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2019 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year Contest

Vote for the horse trainer you think should be named the 2019 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year!

Voting runs Nov. 14-Dec. 1, 2019

ABF Equine

Astoria Equestrian Center

Bill Cameron International Horsemanship

Chase Lake Equine Center

Cowboy Way Ranch

Desert Lane Performance Horses

Lorrie Grover Horsemanship

Mike Hansen Performance Horses

Nicki Wilcox Show Jumping

Nydin Farm

Slemp Performance Horses

Stone Ranch

Stony Hill Stables

Straight on till morning far.

Walnut Hill Stables

Yuckert Ranch

ABF Equine

08/24/19

Coventry, Connecticut

Alyssa Gagnon is an amazing trainer who has helped me so much. She taught me how to post, and I am now learning to jump 2-3!!

Astoria Equestrian Center

2019

Boonville, NC

Victoria Shaw's motivation is truly inspirational. At 31 years old she already owns her own facility and is a two-time honoree as a rising star by the Arabian Horse Times. She puts the needs of the horses first and foremost and makes sure her riders have the foundation necessary to get the most of their riding experience. Her no-quit attitude is exactly what we need to see more out of in society in general She is living proof that if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. ---------- Her passion for horses was almost mysteriously ingrained in her from birth. The closest riding program at the time was 30-40 minutes away, but her family invested in her passion and it was there that she fell in love with Arabians. She continued riding and showing all through elementary and high school. She accepted a full scholarship to Virginia Intermont and rode for their National Champion equestrian team and still managed to come home every weekend to teach riding lessons to kids at her home barn. Victoria graduated Virginia Intermont with 3 degrees in four years in 2010, and broke ground on the construction of Astoria Ltd., Equestrian Center in her hometown of Boonville, NC just days later. Victoria has a large lesson program, and spends seven days a week teaching kids and young adults, and taking them to shows. Every year she partners with the local elementary schools, 1st and 4th grades, as well as the EC classes to host the Horse Tales Literacy program, with a field trip to the farm to promote and encourage reading. Each year she volunteers her time for a week long Youth Jamboree hosted at Clemson University to help teach equestrian youth, many of whom do not have access to top level trainers and riding instructors at home. These kids look up to her. They come to her with horse problems, but also life problems. She was recognized last year as one of the Top 10 Sport Horse Breeders with the most National Champions. Her hard-earned accolades are a testament to her students and community that anybody, no matter where you're from, has the ability to work hard, pursue passions, and achieve goals.

Bill Cameron International Horsemanship

October 2019

Mojave, CA

I can't say enough about Bill Cameron's dedication to the youth. From working with Down's Syndrome student Filip Grano helping him to earn a Special Olympics Gold Medal, to donating his time to the inner city kids of Operation LA Progress, to helping Caden Robertson (hi functioning asperger) get prepped for his Scout Horsemanship Merit Badge test. With his favorite quote "Every ride is a great ride." Bill continues to inspire our youth not to quit, to stay committed and persevere; because, no matter how the ride goes you are always learning. There is no failure, only a challenge to get up and continue on in your growth. Bill puts in long 12-14 hour days coaching overseas and in Alaska. He is on his third generation of students in Juneau, Alaska. He has coached the grandparents, parents, and now their kids. As I type this Bill is in Sweden at CM Ranch giving a lesson to a paralyzed rider with whom they had to use a crane to get her on her horse. She will be competing in Sweden's Extreme Cowboy Race Saturday October 12th. Locally here in Southern California, Bill continues to donate his time to the annual 4-H Symposium as a guest speaker. At home (Cameron Ranch) Bill works with troubled horses, many of which it is their last chance before being sold or sent off to auction. Bill has an amazing reputation for saving horses by helping their owners better understand them and their unwanted behaviors, turning it all around successfully with many happy results. With Bill Cameron's hefty biography, he remains humble and an inspiration for our youth, dedicating his life to horses and the kids.

