Connie Jenkins has bought, trained and sold over 400 horses in her careerConnie Jenkins began her love affair with horses as a young child. “My uncle, Lorain Beard, was a professional cowboy and broke and trained horses in Idaho before World War II. He came to Missouri after that and owned the 300 acres here around us. I got in trouble as a little girl for running off over to his place to ride horses when I’d get upset with things at home,” she laughed. “We still have a small part of that farm as do my brothers and sisters. My uncle never married or had children but he left the land to us, his nieces and nephews. My brother, Chester Wood, for instance, raises crops on his, hay and corn. He even grew and baled turnips for cattle this year.”
Connie, however, has a different use for her land. She raises and works Missouri Fox Trotters but specifically she has World Champion Costume Horses. “The costume for the rider as well as the costume for the horse must be specially designed to work on the horse,” Connie explained recently at her home in rural Laclede County, outside of Conway, Mo. “And then, you have to get the horse used to the costume, too so that he or she will let you approach and get on.”
In addition to competing and winning the championship in her class five years in a row, Connie also makes costumes which have been sold to competitors in 40 states and four other countries. “I’ve made, sold and shipped costumes to people in Spain, Italy, Germany and France, as well as all, over the United States,” she continued. “Some weigh up to 60 pounds with all the ruffles, frills and other trimmings. I know one costume I made and sent to Oklahoma was later sent on to someone else in California but I was surprised a few years later, when it turned up in another competition where I was,” she added with a laugh.
Despite her love of the costuming, Connie’s heart truly belongs to the horses. “I’ve bought, sold and trained over 400 horses in my lifetime,” Connie continued. “Horses go back many generations in my geneology. We have people in our family who were selling horses and horse feed during the Revolutionary War. And in the Civil War, my family sold horses to both sides,” she said. “My grandmother worked cattle, riding side saddle and I’ve given side saddle lessons as well as Western and English riding lessons.
“I have two young horses I really like to use for lessons, Chubby the pony who is 6 years old and Pumpkin, my palomino mare who is 5. They both have such good dispositions for riding lessons and are so patient. Really, I tell people, Chubby is the teacher, not me.”
Connie has been invited to the Rose Bowl and has also been a judge in the World Championships.
Competitors from around the world in Connie’s favorite class of costume horses, like all in the Fox Trotters Horse Breeders Association World Championships, come to Ava, Mo., each year. “Each of us that work in this have an edge, something special that we bring to the competitions,” Connie continued. “Some put thousands of dollars into this and some like me, put in the time. That’s my edge.
“My big goal this year is to ride in the Cowgirl International competition in Oklahoma City, Okla. Just like in other competitions, there are various Quarter Horse and gaited events that the horse must compete in, including shooting from horseback. I’m really looking forward to that.”
She concluded, “My husband, Doc, is the official veterinarian for the world championships. He was married before and has children from that marriage but I tell people, mine and Doc’s children have four legs and fur.”


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