as TQHA’s First Vice President.
Beth’s most treasured experience with the Tennessee Quarter Horse Association has been the friendships she’s made and the people she has met. When asked if there was anyone she’d like to thank, Beth replied, “Cathy and Steve Fowler especially. Steve has really helped me become the rider that I am. But if I mentioned everyone in TQHA individually that has helped along the way, the list would be very long.” When asked about Beth, her trainer Steve Fowler became a little misty eyed. “She really wants to learn. She tries hard, and she really wants to understand. Beth is a good sport about everything, and she tries to help people all that she can.” Beth is certainly one of TQHA’s treasured members and we look forward to seeing what her future with our association and with her beloved horse Mikey holds. Thank you for all you do Beth!