Find A Horse

Business Search


Trainer Interview with Janelle Ward Schaefer
Articles from the may not be republished without permission.
Posted on July 20, 2006   By:  Christy Dicks Midwest Stallion Directory
World Champion Trainer, Janelle Ward Schaefer, talks to the Midwest Stallion Directory about AQHA's Increase in Forward Motion, the move of the International Buckskin Horse Association World Show from Missouri to Colorado, and changes in the Horse Industry.
Photo credit Rosemary Lahmann

Printable Version

Your Farm:

The Paddock; Truro Iowa

Contact Information:


Breeds that You Train:

AQHA and APHA mostly.  I specialize more in Buckskins. I train for both English and Western events and work with many all-around horses and riders.

Class Specialties:

All-Around Events. Growing up as a kid, I specialized more in the English/Hunter-Jumper style but competed as an all-around rider.  In college I really found a passion for working western events as well.  I have worked for Hunter/Jumper trainers, pleasure trainers and for Reining trainers.  Working for the Reining Trainers helped me learn the most about new fields and to become a well-rounded trainer.  My experience in both Hunter/Jumper and Western allowed me to learn training techniques that other trainers may not use.

What Hunter/Jumper Techniques Do You Use with Your Western Pleasure Horses?

I use forward motion.  I strive to bring out the true forward motion of the horse.  A lot of trainers work so hard to get slow that they don’t get the full range of motion from the animal. I might not always have the slowest horse in the pen, but I hope that my horse is  the most natural moving horse in the pen while maintaining a slow pace.

Is AQHA’s new “Forward Motion” Rule Changing the Look of Western Pleasure?

The forward motion rule is slow in coming, but it is going to come.  There are a lot of old school trainers and a lot of politics.  It is hard to make changes because the old school trainers have many clients and many horses.  When making a change such like this, it takes the trainers a while to change their technique to meet the needs of the industry.  It will probably take about 5 years.  This is why I like showing at some of the smaller breeds because it never got to that point that the horses lost so much forward motion.  I’ve been showing the Buckskin breed for about 10 years, and even the Buckskin breed is going through changes.  The change is out there but is will be slow coming.

What is your typical day like?

My day starts at out home spending quality time with my 2 year old son, Weston, and 4 year old daughter, Emma.  The three of us then head out to the barn.  I have a young gal that helps me with the children while I am working horses.  I work horses all day long and teach lessons intermittently.  My training day ends around 6-8 PM.  Then I head home to put the kids to bed.  My husband is really great!  He works a mechanic job during the day then comes out to the farm where I train.  He is a big help around the farm; helping with the hay and making sure that all the equipment is working. 

When did you know that you wanted to be a horse trainer?

I started training horses for other people for open shows in high school.  When I got out of high school, I didn’t go Amateur, I immediately showed in the Open Division.  I decided to go to a 4 year college with an equine major.  It’s so easy to get hurt, so I wanted a degree to fall back on.  I chose the University of Wisconsin at River Falls where I earned a Bachelors in Animal Science with an Equestrian Emphasis.  They have a really well-rounded program at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.  Our classes included Pre-Vet, Business, and Engineering classes.  I was attracted to the University by Larry Kasten, who was the head of the Equine program.  He was a reining trainer with a wide range of connections.  He was able to get students internships with Carol Rose, and even at barns in Germany.  These connections helped me get into the horse industry and understand what goes on behind the scenes of being a horse trainer.  I rode on the Intercollegiate Team while I was there and after graduation became an Assistant Coach.  This helped me find a unique teaching style.  I very much treasure my college experience and know that it has brought a lot to me in working with Amateur and Youth kids. 

Where Did You Grow Up?

We moved to Des Moines, IA when I was 8 years old.  This is where I graduated from High School.  I then spent two years attending Des Moines Area Community College. 

After that, I moved to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin at River Falls.

Where Did Life Take You After College?

I stayed in Wisconsin for 6 or 7 years.  It is amazing horse country in River Falls, WI. There are huge horse facilities all over an close to one another with nice amenities.  One of the things that I miss from Wisconsin is that all of the trainers would get together and have lunch.  During lunch, we would talk about horse training and ask questions or offer advice

Tell Us About Your First Horse.

