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UPHA Richard E. Lavery Professional Horseman Of The Year Award - Nelson Green


Jim Taylor presented the Richard E. Lavery

Professional Horseman Of The Year Award to Nelson Green.

(photo by Jane Jacobs)

(Editor’s Note: After a comprehensive video profiling trainer Nelson Green, the following speech was read by Jimmy Robertson on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007 at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.)

What a slide show that was. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, if Nelson would ever write his memoirs he'd have a book as big as War And Peace. When Josie Forbes asked me to help her with this presentation, she was almost apologetic. What an honor it is to be a small part of the awards; for Randy Tabor last night for the Hall of Fame and tonight for Nelson Green - UPHA Richard E. Lavery Professional Horseman of the Year. I am truly humbled. Thank you, Josie, for allowing me this moment.

I have a couple of books of quotes that I rely on for talks like this. They let me down on this one. I went to the part in the quote books about perfection and it had quotes like, "Perfect never exists in reality, but only in our dreams." "Perfection is out of the question." "The essence of man is imperfection." "Don't let perfect get in the way of damn good." Don’t let anyone tell Nelson there is no perfection.

When I first knew Nelson Green he had a nice stable of horses in South Carolina. In the late 60s it was pretty obvious he was a little tired of "nice." He figured out a way to work for our founding father, consummate horseman Tom Moore, who was in Nelson's mind the perfect horseman. One of his ways to work for Tom was to lose 100 pounds. What's 100 pounds in the quest for perfection? Don't tell Nelson there's no perfect.

After a stint in Illinois, he followed the Moores to Kentucky and then went to work for Holly Oak Farm in Midway, Ky. A nice job, nice barn, nice home, nice horses - nice. We've already found out what he thought of nice. Don't tell Nelson there's no perfect.

On to the famed Happy Valley Farm to train and develop one of the strongest stables in the South. Then in 1988, partner-in-life Josie Forbes had health issues to the extent she had to have a liver transplant. That same year Nelson had health issues to the extent he needed triple bypass heart surgery. He needed to rethink his career a little bit. Not necessarily slow down but redirect. Don't tell Nelson there's no perfect.
He now has a 21-stall barn and develops champion after champion after champion in that small barn, darn sure that “perfect” is out there somewhere. Don't tell him it's not.

Perfectionists sometimes can be a little hard to work for. Just yesterday Nelson was telling me he would tell people coming to work for him they would lose weight. He said he might gain, but they would lose. I said maybe it was like the Army, when a lot of time the big guys get little and the little guys get big. Well Nelson, if Chantal gets bigger, you and I are going to have a little talk.

Nelson has become the consummate horse trainer his mentor, Tom Moore the perfect trainer, was. He can lead a colt, show ponies, roadsters, gaited, walk-trot, harness, pleasure, colts, aged horses, teach amateurs, teach juveniles, teach them to ride and teach them to drive. He will explain to his students and assistants there is perfection. He’ll explain it again and again and again.

Nelson Green's abilities and scope in the sport of showing horses knows no boundaries. Nelson has developed many world’s champions every way and with every animal just mentioned you can train.

His knowledge is sought after in all of our sport. Most recently serving on the Advisory Board for the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show. He serves on the board of the American Saddlebred Horse Association. He is in the Kentucky State Fair Hall of Fame.

Vincent Van Gogh said, (I got something out of the quote book I could use), "I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart."

Is that Nelson or what? And he has two ears. I give you the UPHA Richard E. Lavery Horseman of the year, Nelson Green.

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