GenNext News: Edition 1

2019 UPHA National Conference | Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, California was host to the 2019 UPHA National Conference. The week was filled with may impactful meetings, energetic discussions, great networking opportunities and celebrations of the dedicated people and talented horses who have made a strong impact on our industry during 2018. During the week, many young professionals were in attendance and busy getting involved.

Congratulations are in order to Danny and Kelly Lockhart on being named the 2019 Tony C. Ray Young Professionals of the Year! Their 2018 season was unprecedented under the Kalarama Farm banner. There is no doubt they are on track to do great things in the future!

The Young Professionals meeting was held on Friday morning following the very important Safe Sport Forum. This meeting was quite brief as the Safe Sport Forum needed additional time given the magnitude of the topic. The largest goal for 2019 is to encourage ALL Young Professionals to become UPHA members. Smith Lilly delivered a brief, but impactful speech on the importance of becoming a UPHA member. He discussed the strength in numbers the UPHA membership gives our affiliated breeds when dealing with organizations like USEF, Safe Sport etc. He also discussed how he has really seen a decline in the number of young people wanting to become involved. If young professionals do not get involved and learn the process of how organizations like UPHA operate, there will be no one to run them in the future. It is really about giving back to the industry and not about the “What’s in It for Me” mentality.

Each chapter has been encouraged to host a fundraiser to aid in sending a representative or two to the UPHA National Conference next year. It will be in Lexington in 2020, so the hope is to see a meeting room of 50+ young pros during the meeting. All of the chapter young professional representatives are on board and excited to make an impact in 2019. It was brought to the attention of the Young Professionals that more juvenile and young adult riders need to be encouraged to become involved with the Ribbons of Service program. In 2018, a significant amount of scholarship money went unclaimed simply because some divisions had no participants. Did you know there is a category for 18-21-year-old riders? This is a great way to earn college scholarships, promote our breeds and give back to some wonderful causes. To find more information, go to the Ribbons of Service page through the main UPHA website.

The Kansas City UPHA Banners are another project the Young Professionals are in charge of. There were only a dozen or so new banners sold or updated in 2018. For more information on purchasing a banner or for a 2019 order form, please go to the UPHA website.

Although it was a short meeting, numerous topics were discussed and the overall feeling was very energetic and exciting. Thank you to all who have been supportive thus far and to those who have reached out wanting to become involved. The next National Young Professionals meeting is scheduled for Sunday before Lexington Junior League at the Kentucky Horse Park.


Let’s come together because it takes a village and we have a great one!

The Instructor’s Guide On: 
How to Survive Winter

by Sarah Russell

We all dread it – that time of year after Kansas City when we realize we have no more supplemental income until next Spring. Through trial and error over the past few years I have learned a few things that have helped with the cash flow issue in these long, cold months.

Almost everyone offers summer camps, but winter camps can be just as profitable! I offer Thanksgiving Camp, Black Friday Camp, two Christmas Camps, and a New Years Camp. Thanksgiving camp is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Black Friday Camp is the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s nice to break these up as some parents will only want one or the other and the parents that want both have no problem signing up for both as they have a different theme. The parents in my area LOVE the Black Friday camp so they can drop the kids off at the farm and go shop all day! I do two Christmas camps working with the Christmas breaks for the two counties my students come from. New Years Camp can begin

January 2 and go until school starts or you can do a “Specialty Camp” on New Years Day. Remember New Years Day is technically all of the horses’ “birthdays” so the kids enjoy making that the theme and celebrating the horses’ birthdays. My camps vary from daily and weekly

options. Specialty camps can be done anytime and are great on the random school holidays when many parents still have to work. For example, have a Unicorn Camp on Martin Luther King Day. Kids are off school and parents will have to pay for a babysitter, you might as well let that be you! When I do specialty day camps I usually do 9-1, a slightly lower price, and I use Facebook to target new clients as opposed to current lesson clients. It’s just a method that has worked for me to bring new people in the door, and they usually end up taking lessons.

