Journal on the Road

2013 AQHA Convention – New Horizons

March 12, 2013

AQHA still faces challenges, but the stats show strength and growth in the world’s largest equine breed association.

2013 2013 AQHA Convention Awards

The fact is, AQHA members are getting more involved with their American Quarter Horses, and that’s a great position to be in to face the future. (American Quarter Horse Journal photo)

With the standing committee recommendations made, awards picked up, hands shook and planes caught, 2013 AQHA Convention is done. It’s time to take a deep breath and plunge forward.

The year 2012 was a full one for the Association. In his address to the membership March 8, AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway listed a number of headline challenges that happened in 2012, any one of which could have sidelined a less prepared organization from its work.

But these challenges didn’t deter AQHA from stubbornly moving ahead with positive initiatives – the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission’s work, the launch of leveling, the Take Me Riding youth initiative, two highly successful Novice championship shows, growth of the Ranching Heritage Breeders program, recognition of 13 & under and Super Select world show exhibitors, new classes in ranch pleasure and boxing, the new Trail Challenge program, and the first Latin American Championships.

In addition, AQHA moved ahead with a complete revision of the AQHA Official Handbook, a massive update of the software managing the AQHA database, and the establishment of Awards Recognition Concepts (ARC) as AQHA’s awards and trophy division.

We are still in tough times, Don pointed out, and it shows in memberships and registrations. But some stats show evidence of renewed and maintained strength in both areas and more. Read the rest of this entry »

2013 AQHA Convention – Hall of Fame Banquet

March 11, 2013

The 2013 American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame inductions banquet is an AQHA Convention highlight.

2013 AQHA Convention - Hall of Fame Inductions

The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame induction banquet is one of the most emotional moments of any AQHA convention – honoring individuals who have influenced our breed in so many ways. (Journal photo)

Five horses and five men joined the ranks of those honored with entry into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame on March 10, 2013, at the AQHA Convention in Houston: Bill Brewer of Amarillo; Kenny Hart of Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico; Frank Merrill of Purcell, Oklahoma; the late Guy Ray Rutland of Independence, Kansas; and Greg Whalen of Clements, California. The horses are: Fillinic, Freckles Playboy, Lady Bug’s Moon, Miss Olene and Poco Tivio.

For the first time, the evening event was webcast live online, bringing the historic presentations to the Internet audience.

Inductee AQHA Past President Frank Merrill spoke of being an “American Quarter Horse Association lifer,” someone raised up living and breathing American Quarter Horses, and acknowledged that he was in a room full of them.

It’s one of the most emotional moments of any AQHA convention, and this year was no different – honoring individuals who have influenced our breed in so many ways.

Scroll down and enjoy The American Quarter Horse Journal slideshow from the evening.

Better yet, take time to come visit their legacies in person at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo.

One more thing – AQHA President Gene Graves – due to hand over his responsibility as such on March 11 – shared the following list of standards he lives by in his remarks to the General Membership Meeting on March 9.

We thought you’d like to hear them; wisdom from a family man, businessman, cowboy and cancer-fighter. They seem to suit the Hall of Fame inductees.

Gene's Words of Wisdom
1.    Face each day with hope.
2.    Be kind and courteous to everyone.
3.    Stand up for what you believe.
4.    Life is more fun when you don’t keep score.
5.    A good example is a great gift you give others.
6.    Things do not change, we do.
7.    There is no right way to do the wrong thing.
8.    The more you say, the less people remember.
9.    Never never, never give up.
10.    Happiness is a choice.


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2013 AQHA Convention – Awards Banquet

March 10, 2013

Our horses forge relationships that years only strengthen.

John Hoyt and Pete Kyle at the 2013 AQHA Convention

AQHA Lifetime Achievement Award winner John Hoyt and AQHA Professional Horseman Pete Kyle at the 2013 AQHA Convention (American Quarter Horse Journal photo)

By the time all is said and done, AQHA Convention-goers will have faced three long days of committee meetings, and two late night and emotional banquets. But in a scattering of random instances, it’s easy to see what makes AQHA Convention a worthwhile experience.

Standing in line for a bagel, Lynn Long of Sedalia, Colorado, was all smiles because she was able to present to the Show and Professional Horseman Committee an idea for a new program designed to encourage young people wanting to become horsemen, modeled after a similar United States Equestrian Federation called the Emerging Athletes Program.

Gathering for the awards banquet, equestrians with disabilities riders Stacey Johnson and Sabrina Griffin were surrounded by a crowd of loved ones and friends who all came to Houston just to cheer them on in picking up their awards for their 2012 high-point accomplishments on their American Quarter Horses.

All-around youth high-point winner Erika Rodenski of Hickory, Pennsylvania, had one “person” in particular to thank in her acceptance comments – one 13-year-old gray gelding named Good Time To Win who carried her down the road to the year-end award.

