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Pleasure Trainer of the Year: Joe Lester




(Editor's Note: the following speech was read by Mark Farrar, Saturday evening, September 1, at the Celebration.)

Joe Lester was born and raised in Wartburg, Tennessee, where he began riding horses as soon as he was able to hold himself up in the saddle.

Recognizing an immediate ardor for horsemanship, his parents, April and Joe Lester and grandmother Rita Duncan supported Joe’s participation in as many 4-H programs as possible throughout his childhood. Over the years he has participated in a variety of disciplines, from halter, model, equitation and showmanship to flat-shod, padded and speed racking. As a teenager in 2007, he earned his first world championship with the National Racking Horse Association on Parade’s Rebel.

At the age of 18, Joe won the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitor’s Association National Futurity with Name That Tune, a horse he started under saddle and performed all of the training on himself. Three years later, I’m AK-47 became the first horse he trained to earn a Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration world championship. In 2015, at age 23, he rode Little Toy Gunn to his first personal world championship a few nights before Machete became the first Joe Lester trained Celebration world grand champion.

In 2016, he got to make his first personal Celebration world grand championship spotlight ride on La Patrona and the momentum has only built since then. To date, at the young age of only 26 years old, Joe Lester Stables has amassed 31 world championships and 9 world grand championships. He is the head trainer of Joe Lester Stables, where he enjoys working along his best friend and assistant trainer Bailey Momb. 

In addition to being one of the hardest working equine professionals one could ever meet, Joe has an exceptional eye for talent, a keen business sense and a charismatic personality. To know him is to appreciate all he has to offer to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and admire the success he has garnered through a lifetime of dedication to his craft.

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