Second-grader wins world horse show title

Jackson Stephens, 7, wins a World Grand Championship riding B B King’s Jazz. Photo copyright Shane Shiflet Photography

Jackson Stephens, 7, has L-105 connections

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Jackson Stephens, the daughter of Local 105 (Piketon, Ohio) member Greg Stephens and granddaughter of L-105 BM-ST Van Stephens, rode away with the youth title in the Tennessee Walking Horse Association’s World Grand Championship held in Shelbyville, Ky., Aug. 30.

Mounted on a horse named B B King’s Jazz, Jackson competed on Aug. 22 before 30,000 fans and exhibitors to win the preliminary round in the 6-11 class. She then captured the world championship title in the 6-17 class competition on Aug. 30. Jackson also received the high honor of riding in the Stars of the Future ceremony Sep. 1.

“That was the highlight of my lifetime,” said Van Stephens, whose family spans four generations of horse riders and trainers. Van’s late father, Carl, also a Boilermaker, began the tradition of showing Tennessee Walking Horses on his farm in 1964. Under his father’s tutelage, Van began showing at the age of six. Van passed the tradition on to his son, Greg, a Boilermaker as well, and to Jackson, at age 4.

Van’s wife, Libby, is an accomplished rider, too. She won her own World Grand Championship in an adult category just last year.

But for the Stephens family, young Jackson’s victory is extra special.

“This is the biggest accomplishment of our [horse training/horse riding passion],” said Van. “Jackson has never been defeated with this horse.”