And as the banquet staff cleared tables, AQHA Professional Horseman Pete Kyle proudly helped legendary trainer and dear friend John Hoyt – a recipient of an AQHA Lifetime Achievement Award – get ready to leave the hall. Pete was delayed by two old friends who wanted to congratulate John, a man they’d shared the horse show road with and looked up to: AQHA Professional Horsemen Al Dunning of Cave Creek, Arizona, and Cynthia Cantleberry of Paso Robles, California.

AQHA Convention is about caring enough about an industry to take the trouble to fly to Houston just to present an idea that could foster its future. It’s about honoring people who overcome tremendous challenges through riding. It’s about appreciating our horses and our big-hearted breed. And it’s about taking the time to remember old friends.

Enjoy this American Quarter Horse Journal slide show from the 2013 Awards Banquet. And here’s to enjoying the ride forward to 2014.

Don't miss the 2013 AQHA Hall of Fame Banquet March 10 at 6 p.m. It's webcast live! Watch AQHA legends come to life, honored for making American Quarter Horse history.

Do you tweet? Follow the Journal's Twitter feed @AQHAJournal and onsite Journal Editor Christine Hamilton @ChrisHQH.

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2013 AQHA Convention – Focus on Animal Welfare

March 10, 2013

h4>Self-regulation and clear communication are crucial to AQHA’s equine welfare mission and the future of the horse industry.

Panelists at the 2013 AQHA Convention Member Forum on Animal Welfare

Panel members on the Animal Welfare open Member Forum at the 2013 AQHA Convention in Houston, March 8, 2013. (American Quarter Horse Journal photo)

First on the agenda for the 2013 AQHA Convention in Houston was the open members forum, this year devoted to what many consider the No. 1 issue facing horsemen and women today: equine welfare and the protection of our horse from abuse.

The afternoon panel of speakers included industry experts from every corner. Their purpose was to update the membership on the issue – AQHA’s efforts to enhance its animal welfare efforts and outside circumstances affecting the issue in the horse industry at large.

AQHA Animal Welfare Commission

Jim Heird of the Texas A&M University Equine Initiative, College Station, Texas, spoke first as chairman of the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission.

In the past year, the commission’s work has centered around three areas, Heird said:
1. Defining legal and illegal equipment and training practices at AQHA show grounds; 2. Strengthening the AQHA Stewards program; and, 3. Developing recommendations for fines and penalties for those who commit welfare violations.

Heird stressed that the Animal Welfare Commission and the AQHA Stewards program “is not out to get anyone,” it is simply trying to put structure to “what most of you think we should be doing as a breed and an Association.” Read the rest of this entry »

2013 AQHA Convention: Rodeo Time

March 9, 2013

The 2013 AQHA Convention-goers got a treat with the President's Reception at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

2013 AQHA Convention visits the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

The 2013 AQHA Convention-goers were treated to the President's Reception held at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. (Journal photo)

The 2013 AQHA Convention opened with an AQHA member forum on animal welfare from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 8, followed by the President’s Reception cocktail hour at the Hyatt Regency Houston and full reception at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo – all sponsored by Zoetis.

Attendees gathered wearing their “western best” and loaded onto complimentary shuttles from the hotel to Reliant Park for the evening rodeo, barbecue and Tim McGraw concert, all from a bird’s eye view.

Look for people from your neck of the AQHA woods in the Journal slideshow below.

The AQHA Membership General Meeting starts at 8 a.m. on March 9, followed by a first full day of committee meetings and the Awards Presentation Banquet in the evening. Watch for more from The American Quarter Horse Journal.

Do you tweet? Follow the Journal's Twitter feed @AQHAJournal and onsite Journal Editor Christine Hamilton @ChrisHQH.

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2013 AQHA Convention: What’s in It for You?

March 8, 2013

TheJournal’s Christine Hamilton is in Houston for a first-time AQHA convention experience.

AQHA awards buckles and trophies

The 2012 awards ready for presentation at the 2013 AQHA Convention. (Journal photo)

Packing for a first-time trip to an AQHA convention, I asked advice on what to bring. Fellow staffers stressed business casual and a fancy dress, which is a stretch for this gal who’s usually either in jeans and boots or hiking pants and another kind of boots. Luckily, my fashion savvy sister-in-law helped me shop.

Facebook suggestions included a jacket, layers, phone (which I forgot on my last trip to Houston), cash, pain meds for sore feet, comfy shoes, good shoes and bedroom slippers (great suggestion, Gale). Adding iPad, camera and laptop, I felt ready.

As far as what to expect, I had some ideas. But walking through the hotel lobby my first morning in Houston, I posed this question to AQHA members I met on the elevator, in line for coffee and at convention registration: Why come to convention? What’s in it for you?

Here are the top four responses: Read the rest of this entry »

AQHA Trail Challenge Clinic

July 30, 2012

The first Iowa Quarter Horse Association Trail Challenge clinic prepped riders for an upcoming AQHA Trail Challenge event.