Another thing that has been great for my financials in the winter time is offering a prepay discount for lessons. I always send a mass email in December offering a 10-20% discount on prepaying for lessons for the following year. This year

my lesson rates increased so I didn’t even offer a big discount, I offered if they paid 6 months in advance they could pay 2018 rates and if they paid all of 2019 in advance they could pay 2018 rates plus a 10% discount. I usually get 2 or 3 clients to do this out of the ~50 lessons we are teaching. While this seems like a small percentage, it still adds up to be a lot of money, especially if the student is riding twice per week. This can be an extra $2-8k in your pocket in January even if only a few people choose this option. In the beginning I wondered if I would miss that money through spring/summer but I have not found that to be an issue at all.

Of course there are other things like bringing in new lessons and selling horses to receive commissions, but none of those are guaranteed. The camps and lesson prepays have been a huge lifesaver for me and I hope they can help you too!

Sarah Sees It All

by Sarah Bennett

In case you don’t know me, my name is Sarah Bennett, I’m a lifelong member of the Saddlebred community and now a professional horse photographer. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the

country to shows of several different breeds and I’ve gotten to see what each breed does differently and what works and doesn’t work in terms of getting butts in the stands and a crowd that’s excited. It’s no secret that people are talking about the lack of people in the stands at most shows and I’ve got a few ideas on how we can make that happen.

One of the most fun things we’ve done as a business in my opinion is the UPHA fundraisers. Nothing brings a barn together like cheering on their trainers in some crazy challenge (trainer equitation, donkey races, pro-am challenge, etc.) Barns come out fully adorned in their stable colors with signs and banners for cheering on their barn.

Obviously, we can’t hold these events at every show, but we can try to bring that excitement and fun into a regular session. Choose a session and reward to most enthusiastic barn with a prize. A nice basket for their table with food and drink or something they can wear later to show off their bragging rights for being the most passionate barn that evening. 

My favorite ring to go in during US National Arabian Horse show is the halter ring. They have two guys who have such high energy acting as the announcers during and between classes but they’re more like sports commentators having a conversation with each other and the crowd about the session they’re watching. The minute you walk into that ring you get pumped up by the energy and enthusiasm they have. Maybe you have 2 people on your board, committee, or in center ring who can discuss history, current horse related events, fun facts, etc. during lulls of the horse show - not in place of your announcer but as a fun addition to mix things up for the crowd.

If we all put our heads together and think outside of the box, there’s so much we can do. Pay attention to what gets the crowd excited during other sporting events and concerts you attend and see if there’s a way to incorporate that into your horse show, let’s bring some fun back into the show ring!

Polar Vortex In The Midwest

by Brittany Nystedt, Caitie Ilich, Elise Hagenow, and Keen Behringer

For many in the horse industry, the winter months bring the off-season, cooler temperatures, and maybe some snow. For those operating in the Midwest and other northern states, however, winter can bring new challenges. This year in particular, the “polar vortex” has left many with air temperatures of close to 30 below, with an even colder windchill. Numerous barns are scrambling to find sheltered, somewhat warm, spaces for outdoor horses, with many opting to convert indoor arenas into temporary living quarters. Frozen pipes and water buckets are a common concern, and daily tasks are often even more time consuming due to equipment that will not start, frozen doors, and the need to bundle up to even set foot outside. Barns also find themselves taking the additional time to refill water buckets with warm water before they freeze, pull hoses in and out from temporary warm spaces such as tack rooms, add additional blankets for each horse, and up the forage readily available.

    These challenges and the dangers of the extreme cold lead each barn to alter business hours and practices, with the most common issue of deciding if lessons should be cancelled. Many barns have cancellation policies based on the air temperature, with a varying range dependent on the particular amenities of the facility (i.e. heated arenas/aisles). Most commonly, an air temperature at or below 10-20 degrees is sufficient to justify canceling lessons for the day based on the issues of safety for both horses and riders to be working in such conditions and the added cost of heat under those temperatures. Many barn heating systems work in overdrive to keep up with the dropping temperatures, and barn owners have to weigh the cost of heating to accommodate lessons with how much revenue those lessons would bring. These are difficult decisions to be made, especially as many barns depend on lessons, clinics, and camps in the winter months to offset the lack of revenue from horse shows. Ultimately, the health and safety of valuable lesson horses, show horses, employees, and customers far outweigh the revenues lost for (hopefully) the few days of extreme temperatures, and business will resume as usual when it is “warm” again.