Chase Lake Equine Center

Sept. 30, 2019

Fowlerville, Michigan

I chose to nominate Bill Brown for the Trainer of the Year Award because, out of all the trainers I have been able to work with, observe and learn from, he has had the largest impact on my equine-related portion of my life. Watching him work with horses, both his own and his clients, and work with his clients is something anyone could do all day long. Bill Brown demonstrated an incredible act of service, when he gave a wheel-chair bound gentleman, the opportunity to sit on and ride a horse again. Coming from a background in which I worked with physically disabled people and horses, there wasn't a feat more admirable than when he provided that experience for this gentleman. In addition to that touching act of service, while most barns might require the horse owner to stay with their horse when it's sick or charge extra for that service, Bill will be up at all odd hours of the evening, making sure that any sick horse has the best of care and the best chance at taking a turn for the best, not the worst, and getting better, at no extra charge. Not many barn owners will do that. Bill often displays a great level of integrity in his day to day activities on the farm, especially when he does things like spend extra time that could be spent relaxing or doing personal riding or activities, to work with a rider and their horse when they hit a wall, regardless of whether or not they have a lesson scheduled. He will spend all the time it takes teaching a horse a new concept or task during training, and he will spend as long as it takes in a lesson for his student to accomplish the goal they set for themselves, that day. There are no time limits to lessons with Bill, you don't finish until you have accomplished whatever it is you wanted to accomplish that day, and until you and your horse feel confident in your abilities together and as individuals. So many trainers and instructors place their riders and horses on schedules, but not so with Bill, quality always comes before quantity. There is no way anyone can ever doubt whether or not they're getting quality care, or that their horses are getting quality care out at Chase Lake Equine Center. Between constantly checking to make sure horses are happy and healthy daily, to making sure everyone is blanketed properly and given ample hay and shelter in the harsh, Michigan winters, to sitting with clients and talking to them, or just sitting with them and being there when they have to say good-bye to their equine partners, Bill goes out of his way to make sure everything and everyone is well-cared for in the barn and on the farm. He has helped me in more ways than I can list with my riding, horsemanship skills and horse-related knowledge, all of which I have been able to apply to other experiences, off the farm. He has taken countless hours of his time to help make sure I am able to do things successfully, and he does the same to everyone else who calls that barn "home" and that is something we can all appreciate and admire about him.

Cowboy Way Ranch

9/13/2019

Elizabethtown, KY

Over the past several years, PJ O'Connell has begun to notice the disappearance of true horsemanship in today's riders. The disappearance of horsemanship is detrimental to the horse industry and in keeping good, reliable, safe horses on the market. He has always developed his horses with solid foundations built on clear communication methods and trust between the horse and rider. It has always been his goal to develop safe, reliable horses for all levels of riders to enjoy; however, he places even more importance on building horse and rider teams that take companionship and enjoyment to an even higher level, resulting in a team that can take on any challenge presented to them with confidence and trust in each other. PJ has over 25 years experience as a Professional Horseman, getting his start on cutting horses. He is also a recognized Extreme Trail Horse Association Trainer.

Desert Lane Performance Horses

6/1/19

Pasco WA

Let me tell you about Heather Flores. For years I have struggled with confidence, training and showing results. She decided to turn Pro last Winter. Both of us had lost our Heart horses in the recent months and struggled with finding another. She supports and cheers on ALL at every show. She gives pointers to ALL whenever she can contribute her expertise. She volunteers at horse shows big and small. She lends a hand to the newbies we encounter at the shows. She has an amazing heart. Heather was always my biggest nemesis! I would scratch classes because she was entered. For me NOT understanding that this competitive journey is supposed to be fun and humbling. She found Jack Jack. He's 17.3 QH and green. He was terribly out of shape and out of tune. In just under a year he is Unstoppable in the show ring for ALL things English pleasure under Heather's command. He truly is unbeatable with her. Then my turn. We found this mare, young and green. Martina. Hesitant but goal oriented I purchased her. In a few short months of owning her I am a fierce competitor. I have won more High Points in a few short months than years past. Heather has the utmost patience with young horses. And can read their capabilities like it's her child. She has provided us both with the greatest gift of mentorship and commitment thus far. As we both begin this journey together learning about the Breed show world and the Western pleasure show world I have the utmost faith and belief in her capabilities to take me to a level that I could have only imagined in the past. Heather has won more blue ribbons than anyone I know past and present. She continues to be unstoppable in the show ring with her young horse only after a short time with him. I see nothing short of greatness for them. As for me, I am taking on new goals with her leading the way. She builds confidence, she supports my meltdowns with empathy and support, she challenges me to new levels of greatness. Heather understands and preaches that Excellence and Success is a Journey and NOT a destination and has me focusing on such. She is the Trainer of lifetime for me and deserves the Trainer of the Year.

