angle-left 2018 AQHA Leading Exhibitor

2018 AQHA Leading Exhibitor

Jennifer Paul of Ohio says her life is still about riding horses.

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By Larri Jo Starkey for The American Quarter Horse Journal

In 2018, Jennifer Paul of New Albany, Ohio, earned the AQHA leading exhibitor title.

Jennifer and her husband, AQHA Professional Horseman Judd Paul, work at Irongate Equestrian Center in Croton, Ohio, where they have trained world champions Emma Brown, Emma Gore, Some Hot Potential and My Only Good Shoes. Their daughter, Allyssa, was the 2018 11-&-Under Justin Intermediate of the Year.

Jennifer will be recognized November 17 during the AQHA Awards Celebration at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, along with other year-end high-point winners.

For more information on the event, go to

The Journal sat down earlier this year with Jennifer to learn more about her year of success.

Journal: How many horses did you show last year?
Jennifer: My main ones were Some Hot Potential, Lazy Boy, My Only Good Shoes, Betcha Im Dreamin. They were probably the ones who brought in most of the points. I had others that I’d show here and there.

Journal: Were these your normal shows? Or did you chase the title a little?
Jennifer: Not at all! We just did our regular shows.

Journal: How did you get into showing?
Jennifer: My mom showed halter horses and I showed that a little bit. I showed open shows, just different horses that I had and then I got a little gelding named Specifically Special whom I won the Youth World with in 1994. I had a mare named Ima Cool Diamond whom I did really well with in the amateur.

Journal: When did you decide to turn pro?
Jennifer: In 2000, when I met Judd, he talked me into giving up my amateur card. It wasn’t too hard. I was lucky enough that I never had to have a job. It was time to be an adult.

Journal: What is the best part of being a trainer?
Jennifer: Just being able to ride great horses and coach great riders.

Journal: How did you find the superstar Some Hot Potential?
Jennifer: We found him at the end of his 3-year-old year in Florida, riding around. We went to our customers – Bailey Mierzejewski at the time – and said, “Hey, I think this is the horse we need to buy.”

Journal: She had been looking for a step-up horse, right?
Jennifer: Correct, to finish out her youth years. We bought him and we’ve been fortunate enough to have him ever since. After Bailey’s last year in youth, we were fortunate enough to have Emma Brown buy him.

Journal: So what is your favorite event?
Jennifer: I would say trail is probably my favorite event. When I was an amateur, showmanship was definitely my favorite. But trail keeps my mind busy. There’s always a different course to take, a different path.

Journal: How did you wind up in Ohio?
Jennifer: I grew up right here outside of Columbus. My parents are originally from Ohio. I’ve always been here. Judd is also from Ohio.

Journal: What show or event sticks out in your mind when you think of the 2018 show season? A defining moment?
Jennifer: In 2018, I won Congress in green senior trail on My Only Good Shoes. At the Madness, in the slot trail class, I was first on Lazy Boy and second on Some Hot Potential. I think those are some pretty big wins.

Journal: When did you move to Irongate Equestrian?
Jennifer: We moved four years ago. We got to go work for Tera and Jeff Gore, and their daughter, Emma Gore. And we were able to bring our customers we had. We love it there.

Journal: What does your typical year look like?
Jennifer: We’re in Florida, and in February, we might go to one horse show. In March, we have a couple shows, and in April through September, we show at least three weekends a month. Our big shows would be the Madness, the Big A, Nebraska. We’re fortunate that here in Ohio, we have big numbers (at nearby shows) and don’t have to drive long distances. We have big horse shows every weekend here in Ohio or in Indiana.

Journal: After all these years of showing, what’s still fun about it?
Jennifer: The horse show family – seeing people, the excitement of doing well or going home saying, “Wow, I’ve got some more work to do.” It keeps it challenging. That’s what I like about it.

Journal: What do you know now that you wish you had known as a youth?
Jennifer: More patience. Don’t get so frustrated with yourself. You have to practice. As a youth kid, I didn’t want to put that time into it. Now I will.

Larri Jo Starkey is senior editor for AQHA Media. To comment, write to To subscribe, go to