The Horse America Made Helping Empow(her): Joan Cantrell
Published Date: Mar 28, 2021
The American Saddlebred’s athleticism, grace, kindness, and intelligence are the essence of its spirit that it shares with those lucky enough to have them in their lives. One individual who has fed her soul with the Saddlebred and fell in love with their spirit is Joan Cantrell, at 80 years old she still enjoys showing her American Saddlebreds and has no plans of stopping! Her friends from the Texas American Saddlebred Horse Association and Pin Oak Charity Horse Show share her Saddlebred Story with us to inspire others.
From the 2021 Texas Saddlebred Hall of Fame celebration at the 2021 Pin Oak Charity Horse Show
Joan Cantrell’s love for horses started young, but she knew nothing of saddlebreds until her parents took her to a Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. Fast forward, and at 41, Joan and her daughter, Jessica White, started lessons at Bayou Park Stables with Dorothy Dukes. For about the next 15 years, Joan was the “Queen of Academy” competing on the southwest circuit.
Her horse journey continued, and finally, at age 55, she retired from 30 years of teaching high school math, and she purchased her first saddlebred, Dekarobics.
More horses followed, including Pretty Well Armed, who stayed at Dorothy’s until Dorothy closed the barn. Joan then moved that horse to Jack Magill’s and partnered with her sister Jan Myers to purchase Twice Charmed in 2001.
Joan and Jan were premier clients of Jack’s until his retirement to Florida four years ago. Their years with him established a legend of success in the ring and also in breeding.
In 2003, they purchased Desert’s Favorite Memories, aka Lucky, winning the 5-gaited Show Pleasure class at Lexington Junior League and repeating at the Royal in 2007.
In 2004, Joan purchased Carolina’s Top Gun, which Joan rode to a World’s Championship while bald and undergoing chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery!
In 2006, Joan started a breeding program crossing Pretty Well Armed and Powerful Charm resulting in Pretty Well Charmed who Joan then showed for many years.
In 2015, the sisters purchased Looks Perfect, who Joan showed through 2020.
The successes continued when Joan and Jan moved their horses to Tommy Benton in Louisiana where they are still showing successfully with the products of their breeding program and more!
Joan’s success in the ring is equally matched by her involvement outside the ring. While riding with Dorothy, Joan became involved with TASHA, volunteering and holding many different offices then continuing to support the Texas show circuit in every way
possible. In fact, when Mrs. Perwien retired from the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show board, she talked Joan into taking her place. Joan served in that role making the Pin Oak show a favorite of all the exhibitors until it was sold to a private entity and the charity board retired for good. Even so, the last two years, Joan has continued to coordinate hospitality for the saddlebred exhibitors making sure the best traditions of Pin Oak continued.
Joan’s contribution to the Texas saddlebred industry is almost unmatched as an amateur—her consistent dedication to showing, breeding, volunteering, organizing, and supporting all while overcoming her own hurdles is why we are happy to announce that Joan Cantrell is a 2020-2021 Texas American Saddlebred Hall of Fame inductee.
Joan would like to say she is humbled and honored and very appreciative of the non-horse members of her family that sat by her side and always pitched in, especially her husband Dick. She owes everything she knows about riding and showing to Jack Magill and is thankful to Tommy Benton and his barn family for making her feel so welcome. She says thank you to TASHA and Pink Oak for the friendships and experiences and looks forward to the years ahead.