Skip to content

McConnell honored as Trainer of the Year




(Editor’s Note: The following script was read during the 79th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Saturday night when Jimmy McConnell was recognized for being the industry’s performance horse trainer of the year.)

Many would say that this trainer loves his profession and has a lifetime of dedication promoting this great breed. This gentleman has trained and shown some of the best horses that this industry has ever seen. He is a master showman that enters the show ring with a competitive spirit and passion to win. This trainer knows how to excite a crowd and bring them to their feet. 

Jimmy started training horses as a teenager with his father, Odell McConnell and brother, Jackie McConnell, at Longview Farms in Union City, Tennessee. Jimmy has won at every major show and class this industry offers. The great horses that he has trained are too numerous to list. These include professional and amateur ranks. He has won three WGC’s at the Celebration on three different horses.

2004: The Dark Night Shade
2007: Master Of Jazz
2009: Watch It Now


Formac Stables has been based in Union City, Tennessee for many years with a secondary training barn here in Bedford County. Last fall, Jimmy permanently located Formac Stables outside of Shelbyville.

He is no stranger to leadership positions. Jimmy served as president of the WHTA in 1984, 1985 and 1996-98. He was the WHAT Rider Cup Performance Champion in 2010 and 2011. He was previously selected by his peers as the WHTA Trainer of the Year in 1985, 2004 and 2010. 

Jimmy has always had the following of many loyal fans throughout his showing career. In addition, he has a wonderful group of customers from past to present. Many of these customers and friendships span decades.
While his love for training and showing horses has been paramount in his life, his children and grandchildren are his pride and joy. His children are Stacy Blackburn and husband Knox, his son Jason McConnell and wife Fran. His grandchildren are Alex and Evan Blackburn and Libby and Finn McConnell. Four generations of the McConnell family have represented their love and commitment of this breed.

We are proud to present the 2017 WHTA Trainer of the Year for the fourth time…Mr. Jimmy McConnell. Congratulations, Jimmy. 

More Stories

  • Haley Lane Clay receives medical degree

    On Saturday, May 15, 2021, Haley Clay received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree from The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Auburn, Alabama. She will begin her three year Internal Medicine Internship Program at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Al... Read More
  • Latest Issue 5 17 21

    Read More
  • Mid-South Horse Show Association adds class

    The Mid-South Walking Horse Association Horse Show, scheduled for Saturday May 15 in Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee has added a class to their schedule. Class 13A will be Men's Specialty... Read More
  • WHOA Gallatin Spring Classic Horse Show update

    The Walking Horse Owners Association introduces a new show on Saturday, May 15 at the Sumner County Fairgrounds in Gallatin, Tennessee. Dee Dee Miller from Lewisburg, Tennessee will judge the show... Read More
  • TWHNC welcomes new CEO

    The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC) has hired Warren Wells to be its new Chief Executive Officer. Wells will be the fifth CEO in the Celebration’s rich history.  Wells, originally from Bedford County, currently lives in Signal Mountain, Tenn... Read More
  • FAST makes donation to Bedford County Cancer Society

    The Foundation for Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse, FAST, hosted two Red Ladies classes at their Spring Showcase a few weeks ago. The classes were held in memory of Kathy Zeis who was a founder of FAST as well as a long-time exhibitor.  Read More
  • WHTA Fun Show meetings scheduled

    The WHTA Show Board of Directors will meet Wednesday, May 26, at 4 p.m. The General Membership meeting will follow at 5 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Blue Ribbon Circle located on the Celebration grounds in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Read More
  • WHTA/Glenn C. Dowell Scholarship applications now available

    The Walking Horse Trainers Association scholarship application is now available. This is a joint educational endeavor with the Glenn C. Dowell Jr. family. Thes scholarships are made possible by the Dowell family's generous donation, making this their tenth year to sponsor... Read More
  • Latest Issue 5 10 21

    Read More
  • Birth Announcement – Jonah Smith Harney

    Jonah Smith Harney was born on Friday, April 23 at Ascension St. Thomas to proud parents Justin and Rebekah Harney. Jonah joins big brother, Jack Harney... Read More