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UPHA Young Trainer Of The Year Award - Tre´ Lee


Jim Taylor, Emily Lee, Dora Lee, Chad Graham and John T. Jones joined Tre´Lee

after he was presented with the UPHA Young Trainer Of The Year Award.

(photo by Jane Jacobs)

(Editor’s note: Chad Graham introduced the award, gave some funny off the cuff comments (no speech provided) then turned the microphone over to John T. Jones who gave the following presentation.)

The 2003 World Champion Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Marching Orders, 2004 World Champion Two-Year-Old Five-Gaited According To Lynn, 2004 World Champion Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Lovin’ Lass, 2005 Lexington Junior League Junior Five-Gaited Champion A Silver Charm, 2005 Lexington Junior League Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Champion According To Lynn, 2005 World Champion Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Cherished King, 2005 Reserve World Champion Junior Three-Gaited Under Two A Silver Charm, 2005 Reserve World Champion Adult Three-Gaited Show Pleasure Hola Buenos Heires, 2005 ASHA National Futurity Five-Gaited Champion According To Lynn, 2005 ASHA National Futurity Three-Gaited Champion Coco Royale, 2005 American Royal Junior Five-Gaited Champion Enchanting Memories, 2006 Lexington Junior League Three-Gaited Under 15.2 Champion A Silver Charm, 2006 World Champion Three-Gaited Under 15.2 A Silver Charm, 2006 Reserve World Champion Two-Year-Old Three-Gaited Just Heavenly, 2006 American Royal Reserve Champion Three-Gaited Boston Legal.

Wow! He’s just 28 years old. He has achieved more in his young career than most people dream of achieving in a lifetime.

As a rule public speaking is not on the top of my list of favorite things to do. But this occasion is an exception. Tonight I speak to honor Tre’ Lee. It is my pleasure to share with his friends, his family and his colleagues what a special individual I know him to be.

When I was a young man I had the good fortune to have been mentored by a very smart and generous man named Harry Showalter. He gave me the gift of opportunity; the opportunity to make my own dreams come true, in my own way. That opportunity changed the course of my life and allowed me to make a success of my passion; training and showing American Saddlebred horses. Over the years I wished that I could have somehow repaid Harry Showalter before his untimely death in 1975. As it turned out that opportunity came much later.

About four years ago a lanky young man from Virginia came to me and asked me for a job. I needed an assistant so I hired him. His raw talent and intense work ethic were immediately clear to me and I recognized that his passion for training Saddle Horses mirrored my own when I was young. I had seen a lot of talented young people work in this business but I had never seen anyone with Tre’s special gift. And in time I realized that the best way I could honor Harry Showalter was to emulate his kindness toward me and do what I could to help Tre’ accomplish his dreams and goals.

Harry Showalter once said to me that if I wanted to sail big ships I would have to move into deep waters. He was so right. And in order for me to help Tre’ develop his skills and accomplish his dreams I had to step back and let him use his abilities and his judgment where it counts, in the deep water at Lexington, Louisville and Kansas City. I am the first to admit that it was hard to let go, but Tre’ never once let me or our clients down. And I can tell you this; he made my job of helping him a hell of a lot easier than I made Harry Showalter’s job of helping me.

I believe that a gift of ability, ability for anything, does not have worth unless it is coupled with desire, dedication and a healthy dose of humility. Tre’ embodies all of those traits. He has taken his craft to a level that has earned him the honor of being named UPHA Young Horseman of the Year.

Of course no one gets to this place of honor without some support along the way. Tre’s parents, Clem and Dora Lee, obviously did their job very well. Tre’ is kind, polite and well-centered and he possesses an unbelievable level of maturity for a man his age.

Then there’s Emily. When Karen and I were working on this speech it was hard not to write 10 pages on Em and her contribution to Tre’s achievements and the success of Prospect Lane. He is a happy man and deservedly so. Emily is a joy to work with, generous to a fault and truly a delight to know. Their combined maturity and dedication to working and learning and to each other is an inspiration.

They both also possess what I consider to be the most important element in succeeding with any kind of relationship in life; an ability to find levity in almost any situation. I’ve never laughed more or had more fun working than I have in the last year helping to create our new partnership. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined getting to this place in my life and having such a dream team to work with.

Tre’ and Em, you are not only business partners and friends. Karen and I have come to think of you as family as well. We are both so proud and honored to know you and to have the privilege of watching you grow and have continued success in your lives.

In closing I want to say this; over the years we have heard the concerns of horse trainers as the older generation begins to retire and the younger generation steps up to carry on the work of training, showing and growing our business. I can honestly say that I think those of us who are approaching our retirement years can rest easy. Where we failed the next generation will succeed. What we succeeded with they will improve on. What we dreamed they will achieve.

With quality young horsemen like Tre’ and his contemporaries I’m confident that the body of work that I spent my life building will be left in very good hands.

Congratulations Tre’.

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