Evolving: featuring DC Performance Horses


Debbie Cooper eats, sleeps and breathes the horse industry. She started showing the AQHA all-around events as a youth at the age of 11. She went on to become a trainer and couldn’t imagine her life being any other way. 

“Training and riding horses is pretty much all I’ve ever done and known,” Cooper said. “I started showing and that was the only sport I ever did. I had a lot of success. I met my future husband and he worked for my trainer, Jim Paul. He is in the NRCHA Hall of Fame. I grew up with a lot of great individuals and we all rode together as kids. Al Dunning, Jimmie Paul, Randy Paul and a lot of trainers that are still training horses today. We all rode with Jim and most of us went on to become trainers.”

Cooper holds her AQHA, NRHA and NRCHA judging cards. She has had her AQHA card for 26 years, NRHA card for around 20 years and her NRCHA card for about 20 years as well. The reining and the cow horse are her favorite to judge. She also owns her own training business called Debbie Cooper Performance Horses, where she specializes in the ranch riding.

“Years ago, I had cow horses and reiners, but now I’m specialized with the ranch riders,” Cooper said. “It’s such a new class and it’s still evolving. I started by taking my reiners in it to school them and give them something else to do besides just the reining. I thought it would be good for their mind. I never realized the class would evolve like it has. I just had so much success with it. I didn’t intend to have success, but it happened. When I look for a ranch riding prospect I’m looking for a pretty horse first and foremost. They have to be attractive, pretty and have lots of expression. They have to be very good movers and be very, very broke.” 


Cooper was the 2016 AQHA World Champion in the Senior Ranch Riding with Whizzle For My Spook. She first showed him in 2015 when he was a junior horse and has immense success with him since then.

“He has incredible expression and is a phenomenal mover,” Cooper said. “I was the circuit champion in the  junior ranch riding at the Arizona Sun Circuit champion in 2015 on him. I’ve won the ranch riding circuit at the AZ Sun Circuit in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Whizzle For My Spook was the champion three of the four years.”


Cooper has known Matt and Amanda since they were very young. She knew them during their youth careers and used to wear their jeans for the Longhorn Jean Company.

“Amanda’s mother was one of my best friends growing up,” Cooper said. “We showed horses together. I’ve known Amanda’s mother since I was ten. I’ve known Amanda since before she was born. I know Matt because he started showing horses as a youngster in Arizona. Their marketing and sales have skyrocketed. The Betty is my absolute favorite to ride in. They are the best with chaps. They come up just high enough for the right spot with your chaps. I’ll wear other styles at a horse show if I’m not showing.”

We hope Debbie Cooper Performance Horses has a wonderful 2018 show season! To see more information about Cooper and her business you can visit the sites below:




~ Courtney Hall, Photos Courtesy of Debbie Cooper