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Justine Tidwell – Select And Going Strong

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362 – May/June, 2024

By Susan Winslow

Whether she is winging her way through the sky in one of her family’s airplanes or soaring over a jump on one of her elegant Quarter Horses, Justine Tidwell welcomes a challenge. This intrepid competitor comes from a long line of adventurers with a can-do spirit.

Indeed, her grandfather, Laurie Yonge, was a barnstormer who flew Charles Lindbergh around the country following Lindbergh’s famous trans-Atlantic flight. Justine says, “My grandfather’s flying license was signed by Orville Wright and there have been so many pilots in our family. I soloed at the age of 16 and I love to fly.”

Tidwell became a flight attendant working with her father in an aviation charter company before working for Delta and Phoenix Air in Cartersville, Georgia, where she and her family live today. She says, “I was fortunate with the flexibility of an aviation career to allow me to show my horses.”

Now a successful Select competitor, Tidwell started riding in Miami, Florida, at the age of four on a diminutive pony named Timmy. At the age of five, she caught the show bug when she competed in the Dade County Youth Fair. Tidwell’s next pony was a rescue, purchased for the price of his feed bill. Tidwell recalls, “He’d been abandoned but he turned out to be a great little hunter that loved to jump. If you turned him out in a field with jumps, he’d find those jumps and jump them on his own. This started my love for the hunters.”

Riding with the G-Man Himself

When Justine was 15, the family moved to Fort Lauderdale and Tidwell started riding with The Equine Chronicle’s own Gordon Downey. Tidwell laughs when she recalls, “It was the G-Man himself. He helped me to elevate every aspect of showing horses. He trained my horses and coached me to a very successful open show career. It’s because of him that I started showing at the AQHA shows and he found my horse, Totally Dave (Dave).”

In 1993, Tidwell began riding with Sandy Vaughn at her farm in Wildwood, Florida, where she met her husband, Michael, in 1999. The couple married on 11/10/01 and both competed with their horse, Whatsnewwithyou (New), working with Michael Colvin in Georgia to take New to the top of the Hunter competition. Tidwell says, “Michael Colvin turned this big bay hunter into a Hunter Under Saddle horse and an Equitation machine. My husband and I had a blast showing him together in 2002.” Although they kept horses in their lives, the couple took a break from competition to focus on family, welcoming their son, Ross, in 2006.

The Call of the Show Pen

Click here to read the complete article
362 – May/June, 2024

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