When it comes to equestrianism, there are few places better to learn than Southern Oklahoma.

When it comes to equestrianism, there are few places better to learn than Southern Oklahoma.

Specific to the area, the best place to learn is at Johnson Performance Horses, just west of Plainview High School. 

Kim and Andy Johnson moved to southern Oklahoma in 2003 and established the Johnson Performance Horses farm shortly after.

“We are in horsemen’s alley, that’s why Andy and I moved here,” Kim said. 

“Between Oklahoma City and Dallas Fort Worth is horsemen’s alley. So once you get going in the horse industry and want to be a professional in the horse industry it is a great place to move to.”

The Johnson Performance Horse farm hosts Oklahoma Stock Horse and American Quarter Horse events throughout the year. 

On site, the training facility as 25 horses that are housed by customers or owned by the Johnson’s themselves. The Johnson’s train horse riders from the ages of four and up.

Riders come to the facility twice a week to take a lesson on their pony.

“It is us tuning up their animal so they can go compete on it,” Kim said. “That is our job as a horse trainer. Most of the riders won’t become horse trainers, this is their hobby, this is their sport like any other kid is good at and pursues.”

Kim has been riding horses all her life, winning awards as an equestrian rider in her youth and as an adult. After high school Kim attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she was a member of the equestrian team and majored in equine business management.

Andy, an award wining rider himself, got his start in Snohomish, Washington, training and showing western horses.

After meeting her husband Andy, and opening their farm in Ardmore, Kim started training riders from around the area on Welsh ponies and Cob horses.

Over the past weekend, riders from all over the country gathered in St. Louis, MO, to attend the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America awards banquet, to see how each rider placed in different riding categories.

Several members of the Johnson Performance Horse received awards for their performances throughout 2018.

In the short stirrup category (ages 12 and under), both the national champion Lauren Smith and fourth place finisher Lila Chapman were trained by Kim. Oklahoma University sophomore, and daughter of Kim and Andy, Alex Johnson won the Hunter Seat Adult Equitation championship.

Other winners included: Youth equitation 18 and under National Champion Grace Morgan, and fourth place finisher Hattie VanBuskirk, Kelsey Bryant finished fourth in the Jr. Handler 13-17 division and Emory Eubanks made the regional standings by placing fourth in the walk trot division. 

Chapman also finished third in the Child’s First Pony competition.

Horses trained at the Johnson’s farm also received recognition. 

Lucy Harlow’s pony won his Legion of Merit, and the Johnson’s horse Madoc Heir Apparent won the United States Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year.

Adisha Chapman, mother of eight-year-old Lila Chapman, has seen how much coming to the Johnson Performance Horse farm has helped her daughter grow not only as a rider but as a person.

“I think it has definitely made my daughter more responsible, she has something else to take care of,” Adisha said. 

“Socially, this has become her (Lila) family, including the other people she trains with she has met people all over the nation. She would rather be here mucking a stall, taking care of her pony and grooming it.”

Training championship riders, and horses, is no easy task. Hard work goes into training each individual horse into a premier athlete.

“My husband and I are horse trainers, like any agricultural type profession it involves farming, land and raising horses and taking care of horses properly,” Kim said. 

“These aren’t just peoples pets in their backyard, these are athletes and are quite expensive.”

After a successful 2018, the Johnson’s start to prepare their riders for the 2019 year. Having a repeat performance at next years award show will mean everything to the Johnson Performance Horse brand winning tradition.

For Andy, the winning or placing in the competitions is fun. Seeing all the training result in meals at competitions brings joy, but the love of training means more.

“We like to do this, it is why we continue to do it,” Andy said. “Working with the animals and the people is why we do it. It is still fun.”