When you ask most people who own and show appaloosas why they chose the breed, they may cite the color or versatility, but more often than not, they will say that the Appaloosa community is welcoming and friendly. Being part of the Appaloosa Family is something we are proud of. The Cox family, Anita, Tristan and Jeff, experienced the best of our Appaloosa family at this year’s Youth World Show in Tulsa.
First, let’s meet the family. Anita and Jeff, who were dating at the time, were introduced to appaloosa horses by Chuck Asbury. At the time, Chuck was the president of the West Virginia Appaloosa Horse Club. Chuck became like a second father to the couple and nurtured their love of the breed. The first Appaloosa that they owned was a foal by Chuck’s stallion ENRs Dial a Mite, purchased in 1996. They have owned appaloosas, along with quarter horses and American mustangs since that time. Anita’s first trip to an Appaloosa National Show was to Jackson Mississippi in 2008 where she showed halter while pregnant with her son, Tristan. Anita and Jeff, now a full-time horse trainer, have shown at the National and World show multiple times, but mostly in halter classes.
Anita’s son, Tristan, is now 13 years old. He has been showing on their local circuit since he was 4 years old in halter and lead line. Tristan struggled to find his niche in riding until he was introduced to cattle work and ranch classes in 2019. The family has recently started to train with NRCHA trainer Skyler Lawson and have shown at NRCHA events. Tristan started his preparation for the Youth World Show in December of last year with his gelding, Arrayed in Class. They focused on cattle, ranch and reining events and prepared by showing at ApHC, NRCHA and ARHA events in their area.
Arrayed in Class (Ray Ray) is a 15-year-old gelding that has been shown in Open and Non-Pro events. In 2021, Ray Ray was the Year End All Around Amateur Champion for the North Star Ranch Horse Association. After this, they decided to pair Ray Ray up with Tristan to see if they would get along. Since Ray Ray is 15 years old, they figured it was a now or never proposition to take him to the Youth World Show.
Tristan and Ray Ray started riding with Sklyer in October of last year. Throughout the winter and spring, they would trailer into Skyler’s facility twice a week and participate in any clinics that they could find. At the end of May, Ray Ray went into training with Skyler where they worked on roping and adding some fine tuning to the pair. The plan was that Skyler would show Ray Ray in the open events and Tristan would show him in the youth events.
The family, who hails from Virginia, arrived in time to give Ray Ray a full day of rest before moving into show mode. The first day of classes was very busy with Skyler taking Ray Ray in heading, healing, team roping and Tristan taking him steer daubing and boxing. After the end of the first day, they noticed that Ray Ray had some swelling in his right leg. Before the working cow horse class, they had the vet come and check Ray Ray out. Unfortunately, he had a significant suspensory ligament tear. This abruptly ended their horse show and meant that Ray Ray was in for a long period of stall rest to heal and recover.
As you can imagine, after all the preparation and work that went into getting to the Youth World Show, the family was devastated. Ray Ray was the only horse they brought with them and figured that this was the end of their horse show. Anita said they thought about asking around to see if anyone had a horse, he could show but didn’t want to ask around. “I mean, how many people would be ok with a 13-year-old kid that they have never met riding their horse at the National/World Show?”
This is where the Appaloosa Family kicks in. They were stalled in the same aisle as Roger and Karla Johnson. Jeff had casually spoken to Roger about what was going on and in Roger fashion, he went into action. Roger then talked to Theron McCammond (KJ Up in Smoke). Theron had a junior mare at the show with trainer Carol Jones. The little mare, High Sign Hollywood, had only been in training with Carol for a few months and was there to be shown in the Junior Ranch Classes. Theron and Carol generously offered to let Tristan show their mare with the Skyler and Carol teaming up to help Tristan.
Tristan was apprehensive about riding and showing a mare he had never seen before. With a little poking and prodding, he agreed to ride the mare and luckily the horse and rider got along very well. Now that they found a new horse, there was still one more hurdle to clear. A formal written request had to be made to the ApHC Executive Committee to approve the transfer and allow Tristan to show the mare in his classes. Gratefully, the executive committee approved the request and Tristan was able to show High Sign Hollywood with only two rides prior to their first class.
Despite having only ridden the mare twice before showing her, Tristan went home with a Top Ten ribbon in Youth Ranch Reining. Better than a ribbon, he went home with an experience he is likely to never forget. His mom said he didn’t want to leave the show when it was time to head home and is already making his plans to come back again.
Anita said that her family’s story is a testament to the goodness of the Appaloosa family. Everyone worked so hard to make the show a good experience for a youth rider. The show taught Tristan many amazing lessons. His trainer, Skyler, said that showing the horse with so few rides really pushed Tristan out of his comfort zone and his riding improved immensely in a few short days. Skyler, a NRCHA trainer at his first Appaloosa National Show, loved the mare and said he was really impressed with the Appaloosa Horse club and the people. He hopes to return as well.
Anita also said that the show was a testament to the Appaloosa horse. Appaloosas are good minded and great tempered. The young mare, High Sign Hollywood, was a rock star throughout the entire process.
The Cox family are extremely grateful to everyone involved who allowed her son to have an amazing experience at his first Appaloosa Youth World Show. They’ll be back!