Horse trainer Joni Nelson of Davenport, Iowa has seemingly turned into a trail superstar overnight. Recently at the Stars N Stripes and Big A Circuit, Nelson reached her personal best by earning 211 points on four horses. Quite an accomplishment from a trainer not known as being a Trail specialist---but that perception is quickly changing.
"It has been a lot of fun this year. I'm lucky to have some great horses to show," Nelson told GoHorseShow. "I'm having to compete against a great group of competitors and nice horses in the Junior and Green Trail, so I had to quickly step up my game. Trail is a very humbling class--one day you can feel pretty good and the next you can completely destroy the pattern."
Nelson adds, "I enjoy the Trail because it is challenging, and I can go look at my score sheets and see where I can improve. It has a higher degree of difficulty than the pleasure, and I enjoy taking good movers and teaching them the obstacles with a little bit of style. It is a really hard and rewarding class."
Joni is currently showing One Hot Drama Mama who were Big A Circuit Champions in the Green Trail and currently leading the nation in the Green Trail (unofficially), as well as Hes Pretty Good, and Ranges R Graceful Too.
Earlier this year, she was successful with Lets Shake Them Up before she sold him to Chad Evan's customer, Betty Watts. Just a few days ago, she sold another Trail star, Call Me A Hottie--who won the Denver Stock Show Circuit in the Green Trail.
While Nelson has recently stepped up her game in this class, she did have some success before this breakout year. In 2007, she started showing a great Trail horse called, IAlwaysGet LuckyWithYou, that she says taught her a lot about the class. At the time, Joni remembers saying that she was never going to do the Trail and that she didn't like the class. She recalls quickly changing her tune when this duo was the 2007 Circuit Champions at the Big A in Junior Trail and was seventh at the Congress in the Junior Trail. In 2010, she also tied to win the Congress in Junior Trail with Hotrods R Lucky Too.
Nelson credits Tommy Sheets, her husband, Craig Nelson, and Bruce Vickery for helping improve her abilities in this tough class.
"Tommy broke down the obstacles for me and showed me how to approach each obstacle. Bruce helped me learn how to go through the obstacles with more style, and my husband is a very good eye on the ground, and he is a lot more patient than me--so sometimes I have him work the back thru and other obstacles that need to be practiced slower. I am highly indebted to them all."
Nelson said her personal goals are to win the Congress and the World in the Junior Trail and also to maintain a good set of Junior and Green Trail horses every year.
"It has been a great year, and I look forward to getting better every day," Joni says. I couldn't have had the success I have had without my customers and their talented horses, and I would like to thank everyone for all their help and support."