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A Day in the Life of a Futurity Trainer with Cody Parrish, Aaron Moses and Dawn Baker

As almost any trainer will tell you, no day, or ride, is ever the same as the last. Futurity trainers working with two and three-year-olds will agree with this statement. Cody Parrish, Aaron Moses, and Dawn Baker shared their experiences regarding life as futurity trainers.

Structure is vital when it comes to working with young horses. Consistent training programs that focus on steady growth create the best learning environments. Parrish explains that work done throughout the year allows for polish before a show.

“Especially working with young horses, they keep you on your toes most of the time,” said Cody Parrish. “We raise a lot of babies as well. So, normally there is something to do as far as caring for mares and babies. Aside from that, we try to spend as much time in the saddle every day as possible. Especially the young horses need a lot of consistent repetition daily, so we try to keep our day-to-day program as structured as possible.”

Aaron Moses starts his day early, depending on the time of year. Typically starting at around 7 am and working six days a week, every week.

“As the weather gets hot, we start much earlier, so we can get a good part of the riding done before it gets too hot,” states Moses. “I start by dragging the arena while my assistants saddle horses, and then we all start riding. We don’t usually take lunch, and we ride until we are done. This time of year, it’s later because we keep more horses through the winter and while we start colts. If I have any projects or appointments, I try to schedule them as late as possible in the afternoon so I can get most of my riding done first. We try to take Sundays off as much as possible to go to church, catch up on business, and regroup for the week.”

There is so much work that nobody sees before shows. Dawn Baker accredited all of this work to her help.

“To get ready for a horse show, we have great help: Kim and Heath McNeil and Gavin Young,” said Baker. “So we have multiple hands that are spectacular and they help us get ready for the shows. They help us get the horses ready, clipped…anything that needs to be done, and prepped. Trailers packed. We all pitch in. As I said, they are amazing. They do their part, and it’s awesome because, for us getting ready for a horse show, they make it easy.”

Baker added the work involves all of the small details which take place at home making it easier to get ready for shows.

Advice for upcoming futurity trainers

Aaron Moses – First of all, I believe that the single most important thing you can do for your career is to work under someone successful for as long as it takes to master the ins and outs of, not only horse training, but also handling a business. Nobody would expect to be a successful doctor without going to medical school, and I believe that the same goes for horse trainers. There is no shortcut to success, and it will take years of continuous hard work, dedication, and education to be successful. However, if you’re willing to work hard and put in the time, the rewards will be great.

Cody Parrish – The best advice that I can think of for young futurity trainers, or any horse trainer, is never to stop trying to learn and better your program. Ride with other people. Ask questions. To be the best trainer you possibly can, you must always be increasing your knowledge. So many people are willing to help and share experiences with you, so take advantage of that. Every year I try to go and ride with 3-4 different people to make sure I’m continually learning and getting better. Find someone that you respect their level of horsemanship as well as the way they run their business and spend time learning how they do things.

Dawn Baker – If you do your job and you work hard at home, don’t change your program going into or at a horse show. You can’t get to a show and feel like there are horses a little more ready than yours and cram it into them, because that is not going to work. You have your horse prepared to the best of its ability, and that’s what you go with for the whole show. But don’t change your program because you feel under pressure.


About the Author – Anna Culver is currently a student at Wilkes University, pursuing a degree in Communications Studies. Through her youth career, she showed AQHA hunters and all-around horses. She was honored to be involved in AQHYA Region 5 activities, a former board member for ESQHYA and past president of NYSQHYA.