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Family & Tradition - Roberts family showcases long-term love for breed

By Mark McGee

The Tennessee Walking Horse is promoted as a great family activity. The Harold Roberts’ family provides a prime example of this belief.

Each member brings certain skills to the show ring. Harold has been riding the longest.  Daughter Kyndra, who says she was riding before she could walk, also is an avid exhibitor. Sherry, as wife and mother, works behind the scenes making certain Harold and Kyndra are both ready in every way for a show ring performance. Kyndra’s husband, Andy Myers, joined the family in 2004 and he is at shows cheering on his wife and his father-in-law.

Harold grew up around horses working at his grandfather’s farm in Hale, Missouri. He owned fox trotters and then bought a Carbon Copy mare, his first walking horse, with his wife, Sherry, in 1977.  They now have show horses with six different trainers.

“John Gowen got us involved with show horses,” Harold said. “He lived in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. He had some good horses and I was attracted to the conformation of the walking horse.”

Walking horses are his hobby, but Harold‘s company is involved with highway and heavy construction. He and Sherry live in Van Buren, Missouri, around 35 miles from Poplar Bluff.

“It is great getting away from the work situation when you can,” Harold said. “I just enjoy being around them. I ride both flat shod and padded horses.”

Kyndra and her husband are involved in salvaging heavy equipment and live in Birch Tree, Missouri.
While Sherry doesn’t ride in the Celebration but she has been in the ring in local shows and on trail rides. She is supportive of both her husband and daughter in many ways, but she also has a solid knowledge of the breed on many levels.

“They have always been good gaited horses, but the evolving of the versatility of the walking horse and the perfecting of them is amazing,” Sherry said. “I don’t think there is any other breed that has improved the breed as much as the walking horse. They are so docile, but they are also so showy.

“The standard of the horse is so much better. The breeders are the ones who have perfected the crossing of bloodlines. They have done a fabulous job.”

Kyndra’s love for horses began when she was a child. She rides both flat shod and padded show horses.
“It was in my blood when I was born,” Kyndra said. “I like the performance horse because they give you that little thrill. But I like flat shod horses because you are rewarded for your riding skills. You really have to work with them.

“I love getting to ride with my family and do something I love with all of my family being there with me. We have made friends with a lot of really great people in the industry.”

The Roberts family has always been frequent performers at various local horse shows in Missouri. They first visited the Celebration in 1991, but did not enter a horse in the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration until 1994.

In a testament to the family’s love of walking horses, they assembled a large string of show horses which earned “High Point” champions in the Walking Horse Report in both pleasure and performance divisions including Kruggerand, City General, The Pusher’s Generator, Mr. Deeds, Do U Twitter, Pusher’s Iron Heart, and Gin & Salsa.  Both the Pusher’s Generator and City General are retired and reside at the Roberts’ farm.

Like every owner, rider, and trainer who participates in the Celebration, the Roberts family dreamed of having a World Champion. It would be 2014 before they reached that goal for the first time. That year Kyndra rode Ritz’s Red Solo Cup to the Novice Park Pleasure World Championship under the direction of Patrick Thomas and Howard Hamilton of Southern Serenity Stables.

 “I was thrilled,” Kyndra said. “There were all kinds of tears the first time.”

 The 2015 Celebration provided two more World Championships with Thomas and Kyndra winning both the Open and Amateur World Championships, with Moonshine At Midnight in the Classic Park division.

Harold won his first Reserve World Championship in 2015 riding  She’s Pushin’ N Line in the Novice Country Pleasure class under the direction of Justice Carter Training.

It was a big year all around for the Roberts family in 2015. Earlier in the year they had purchased All About That Jose, which was trained at Edgar Abernathy Stables.

 “I knew he was a pretty nice horse,” Harold said.

Harold would have to wait another year to win his first Celebration World Championship. In 2016, he won the Novice Amateur Gentlemen’s World Championship in the stallion division aboard All About That Jose. The pair also earned the Reserve World Grand Championship title in the novice division.

“Mark Farrar, Celebration announcer, said, `you have made so many trips here Harold. You finally won your blue ribbon’, Harold recalled. “It was great. I didn’t know whether to throw my hat in the air or not.”
Harold’s highest ribbon before that was a third place on City General.

But one world title wasn’t enough for Harold in 2016. He also rode She’s Pushin’ N Line again, under the direction of Joe Lester Stables to claim the Country Pleasure Novice World Championship.

Kyndra’s favorite horse, Mr. Deeds, also earned a World Championship in 2016 in the Youth 11 and Under Trail Pleasure Class with Harper Grider in the saddle under the training of Hannah Myatt of Myatt Manor Stables.

But what made the Roberts family cry tears of joy the most was Patrick Thomas, who as part of the Southern Serenity Team, directed Moonshine at Midnight to both the Open Lite Shod World Championship and the family’s first set of roses as the Open Lite Shod World Grand Champion. To cap off the year, the family earned the Mid-South Horizon Award.

The Roberts family is set for another championship year at the Celebration. They are bringing some of their former champions as well as some new faces.

Kyndra had been watching Sidelined, a bay pleasure horse for the last three years. At the end of the 2016 show season the family purchased what she describes as her “dream” horse from owner Rhonda Martocci. They have enjoyed a strong show season in preparation for the Celebration in the Country Pleasure division under the direction of Joe Lester Stables.

Mr. Deeds will be turning this year to the Celebration to defend his title in the 11 and Youth Trail Pleasure with Harper Grider, while Kyndra & Mr. Deeds, aim for the Amateur Trail Pleasure Canter World Championship title under the direction of Hannah Myatt at Myatt Manor Stables.

Harold moves out of the Novice classes for 2017 and will ride All About That Jose in the Gentlemen’s Elite Performance Division under the Edgar Abernathy Stables. Harold will also have a new horse at the Celebration,  under the Edgar Abernathy Stables, with Gin To Win. The duo has put together an outstanding show season in the Three-Year-Old Amateur Division  and enter the Celebration as contenders for the Three-Year-Old Amateur Stallions world title.

The Southern Serenity Team will be returning this year for the Roberts family with the young and talented Dose’ in the Four and Under and Open Park Pleasure divisions under the direction of trainers, Howard Hamilton and Patrick Thomas.  

Two new young and talented pleasure colts, Granted Parole, and Self Made Money will compete with Kyndra and trainers Jessica Hlebak and David Mast of Main Gate Farms.  Granted Parole will compete in four-and-under amateur and open trail pleasure classes. Self-Made Money with both Hlebak and Kyndra sharing the reins will compete in the open and amateur Two-Year-Old Trail Pleasure classes.

“We think we have another great line-up of horses for the Celebration this year,” Kyndra said. “We could not be more proud and excited to support the walking horse industry and this great breed.”

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