Lorrie Grover Horsemanship

2019

Corpus Christi, TX

Lorrie Grover has the right idea. She shares the healing power of horses with others, whether it is with people in nursing homes or veterans or even meditation groups.

Mike Hansen Performance Horses

October 2019

Ladysmith, WI

My nomination for Horse Trainer of the Year is Mike Hansen. In July, Mike and his wife left the safety of their house as a funnel cloud was approaching to move their animals to safety. It's great to see people who are willing to put the needs of others, including animals, ahead of their own.

Nicki Wilcox Show Jumping

7/8/19

Parker, Colorado

Nicki Wilcox is a wonderful trainer! She pushes every one of her riders to improve and is great to be around! At shows, if you ever cannot find her, just listen to find her laugh! She is so kind and is an amazing rider!

Nydin Farm

2017

Georgetown, Kentucky

There are trainers for people and trainers for horses. Khari Pearson is a trainer for horses. She operates the Nydin Farms Equine Rehabilitation Center in Georgetown, Kentucky and the Natural Saddlebred Association (more on that to follow). A full time trainer, on any given day Khari can be found flying in a hundred different directions so that everything for everyone is taken care of. And by everyone, I mean the horses. She has the heart for, the knowledge, and the ability to take on the horses with mental health issues - work with them, love them, and ultimately make the right decision for them. Some are never well enough or functional enough to leave. Others find good useful homes in the outside world. It's outstanding work. It's heart work. Khari has protocols for training you would never encounter in a "normal" barn -and an assortment of horses that fell out of the "normal" barn, with the "normal" training program, who can't express themselves in "normal" ways. There's room for everyone in Khari's program. Every horse on the farm has a job. The wealth of knowledge is tremendous and she's always willing to share it. She started the Natural Saddlebred Association because through her own work she saw a need. It's an inclusive registry for rescues and horses with no identity and an educational opportunity for everyone young and old. She's a trainer, but more importantly she's truly a great horseman. You will never read about her on the pages of a glossy magazine and she doesn't advertise. The horses and people who need her somehow end up on her doorstep. She's humble in her triumphs - and these are seen in every horse who arrived at her farm because they somehow didn't fit the mold for "normal" - and leaves her farm with new skills, confident to go on to their next adventure.

Slemp Performance Horses

October 2019

Eugene, MO

I have chosen to nominate Heather and Sterling Slemp . (Reining and Cowhorse Trainers) There is absolutely no possible way for me to mention all of the amazing and selfless things these people do. From giving lessons to kids who are in love with horses, to competing at the Snaffle Bit Futurity, Heather and Sterling have done it all. The thing that sets these trainers apart from the rest, and I think everyone else will agree, is the drive they have and the ability to put other's needs before their own. Sterling manages to get the full potential out of every horse he rides. They stop at nothing to ensure that their clients and workers are satisfied. Regardless of the many people who have come to and from Slemp Performance Horses, not one has failed to see the kindness and determination that radiates off of these two amazing people. In modern-day workplaces, regarding an emergency, you can be replaced in days. Not here. From employees or clients struggling with health issues (cancer, disabilities, etc) to family problems, all have been assisted by the kindness of Heather and Sterling. They don't seek to help people for money (as many do), or fame, or business. They help because there is not one person who these trainers don't care about. Heather gives lessons to many children each week and allows them to experience equestrianism in a positive environment. Heather and Sterling take on the daunting task of training 10-20 horses a day together, without a word of complaint about how exhausted they might be. I don't know any two people as selfless as they are, nor do I believe such a pair exist. Not only are Heather and Sterling kind, they are also successful. There are too many titles for me to list. Some include 10th in the world Open Versatility Ranch Reining, Snaffle Bit Futurity finalists, multiple affiliate regional championships, multiple youth world champions, multiple jackpot wins, multiple NRCHA and NRHA awards, and so much more. In addition, Sterling worked as a trainer for Carol Rose for many years. I believe that I could type all day about this incredible couple but I'll leave the video links to finish explaining. I encourage you to watch these before you vote!!!! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx_LagNyRf8 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BLtnG9wF0sU https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vW68bpspEhE https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hJOmTDpixwI

Stone Ranch

6/3/17

Littleton, CO - Little Raven Ranch

Karen Stone is so fun to be around and she is a great trainer! She works well with kids and adults, and every one in between! All of her training is amazing and she is great to ride with!

