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Assistant Trainer Spotlight Rebecca Spellman of Zuidema Pleasure Horses


Originally from Ashland, OH, Rebecca Spellman is currently an assistant trainer with Jaty Jo and Tim Zuidema of Zuidema Pleasure Horses. “My mom had horses while growing up and went to the University of Findlay. She let me decide if I wanted to get into horses. I credit her for never forcing me. She gave me the opportunity, and I got addicted. She and my dad made me work my butt off for it, but they did everything they could to make sure I had a horse to show in 4H, open shows, and later in my youth years, a couple of nice APHA horses to show at area Paint shows and PtHA World Show.”

Spellman got her first horse at 11 years old, using the money she made from a 4H market lamb and her parent’s help. “He was just a trail riding horse, Impressive bred and not very pretty, but I showed him in every class at every show, and he ended up going on to teach some other little girls about horses after his time with me.”

We sat down with Rebecca to find out more about her background and future goals.

GHS: Hi Rebecca. Thanks for sitting down with us. Can you tell us what you like about horses and showing?
Spellman: I love teaching them. Trust and respect go hand-in-hand with animals and people. You can’t teach a horse anything if they don’t have both for you. So, if you let them, horses profoundly teach us a lot about life.

GHS: What are some of your favorite accomplishments in the show arena?
Spellman: My favorite was winning the Green Hunter Under Saddle at the Appaloosa World Show in 2017 on Diversified Hunter. I put a ton of work and heart into that horse, and he did not disappoint; it was a very cool moment for me. Also, winning the $2,500 Rider Western Pleasure at the Little Futurity in 2015 on Miss Hotroddin Pine was a considerable accomplishment. It was a lovely class with many magnificent horses.

GHS: What are some well-known horses you have helped train?
Blazing Hot Leaguer
Slow Burn
Something To Hope Four
Snack Attackk
Willie Nelsen
You Had Me At Allo
South On Ya

GHS: Who are some of your biggest mentors?
Spellman: Katy Jo taught me everything, from breaking colts to showing a hunt seat horse. Wayne and Judy Davis taught me a lot about different ways to handle different kinds of minds in horses. Dave Davis also taught me a ton about working with young horses.

GHS: What Advice do you have for other young trainers?
Spellman: Be humble and teachable first and foremost. Then, surround yourself with people who want to teach you and want you to be a good horseman and business person for the future of our industry.

GHS: What are some of your favorite memories from the industry?
Spellman: My favorite was watching Katy Jo and Slow Burn win the Congress Masters in 2010. Everyone on our team at the time had emotional investments in her and that horse. It was a surreal moment.

GHS: Why did you decide to come and work for Katy Jo and Tim?
Spellman: I went to work for Katy Jo in Michigan right out of high school in 2009. I moved on after about four years and worked for Wayne Davis, Josh Robertson, and Jenny Baker until I ultimately quit training horses for several years, working as a driver for FedEx. Katy contacted me in 2020 to return and ride colts for her; the rest is history. She, Tim, and JR are like family to me, and we’ve all come full circle. Our new home here at Salt Clay Farm is fantastic, and the owners, Ross and Tiffany Pattison, are fast becoming family too.

GHS: What is one thing people probably don’t know about you?
Spellman: I have an obsession with plants. My porch and house are full of them!

GHS: What would you like to see improved in the industry?
SpelIman: I think the weekend shows need to be more practical and affordable for everyone. I also think there should be more incentives for youths at the smaller shows to make it more affordable for more youth exhibitors to come in and start a showing career.

GHS: What are some of your future goals?
Spellman: I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m excited to find out.

GHS: Thanks, Rebecca.