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2002/08/15

The Arkansas Circuit Timberlake Boys Enjoy Showing Their Ponies When Jonathan and Stephen Timberlake go back to school, they'll have some stories to tell about their summer vacation. Sure, they had a great time with their older brother Justin, hanging out at his home in Orlando, Fla., over the July 4th holiday. Teenagers may recognize the oldest Timberlake bother as being the famous member of the popular music group NSYNC. And, certainly Jonathan had a blast competing at the national dance competition in Orlando the same week with his hip hop dance troupe from Studio B in Germantown. But the younger Timberlake boys are particularly excited about the horse show showing a "big horse" in the walk trot class. Stephen, 4, is still showing in the lead-in class primarily to get the candy treats given at the end of the class, but he's showing improved horsemanship skills, too. Now, he makes it all the way through the class without removing his hat or losing his stirrups. The boys show in the Northeast Central Arkansas (NECA) circuit of the Arkansas Horse Show Association. They are accumulating points to qualify to compete in the Arkansas State Horse Show coming up Labor Day weekend at the Barton Coliseum in Little Rock. Jonathan is already qualified in the pony class, but he is struggling to qualify in the walk trot class. He has only been competing in the walk trot class since mid-season. The horse he rides, named "B.R. Smooth," is a 16 year old bay gelding owned by 14 year old Cooper Skelton of Jonesboro, AR. Skelton is Jonathan's horse show buddy and horsemanship mentor. Although the Timberlake family lives in millington, TN they make the trip to northeast Arkansas nearly every Saturday for the horse show. The shows move location from week to week, often as close as West Memphis and sometimes as far away as Brinkley, AR. Jonathan started showing his black pony mare "Muffy" in lead-in class when he was only five years old. His grandmother, Sue Perry of Cherry Valley, AR, taught both him and his younger brother to ride. She has an indoor riding arena facility in Harrisburg, AR, where she and business partner Neb Thomas keep a barn full of Quarter Horses. "I've enjoyed watching the boys grow in their horsemanship skills and appreciation of life on the farm," said Perry. "Meeting them at the horse show every Saturday is a great way to get the family together. It allows me the opportunity to see my grandchildren at least once a week." Now, Stephen has inherited the elderly "Muffy" for his lead-in class competition and Jonathan is showing former Arkansas state champion bay pony gelding named "Buckshot." Perry, also known as "Mimi" to the boys, walks beside Stephen through every lead-in class constantly coaching him on proper riding techniques. "It's tough to beat the cute little girls in these lead-in classes, but Stephen doesn't mind if he doesn't win first place," said Perry. "He's having fun and learning a lot." "My goal is to have him really riding the pony by himself next year so that I'm just walking along side him as security backup." Lead-in is the first class in the NECA show lineup. So, as soon as Perry finishes Stephen's class she's in a dead run to get Jonathan ready for pony class, which is the number three class. Following pony class, Jonathan makes a quick switch to his big horse for walk trot, which is the fifth class in the line up. Good thing 58 year old Perry doesn't look or act like a traditional grandmother. Years of horseback riding, running, bicycling, swimming and gardening have kept her very spry. Of course, she has a team of family and friends to help, including her son-in-law, Randy Timberlake, her horse show friends -- the Langstons -- and her two daughters. Perry taught her own daughters, Sue Lynn Perry Smith, 37, and Lisa Perry Timberlake, 34, to ride horses competitively. Both daughters competed in the Arkansas Horse Show Association for many years and later switched to the youth rodeo circuit. While showing in the Arkansas Horse Show Association, both daughters competed and won awards in pony class, buckaroo horsemanship, western pleasure, reining, Queen's class, barrel racing and pole bending. Perry's oldest daughter Sue Lynn served as Tennessee High School Rodeo Queen in 1979 and 1981 and then became Miss Rodeo Tennessee in 1984. Today, she is the Miss Rodeo Tennessee Pageant director and professional video producer. Perry's youngest daughter, Lisa, won the Tennessee High School Rodeo Association Breakaway Roping Championship and Goat tying Championship as well as served as the National High School Rodeo Association Student Vice President in 1985. She competed successfully in the Intercollegiate Rodeo Association for four years. Today, she is a Doctor of Pharmacy and the pharmacy manager of Kroger in Millington. Perry herself competed in the Arkansas Horse Show Association in barrel racing and pole bending during the 1960s, winning may trophies on her chestnut mare "Tilly." Later in life, she competed in the keyhole race and ultimately won fourth place at the 1984 Arkansas State Championship Horse Show. She was riding a grey mare named "Candy," owned by the Willis family of Cherry Valley. The question often asked is whether "Mimi" Perry ever taught the famous oldest brother Justin Timberlake to ride a pony. The answer is "yes." When Justin was only eight years old, Perry bought him a sorrel pony mare with a flax mane and tail. Her name was "Molly." At the time, Justin's good friend was showing ponies at Woodstock Saddle Club, located near Shelby Forest in Millington. The idea was to give the two pals something fun and unique to do together. Unfortunately, "Molly" later showed severe signs of founder, unable to move well. It is suspected that "Molly" previous owner had medicated the pony to veil her illness during the sale process. However, Justin's interest in music quickly elevated and his opportunities to perform publicly were numerous. So, he had less and less time to ride his pony "Molly." By the time he was 12, Justin was working full time as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, maintaining a residence in both Orlando and Millington. He did not ride a horse again until later in his music career when the making of a music video provided, in which all members of NSYNC rode horses bareback along a beach shore. Though Jonathan and Stephen have demonstrated a desire and aptitude for the entertainment business, for now they're happy to perform for the spectators at the horse show every Saturday night. It certainly makes grandma happy.

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