It was a Pony.  I rode in every event against horses at open shows and a lot of time would beat them.  My philosophy was “Why go to the show and sit around all day for one class?”

Later, I got my first real horse.  Her name was Chick’s Moon Bar, a Black AQHA mare.  I still have her and she is now 25 years old.  We did a lot of 4-H stuff-Ak-Sar-Ben, State Fairs, etc.  She was more of a hunt seat horse, but we did everything with her (Halter, Showmanship, English, Western, Trail, Games, Driving).  I would work with her for hours each day.  We’d work for 1 ½ hours on English, take a break, then go back and work another 1 ½ hrs on Trail or Western.  A lot of our success was due to the time and effort that was put into the horse.  I have come to appreciate the time and effort that goes into training.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Horse.

Chick’s Moon Bar.  I have yet to feel the same bond with another horse.  There was an unwritten, unspoken bond between us.  We knew each other’s move.  We had spent so much time together, we each knew what was going to happen next.

Investment Signal is close second.  I’ve only worked with him 2 years, so it says a lot that he is competing with a horse that I have had for 2 decades!  “Siggie” is so intuitive and smart- he makes my job easy.  He has a lot of natural talent.  He is one that gives his best all of the time and has personality galore.  He will cuddle up and be your best friend.  “Siggie” has an aura about him and catches people’s eye.  He has something more than just great movement.  He has a presence that he has to be noticed.  He has that same presence with everything you do with him.  Even when he’s naughty, he still has that special something about him.  He isn’t showing this year due to an injury.  We want to make sure that he is 100% healed before we bring him back in the pen for 2007. 

If you could change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?

 I wish it was less about Who's Who and Who's Riding What and more about the horse, but this problem is a universal one in any sport or life in general.

If you could own any horse in history, which horse would you pick and why?

Rugged Lark. He would have been great horse to ride because he is truly an all-around versatile horse.  He did English, Western, Reining, and Dressage.  I would have loved to try him out under saddle because he really is one of the true all-around horses.

What is your favorite show to attend? Why?

One of the most fun shows that I ever went to was the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in Oklahoma City.  I didn’t compete in it, but I had a lot of friends that had horses in it.  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much (laughing)- I didn’t have the pressure of having horses to show.  It is a totally different show than the Quarter Horse World Show or the Paint Horse World Show because all the horses there specialize in one event- Reining.

Favorite Song/CD

I listen to everything.  My choice depends on the mood that I am in.  I’m a true channel surfer when it comes to the radio.  It drives my husband crazy!   My students never know what will be playing in the barn when they get there!  I like Country, Classic Rock in Roll, 80’s music, pop, but not really rap.  I even listen to Classical Music when riding my hunt seat horses.  I feel like I can become one with the horse and let them stretch. 

Favorite Movie:

Grease.  Father of the Bride.  Tombstone.  Twister.  I’m not into the army movies.  I like light-hearted movies.  My favorite Disney movie is Beauty and The Beast. 

Are You Headed to the IBHA World Show This Year?

Yes, we have several entries- a Yearling Longe Liner, a Junior Hunter Under Saddle entry, a 2 year old for the Snaffle Bit and 2 year old lunge line.  We also have a 13 and under rider that will be competing in all-around events.

How Do You Think that the Move to Colorado Will Affect the IBHA World Show?

I think that we will lose a lot of people, but that we will also gain a lot of people.  More west coast people will most likely make the trip this year that wouldn’t come when it was in Columbia, Missouri.  But we might lose some of the Florida people.  I that it will even out to be about the same size. 

We are also going to the ABHA World Show the week before in Tulsa.  This means that we will go to two World Shows in back to back weeks!   We did both last year, and really liked the ABHA Association.  They are really friendly, forth-coming, and welcomed us into the ring. 

Posted on July 20, 2006   By:  Christy Dicks
Midwest Stallion Directory
 © 2006
Articles from the may not be republished without permission.








The Midwest Stallion Directory Publication and Website © 2004
Contact Our Office at 816-898-7299