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Walking Horse Trainer Salute: Dan Waddell



Dan Waddell – Eatonton, Georgia

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING HORSES PROFESSIONALLY?
30 Years

TELL US SOME FAMILY HISTORY OF RAISING AND SHOWING WALKING HORSES.
My grandfather, Curtis Waddell, started training in the early 40s. My father, Jimmy, fell right in line with him and after returning from World War II he started training. His first world grand champion was Midnight Mack K in 1949. I guess you could say it was bred into me. Daddy had retired from training for the public when I was old enough to remember, but I always loved a horse. Jimmy McConnell gave me my start in 1986. He like my own father.

OF ALL THE HORSES YOU HAVE TRAINED, OPEN AND AMATEUR, DO YOU HAVE A HORSE YOU FEEL MADE YOU INTO THE TRAINER YOU ARE TODAY? WHAT HORSE WAS THAT AND WHY DO FEEL THAT WAY?
I’d like to think I’ve learned something from every horse I’ve trained. Although, Perfect Copy taught me a lot more than I ever taught him! The Black Night Shade instilled confidence in me. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ASPIRING TRAINERS?
Work hard, be honest and get ready for the highest highs and lowest lows. 

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE PERFECT YEARLING?
A neck that comes out of their body right, loose back legs, light legged front legs. I'm weird, but I like a smart eye. Can't describe it, but the good ones have it!

HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK? IS YOUR BARN ON LOCKDOWN? ARE YOU STILL HOLDING YOUR REGULAR CLIENT APPOINTMENTS? HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR TRAINING?
Really hasn’t changed my routine, I just don’t shake hands! That’s hard for me! Ha

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PAST WORLD GRAND CHAMPION AND WHY?
The Black Night Shade. Other than he was my boy, he was the perfect combination of old time walking horse with show presence. He could flat walk you to death!

IF THERE WAS ONE AREA OF THE INDUSTRY YOU COULD CHANGE OR RAMP UP, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
We need to get the common man back in the industry. The person who can only afford one horse, and just loves a horse show. He needs to know he has a shot at competing wherever he shows. I’m not knocking multi horse owners, I just know that the local owners that work normal jobs are the ones who put the one night shows on. We’ve lost too many of those. They are the backbone to the industry. The business needs to broaden it's perimeters,  stretch farther than Middle Tennessee. That’s the only way for growth. The "Guntown, Mississippi's" of the world need to have horse shows again!

IF YOU WERE NOT AT THE BARN OR A HORSE SHOW, WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Cheering on The Big Orange!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TV SHOWS, MOVIES OR NETFLIX FEATURES HAVE YOU BEEN BINGE WATCHING DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Fox News and American Idol with Steph

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
Even though I've won world championships myself, my highlight was watching Jimmy win the big stake on The Black Night Shade!

WHAT WORDS OF WISDOM CAN YOU GIVE TO THE HORSE INDUSTRY ON THE PANDEMIC?
This too shall pass!

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