We will add information on the horse/trainer teams once trainers pick up their horses.
Professionals compete with horses wcho have not been started under saddle prior to June 15th or who have had severe behavioral problems when they began the Challenge.
Benjamin Arreguin and Soleil
Ben says he always wanted a horse growing up, but he wasn’t able to afford one until he graduated college. “January 2009 I bought my first horse, Lucy. With no prior experience except for visiting my family in México once a year as a kid, I proceeded to buy the book “Horses for Dummies” and thus began my horse education. I was a teacher in FWISD until 2013, when I decided to resign and pursue my dream of riding horses for a living. I was blessed with the opportunity to work for Ashley Dunn at Sambambyr Farm in Weatherford, TX for 2 years. Within a few months of working for her I was showing horses in the NRHA. While at Sambambyr, I was able to work with finished reining horses, reining horses in training, mustangs, start 2 year olds, re-start off the track thoroughbreds, and anything in between.”
After leaving Sambambyr Farm, Ben began working with horses at his own personal barn, J40BAR, in Azle, TX. With a background in reining, Ben says he really emphasizes a horse being truly broke, from their poll to their hip. “I truly believe that a horse with a reining foundation can be taken in so many directions.”
Amy Anderson and Sunday
Through Ashley’s everyday life of owning, riding, training, falling off of, and teaching about horses, Ashley has developed an admirable character, which has driven her to not only dream big, but to work hard and achieve her goals while helping others do the same. Ashley has been horse crazy since she could walk and started learning more about caring and riding horses when she was about 6 years old. It was when she joined the Williamson County Hoofpicks 4-H club that she realized horse training was her passion. Through her battles with different horses and different problems Ashley was able to meet and learn from many talented trainers. Ashley now owns her business AA Horsemanship where she shares her passion with others and helps teach those with problem horses the philosophy of how horses think and how to overcome these challenges. “Helping people overcome problems with their horses and improving their horsemanship skills is extremely rewarding. I want everyone to know you don’t have to give up, there’s always a solution for every horse and rider”, she says. Ashley is located in San Antonio, Texas and travels around the state of Texas to help horse lovers like you overcome challenges with lessons, clinics, horse sales, and training.
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Jodi Brassard and Creek
Jodi Brassard is an All Around Trainer from Austin, Texas. Jodi has been professionally training and giving lessons for 15 years. She credits her mother for introducing her to horses at a young age, and has been riding ever since. She got her start riding problem horses for friends, and worked all the way to starting her own colts. Jodi traditionally rides Western, but also enjoys switching things up with Hunter/Jumper and Dressage. For both training and lessons, Jodi always emphasizes safety, explaining “safety is the first, middle, and last thing you do”. On the training side she likes her horses to feel fluid and confident. This ensures the necessary foundation for a great companion. Jodi’s motto is “Making Horse And Rider A Team”, and has worked with students of all ages and disciplines. Jodi also has a history of therapeutic riding, using horses as a tool for children with Asperger’s Syndrome and those with muscular degeneration. One of her favorite activities is trail riding, as she loves the change of pace a trail provides. Jodi was looking to add to the relationship and well being of her equine companions. She found Traditional Chinese Medicine and was very excited to add Acupressure to her training program. Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute was the answer to “Getting and keeping your horse sound”, as Jodi says. As seen in training, most horses get injured because they are not ready for the heavy work of a training program. Acupressure offers a safe and effective way to keep our equine friends healthy while maintaining their job. Jodi has seen amazing benefits in the horses she has cared for.
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Jodi’s Facebook page
Mychelle Clark and Cleopatra
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Cassidy Edwards and Panama Jack
Cassidy is a 23 year old, horsewoman from Hico, TX.
Cassidy says, “I’ve been riding since as long as I can remember, and started working at different barns when I was 15. That’s about when I knew I wanted to work with horses for a living and be a horse trainer.”
