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Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Cody Conover of Aaron Moses Show Horses

Originally from Anthon, Iowa, Cody Conover currently lives in Pilot Point, TX, and works for Aaron Moses Show Horses. Moses specializes in western pleasure futurity horses, where Conover’s responsibilities include starting and riding young horses, saddling and unsaddling, packing for the shows, and getting the horses show ready.

Conover grew up on a small horse farm where his parents raised both AQHA and APHA show horses. Cody started showing in the leadline as soon as he could start riding and then moved up to the pony walk trot and pleasure. He eventually graduated to a horse and continued to show in the pleasure classes at the open shows, 4-H shows, and a few AQHA shows per year around Northwest Iowa.

After Conover graduated high school, he attended the University of South Dakota, where he received his Masters of Professional Accountancy degree. Cody told us he only lasted seven months in the workforce before realizing the accounting profession was not for him. “I took a chance on myself to go follow my dreams to do what I always wanted to do. It’s easily one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Cody shared with us.

We sat down with Cody to find out more about his background and future goals.

GHS: Hi, Cody. Can you tell us what you like about horses and showing?
Cody: Since I was a little kid, I always loved being out in the barn with the horses. I could not wait until school or sports practice was over to get home to the barn to ride.

I’ve just always enjoyed training horses, especially the colt breaking stage. I started breaking colts at home when I was just 12 years old. They make so much progress so fast, and I find it very rewarding. It’s so much fun to be a part of seeing an unbroke horse go on to make a finished show horse. Watching a client ride their young horse for the first time, and seeing that smile on their face, makes up for every minute of the hard work. The training part is the most rewarding. Getting to show them is just icing on the cake.

GHS: What are some of your biggest accomplishments in the show arena?
Cody: I have two accomplishments that I would consider my favorite to this date. The first happened this year in Georgia at the Big A. I showed a 3-year-old Machine Made mare named Autamaded in the 3-year-old Novice Horse class, where I won the Limited division and was second overall in the Open. The second favorite moment was this year in Arizona at the Fall Championship Show. I showed FlorenceNTheMachine, a 2-year-old Machine Made mare in the 2-year-old Maiden class, where I won the Limited division and was third overall in the Open.

GHS: Who have been some of your biggest mentors? 
Cody: I have been very fortunate to have great mentors throughout all the different stages of my training career thus far. I had two great mentors, my dad, Kelly, and a great friend, Issac Schlenger as a kid growing up. They taught me a lot about the basics and the first stages of breaking horses out. They are the foundation of my love for training and showing western pleasure.

Then, in 2018, I went and worked for Saul Sliss. He improved my training knowledge tremendously and really showed me the ropes of showing at the AQHA level. I learned a lot about what it takes to get a show horse ready.

And finally, the whole team I’m lucky to be a part of now. Aaron, Courtney, and my great friend and coworker, Jess Duffy. Each of these three has so much drive, determination, attention to small detail, and passion to be successful. I have so much admiration and respect for them all and appreciate the opportunity to be part of the team.

GHS: What advice would you give young assistants?
In our industry, it’s easy to get frustrated and down on yourself when you don’t think you’re doing good enough, or your horses aren’t coming along as well as you’d hope. The best thing one can do is work extremely hard, ask for help, and try to get better every day. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and know that if you work hard and try to learn something new every day, you’re doing the best you can.

GHS: What is one of your favorite memories showing?
Cody – One memory I will never forget happened when I was in Ohio at the Madness during the first year I started showing at some of the major shows. I was starstruck by all of the big-name trainers. Gil Galyean rode past me while out practicing and asked me how I was doing. I thought it was the coolest thing that someone like him noticed me.

GHS: How did you come about working for Aaron? What do you like about working for him?
Cody: I started working for Aaron in November of 2018. I always admired the way his horses were prepared and how well they showed. I talked to him that summer about a job, and he had an opening, so I moved to Texas after the World Show.

There are a lot of great things about working alongside Aaron. I get many opportunities to train and show some of the best pleasure horses in the industry. We have many horses from different sires, so it’s a great opportunity to see what horses I fit the best.

Aaron is also really good at helping with the little things and getting out of a spot if you get stuck. He’s a great out of the box type of thinker and is always looking to get better. He’s very determined, works really hard, and sets a great example of what it takes to be successful. I’m very proud to be a part of the Aaron Moses Show Horses team.

GHS: What is one thing people probably don’t know about you?
Cody: Unless you know me personally, you probably wouldn’t expect that I like to play jokes on people. I’m really light-hearted and like to mess with my friends, to the point where they sometimes can’t figure out if I’m playing a joke or telling the truth. Jess is usually the number one victim of my jokes.

GHS: What would you like to see improved in the industry?
Cody: I would like to see the perception of the western pleasure industry improved. I think the good always outweighs the bad, but a small part of the general public still dwells on the bad. I think the pleasure horses have vastly improved over the last several years, and it’s our job as trainers to continue to promote the pleasure horse properly.

GHS: What are some of your future goals?
Cody: My future goals are probably very similar to many in the industry. I want to run my own successful business someday and continue to compete at this level. The big dream would be to win someday the All American Quarter Horse Congress and AQHA World Show.

GHS: Anything else you’d like to add?
Cody: I’m just thankful for every single person and horse that helped get me to this point. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and the relationship I’ve built within this industry. I never thought showing at this level would be a possibility for me. I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.