Skip to content

Joy Smith - MS Association Hall of Fame Inductee

(Pictured) Honey Stivers, Joy Smith, Susan Franks, Kristen Stivers

Joy was born in Macon, Miss.  Her father, James (Jeb) Smith, is a retired Mississippi Highway Patrolman and her mother, Kathleen, was a housewife until Joy started school and then she worked part time mostly for the US Post Office in Dumas, Miss. Joy is the baby of the family with an older sister, Kimi, and an older brother, Chris. She has two wonderful nieces, Ashley and Allison, which she adores. Joy’s baby is Greta, a 60lb. German Shepard.

She graduated from Pine Grove High School and attended Northeast Community College in Booneville, Miss., and State Tech in Memphis. She has worked as Office Manager/Paralegal at Deal, Cooper & Holton, PLLC., a Memphis law firm, for over 17 years.  Joy is also a longtime member of TWHBEA.  She has been an active member of the Mississippi Walking Horse Association for 20 years.  She has served in almost every position.  She served as Editor/Publisher of the monthly MWHA Newsletter for several years, Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President for a couple of years and as President since 2007.  
Joy gives credit for receiving the first dose of her horse obsession to Joanne Barkley.  As a young girl living in a subdivision in Ripley, the Barkley’s lived next door and owned quarter horses.  Joy was fascinated by the trophies won by the Barkley family, especially the ones taller than her, and the ones with the shinny gold horses on top of them.  Joanne Barkley took the time from working and raising a family to answer a million questions about horses and horse showing.  Mrs.Barkley took Joy for a few trips out to the farm to see the horses and even entered Joy in her first horse show – the lead line class at the County Fair.  Mrs. Barkley got her an outfit together and made her son, Trent, lead her at the horse show.  Although she didn’t win first place, she was now officially “horse crazy”.

Furthering the horse obsession was Joy’s father, when the family moved from the subdivision to an 80 acre farm in Dumas.  Joy’s official first horse came a few years after the move because it took her that long to wear her parents down! But as many know, when Joy sets her mind to something it will get done, regardless! When she was 13 years old – she came home from school and found a 20+ year old sorrel mare that was sway backed, pot bellied and every rib showed on her.  Joy thought she was the most beautiful horse ever because she was hers and she took to calling her Princess.  Joy’s Dad called the mare Sadie Mae.  Sadie Mae was really much more appropriate for the old mare than Princess and so she was named. 

Growing up, Joy had many memorable experiences and learned a lot, including the responsibility of owning a horse and the daily care required when you have horses.  There was no professional trainer or stable hands to care for and exercise Sadie Mae.  She was Joy’s horse, and Joy’s responsibility. After proving herself a good caretaker and practicing almost daily Joy showed both padded and flat shod horses at local 4-H shows - Ripley, Pontotoc, New Albany and Hickory Flat.  When show season ended, it was time to hit the trails and field trials. 

With the purchase of a seasoned sorrel gelding – Delight’s Super Star from Larry & Nila Street in Ripley, Miss. Joy started going to nearby sanctioned Racking horse shows.   She began showing Super Star in Show Pleasure Racking class and it was a wonderful experience for her even though she was competing against professionally trained horses.  Back in the mid and late 1980s, the Show Pleasure Racking class would have 30+ entries.  Super Star always made the work out and even pulled some 9th  and 10th placed ribbons.  It didn’t matter that she didn’t win her entry fee back or that she didn’t win first. She was competing against good horses and was just proud to be good enough to compete with them.  She did the work and competed for the same reason she excels at so much today…Passion and love for the horses!

As Joy grew up and moved out on her own she took a few years off from horses to begin life as an adult.  Her dad had always kept a horse or two around and even had some in training with
racking horse trainers throughout time. Joy became involved with the Tennessee Walking Horse somewhat by default. Her dad had a young gray mare that was calf knee’d and because the mare wasn’t built to rack, she was placed in training with walking horse trainer, Wayne Gregg.  Joy is quick to give credit to Wayne for a lot of the knowledge she gained about walking horses and the walking horse industry.   Joy and Wayne’s personal relationship didn’t last but they remain friends today and through Wayne she became actively involved in the Mississippi Walking Horse Association.

