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PJ O’Connell Named 2019 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year

By Brett Hart // 2019

For horse trainer of Cowboy Way Ranch in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, every experience should be a positive one. And that mentality has led him to making a positive impact on his clients and community for the past 25 years - something that became evident as he recently earned the title of 2019 Greatmats National Horse Trainer of the Year.

“Don’t ever look at anything as bad. Always look at something as positive and learn from it. Be a well rounded person.”

Those are the words he lives by and tries to instill in those around him.

As the son of a horse trainer who has carried on the tradition on his own for the past two and a half decades, PJ says horses are in his blood.

“Horses are a big influence,” he said. “Anyone that’s been raised with them… they’re a positive influence in their life. It teaches them responsibility. It teaches them a lot of things. I’m addicted to them. Every horse has a different personality. They’re like little kids to me.”

PJ often uses horsemanship to help kids and other clients overcome things like timidness to achieve their goals.

“I’ve got a lot of kids that come here,” he said. “Their one-hour lessons are half days half of the time, but I’m fine with that. I’m big in teaching the youth. The youth is the future - of everything.”

That’s part of what makes this award extra special to PJ as it is designed to honor those who have dedicated themselves to making a positive impact in their communities.

PJ has also been known to take part in a lot of youth associations as well to help homeless and underprivileged youth.

“We try to sponsor a lot of that stuff,” PJ said, noting that he likes to focus on getting the kids out and interteractive.

When PJ learned he had been nominated for the award he said, “I was kind of floored to be honest. I try to keep a low profile. I’m not looking for the limelight. I enjoy what I do.”

By the time the voting was complete, PJ was no longer under the impression that he was keeping a low profile as he gathered more than 3,700 votes.

“My phone blew up for days,’ he said. “The recognition is great, but just the support. The reconnection with old clients and people I haven’t talked to in a while. To know they still think positively of me and stuff like that - that’s very encouraging. It’s humbling. It’s inspiring.”

As the contest winner, PJ will receive the $250 in Greatmats Products (or $150 cash) as well as 3 hay nets from Hay Chix for Cowboy Way Ranch.
PJ O'Connell
Cowboy Way Ranch
Elizabethtown KY 42701
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