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Trainer Spotlight: Beth Clemons of Jim and Deanna Searles’ Circle S Ranch

Trainer Beth Clemons currently lives at Circle S Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ, where she assists Jim and Deanna Searles as well as maintains clients of her own. “I’ve always specialized in All-Around horses, but I am working toward more focus on building teams to compete in western all-around events,” Clemons told us.

Originally from Southern California, Clemons spent most of her youth at the ranch when she wasn’t at school or soccer practice. Clemons started out riding Hunter Jumpers and did a few small schooling shows around age 7 or 8 before getting her first pony intended for trail riding. Beth didn’t start showing Quarter Horses until she was 14 or 15. She attended the California State University of Long Beach before pursuing her riding career further.

Q: Hi, Beth. Thanks for sitting down with us. Can you tell us what you like about horses and showing?

A: There are so many aspects of showing that help build a person. You have to learn how to lose, how to take criticism, and how to perform in front of peers. I am a competitive person, so every time I go to a show, I enjoy finding things that I can work on and talking to fellow trainers who I can learn from and swap notes with. 

Q: What are some of your favorite accomplishments in the show arena?

I have a few that come to mind. The first being the first time I won the circuit in the Senior Western Pleasure. I always loved pleasure as a teenager, but I never imagined I could win the open. I showed my favorite horse, Make Mine A Good Bar, on a whim. He hasn’t shown pleasure in a few years, so it was a nice surprise to have such good trips around the pen.

The second was when my mom, who hadn’t shown in 30 years, exhibited at the Level 1 Championships on her mare Sweet I Will Be. When there were only three left in the arena, she fell over her horse’s neck and gave her a big hug. Since my mom has been so supportive of my career, it was nice to see her get to be reserve.

The third is when one of my extremely hard-working youth kids, Savannah Dial, won the Level 1 Western Pleasure at the Level 1 Championships. Savannah had had a rough year getting to know her new horse, RR Lookin So Certain. She never had a negative attitude about the struggles they had, just put her nose to the grindstone and worked harder.

Q: What are some well-known horses you have helped train?

A: I think some of the most notable horses I trained while in California were Make Mine A Good Bar, HP Heza Dream, and Wicked N White.

Q: Who are some of your biggest mentors?

A: My biggest mentors are easy, Jim and Deanna (Searles). They have had an amazingly successful program for many years. It takes a special team to have the kind of staying power they have. They manage to also have a great balance with their personal and professional lives, which is nearly impossible to do at their level of success. Just a few of the many things I hope to learn from them.

Q: What advice do you have for young trainers?

A: Work hard. You may not think anyone notices, but they do. You will eventually be rewarded. Keep your head down, accept all help anyone offers…you don’t have to use it all, but you should still listen and analyze. Stay out of the drama; some people may not like you for it, but it’s better for your mental health. Most importantly, be a horseman, not just a horse trainer.

Q: Favorite memories from the industry?

A: My favorite memory was showing for my first time at the World Show.  I had everything against me as my horse had come up lame with an abscess, 32 hours before it was time to show. I stayed up all night with him on the Theraplate and missed my 3 am trail warm-up. Anyone who has shown trail at the World Show knows how important that time can be. We didn’t scratch, and I got him out a couple of hours before our draw, and he looked sound. We had the farrier tack his shoe on, but there wasn’t enough time to longe him. I was just going to have to go for it. When I walked down the shoot, he snorted at a brick wall. I softly said, “Mac, you’re okay,” and then we went around the course the best he could, given the circumstances. I believe we were 16th or 17th, so just barely out of it, but I couldn’t believe how much he trusted me and tried so hard for me. That’s what horses are supposed to be about.

Q: How did you come about working for The Searles? What do you like about working for them?

That’s a funny story. At the Silver Dollar Circuit last year, Deanna approached me about wanting to try Make Mine A Good Bar for Kathy Tobin. Mac’s owner and I were very attached to him and have always said no, he’s not for sale. Well, this time, I laughed and said, “If you buy that horse, you will have to hire me.” 

Well, it was supposed to be a joke. Regardless, we discussed the potential purchase of the horse as well as the job opportunity until I told them the timing just wasn’t right for me to take the job. I added, “if you ever need help at a show I’m not going to, let me know.” 

Unfortunately, Make Mine A Good Bar passed away suddenly, and the Searles invited me to ride at the ranch in Scottsdale. Then, I worked for them at NSBA and the World Show. After that, it was clear to me that they were people I could continue to learn from, and our programs were similar enough that the transition wouldn’t be too difficult. It was a difficult decision to shut down a successful business in Southern California, but I couldn’t be happier about the experience I’m gaining. I’ve already been able to find a much better work and personal life balance thanks to their generosity.

Q: What is one thing people probably don’t know about you?

Just one? Hmm, let me think. Most people don’t know that I worked in Marketing for Vans handling athlete contracts and expenses. It’s only due to the economic downturn that I was laid off and started working for Tonya Brown back in 2009.  Big proof to me that everything happens for a reason, you can’t stress over God’s plan.

Q: What would you like to see improved with the industry?

I would love to see the numbers rise again and focus on bringing new people into the industry.  We need to find a way to get people involved and educated about our world.  Additionally, I would like to see more adults build kids into horsemen; the sport shouldn’t be all about riding and winning competitions. There is nothing I hate to see more than a kid who’s physically capable, refuse to saddle or bathe their horses, and a parent or trainer allows it.

Q: What are your future goals?

My biggest goal is never to stop learning and growing. I mean, I wouldn’t complain if there was a globe in my future, but I’d like to build horses my clients can win globes on as well.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

I need to add that I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity, as well as all the others that have gotten me where I am today. I have had an excellent team of people that have given me the building blocks I needed to build my program.