One-on-one with Elizabeth Beatty, Iowa State Fair horse trainer and dog handler

Elizabeth Beatty, far right, has been showing dogs through 4-H since she was in fifth grade.

Frances Myers

Elizabeth Beatty, senior in animal science, has been involved with the Iowa State Fair since she was 11 years old. Beatty has specialized in showing horses and dogs. She sat down with the Daily to talk about her experiences of showing at the Iowa State Fair and how far she has come.

What will you be showing at State Fair?

I will be showing in the FFA horse show and the open dog show

How long have you been showing at State Fair?

I have been showing since I was in fifth grade, so about 11 years now.

Have you always shown horses and dogs or were there ever years when you differed in what you showed?

No it’s always been horses and dogs although last year I was part of the Shining Stars Percheron Hitch, which was different for me because I normally show stock type horses.

Can you tell me a little about that?

Well I interned with the hitch all summer and traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin to other fairs and worked with the main trainer and driver during the week to take care of the horses and condition them for the shows. We often had nine or 10 horses at every show, and I helped to take care of them and the harnesses before hitch time.

How did you get involved with showing at the state fair?

It was through 4-H. I started showing my dogs and horses when I was in fifth grade, and I also did the Cowgirl Queen contest. It’s been something my sisters and mom and I always do. We camp in a tent starting the Monday before the fair starts up until Friday when the queen contest is.

Do you typically show a particular breed of horse?

Both of the horses I have right now are paints, but my oldest horse was a grade mare without papers, and the gelding after that was a quarter horse. I don’t have a preference of breed really. I just work with what is available to me. Although I will always prefer Percherons after last summer’s internship when it comes to draft horses.

What about dogs? Any particulars there?

We raise German shepherds so I am a little biased, but I’ve also trained a [golden retriever,] too. My sister really loves her shelties.

Do you have any favorite memories of showing at state fair?

The first year I took my bottle colt, Indigo, up to the fair was fantastic. He was four, and I had worked so hard that summer, and he got blues in trail and reining. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy as I was with him then.

How long do you typically work with your horses and dogs?

When I was in high school I typically went from March to October with my horses with serious riding and some light riding — like pulling a sled around during the winter. I train dogs from April to August.

What does training consist of exactly?

For the horses riding up to two and a half hours depending on the day and level of conditioning and then two to three hours of grooming and basic care. The dogs are about 30 minutes a day of obedience work such as heeling and stays, etc. I go by the “quit while you’re ahead” rule for both. When I’ve achieved my specific goal for the day I stop.

What’s it like when you’re in the show ring? What goes through your head? Is there anything you do to prepare beforehand?

Usually I am thinking about what my pattern is and breaking down how I did as I go. My gelding can be a little crazy sometimes so I am always thinking about what might make him nervous or jittery and what I can do to counteract that. Beforehand, I do lots of warming up and just memorizing patterns.

Do you have any goals you’d like to achieve this year?

I have a new 3-year-old mare, Kenya, that I would like to have ready for showmanship and halter this year at the fair. My paint gelding Indigo is recovering from a trailering accident so most of my plans are moot. With Ulysses, my German shepherd, I would like to get a 190/200 in the pre-novice [class] at the open show.