Jessica Clinton: Born To Succeed

By Arlene Magid

2011 Arabian Professional Horsemen’s Association Up and Coming Trainer of the Year Jessica Clinton didn’t want to become a horse trainer. “At Youth Nationals”, they do these questionnaires, and ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I remember specifically that one year I wrote ‘not a horse trainer.’”

Jessica was born to be a horsewoman. Her father, Jim Clinton, was a very successful breeder of Arabian and Half-Arabian performance horses. Her mother is the highly successful trainer Vicki Humphrey who has been winning National titles since she was a junior rider. But Jessica wanted to be an artist; she studied fine art and painting at college after showing successfully as a youth rider (although she preferred riding horses at a dead run through the forest rather than showing, she was a National Champion equitation rider). As an adult amateur, Jessica won the $5,000.00 Platinum Performance High Point Award with Bey Berry Love and was U.S. National Champion Half-Arabian Park AOTR in 2007 with Excels High Fashion, a mare she’d selected herself, purchased and for whom she had done all the training.

So how did Jessica make the transition to full time professional horsewoman in 2008 at age 24? “I had found myself training on the side and keeping up a pretty substantial show schedule. I was trying, really trying, not to be a horse trainer,” she recalls with a smile. “But you know what? I think it was inevitable. I am a super competitive person, and I realized that I just couldn’t give up the horses; that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t be as good or as dedicated about my artwork as I wanted to be, and so I’d just rather not do it at all than do it halfway.”

Jessica is not a person to do anything halfway, and she proved that in her first year as a professional trainer, with two National Championships and four Top Tens, while her riders won two Reserve National Championships and multiple Top Ten titles. “Every day I feel like I get better, and that’s what I want, “ she says. “I never want to think that I’m there. I want to be working towards a goal of just always continuing to reinvent and get better and be the best. I’m so competitive-I don’t like to lose. I’m not ‘not humble’. I’m not blind, but I’m super competitive.”

The owners for whom Jessica trains, appreciate her competitive edge and desire to win, as well as her coaching skills for their competition in their amateur and youth rider classes. Because Jessica grew up as the daughter of a trainer she was able to observe how her mother became successful. “I found out at a very early age that training horses has very little to do with training horses, and so much is being everything to your clients. People pay a lot of money to do this hobby that is our industry, and they expect a lot in return. My mom is just awesome; she’s always there for everybody. I learned a lot about dealing with people from her.” Jessica continues, “I have a great, really great group of clients that put a lot of trust in me and let me show their horses.”

Jessica’s mother Vicki Humphrey is justifiably proud of what her daughter has achieved in a short time as a professional. “She absolutely has a connection with horses like nobody else I’ve ever known. I’m lucky enough to have the best trainer I could hire-there isn’t a better one out there. She’s so connected to the horses, she’s quiet, and she gets it done and it’s pretty amazing. She’s gained a great deal of confidence. Every one in a while, when I’m done with my list and she’s not done with all of her horses, I’ll say. ‘I’ll work that horse for you,’ and she’ll say, ‘don’t mess it up, Mom!’”

Jessica’s future is now being shared with her husband, Gabriel DeSoto, also a horseman, who was nominated for the A.P.A.H.A. Rising Star Award for 2012.

A list of Jessica’s National winners since she became a professional trainer follows here:

HL Sanction-2008 Canadian National Champion Native Costume
2010 U.S. Top Ten Native Costume
2011 U.S. Reserve National Champion Native Costume
2012 U.S. National Champion Native Costume

ERA Madusa-2008 U.S. Top Ten English Pleasure Junior Horse
2009 U.S. Top Ten English Pleasure Junior Horse

Maximumm Overdrive-2008 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Park

Hoosier Daddy- 2008 U.S. Top Ten English Pleasure Futurity

RA Sonofapreacherman -2009 Canadian Reserve National Champion Half-Arabian English Pleasure Junior Horse

JB Rose Afire-2010 U.S. Top Ten Country Pleasure Junior Horse

Excels High Fashion-2010 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Park

Voodoo Child-2010 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian English Pleasure Junior Horse

Millady LOA-2010 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Country Pleasure Junior Horse

Mister Bigg-2011 U.S. Top Ten Country Pleasure
2012 U.S. Top Ten Country Pleasure

Princess of Baske- 2011 U.S. National Champion Country Pleasure Junior Horse (unanimous)

Tempani SMP-2011 U.S. Reserve National Champion Country Pleasure Futurity

Afire Siren- 2011 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian English Pleasure Futurity
2012 U.S. Top Ten AEPA Saddleseat Futurity

BF Apollos Maverick – 2012 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Country Pleasure Junior Horse

PAF Hollywood Toi-2012 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Country Pleasure

SA Rapid Fire- 2012 U.S. Reserve National Champion Half-Arabian Pleasure Driving

The Incredible Huck- 2012 U.S. Top Ten Country Pleasure Futurity

Midnight Connection – 2012 U.S. Top Ten Half-Arabian Country Pleasure Futurity