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Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Gaven Young of Baker Quarter Horses

Originally from Laurelville, Ohio, Gaven Young currently lives in Sunbury, Ohio, where he works for AQHA Professional Horseman and NSBA Quarter Million Dollar Rider Club Members Brian and Dawn Baker. His responsibilities include riding, saddling, longing and showing. The Bakers specialize mostly in young western pleasure and hunter under saddle horses.

A graduate of Logan Elm High School, Gaven got involved in horses through his grandmother. She always had horses and, growing up he spent a lot of time with his grandparents. For as long as he can remember, Young always had an interest in them. Gaven started showing at an open show level in 2014. Then, he joined 4-H the following year and started showing at his local fair, and he just kept going from there.

“What I like about horses? I can’t even really describe,” Gaven reflects, “I naturally connect with them in a way I can’t put into words. I think they’re such cool animals. When it comes to showing, I like showcasing a product I’ve been working on. I’m kind of a show-off by nature anyway, so when I get to a finishing spot with a horse, I look forward to showing it off.”

GoHorseShow sat down with Gaven to find out more about his background and goals.

GHS: Hi, Gaven. Thanks for sitting down with us. Can you tell us your favorite accomplishment in the show ring so far in your young professional career?
YOUNG: One of my favorite accomplishments in the show pen would have to be when I was fifth at the Congress last year in the Non-Pro Sale Stakes. I hadn’t had “Barney” very long, and I wasn’t sure if I could get him ready in time, but he tried so hard for me, and things just fell into place.

GHS: What well-known horses have you helped train?
YOUNG: I haven’t helped train a lot of super well known or “famous” show horses, if you will, but one horse I did train that has a very special place in my heart is “Vinny,” also know as Im Oh So Hot. I got him as a late two year old unstarted. I started him by myself in the round pen. I was just out longing him with the saddle on and a snaffle in his mouth for maybe the second time. I wasn’t planning on getting on until another couple of days or so, but he seemed so quiet. I told myself I’m going to step up in the stirrup and get him used to it. Well, he was so quiet after doing that a couple of times. I got on, kicked him a couple of times, and started riding him around. He’s been that easy for me to get along with ever since. We ended up being third in the Premier Paint Sires Three-Year-Old Western Pleasure Futurity, along with several reserve futurity championships. We went on to be Top 5 at the APHA World Championship show that year.

GHS: Who have been some of your mentors?
YOUNG: We’d be here all day if I named off everyone. I’ll name a few. Of course, my two current bosses, Brian and Dawn are big mentors and great role models. They set an excellent example for me to follow every day. My previous boss, Ryan Strunk; he’s another big mentor. He gave me a good start in this industry and a lot of good advice. A fellow horse trainer that’s been a mentor to me is Pat Heeley. I feel like every time we ride together, I learn something. And lastly, but not least, I have to mention Samantha Schinness. She’s the first AQHA level horseman I got involved with. As a kid who showed 4-H and open shows, she offered all her help to further my education in horses and introduce me to people. She even got me my first job working for a horse trainer. I would have to say my life would probably be a little different right now if I hadn’t met her.

GHS: Any advice you have for young trainers?
YOUNG: My advice for young trainers and people like me would be to do it. Jump into this business. Reach out to someone who will help you. There’s a considerable demand for assistants and young people that want to get involved in this industry that I’m so proud to be a part of. Jump in, ask for help when you need it, work hard, be coachable, and you’ll be surprised at how far you’ll go in a short time.

GHS: Any favorite memories that stand out?
YOUNG: One of my favorite memories would have to be the 2018 Congress as a whole. I feel like that’s when I started connecting with people, and that’s when I made the most friends. It was just such a fun year between all the new people I met and all the Congress parties. It was a blast.

GHS: How did you come about working for The Bakers?
I started working for Brian and Dawn almost precisely a year ago. It was right after the 2019 Congress. I knew earlier on in 2019 that I would be looking for a new job after the Congress. I just watched people and paid attention to everyone. Fortunately for me, there are a ton of fantastic horse trainers to work for in this industry, but something inside me just kept going back to the Bakers. I’m originally from Ohio, so working for them allows me to remain close with my family. When I weighed it all down, I felt like that was my best bet. So, I reached out to Dawn, and she said they’d be willing to hire someone. We arranged for me to try out right after Congress, and the rest is history. What I like about working for them is they always allow me to do it right first. They make it feel as though we work together rather than just working for them.

GHS: What’s one thing people may not know about you?
YOUNG – I’m a pretty open book, honestly, but one thing a lot of you probably would be surprised to learn about me is that when I was a little kid, I was OBSESSED with vacuum cleaners. More specifically, Kirby vacuum cleaners.

GHS: What would you like to see changed in the industry?
YOUNG: What I would like to see improved in this industry is our focal point. We need to start focusing more on the horses and less on the people.

GHS: What are your goals?
My future goals, I think, are probably mostly the same as everyone else in my shoes. I dream of winning all the major futurities and the world show. In all reality, I want to be the best that I can be, and we’ll see where it goes from there. As long as I’m doing my best and my horses are going around to the best of their ability, I’ll be happy.

GHS: Anything else you would like to say?
YOUNG: Lastly, I want to thank all my fellow friends and horse trainers that have helped me up to this point. I can’t even begin to name you all off, but I’m genuinely grateful to be surrounded by great people and horsemen.

GHS: Thanks, Gaven!