Needless to say, show season means spring is right around the corner, and we welcome it with open arms!

10 Things You Didn't Know About...


Jana Gonzales


Jana Gonzales

2. Hometown:

Independence, Missouri

3. Where do you work and what is your job title?

I am the assistant trainer and riding instructor at Linden Hill Stables.

4. All-time favorite horse?

Hot Couture, by Designed, is a horse that left a major impression on me. He taught

me so much and I am now able to use what I learned from him to train my young horses

with a different perspective. My all-time favorite horse to watch as of now, The Honey

Badger. He’s just a blast to watch and I can’t take my eyes off him.

5. Most memorable horse experience?

Watching Nirvcracker become Reserve World Champion in the 3-year old Fine

Harness division last year. He’s a horse that I was able to start from the ground up and

watching him succeed at such a high level was a great moment in my career.

6. What drove you to become a professional?

Watching my grandparents train and breed Saddlebreds and watching my mom teach

riding lessons.

7. Who have been your greatest influences leading you to your professional career?

My family. My grandpa, Fletcher Blaylock owned and operated Blaylock Stables in

Auburn, Kansas. My grandparents saw the Saddlebred and my grandma had to have

one. It all began from there. My mom taught me to ride, my grandma taught me to love

the young horses, my grandpa taught me how to train those horses, and my entire family

cheered me on in and out of the show ring.

Lisa Hillmer has been another extreme influence in my professional career. She

took me under her wing and she let me soar. She trusted me, she pushed me, and she

believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my career without her.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Good question, I’m really not sure where I see myself next week... but hopefully

I’ll be continuing my career at Linden Hill Stables, if Lisa will have me, and I’ll be doing this

in an industry that is strong and banded together.

9. What do you want to leave behind for future generations in our industry?

A love for the horse, the sport and the people dedicated to this industry. I want to be

a part of the bigger picture for this industry, To help keep this industry strong and growing.

10. Unique fact no one knows about you:

I never wanted to teach riding lessons, my mom told me I would love it if I did it,

but I swore I never would...guess what! She was right!

Keen Behringer

1. Name:

Keen Behringer

2. Hometown:

Utica, New York

3. Where do you work and what is your job title?

I wear a lot of hats but my husband and I own Sublime Saddlebreds LLC. I guess my “official” title is 

trainer and riding instructor

4. All time favorite horse?

I loved to watch Courageous Lord but the favorite that I actually worked was a little bay three gaited mare named Stones O’hoy. She was the daughter of the well-known show mare Tickles, Tunes, and Typhoons by Leatherwood's Starlight. We de did quite a lot of winning, and a lot of losing too! She was complex but I loved her.

5. Most memorable horse experience?

I am blessed to have many memorable horse experiences. Some of which were show ring highs, or just times that give you chills like the first time you ride down Stopher Walk. Some of my most memorable though are when things didn’t go right and all you can do is laugh with your fellow horseman about how horses humble you. 

6. What drove you to become a professional?

My parents were always very supportive of my sister and I when it came to riding. We had stars in our eyes from a young age, both of us wanted to compete on a really high level. It was beyond my parents’ means to really make that happen while trying to support 4 kids on a working class salary. They always pushed us to go after whatever dreamed of which drove us to be horse trainers.

7. Who have been your greatest influences leading you to your professional career?

I owe my parents a debt I’ll never be able to repay. Jimmy and Helen Robertson have been and continue to be incredible mentors for me. Tom and Maureen Quackenbush gave me a lot of opportunities to work horses. Pat Wessel was pivotal in my education in working young horses.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing tomorrow

9. What do you want to leave behind for future generations in our industry?

I hope, when my time comes to pass, and people think back on me they remember me as a fair judge, a talented horse person and an ethical business woman. I hope they remember me being fiercely loyal to my family and friends.

10. Unique fact no one knows about you:

 I come from a big Irish family, I used to do competitive Irish step dancing

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