John Ressler didn’t always have dreams to be a professional horse trainer. He attended Western Kentucky University and got a degree in business marketing with hopes of becoming a veterinary pharmaceutical sales rep, but a job during college working for barrel racing icon John Read Foster changed the course of his career and life.
Now, Ressler is a winning futurity trainer who recently added another accolade to his resume, riding Nothin But Talent to the Ardmore Barrel Futurity and Blue Collar Breeders Futurity wins, held in conjunction from September 21–24 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The weekend paid $72,333 combined — the biggest payday of Ressler’s career so far.
Read more on John Ressler’s Ardmore win in the November 2023 issue of Barrel Horse News. Order your copy here.
“I didn’t really have an option growing up — I was going to go to school,” Ressler said. “I always had a passion for horses and barrel racing, so I thought being a vet pharmaceutical sales rep would be a good way to stay in the business and make good money. That quickly changed when I started working for John Read.”
Before that, though, a horse named Kickin Chico kickstarted Ressler’s love for barrel racing at a high level and gave him the skill necessary to land the job with Foster.
“I went to a super show in Indiana probably nine years ago, and I won all three days on him,” Ressler said. “John Read Foster was living in the area at the time, and I needed a job and he needed somebody to ride for him.”
Ressler picked up the job at Foster’s as a sophomore in college after his first day of riding that impressed the longtime player in barrel racing, who’s been an owner, trainer, broker, stallion owner and breeder, and event producer.
—> Read more: John Read Foster’s Impact on Barrel Racing
“I remember the first day, he called me on the phone and said, ‘Come out here and ride for a week or two and we’ll just see how it goes, and if nothing else we made new friends, but I think I got a job for you.’ I think he was a little hesitant at the time,” Ressler recounted with a laugh. “I went out there and started riding, and the first horse I rode he drove his little golf cart out to the arena and watched me ride and work this horse, and we went back to the barn and he said, ‘Yep, you’re hired.’”
The knowledge and saddle time Ressler gained during the four years he worked at Foster’s helped him start his own program and fill Foster’s barn with his own outside horses, too. Eventually, Ressler got his own place and officially put down roots as a professional horse trainer.
“I started out riding his horses, and by the time I moved out, I had filled his barn with all my outside horses and was still riding a few for him,” Ressler said. “I found my own place and took off from there. I did not have any plans of being a horse trainer. I did graduate and finish college while I was training horses. I always thought training would be cool, but I never really thought of it [as my career].”
Now based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Ressler’s EquiStat earnings stand at close to $300,000. He’s trained and ridden open and futurity winners such as Honor Bounds Ghost, Handle The Pressure, Moonshyner, VF Wahini Stinson and more — a number that’s sure to keep rising with a talented stable of winning 2023 futurity colts like Ardmore champion and OKC Futurity Slot Race reserve champion Nothin But Talent, Old Fort Days Futurity and Kinder Cup reserve champion SG A Star Is Born, and money earner SB The Goodbye Doc, with another promising group of future hopefuls in the barn ahead.