Twin sisters Sharon and Karen Jolley never compete against each other in the show ring

Twin sisters Sharon Jolley-Ballowe and Karen Jolley-Leighton have a lot in common. They live five miles apart from each other in Rogersville, Mo., in Greene County. They each have a son (Kolbey, Sharon’s son, is 5 and Connor, Karen’s son, is 10). And not only do the Jolley twins look alike, they both share the same passion for Missouri Fox Trotters.
Sharon and Karen have had horses since they were 10. It all started when they talked their parents into buying a backyard horse. “We begged for a horse,” Karen said, smiling. “And we’ve had them ever since.” As children, Sharon and Karen competed in 4-H shows. When they were teenagers, they began showing Fox Trotters every weekend for a family friend. And from there, Jolley Foxtrotters was born.
Between the two of them, Sharon and Karen own 12 horses. Their particular favorite is a lovely palomino mare named Cerra (pronounced see-air-uh) Sunrise. The sisters raised, trained and showed Cerra and both of their boys ride her as well. In fact, Kolbey recently started showing Cerra in youth classes. Another special horse is a jet black broodmare named Stardust J. At 17 years old, Stardust has thrown eight colts, seven of which have made it big in the show ring.
Sharon and Karen start all of their young horses in the round pen. Once their charges have graduated from the round pen, they are ridden in the covered indoor arena or the spacious outdoor arena, which overlooks the barn and several acres of beautiful pasture, complete with peaceful grazing equines. Keeping the horses content is a major part of the training process at Jolley Foxtrotters. “We like the horse to be happy while being ridden,” said Sharon. “And there are no tricks, just hard work.” All of their hard work pays off; both sisters are very successful in the show ring and have won numerous World Championship awards. It is their rule to never compete against each other; when one is in the show ring, the other is on the sidelines, coaching and providing moral support. Sharon is also focusing on youth classes for Kolbey and she states the importance of “getting kids involved” in showing Missouri Fox Trotters to promote the breed.
“They can do everything,” said Karen. And they can – from trail riding to barrel racing to jumping classes. If you are searching for the perfect Fox Trotter, it’s trial and error to find the right one for you. “Try out several Fox Trotting horses before making a decision,” Karen advised, “you’ll know which one will work. And be patient.” “Riders need to work with the horse’s potential,” Sharon added. This is especially important to keep in mind when purchasing a show horse.
Jolley Foxtrotters will have a few new additions in the next year; Sharon and Karen will have three different foals from three different sires. Since each mare crosses differently, they like to use several different outside studs. Each year the sisters select one horse a piece to focus on – this keeps it manageable, so they can work their full-time jobs, be with their families and still have time to do what they love.


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