A Family Created by Horses
Just Country Quarter Horses owner Char Shelton teaches riders of all ages, skill sets about horsemanship
Char Shelton of Just Country Quarter Horses, located outside Stoutland, Mo., in eastern Laclede County, brings a lifetime of equine experience into the horse barn with her daily.
She works regularly with more than a dozen horses and the many students she tutors toward a lifetime of excellence in horsemanship.
She works with her son, Matt Thomas, who shares the horse business with his mother as well as operating his own construction business, Powerhouse Solutions LLC. on 20 acres that once belonged to her mother, Lynetta Berncich. Char and Matt are building a new horse barn that includes a practice arena and nine stalls, five of which are 12-foot-by-12-foot and four that measure 12-by-24. There are also nine more under construction.
“The double stalls are for the older horses and allow them to move around more, as well as for the mares with foals,” Char explained during a tour of the the new structure being built by Matt’s construction company.
“My father, Jerry, and my mother once owned a great deal more acreage here but after he died, my mother sold off all but this last 20,” Char said. “I was born in California and moved to this area in my senior year of high school. I moved back to California in 1985 and returned to the Ozarks in 1992 and have been here ever since.”
The family has a love for horses, and has found a way to share that love with others.
“For so many, horses are a passion. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. There isn’t much in between,” Char said. “Kids are our number one priority here, although we offer lessons to adults, too. We see adults in their 30s and 40s who grew up ‘horse crazy’ like many of us, but there was never an opportunity for them to ride or take lessons. They tell us how much they wish they could’ve been riding when they were younger. Often their family couldn’t afford it or they simply lived in an area where horses and riding were not available. Today, I’m happy to say some of them help us to ‘scholarship’ other youngsters, who find themselves in that same situation.”
Just Country Quarter Horses provides lessons for students who have their own horses, but also to those who would not be able to nurture their love of horses without a little assistance.
“We also manage to sponsor those who have a passion for the horses and are willing to work and help out to pay their way in part,” Char said. “The bottom line is their parents’ financial situation doesn’t have to hold them back.”
The family has taken great steps to make the facilities user friendly for riders and horses alike.
“We built this place with safety first and foremost in our minds,” Matt explained. “We’ve designed it so that the parking area is away from where the horses and kids are riding and it also keeps people from wandering amongst the horses once the kids are mounted. Inside, we have a 10-foot separation between the stalls and the arena, too, so that a horse in a stall can’t reach over and spook a horse with a rider already in the arena. There are a lot of little things like that we work on to keep everyone safe.
“Our new indoor arena is a real blessing because now our students can ride, no matter what the weather and we don’t have to worry about rain or snow.”
Like working with horses, teaching others to be comfortable with horses is also Char’s passion.
“I enjoy teaching kids,” she said. “At one point, I was breeding Quarter horses, doing camps and overnights as well as riding lessons and boarding, and it just got to be too much. I chose the lessons and the kids. We also still board horses. We do horse camps, shows, overnights and by next summer, we hope to be able to provide bunk housing to accommodate students who live further out. We’ve had students here who come from as far away as Wyoming, New Jersey, Idaho, Ohio and Arkansas. Some have family and friends nearby but others need a place to stay so we hope to provide that, too.”
Char is obviously proud of her many students and rightly so. An autistic student who had missed a couple of weeks’ worth of lessons due to scheduling conflicts was so anxious to come back, her father was surprised, but pleased, to tell Char she wants to go on their next overnight horseback trip. Another one of her students, Jacob Blank of Richland, Mo., was recently selected as a National Finalist in the FFA Equine Science Placement Proficiency area, which places him in the top four of 650,000 members in this area.
“They are all part of our JCQH family,” Char said. “I can’t really call them clients because they are closer than that. We work hard to make better horsemen and horsewomen out of our students. Just about everybody who comes here, kids and adults, stays with us, always learning more about horses. I gave my first riding lesson when I was 11 years old and I’ve been doing so ever since, one way or another. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”http://www.ozarksfn.com/2018/10/24/a-family-created-by-horses/http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Shelton_Thomas-1024x683.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Shelton_Thomas-150x150.jpgMissouri NeighborsNeighborsChar Shelton,Equine,Horses,Just Country Quarter Horses,Laclede County,Matt Thomas,Missouri,Shelton,Stoutland,ThomasJust Country Quarter Horses owner Char Shelton teaches riders of all ages, skill sets about horsemanship Char Shelton of Just Country Quarter Horses, located outside Stoutland, Mo., in eastern Laclede County, brings a lifetime of equine experience into the horse barn with her daily. She works regularly with more than...Laura L. ValentiLaura L. Valentilauravalenti@live.comAuthorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper