Anderson riding Morgan’s Dunnit Smart (Owner Jeff & Kelly Lyons, Lisbon) [Photo: Scooter-N-Shootem Photography]
Jacob Anderson didn’t grow up with horses. His story is inspiring to those who have come into the horse industry on the paths less traveled, which ironically are becoming the norm.
Anderson grew up on a cattle and agricultural farm in Marion, ND and moved to Oregon after high school in 2007. He attended an electrical program in college for a year while in the northwest. Being in the city and one as large as Portland, coming from the prairies of North Dakota, Anderson said he kind of struggled.
The young Dakotan said he knew he needed to get back into nature and away from the dense population, so he purchased a two-year-old horse. He began working with the horse daily and admits he didn’t really know what he was doing. Young, fearless, and having the horse as his friend; the duo did a lot of trail riding around Oregon.
Much to his fortune, Anderson was in an area that was home to some very significant trainers such as ‘cover-page’ trainers in the show pen like Bob Avila, Shawn Church, and many others. Honing his skills and riding around many of the world’s greatest horseman in the American Quarter Horse Association, he began training his own horses for the National Mountain Horse Competition.
Ending up with a reining horse that didn’t quite make the cut for the pros, Anderson was able to ride past the trails and hit the show pen. He went and competed at some quarter horse shows. He said he thought this was way better than being stuck in Portland, so he began asking local trainers if they had any job openings.
Looking back, Anderson laughs and says that he knows with no prior experience with horses and having no business asking those trainers for a job, it is a wonder it worked out. However, on the positive side the North Dakotan, soon-to-be champion in the show pen was a blank canvas — he had no bad habits and was willing and open to learning anything.
Fast forward, Anderson worked for the trainer and AQHA World Champion, Trent Pederson, for about four years. During this time, he learned the west coast horseman style of training for the reining cow horse events riding horses such as ‘Please Nicker,’ a two-time AQHA World champion. Moving onto training under John Irish, who had more of a western pleasure background, Anderson had an experience that was a collaborative and successful blend for his own acquired training style and methods.
After a skiing accident, resulting in a broken leg and being laid up for a month and some intense actions to get back to riding and showing, Anderson said he went through some serious thoughts about heading back to the grasslands of North Dakota.
During a horse show, Anderson said he was thinking of his family a lot and admittedly was maybe a little homesick. A fellow training friend was at the same show and had a mother who was extremely ill, but his friend couldn’t leave the show. Due to the intensity and competitive demands any sport takes at the professional level and being thousands of miles from home, his friend didn’t make it home to see his mother before she passed. Anderson said he didn’t take what happened lightly and decided he should try his hand at working in North Dakota and starting a training business closer to his family.
In 2017, Anderson moved back to North Dakota and slowly started taking in outside horses for training. Keeping his day job, working for his uncle’s construction company, his horse business and wins began to flourish.
Anderson was given the opportunity to train and show, SH Nightly Chex, who is owned by Jane Hammer. This horse gave the young trainer his first futurity win. SH Nightly Chex was injured at two years old and began his riding career as a three-year-old, which is considered a late start in the futurity and show world. Anderson said he really put a big emphasis on fundamentals and training to keep everything correct, which ultimately kept the horse sound and injury-free. The owner and Anderson really had no intentions of showing the horse.
In the end, SH Nightly Chex showed so much potential that they entered him and ended up winning the reining futurity. The smile it put on the owner’s face was enough to keep Anderson convinced this was the path he was supposed to be on.
From there, Anderson began getting more clients interested in getting their rope horses more broke and more supple. Evolving into some more two-year-old colts in his barn that showed real show potential. ‘Morgan’s Dunnit Smart’ was one of the first brand name show horse Anderson threw a leg over since coming back to North Dakota. This horse helped him to win the Black Hills Stock Show Reining in 2022 and put him in the top ten of the reining cow horse event at the show.
Anderson says he is amazed at the great stock of horses and well-bred ‘diamonds in the ruff,’ or so he puts it, of available quality horses that are raised in North Dakota.
Looking forward to the future, Anderson notes that the youth coming up are eager and showing so much interest in the reining cow horse and the reining.
“It’s fun to see how their world changes when they get on a show horse, spinning and stopping and the degree of brokenness under their legs really changes some youth’s minds about where they want to put their focus on horses. The interest for showing reining cow horses in North Dakota is huge,” explained Anderson.
Anderson says he looks forward to sharing some of his knowledge and skill in the reining cow horse world to fellow riders in all venues of the horse industry.
For updates and more information on Anderson and his horses, check out his Facebook page: Lucky Diamond A Performance Horses.
Tisa Peek is a long time horse trainer, competitor in barrel racing and team roping, and writer about the equine. Rodeo and horses run deep in her roots. JT Family Equine is where she calls home, south of Bismarck, ND. Tisa, along with her husband, Jon, and boys, Blu and River, train horses, host horse camps for youth, and provide riding lessons.