A Winning Combination
Cousins Tredell and Anthony Meeks work with horses in 4-H.
4-H blends hobby with skill-building for Meeks cousins
Story by Susan Collins-Smith • Photo by Kevin Hudson
Tredell and Anthony Meeks have been riding horses since they were small children. But 6 years ago, they decided they wanted to join 4-H in Holmes County and participate in competitions. “We saw other 4-H members who were doing horse competitions, and we thought it looked like fun,” says 18-year-old Anthony. “We wanted to try it.”
Video by Michaela Parker
Both young men are humble about their wins and say it’s more about the sport and spending time with each other and their horses that keeps them interested.
“We’ve been around horses and been dealing with them since we were little,” Tredell, 17, explains. “We’ve ridden and raced for as long as I can remember.”
Anthony says it was natural to join in on what is a longtime family hobby.
“I got my first horse at 2 years old,” he says. “Horses are just something our family has always had. We ride around the yard. We race them. It’s just fun.”
With the help of Tredell’s dad, Tredell Meeks Sr., the pair trained the horses they ride themselves. They work with them every day and balance feeding, grooming, and riding with their schoolwork. Competition season requires a more intense practice schedule, which Meeks makes sure they follow. He wants them to have fun, but he also wants them to do the work to be prepared for events.
“We practice every day, even if it is raining,” says Meeks. “When we get beat, we get beat at our best. Even then, if they had fun, then that’s all that matters.”
Tredell and Anthony enjoy 4-H for its social aspect, too.
“We get to meet a lot of new people,” Anthony says. “We get to watch them ride. We get riding tips from other people. People like to watch us compete, and they cheer us on.”
They are entertaining, says Mississippi State University Extension Agent Betsy Padgett.
“Daisy is really an amazing horse. She and Tredell are something to see,” she explains. “Tredell and Anthony do team events, and that is fun to watch because they work so well together. They’ve come a long way since they first joined 4-H. They put in the time it takes to get ready for show season, and they have been rewarded pretty well for their dedication.”
The pair’s success in the arena has a lot to do with their relationship with their horses. Daisy was skittish when the family first got her, and it took about a year to get her gentle. Now anyone can ride her, but she knows when it’s showtime.
“We can put a 3-year-old on her, and she takes it easy,” says Tredell. “My dad or anybody can get on her. But when I get on her, she will fly. She knows the difference.”
Inside or outside the arena, the emotional bond they share with their horses is important.
“Horses can read you,” Anthony explains. “If you are nervous, your horse can tell. And, if your horse is nervous, you can tell. If that happens, I just talk to her, and she calms down.”
“4-H brings families together. It’s something they can do together that allows young people to learn. They win ribbons and a little recognition. But they walk away with a lot of life skills.”
— BETSY PADGETT
Tredell says it’s all about the horses anyway.
“If you ask any pro rider, they will tell you that, during competition, it’s about your horse; it’s not about you,” he says.
Their competitions are still a family pastime, with as many as 20 family members and friends going along. Padgett says that is part of what 4-H is about.
“4-H brings families together,” she says. “It’s something they can do together that allows young people to learn. They win ribbons and a little recognition. But they walk away with a lot of life skills.”
Both Tredell and Anthony will compete in 4-H one more year. After 2020, they will be too old to participate in the program, but they aren’t giving up horses or competing. They plan to continue competing on their college’s rodeo team and say they will always own and train horses.