For the past three years, Cassidy has been buying, training, and selling horses for herself and clients. Cassidy is a barrel racer who runs horses that she starts under saddle. =
“I love starting colts and putting a proper foundation on them, I think this is so important for the success of the rest of their lives and I like to make sure it gets done right.
What makes me happiest is getting a long yearling to a 3 yo that’s maybe not real gentle yet or halter broke; and training them from start to finish and loving the way that they work for me.
I like to get a horse willing & happy to work for me, that has the want to and desire to please. The way that works for me is to have a really good balance between firm discipline and lots of spoiling, praise and pampering.”
Cassidy believes if you treat horses like royalty, they act like it!
Lauren Irby and Smokestack Lightning
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Dakota Jones and Isabella
Dakota Jones has been riding since he was about eight years old and training horses since he was 17. Dakota has trained all different breeds of horses from Arabians to Quarter Horses to mustangs and everything in between. He mainly focuses on Western disciplines such as cutting, roping, and barrel racing but he has competed in dressage and hunter jumper and have trained several horses in those disciplines as well. Dakota says, “My favorite activity is colt breaking and rehabilitating abused horses. One of the horses I own is a rescue horse that I adopted. He had been abandoned by his owner with his saddle still on and he was starved and the saddle had grown into his back. It took the rescuers 31 days to catch him and before I got him, he had been to 7 different trainers and no one could ride him. I worked with him about a week and was able to ride him. I eventually want to start a program that takes abused horses and partners them with at-risk youth and teach them love and respect for each other.” Dakota’s website
Dakota’s Facebook page
David Konefal and Gus
Hilary LoBue and Lucy Loo
Mark Mills and Boomer
Mark Mills has over 30 years of experience in the cutting horse industry as a professional trainer and competitor. He is a National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Hall of Fame Trainer with over $1.2 million dollars in lifetime earnings and has trained and coached many horses and riders — youth, amateur, and non-pro — to the NCHA Top 15 World Standings. Mark is located in Brookshire, Texas, where he runs a busy show barn for cutting and reined cow horse competitors. In 2015, Mark founded Ranch Hand Camp, a camp for children held during summer and school breaks, which teaches horsemanship, team building, and leadership skills through innovative games and activities. He also recently founded the Bluebonnet Country Reined Cow Horse Association, holding NRCHA sanctioned shows in the Brenham area. And while it may seem like the barn is show-focused, the ranch is regularly overrun with kids, he welcomes riders and horses of all levels, and has a challenging obstacle course to enjoy.
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Ashley Shaw and Promise
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Ashley is owner of Ashley Shaw Dressage and trainer at Galloping Springs Ranch. She is a USDF Silver and Bronze medalist, riding for the past 20 years. Ashley has worked in the Netherlands for the 2016 Dutch Olympic team coach Johan Rockx and his wife, Penny Zavitz Rockx, as well as 2012 USA Olympic team member Jan Ebeling in LA. Ashley grew up southwest of Austin, Texas riding western and competing in 4-H. This is her first BEHS challenge.
Tori Verboom and April
Tori Verboom is our youngest trainer in the division at 18 years old. She’s the owner of Tribal C Performance Horses. She started her business about a year ago, and her mission is to help anyone interested in horses to stay interested and fulfill their dreams of riding. Tori trains horses as well as gives lessons.
Tori says, “I was helped by a lot of great “horsey” people when I was younger and couldn’t afford my own horses. So my idea is to help others the same way I was! I have competed and ridden MANY disciplines as well as breeds and this is my passion! I am so grateful for the oppurtunity to compete with this rescue and I look forward to the Expo!”
Camille Yoder and Lilly of the Valley
This is Camille’s first time competing in the training challenge. She is 26 years old and began riding and competing in hunter/jumper shows at age 5. She has also shown Arabians, competed in barrel racing/playdays as well as ranch sorting events, and retrained off-track Thoroughbreds. She says, “My first horse was a rescue from the HSPCA who I trained and competed successfully in jumpers. I now work at Century Acres Farm in Hempstead, TX where we focus on hunter/jumper, eventing, and Thoroughbred race horses. In addition, I recently graduated law school at the University of Houston and intend on practicing equine law in the Texas area.”
