Alesa Jones The Nebraska trainer to watch
Multi-faceted horse trainer Alesa Jones caught “the bug” at a young age when she received her first colt to train, a three-year-old gelding. Today she has turned that early love into a highly successful career based on years of firsthand experience in various components of the equine industry.
“I was hooked from the moment I got that first horse – he was a real sweetheart, and just made me really enjoy starting and riding young horses. Then I got a horse for high school rodeo that would do poles but not barrels, so I trained him to do barrels, and it seemed like as I did that more and more people would call me to ask about a problem or to help them fix something with their horse,” explained Alesa of how she got started with horses and developed an interest in both starting horses and fixing problems in broke horses.
For college, Alesa chose to attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., and major in their equine training management program because of the equine instructor Dick Replogle.
“I always had it in my mind I wanted to train horses, but Dick was just awesome and really provided me with the big drive I needed to make it happen,” noted Alesa.
Following college she worked for multiple cutting horse programs, the last of which took her back to her home state of Nebraska. She also competed and won the Miss Rodeo Nebraska title in 2005, following an earlier rein as the Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen in 2000-2001.
“Right after competing in Las Vegas for Miss Rodeo America, I got connected with the people who have the Budweiser Clydesdales. I spent a year and a half with those horses traveling, doing TV commercials, and helping with anything else you see them do,” explained Alesa.
All of her early experiences provided Alesa with a broad view of the horse world, and helped her in developing the techniques she uses today when training and competing.
“Today I am a stay at home mother to my husband Casey and I’s son Quinten. I love the freedom to be at home with my son, and it’s amazing that I can also work from home as a trainer, doing something I like,” stated Alesa.
She explained that typically she won’t have more than three horses per month to ride, if they’re all at the same stage of training to ensure she has enough time to dedicate to each individual horse. She primarily starts colts, but also helps both horses and people in fixing problems they may have with each other.
“I start in a round pen, and call it ‘round pen reasoning.’ The whole idea is to teach the horse to yield to you on the ground, and usually with nothing on because I want them to want to come to me without me forcing them. Basically, I get them to move their hips so I can point at their hips and they’ll move them out of my way, then I move to the front end and get them to move their shoulders when I point. You can even get them to side pass by pointing to their ribcage,” said Alesa of her training techniques.
From there, she will typically flag colts to desensitize them, then saddle and drive them with driving lines.
“When I get on them they already know what I’m asking and how to respond – the work is basically done,” she said.
Another part of being a trainer for Alesa is promoting her skills, which she says takes time, patience and money.
“There are a lot of things that come and go with horses, and you have to get your name out there and have your money to go to shows so people see you and what you can do. Where I do this myself as an individual I don’t have a huge impact, but am still working to get my name out there and meet the right people,” explained Alesa.
People are starting to take notice, and various well known breeders are beginning to send colts Alesa’s way. But, one of the biggest opportunities she has had didn’t come from a traditional horse show, but rather a TV show.
“Last year I was chosen to be on the TV show Project Cowboy in Sacramento, California. Thirty-five girls competed and I ended up fourth. Patti Colbert and Tootie Bland produced it, and they also do the show Mustang Makeover and Mustang Millions – I’m hoping that next year things will be in order for me to do Mustang Millions with them,” explained Alesa.
Additional future plans include being part of the Road to the Horse Tours competition, which takes elite horse trainers and clinicians from around the world and pits them against each other in a training competition. Each competitor selects a three-year old untouched horse, and a crowd looks on as each person works with their mount, being judged on both a final test and the means used to achieve it.
“The biggest rush is when you can see a horse make progress. I’ve had several colts get in the round pen and make solid forward progression very fast without ever stepping back. Then there are the ones that teach you something by making you stop and think and work for it. The ones who make you adjust your ways to help them. My biggest highlight is to have progression,” concluded Alesa of what she enjoys most in her line of work.