Dream Comes True For Donnie Jones As Walking Horse Trainer by Kevin DeBusk Growing up Donnie Jones, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, dreamed of training Walking Horses. In June that dream came true. Donnie is trainer for Summer Crest Farms and assisted by Glen McClure. The thirty-one-stall facility is owned by Donnie's father Jackie and Jim Sullivan, and located on Davidson Road in Olive Branch. "I started riding when I was about eight," Donnie said. "The woman behind us had Walking Horses and I started riding. From then on I always wanted to be a Walking Horse trainer. "Originally we opened Summer Crest Farms to board on one side and I was going to have about fifteen horses to train on the other." He admits that changed when all the Walking Horses started coming in. To accomplish this goal Donnie has studied under other trainers. "I've worked with some good Walking Horse trainers before starting this place and learned a lot," he reported. "I was working for Wade Crum when I moved over here. I've worked for Jackie McConnell, Tim Berry and Neil Robinson." Donnie also said he learned a lot about taking care of horses from DVM Mark Akin, while working with him through high school. Quality horses also helped Donnie reach his dream. "I've worked with some really good horses," he said. "I worked with SANTANA, the year before he won the World and with PJ'S MAIN EVENT." Currently he's has twenty-seven horses in training. Included in those are eight colts, two of which were sired by POISON. He also works STARS TRIPLE CHARGE, a three-year-old stallion owned by Jim Sullivan, and GENERATOR'S LOT OF PUSH, owned by Judy Keene. So why are people coming to Donnie? "People say I have good hands and my customers have faith in me," he remarked. "That's what you have to have, especially starting out. The hardest thing is getting people to bring horses to you. "I want it to be an enjoyable atmosphere. Lots of places it gets uncomfortable because it's all about winning. Everybody wants to win but we want to have fun while we're doing it. "When a horse comes in I'm going to ride it and try figuring it out. You have to bond with a horse. When you get a horse you have to take a little time to get to know him and he has to get to know you. Then I'm going to try different things to find the best thing for the horse." Training horses is only part of the process. Donnie also gives lessons. "You don't just train the horse," he commented. "You have to train the rider as well. We've got a lot of amateur riders and when you have an amateur riding here or at a show you have to give them advice. "It's fun to see someone get on a horse you've trained. It's almost as good as you going in there and doing it yourself." Starting off the way he has Donnie has several goals for the future. "I hope to get these colts into the show ring next spring," he said. "Hopefully next year we'll take a load to Celebration and I want to win the World one day. Next year I want to get my judging license and I'd like to get on the trainers board one day."
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