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Julie Zander and Prairie Rose
Julie Zander, 21, of Brenham Texas has been invested in the equine industry since childhood. Though her primary experience is in Shetland Ponies, she credits the versatile and ambitious ponies with her experience in a wide variety of disciplines including: trail, hunter, showmanship, halter, driving, english and western riding, and an understanding of Arabian, Saddlebred, and Quarter Horse breed standards.
January 2017 marks the beginning of her official career as a professional trainer under Omega Stables, though she has been training her own horses for over ten years. Julie is a numerous time National Champion in Shetland and Miniature competition and has competed in 4-H State and District shows with her most notable accomplishment being winning the 3 year old Futurity Reigning class at the State show. She also completed the Texas State 4-H Equine Ambassador program. Julie loves working with horses and horseman of all levels, but especially enjoys coaching kids. In the near future Julie plans on expanding into Pinto shows to increase awareness of Shetland ponies and also of her training abilities. Though this is her first time to participate in the Training Challenge, she is thrilled for the opportunity to volunteer her time to such a deserving horse as Prairie Rose.
Non-Pro In-Hand Division
Horses in this hand have not been broke to ride or have lameness issues that leave them unsuitable for riding. They have been worked with in hand by foster homes (novice/non-pro) handlers.
Tracy Cann and Keera
Tracy Cann has been working with horses off and on since she was a small child. She says, “My first memory of riding was helping my father train a Quarter Horse cross stallion. By training, I mean my father put me on the horse and I fell off when it bucked. I was 7 years old and despite falling off allot I still liked the horse and he did his best not to step on me. He was a very kind animal.”
Tracy’s day job is with the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center at Lackland AFB, specifically with the DoD Belgian Malinois Breeding Program. The breed, raise, and train the next generation of your military’s explosive detection and patrol dogs. So, a totally different thing than horse training, and yet not that different.
Tracy has ridden in many disciplines over the years but she says she found found her soul in Endurance Riding about 18 years ago. “You can have a blast on a horse and try to murder yourself for 50 miles in 12 hours or less. Not to mention camping with your horse in extreme conditions. It’s more fun than one person should be permitted to have, actually.”
Tracy has been with BEHS since 2008 or 2009. She says, “Best Horse Rescue Organization out there if you ask me, and I’ve seen a few. I foster one or two horses or donkeys, at a time, and we’ve adopted a couple as well (Nacona & Phoebe). We love going to the Expo every year and I tend to get talked into the Training Challenge, obviously. It’s a wonderful way to show off these amazing animals.”
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Heather England and Dash
Kassidy Hedrick and Dudley
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Beverly Sanborn and Jingle Bob
Carter Wills and Twilight Sparkle
Carter is a 5 year old little girl from Troy Texas competing in her very first Training Challenge. Carter has been riding independently since she was 3 1/2 and have been barrel racing and doing playdays since March of 2016. She currently rides a miniature paint gelding that she named Small Fry and an APHA solid sorrel mare named Sunny. Carter says, “When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian, barrel racer and a mom.”
Words from Carter’s mother: “Her passion for horses far exceeds the typical love that little girls have for them. She works hard to become better every time she handles a horse. She is very independent with all of our horses (which is a blessing and a curse) and wants to do everything with them herself. She is not a child that you can tell her that the horse has a “boo boo”, she wants to know the extent and the actual name of what is injured. When her horse was severely hurt, she went out everyday to cold hose and wrap and hand walk him, even in February weather. I hope that she positively impacts Twilights life and that in return this challange does the same for her.”
