The partnership of rider Jonathan Fore and
trainer Franklin Johnson is a winning combination based on positive
work ethic, good old-fashioned horsemanship, and a stable of
talented horses that graze in the
fertile mountain pastures of Echo Valley Stables in Clay City,
Under Johnsonís watchful eye, 16-year-old Fore
River Farmís homebred stallion JTís Skywalker to honors as the 2006
Open Classic High Point Novice Champion, and won the 2006 Open
Novice Trail Pleasure High Point Championship aboard the
four-year-old filly Barbara Bush.
Fore, whose family owns Twin River Farm in
Irvine, Kentucky, is modest regarding his accomplishments. He enjoys
riding and training, but defines the excitement of showing as his
highest priority with an eye on his debut as an amateur this spring.
"Itís really exciting to ride and compete," said
Fore. "The training and riding never seems like work. I enjoy it
all. But there is nothing like riding a good horse into the show
ring after all the time and work you put into it. Iím looking
forward to riding the X Files in amateur classes this year. That
will be cool."
Foreís family raises a few good Kentucky Mountain
Saddle Horses on their 250-acre farm. Although they have eight
mares, only two are in foal this year. They also stand the stallion
JTís Black Beauty. Fore got involved in horses four years ago aboard
his motherís Tennessee Walking Horse, but doesnít waiver on his
loyalty to the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse.
"The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse has the best
disposition, if you ask me," stated Fore, a junior at Estill County
High School. "They are calm natured, mellow, and donít freak out
like other horses. I just really like them."
Johnson, 23, runs Echo Valleyís training facility
out of a 24-stall barn with an indoor round pen on 250-acres on the
family farm in the Appalachian foothills. The farm is surrounded by
small mountains known as "knobs" and located in a community where a
handshake is as good as your word. Johnson is as down-to-earth as
the land around him. Polite and well-spoken, he will tell you about
his horses first and his accomplishments second.
"Iíve got 12 horses in training right now, and 15
broodmares on the farm," said Johnson. "I really enjoy training and
getting them ready for show season. Each horseís personality is
different, and thatís what makes it such an interesting job for me.
Iíve been in horses for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it is a
challenge to get along with all kinds of horses, but eventually you
can win them over. It just takes time and patience."
patience has paid off. In addition to JTís Skywalker and Barbara
Bush, Johnson has trained Charlie Joe to 2003 Two-Year-Old Rocky
Mountain Under Saddle championship honors, 2004 Reserve Champion
Three-Year-Old Classic Pleasure High Point Stallion, and finished
out the year as reserve champion in the 2006 Five and Over Classic
Pleasure championship. Johnson stands Charlie Joe at Echo Valley,
and is looking forward to competing with the son of Crossroads Good
Time Charlie this year.
"Heís got a great attitude, Charlie does,"
Johnson said. "I really like riding and competing this horse.
Hopefully this year we can win the Classic Pleasure, thatís our aim
When selecting a future show horse, Johnson has a
certain set of criteria that he follows.
"I like the old bloodlines," he said emphatically. "Good
conformation, gait, and a look-at-me attitude. Most of all youíve
got to have a kind and even temperament. After all, thatís what the
saddle horse is all about."