She currently has a former show mare as a top notch broodmare and a three-year-old stallion in training, somewhat proving you don’t own horses, they own you. Throughout the years of being involved in the business, Joy has met a lot of truly wonderful people and developed some very dear and lasting friendships including Robert and Honey Stivers. Since our (Honey and Joy) first journey to Jackson, Miss., together when we didn’t even know if we liked each other, Joy has became the sister that I never had and my best friend. When we are often questioned about her relationship with Robert, we laugh and say she is his “other wife or his next wife in the event of my death.  She is our daughter, Kristen’s, godmother and a true blessing to our family. For those that have the honor and privilege of knowing Joy, can appreciate her devotion and dedication to anything and everything that she sets her sights on.  You also have to accept her OCD tendencies and her honest and sometimes brutal opinions along with her bossiness, etc. You do not ever have to wonder where you stand with her or doubt her honesty. She is definitely the type of person you want in your corner and not against you. 

During Joy’s involvement with the Mississippi Walking Horse Association, she has tried to take it one step forward in all aspects – from organizing the only scar rule clinic in Mississippi in March 2007, to being available to the trainers and members to answer and educate others on a  variety of legal questions about the Horse Protection Act, to raising funds to bolster the association’s financial resources. 

The choices she has made in leading this association may not have always been popular choices, but they were choices made with the purest of intent and with a vision for betterment of this association.  When Joy took over as President, there was barely enough funds for postage much less anything else.  She credits working with dedicated board members and association members throughout her tenure as the reason the association is now able to help support our horse shows, start new shows and really promote this wonderful breed.

Although she has chosen to step away from the presidency of the association, she is by no means stepping away from assisting or promoting the animal that she so dearly loves. She is always available to talk horses and promote the association and breed.  Joy Smith, you have set the standards very high for this association!  Congratulations on your well deserved honor and your tremendous contributions to the MWHA and the entire Tennessee Walking Horse breed! 

More Stories

  • A STRONG story roots back to the Smokies

    Sometimes there’s a story behind a name, or a story in general, that’s so special and unique you can’t help but take notice, and when you do take notice, you’re glad you did because it’s the type of story that will have its place in your memory forever... Read More
  • Celebration announces host resort for Tunica Fall Classic

    The Celebration is pleased to announce the host hotel for this years’ Tunica Fall Classic October 31st through November 2nd  will be the Gold Strike Casino and Resort. This MGM property is the premier destination facility in Tunica.  Read More
  • SHOW changes Park Performance shoeing standards

    The SHOW HIO has changed the shoeing regulations in the Park Performance division to a maximum of 1 ¼” instead of the current 1” maximum in the current rulebook. The change will be effective immediately and will be reflected in the new SHOW HIO rulebook when it is released... Read More
  • FAST seeks director of advancement

    Having celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2019, the Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST) seeks to move the progress of the foundation forward by adding a full-time Director of Advancement to its organization. Read More
  • Obituary – James Hendrick

    James Donald Hendrick, 79, of Bowling Green went peacefully to meet his Heavenly Father on Sunday, September 15, 2019 at his residence... Read More
  • Reserve Your Table at WHTA Fall Classic

    Decorative round tables with center pieces, that seat 6 are available at the WHTA Fall Classic Show in White Pine, Tennessee this weekend. There are only 8 avaliable, so call now to reserve yours. The cost for both nights is $100. Food will not be provided. Call 931-684-5866 to place your reservation.  Read More
  • Fight to the Finish Line

    If there’s one message that’s crystal clear about this year’s winner of the 2019 World Grand Championship walking horse title it’s this: “He’s no new kid on the block.” Nothing could be more true and it’s a message that trainer Rodney Dick stands proudly behind when talking about I’m Mayhem, the horse he finally got to the finish line with for his very first win in the Big Stake.... Read More
  • Johnson honored with Evan Lloyd Adamson Humanitarian Award

    The Celebration, in conjunction with the late Evan Lloyd Adamson are proud to present one of our most prestigious awards. The Evan Lloyd Adamson Humanitarian Award is named in honor of the former Celebration ringmaster, association member and director... Read More
  • For Rylee, the appreciation is REAL!

    Everyone loves a good feel good story and there’s one that took place during the Celebration many might have missed if they weren’t there for the exit after the first Wednesday morning session. While all the riders worked hard in the Auxiliary Equitation Medal Youth 6-11, it can easily be argued that no one worked harder than the winner — literally... Read More
  • Celebration 2019 Groom Contest Winners

    The Celebration Grooming contest was judged throughout the show. Entrants were being judged for the grooming of the horse, cleanliness of the tack and horse, color coordination of the rider and horse, and just the overall presentation of the bigger picture... Read More