Non-Pro Under Saddle
The horses in this division were trained to ride prior to the Challenge and did not have any known behavior problems. Foster homes (novice/non-pro) are putting additional rides on them to help them become more adoptable.
Victoria Dwyer and Max
Troy England and Easter
Alayna Fuller and Phoenix Fire
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Kaitlyn Glass and My Chiquita
Newburg 4-H member, Kaitlyn Glass, started out competing in play days and junior rodeos and has gone on to qualify for NBHA World in youth and open divisions. She began starting her own horses in 2014 to compete on to win multiple AHCA national titles in youth and open divisions. This is Kaitlyn’s sixth year to participate in the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society Rescue Horse Training Challenge. Kaitlyn is the 2015 AQHA Young Horse Development Program national winner. She serves as a Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador and enjoys competing in equine obstacle challenges. Kaitlyn is a junior at Priddy ISD where she is actively involved in FFA and basketball. Kaitlyn dedicates her time to gaining equine knowledge and experience through natural horsemanship to build a strong relationship with her equine partners.
Olivia Jones and Cindera
Linda Kirk and Thor
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Amber Kurkowski and Remi
Amber Kurkowski grew up in Northern NV, started riding at the age of 8, and spent her summers working on a neighboring cattle ranch helping move cattle and competing in local rodeo and 4-H events. After High School she went on to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point where she rode for 4 years in the IHSA on the Army Equestrian team in the Novice and Intermediate Hunter/Jumper divisions and she served as the Equestrian Team Captain her senior year. After graduation, she served 5 years in the Army, did 2 deployments to Iraq and completed her service in 2012 as a Captain. In 2011, she rescued her first horse, Lulu an OTTB, that was badly starved and abused. Through Lulu’s rehabilitation and retraining, Amber found her passion in saving neglected horses. She currently has 8 horses of her own, the majority of which she has rescued over the years from kill pens and neglectful circumstances. She started fostering with BEHS in 2016 and one of her horses is a foster failure. She is currently on her 3rd foster horse, Remi, who she is working with for the 2017 Bluebonnet Training Challenge. Amber is the co-owner of K & W Engineering Solutions at www.kwengineeringsolutions.net.
Sabine Lazo and Judge Roy Bean
Sabine Lazo is 14 years old, and this is her first ever BEHS Training Challenge! Sabine says, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been riding and my mom Kelly Lazo has been assisting with Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. She competed in the first ever Bluebonnet Expo, so I’m excited to carry on the tradition.” Sabine shows horses, mostly Paints, and she serves as Vice-President of the American Junior Paint Horse Association nationally and as President of the Gulf Coast and Texas Paint Horse Clubs regionally. Sabine adds, “I look forward to expanding my experiences. Over the course of this year’s training period, my goal is to help my partner, Judge Roy Bean, find his perfect adopter while honing my own horsemanship skills. See you all in October!”
Liz Robertson and Tap
Milinda Sill and Amaal
Milinda Sill works all day and rides all evening. Horses are truly the highlight of Milinda’s day bringing life, love and laughter. Milinda has been riding for many years and really focuses on trail riding for FUN. Milinda has been a member of BEHS since May 2016, has ridden in the Bell County Sheriff’s posse, some play days and riding clubs.
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Christy Simmone and Poe
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Torri Whitaker and Amora
Torri is a lifelong lover of horses, but growing up in Houston was not able to consistently be involved with horses until attending Texas A&M University. Here she finally fulfilled her dream of being involved in the horse world. She quickly excelled in working with problem horses and was partnered with many throughout her college career. After college she adopted an off the track Appendix Quarter Horse who has now been her partner for 19 years. Her degrees in Animal Science and Agriculture Education have enabled her to work as a program director at an equine therapeutic riding facility, where she evaluated prospective program horses for suitability, and a content specialist in an outreach program for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. She strives to continue to learn all she can about improving the health and welfare of horses.
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Vickie Whitaker and Gilda
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Ginger Zaky and Lincoln