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Roy Shirley


By Joy Hall, West Memphis Times

Roy Shirley is a barber in Frayser, Tennessee. He goes to work around 8 a.m. and leaves from 4 to 5 p.m. You’d never guess that this large man has a hobby that starts around 5:30 a.m.

Roy gets up at daylight or even earlier most days to ride his horses. He has two registered Quarter Horses, Smooth and Scooter (not their registered names). Roy reads all he can and watches all he can on TV about training horses. If he sees something being done in one of those articles or TV shows he goes right out and teaches it to his horses. “I taught my horses in the past to lay down on command; but ever since one I had thought I was asking him to lay down and caused me to break my ankle, I haven’t taught that trick anymore.” That same horse won second place at the World Quarter Horse show in Ranch Horse with his current owner, Kyle Sanders.

Roy’s horses will come to him in the pasture because he has taught them the Clinton Anderson style of facing their trainers. They will side-pass on line away from him or toward him. They will also flex left and right and are well versed in the one rein stop. The two horses also love to play with the water and squirt their owner with the water hose.

Roy is among a large group of horse owners who gets enjoyment out of his horses and does very little “showing.” He will make a Saturday night local show and wins many ribbons, but he doesn’t do association shows or registered shows – even though his horses are of that quality. “I enjoy being able to move the five body parts of the horse, and now have taught Scooter (the best loper) to switch leads on command in a straight away.” Scooter is the one with whom he usually wins the Western Pleasure class.

Roy has some trouble with his knees (did I mention he is 68 years old?) and has taught both horses to side pass to his trailer, making it easier for him to get on. Smooth (the best trotter) will pick up Roy’s quirt and give it back to him. He will also back into the horse trailer. To win the walk/trot classes, Roy rides Smooth. But occasionally shows him in the Western Pleasure class, also.

There are many unsung horse trainers in this world and Roy is one of them. It is a shame that Roy doesn’t train horses for other people. I’m sure he would have his fill of clients. “I don’t care to ride horses that belong to other people. Having to get on with the help of my trailer limits [my working with] horses that aren’t trained that way. I will do ground work for other people.”  Roy occasionally helps his neighbor with horses that won’t load well in the trailer, but warns them that if you don’t keep doing what you need to. they will regress.

Roy loves to trail ride his horses and encourages others to ride their show horses outside. “Riding in different situations helps to get your horses better broke, and when they go to a show, they aren’t afraid of the different sites.”

If we all spent the time with our horses that Roy does, we’d be enjoying our rides or shows so much more. On Saturday, October 3, 2015 Roy Shirley won the walk trot and the western pleasure classes at the Battle of the Saddle Clubs held at Dacus Riding Club.
Battle of the Saddle Clubs
Dacus Arena in Brighton, Tennessee hosted the season finale for mid-south saddle club shows, Battle of the Saddle Clubs, on a chilly, drizzly rainy Saturday night, October 3, 2015. Eight clubs participated in the show: Woodstock Cuba Saddle Club, Covington Saddle Club, Old West Saddle Club, Somerville Saddle Club, Dacus Riding Club, Coyote Run Saddle Club, Ripley Bit & Spur, and Hernando Saddle Club. The show offered 32 classes in halter, horsemanship, saddle horse, gaited horse, western pleasure, and several speed events: poles, barrel racing, and flags.

This was the third annual show, but this year the criteria for show entry was opened to all members of saddle clubs in the area, not just the top five in each division, as had been the requirement in previous years. The number of entries was up from previous years, too. The show started at 5:00 p.m. and finished after 11:00 p.m. Josh Birchfield was the judge.

When all was said and done, Woodstock Cuba Saddle Club won the trophy. Dacus Riding Club was second, and Covington was third. Butch Maples, President of Dacus Saddle Club, said this was the first time Dacus had hosted the show.

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