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Trainer Salute: Keegan Meadows




Keegan Meadows – Murfreesboro, Tennessee

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING HORSES PROFESSIONALLY?
I had my first training horse at the age of 16 for Ms. Gail Decatrel.


TELL US SOME FAMILY HISTORY OF RAISING AND SHOWING WALKING HORSES.
Horses were an intricate part of my childhood. Both of my parents had a background in riding horses and showing, my mother, Raymona Meadows and my late brother, Jacob Bush, were local rodeo and 4-H exhibitors prior to my parents marrying. My father, Turman Meadows, had a background in riding and foxhound showing and hunting. When I came along, they had a few horses at home, one in particular named JaKee, who was named after my brother and me. We then relocated when I was very young to Florida, where I received my first Tennessee Walking Horse named Paggy’s Lady. Our family joined the Conkle family for showing, where I started riding under the direction of Tracy Pinson, Wayne Conkle, and started my show ring debut under the family of the late Ladon “Poppa” Conkle, Donna, James, and Tamara. My first padded horse was led in the ring by James Conkle. From there my family began expanding my show horses and breeding Tennessee Walking Horses.

OF ALL THE HORSES YOU HAVE TRAINED, OPEN AND AMATEUR, DO YOU HAVE A HORSE YOU FEEL MADE YOU INTO THE TRAINER YOU ARE TODAY? WHAT HORSE WAS THAT AND WHY DO FEEL THAT WAY?
I believe several horses contributed to the trainer that I am today, but one particular horse comes to mind that took my career to the level that I had wanted to reach. That horse is 2xRWC and International Champion, Blue Blooded Bandit. I had been in the ring hundreds of times, but it was the purchase of this horse for Susannah and Sophia Borg as the trainer of Blackwater Stables that put me on the map as someone other than just an “out of state” trainer. While directing Bandit in the show ring, I was able to breed him to a mare named Kennedy’s Mystery owned by Sophia and I, who foaled RWC Blue Elegance, my first title won at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ASPIRING TRAINERS?
So many times, it is easy to get frustrated with yourself, and even your horses, but never let that stop you from pressing forward. Often times it is heart breaking, and exhausting, but pressing forward is the only option to achieve your goals. Trust your instinct, never stop learning, and never give up on a horse or yourself. Accept that it is ok if some horses need to be in other hands to succeed, because not every horse is going to get along with you. Celebrate each horse’s victories, regardless of the person behind the reins that helps to achieve them; you will have your moments when you achieve the victories yourself as a result from your own work and effort. But most importantly do not lose the
love you have for horses.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE PERFECT YEARLING?
I look for movement, looseness, swing, a tail that moves with the horse, and brightness in the eye that speaks to me in a way that says that horse is something special.

HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK? IS YOUR BARN ON LOCKDOWN? ARE YOU STILL HOLDING YOUR REGULAR CLIENT APPOINTMENTS? HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR TRAINING?
I am blessed to be employed by ThorSport Farm. We have suspended riding lessons at this time and are practicing social distancing as effectively as possible. We take cleanliness to the next level, even prior to the COVID outbreak, so business has been “normal” for the most part.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PAST WORLD GRAND CHAMPION AND WHY?
For me, it would be The Whole Nine Yards. This was the first time my father and I were together when the world grand champion was crowned. It meant a lot to me to have my family present under the bright lights of the Celebration.

IF THERE WAS ONE AREA OF THE INDUSTRY YOU COULD CHANGE OR RAMP UP, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would love to see more youth and international members continue to grow in the various disciplines within the breed. I would like to ramp up more activities worldwide to give our horse the opportunity to be the most diverse breed in the world. That is why I continue to work with TWHBEA and the International board to see continued growth worldwide.

IF YOU WERE NOT AT THE BARN OR A HORSE SHOW, WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Horse trainers have free time?... In the summertime I like to kayak at the river or spend time by the pool with my friends. In the fall I enjoy shooting skeet or hiking.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TV SHOWS, MOVIES OR NETFLIX FEATURES HAVE YOU BEEN BINGE WATCHING DURING THE PANDEMIC?
I am definitely a binge watcher. My favorite shows are Locke & Key, Harlots, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
I would say two things come to mind. The first was being named the 2018 TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Ambassador of the Year. Receiving this award was very meaningful not only because of the pride in being a member of TWHBEA that I have, but also the pride of the Tennessee Walking Horse that has been an instrumental part of the person I am today. The second, receiving the honor to judge the European Championship in Wemding Germany alongside our current TWHBEA President Margo Urad as the show manager.

WHAT WORDS OF WISDOM CAN YOU GIVE TO THE HORSE INDUSTRY ON THE PANDEMIC?
I would encourage everyone to stay positive and encouraging to others. I get to work beside Allison Thorson each day, who as so many of those who know her, know she has such an encouraging and positive attitude that has been refreshing and an example to not only myself personally, but for all of my coworkers not only during the pandemic, but each and every day. Like her, I would encourage everyone to find a way to make at least one person smile each day and remember that this pandemic has affected each of us differently, to remain patient with one another and kind. Be the joy in someone’s life, even if it’s just a small moment of someone’s day.

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