Stony Hill Stables

July 2018

Amagansett, NY

Wick Hotchkiss is a fabulous dressage trainer. She has ridden her entire life and owns a beautiful barn in the Hamptons. She takes time into training young horses and trains all types of riders, young to older people.

Straight on till morning far.

2018 December 25

Little Marsh, Pennsylvania

Throughout the time I have known Lauren(everyone calls her Kerry) Nelson she has done any and everything to make riding fun yet she also teachs her students to do better. She has recently gotten married and gotten pregnant, and through it all she has thought of her students and the farm. She is the strongest person I know, and to me she is the best trainer of the year.

Walnut Hill Stables

05/23/2019

Marengo, Ohio

I have never met someone so dedicated to their riders as Kaity Colliver is. She inspires everyone to do their best, and has a true passion for horses. I am so proud to be able to call her my trainer. All of the horses love her, and everyone in the barn just adores her. Kaity is amazing with kids, and builds everyone up. Without her, I don't know where I would be in the equine world. Kaity has made such a big difference at our barn and I'm so glad that she is here.

Yuckert Ranch

August 18, 2018

Ellensburg WA

Karen Yuckert has gone out of her way to help her students and make sure kids can attend her camp when they can't financially afford it.

Want to honor a horse trainer for his/her outstanding achievements, unique style, humanitarian or animal rights efforts, etc.? Then nominate him/her for the 5th Annual National Horse Trainer of the Year Award, sponsored by Greatmats. The award, part of Greatmats National Award Series, is designed to recognize Horse Trainers who have made a difference in the lives of their clients, animals and community through the virtues of service, integrity and quality. The 2019 award has also been sponsored by Hay Chix, which is generously offering each finalist three of its half bale original hay nets.

Learn more about Greatmats National Award Series.

How to Nominate

(The nomination period has ended.)

To nominate the trainer for this award, visit https://www.greatmats.com/2019-greatmats-national-horse-trainer-of-the-year.php or email the following information to brett@greatmats.com before Nov. 1, 2019. Nominators will not be identified.

  1. Trainer's Name
  2. Name and location of the training facility (Must be located in the USA)
  3. A brief description of why you are nominating this trainer, including how he/she meets the criteria of high-level service, integrity and quality
  4. A photo and/or video of the trainer

How the winner is chosen:

  1. Voting will take place at https://www.greatmats.com/2019-greatmats-national-horse-trainer-of-the-year.php from Nov. 14 through Dec. 1, 2019. The two horse trainers with the most votes will be named finalists.
  2. Greatmats will judge the two finalists to determine the winner based on:
  3. Demonstration of Service/Community Impact
  4. Demonstration of Integrity
  5. Demonstration of Quality

Grand Prize

  1. $250 in Greatmats Products (or $150 Cash Option) for the training facility
  2. 3 Hay Chix Half Bale Original Nets
  3. Trainer/training facility profile to be released with the announcement of the winner on Dec. 13, 2019.
  4. National Horse Trainer of the Year Certificate

More than 10,600 votes have been cast in the first four years of the contest, which is part of Greatmats' Annual National Award Series. The Greatmats National Award Series is designed to recognize instructors, trainers and coaches, who have made a positive impact in their communities and the lives of their students/clients.

Voting Instructions:

Visit https://www.greatmats.com/2019-greatmats-national-horse-trainer-of-the-year.php during the voting period to vote for this year's National Horse Trainer of the Year. Click the vote button next to the photo of the Horse Trainer you'd like to win. Feel free to share the ballot with friends and family and encourage them to vote. The two horse trainers with the most votes will be named finalists. From that point, Greatmats will choose the winner (scroll down to see prizes) based on the criteria listed above.

Greatmats is a national horse stall, stable and trailer flooring leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources.

View all of Greatmats' horse stall mats at http://www.greatmats.com/horse-stall-mats.php.

All media submissions, including text, photos and videos become property of Greatmats.

Read about past winners of the award:

2016 National Horse Trainer of the Year Jessica Montezuma

2017 National Horse Trainer of the Year Kelly Murphy-Alley

2018 National Horse Trainer of the Year Tammy Smith