Horse show

Taytum Smith rides tall in the saddle holding her first-place trophy and ribbons Saturday during the Mid-Tex Quarter Horse Association’s Open Horse Show Spooktacular at the Bell County Equine and Livestock Complex in Belton.

BELTON — The Mid-Tex Quarter Horse Association closed out its Open Horse Show Spooktacular this past weekend at the Bell County Equine and Livestock Complex.

The two-day show totaled about 500 entries, said Mary Colburn, association secretary. The riders ranged from toddlers to senior citizens.

Crystall Petry, president of the MTQHA, said the performance classes in the show were open to all breeds, with riders primarily competing in Western Pleasure and English.

Petry said this was her three-year-old paint horse’s first show, but that she has been showing horses for 20 years.

“I do it because I enjoy it and I like to see my horses go from babies into the show pen,” she said.

She has a boarding facility in Killeen.

“Find you a trainer and get out there and do it,” she advised aspiring riders.

Colburn introduced Kevin Koo of Copperas Cove, a volunteer representing Camp Cowboy, which operates out of Robisons Ranch in Kempner. Colburn had high praise for Camp Cowboy, a nonprofit that uses horses to rehabilitate people.

Koo said the camp helps veterans if they have post traumatic stress disorder “or if they just want to learn how to ride a horse.”

They learn how to take care of horses, ride them and train them, he said. Non-military persons can also join. He got involved after his wife boarded her horse at the 250-acre ranch, he said.

“I help out if they need a hand, give out information,” he said. “It is definitely a good program.”

Joni Evans of Eddy, the horse show secretary, said Camp Cowboy started in 2012.

“It’s an amazing program,” she said. “I have seen what it has done personally for some of the vets. I have seen the transformation of people that have been in it.”

“Veterans have a tendency not to open up and they keep stuff inside instead,” she said. “It helps with anger management and communication.”

She quoted from the camp’s brochure: “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

“Since horses have similar behaviors as humans … it is easy for participants to connect with them,” the brochure states. “Camp Cowboy participants become more self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and build healthy coping mechanisms. The lessons learned to successfully work with a horse, in turn, translate to life outside the ranch.”