A March 1999 WH article ("Calling the Shots") first documented the laid-back approach at SHOT competitions. My visit to the group's event at Three Rivers Ranch in Glen Rose, Texas, earlier this year produced the same observation. Smiling contestants greeted one another by name while offering helpful advice. No one seemed worried about where they were supposed to be or frantic about the day ahead.
Like a West Texas ranch that still hauls out the wagon for brandings, the Stock Horse of Texas Association hasn't changed much, either. Oh, it's grown during the past decade-both in memberships and the number of yearly events-but it's stayed true to its roots.
Indeed, I left the grounds after a Saturday competition assuming that the group's approach will soon be copied in other states. And when the day comes that action kicks off at the first Stock Horse of America national competition (it's only a matter of time, I figure), I'll be among the first to purchase a ticket.
Maybe it's the casual nature of the group's founder and ever-present leader, B. F. Yeates, that keeps life simple at SHOT events. Maybe it's the down-home nature of good-hearted ranch folks who helped get the association off the ground that make me want to head back to the Lone Star State for the group's Classic Championships, to be held October 5–7 at the National Roper's Supply Training Center in Decatur. Or maybe it was the positive attitude of novice horsemen and -women who've been welcomed into the group at every turn that so impressed me.
Whatever the case, SHOT organizers and members have figured out the right way to go about promoting a great "all-around" horse.
For the complete story, pick up the October issue of Western Horseman.