Renee Leggett of Top Notch Performance Horses

Here at Schneiders, we love to support the Professionals that work hard to keep this sport going. We decided to showcase these Professionals in a monthly blog post, so you can hear all of their fantastic stories and advice, too. We sat down with Renee Leggett of Top Notch Performance Horses to hear about her experiences.

Q:Tell us about your business? What services do you offer?

A:My husband and I own a beautiful ranch just north of Edmond, Oklahoma. We have 34 acres that include: 20 stall show barn, large indoor and outdoor arenas, 100’ round pen, 5 large pastures, and 12 turnouts. We recently bought our place, so it seems we are making improvements constantly but we’re excited to see the end of our hard work.

Our facility is a training, showing, and breeding operation. I specialize in AQHA/APHA All-Around events for amateur and youth clients. In addition, I have a lesson program to bring new people into our industry. Not to be biased but I think we have some of the best lesson horses. Lessons start for kids as young as 4 to any age adult.

We are excited to announce we will begin to stand our up-and-coming AQHA stallion, “One Notch Above” in 2023 to a limited number of mares, so be sure to stay tuned to our website for details about him!

Renee Leggett

Q:How did you get your start in the equine industry?

A:I am the product of being a trainer's kid... My mom was a horse trainer, so I grew up like most trainer kids and was thrown on all kinds of horses from a young age. I started showing in the lead line and later fell in love with the All-Around events. I then went to college at Oklahoma State University to study Animal Science. I decided that I loved Oklahoma too much, so I just stayed here and started my own business. I was lucky enough to meet someone that shares the love of horses as much as I do and my husband Chris shows the Amateur events.

Young Renee Leggett

Q: What has been your biggest success? Proudest moment?

A: It would be hard to pick just one. I would say enjoying the success of clients is the biggest reward. It wouldn’t be just one moment because each client has a separate goal to achieve and when they reach that goal it’s exciting for all. I’m super proud of them when their hard work results in a win for themselves.

The exciting part about being a breeder is watching something that you helped bring into the world go on to make dreams come true for someone in the show pen. We get lucky at times that clients buy or lease horses that we raised and they stay in the program, so being a part of their growth makes it extra special. The great thing about horses is that they teach so many lessons in and out of the show pen and watching someone grow from a timid rider to a world show competitor makes my job be so much more rewarding.

Renee Leggett Trainer Horses

Q: What has been your biggest challenge? How did you or are you growing from it?

A: I would say stepping out on my own was a challenge. The horse industry can be a tough industry to get involved in. Sometimes you know the right people, sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you just have to work hard. I feel like I grow as a trainer more and more each year, and I have some great colleagues that have helped me along the way. The great thing about the horse industry is that you are always growing as a person, and if you are looking for it, you can learn something new every day. No one says the way you trained the horse is set in stone so adapting and learning a new technique from a fellow trainer may be just what you needed to get over an obstacle. I think growth goes hand in hand with age and success and the more that you are willing to learn from others will make you a better trainer at the end of the day.

Renee Leggett - Congress Winner

Q: What are your career goals?

A: I think it would be the same career goal that everyone in the show industry would have... to come home with a globe from the AQHA World Show. I also would love for a foal that we raised to grow up to be a champion since we were able to be part of their beginning and watched their first steps. But, on an everyday basis, it would be to ensure my clients are happy with their rides at the end of the day and enjoy their horses as much as I do.

Q:What advice would you give a young equestrian that wants to be a professional trainer?

A: The biggest piece of advice would be to take the time to learn from a variety of trainers before going out on your own, even if they are from a completely different discipline as you are in. Doing this will make you a better trainer in the long run as you are able to take what you like and don’t like from everyone to create your own style. When you go on your own, be sure you have a great team behind you because an amazing vet and farrier will only enhance your program. It's ok to let some clients go because the saying “one bad apple will spoil the bunch” is very true in this industry, so surround yourself with good people that make you happy because your clients will be happier too. Lastly, always be true to yourself. Honesty and hard work will take you further in life than shortcuts, so always put integrity first.

Oh! And be sure to every once in a while do something for yourself.

Renee Leggett with Husband

Q:What have you learned in this industry?

A: Horse training isn’t for the faint of heart. You have long days, days where you want to quit, and days that make you question everything...but then there are the days that everything comes together just so perfectly that you realize the reason you came into this industry in the first place. Because at the end of the day you just love the horse. So, the biggest takeaway is to keep chugging along because it's extremely hard work but extremely rewarding.

Renee Leggett and Horse

Q:Tell us about the horses on your team right now?

A: I am super fortunate to have amazing clients in the barn right now. We’ve got horses showing in most All-Around English and Western Events, so it keeps me pretty busy at the shows running on caffeine and humor. We are in the futurity season so I’ve got some really cool 3-year-olds and then some promising ones to watch for next year. For the fear of leaving someone out, I’ll mention our stallion. He is currently showing in the Performance Halter and the Hunter Under Saddle events and we are so excited for his future as he will bring a lot to the industry as a sire. Not only is he gorgeous and a great mover, but his mind is quiet enough that I’ve let youth kids ride him around.

I know we give our show horses a lot of credit but in all honesty, I think the ones that we need to credit most are the lesson program horses. They are truly the heroes in the industry and are not given enough shoutouts. After all, they are the ones that have the patience to teach the timid beginner and the ability to help someone fall in love with the sport. I’ve got a few oldies that have been with me for 15+ years and the lessons that they have taught countless adults and children are sometimes more than I can teach the client. They are wise and patient and simply just love their job! (I also think the variety of treats that they receive does help that).

Renee Leggett - One Notch Above

Q:What’s your favorite horse care item?

A: My latest favorite item is the LUX® Ceramic E-Z® View Pin Pad. We spend so much time and money on keeping our horses feeling their best and I love how these pads help in the show pen as well. I have personally used ceramic clothing on myself to alleviate soreness so I know that if it helps my back, it will for sure help my horse. Plus, it's much easier to pin on your number with the added webbing.

It's not necessarily a care item but I am obsessed with all of the various items that Schneiders offers to help trainers make their tack rooms more organized. I love how everything that I need at my home tack rooms is durable and practical and even better is everything I need to use to set up tack stalls at a show is collapsible and easily fits in my trailer without taking up a ton of room.

Q: What’s your favorite stable item right now?

A: By far I cannot live without the Stall Front Bags! Each client has one for their stalls at home and it makes my overly organized self very happy. They are just perfect because the pockets on top can hold all of their grooming and miscellaneous items and the big zippered pocket is perfect for holding all of their blankets. I love the clean look when I look down the barn aisle and all you see are matching bags and not random blankets and grooming supplies all over the place. It also helps my time management because all of the horses’ belongings are in one place beside their stall and convenient when I need them.

Renee Leggett - Schneiders Stall Front Bags

Q:What’s your favorite part about being a professional trainer?

A: I think I speak for most trainers that the best part is seeing the joy of accomplishment on a client's face when they reach a goal (whether it includes a ribbon or just something simple as learning a diagonal). It's a great feeling to take a rider from someone that didn’t know how to put a foot in a stirrup to someone that you get to see their face light up when they ride into the world show arena for the first time. In addition, being part of the surprise of seeing a child's face when they get their first horse is something that will remind you what incredible things our horses do for us and the look of joy in the purest form. I also love working hard on something with a horse and it all comes together to become like second nature and easy for them. One of the perks of the job is that we get to ride amazing horses and get paid to do it! On the breeding side, watching a foal being born never gets old, we love being on broodmare watch (even if we joke too much about the lack of sleep) because helping a new foal into the world is like Christmas when you were 5 years old.

At the end of the day, the best part is just the overall quiet, peaceful sound of horses munching on hay in their stalls or the view of watching them graze peacefully in the pasture knowing that their trust is in you is just a level of comfort.

Renee Leggett Client

Q:What’s a horse care problem that you’re facing that needs a solution?

A: Well living in Oklahoma for almost 15 years has taught me about an evil thing called red dirt. It's thick and loves to stain our gray horses and white legs. So, if someone could come up with an easy way to remove or repel the red dirt/clay that loves to stick and life would be a lot easier.

But joking aside, I feel like most of the daily problems that we face in the barn have an easy remedy simply go shopping. I have yet to think of a problem that I have that isn't able to be fixed by going to Schneiders website. Whether it be flies, dry feet, coat issues, or being show ready, it's all able to be solved with a simple shopping spree.

Q:At Schneiders, fit is important to us. As horse owners, we want our tack and blankets to fit our horses and our stable supplies to fit in our barn. How and why would fit be important to you?

A: I absolutely love the variety of fits that Schneiders offers in their sheets and blankets. We have everything from the small, compact western pleasure horses to the tall, stout hunter under saddle horses and all of the various sizes in between so its nice that when a client comes to me asking what their horse needs, I am able to go to your website and customize their wardrobe and it will actually fit the horse. They are able to select their favorite color and then I can set them up completely with everything from sheets and slinkies to heavy blankets with hoods. I know that when I'm looking for blankets, SStack has something that fits each body type that we have and will reduce shoulder rubbing or mane rubbing… I joke that one of my favorite parts of my job is to be a private shopper for their horses.

Renee Leggett and Husband Shops at Schneiders

Q: What do you wish everyone knew about horses?

A:They are such large animals with even larger hearts. I think they are smarter than we would like to think, and they know more about what their rider needs than we do sometimes. I love how most of the time they come to you asking what they can do for you that day. The great thing about horseback riding is it's a sport that requires so much thought that you forget about any of the problems you are having in your personal life and yet other times you can just sit there and let them take care of you.

Renee Leggett Loves Horses

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