IQHA Trail Challenge

Riders in the clinic practiced on obstacles, such as jumping logs. (Photo by bar H Photography)

By Jennifer Horton for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Scenic View Ranch on July 21 in Monona, Iowa, was the picturesque setting for the first AQHA Trail Challenge clinic hosted by the Iowa Quarter Horse Association. Larry Voecks of Norfolk, Nebraska, was the clinician and AQHA Director Bill Horton served as coordinator for the clinic.

Ranch owners Lloyd Johanningmeier, an AQHA 40-year breeder, and Janet Skola welcomed riders to learn about the new AQHA trail competition in preparation for the first IQHA Trail Challenge slated for October during the IQHA/AQHA Trail Ride at Scenic View Ranch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Outfitters Open House

April 27, 2012

Nearly 200 attend Quarter Horse Outfitters Spring Open House.

Quarter Horse Outfitters

Nearly 200 visitors came by to check out the new spring line of clothing and home décor in the Quarter Horse Outfitters store

By Becky Newell for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Despite an early evening downpour, there was a great turnout for the Spring Open House on April 26 at Quarter Horse Outfitters in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.

Nearly 200 visitors came by to check out the new spring line of clothing and home décor in the Quarter Horse Outfitters store, as well as offerings from Small Town Gypsy, a local women’s clothing boutique that is also a trade show exhibitor at the Adequan Select World Championship Show.

Read the rest of this entry »

CSU Legends Sale

April 24, 2012

Colorado State University's Legends of Ranching Sale is on-the-job training.

The 2010 Colorado State University Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale featured ranching and performance American Quarter Horses. Watch the slide show below. (Journal photo)

The annual sale offers finished ranch and performance American Quarter Horses along with started 2- and 3-year-olds from respected ranches. At the same time, it's a learning experience for students in CSU's equine sciences program.

Students from classes in colt training and event and sales management are in charge of putting on the annual sale, from starting colts to planning the sale’s catered events and producing the sale catalog. That’s just the short list of what the students have to do throughout the fall and spring semesters.

The 2012 sale is April 28, and they've catalogued 65 horses from 22 consigners from across the country. AQHA will be on-site with a booth, and The American Quarter Horse Journal will cover the event.

Let's step back to the 2010 sale (where 68 horses averaged $4,734, with the high seller bringing $20,000) and take a look into what life is like for the students' working to put the sale on.

After the last few horses were going through the ring at the 2010 sale, back in the barns, all was quiet. Two students sat in the barn aisle, all smiles, but looking tired.

Read the rest of this entry »

AQHA Trail Challenge

April 9, 2012

Our first event was a success … you’ll want to find one near you!

By Kelly Bruce Beard

Stephanie Dow of Jensen Beach, Florida, rides JS Sweet Zipsation across a 22-foot-high bridge. Photo by Kelly Bruce Beard.

The AQHA Trail Challenge is a new competitive event that asks horses and riders to work as a team, navigating natural obstacles they might experience on the trail. The focus is on horsemanship, and the goal is to promote education, safety and fun. As a bonus, “trail challenge merits” will be recorded on horses’ permanent AQHA records.

The first event was held March 24 at Fox Trail Farm in Palm City, Florida, as a fundraiser for the Florida Quarter Horse Youth Association. There were trail horses there to compete, but also hunters, jumpers, cutters, reiners, pleasure and dressage horses, and just about every other make and model in between.

The riders, who were just as diverse as the horses – all ages, levels of experience and disciplines – united to make AQHA history, competing in an event that celebrates the challenges found on the trail.

Here’s what a few of them had to say about the historic event:

“Spend some time with your horse on the ground, safely getting him used to these types of obstacles, and then come out and play. Bring your horse and have some fun. We had a ball! We’ll be back for sure.”
– Jon Seefeld, trail rider, and Designated Bold, Fort Pierce, Florida

“Just give it a try. Most people are scared of the obstacles at first – they don’t think their horse is going to do it. When I first brought my hunter out here, it took us a while with the groundwork, but in the end, we were crossing the high bridge, climbing up rocks and doing all the obstacles together. There’s so much to do, and it’s stimulating for you and your horse’s mind. It’s a nice break from your normal training schedule, but it’s still really productive.”
– Lindsey Whitehead, AQHYA competitor, and XS Delux, Stuart, Florida

“Get out there and give it a try. It’s fun, a little challenging at times, but it’s worth it. We’ll definitely do more obstacles and Trail Challenges. There’s no doubt.”
– Bridget Hughen, trail rider, and GDA Roses Best, Malabar, Florida

“I’ve been riding since I was 4 or 5 years old, now I’m 63. Doing the same thing over and over gets boring. This event is more versatile and gives my horse something more to think about – and me, too. It bonds us even tighter, because he’s depending on me to be brave. My bravado takes him where he’s weak, and his bravado takes me where I’m weak. So it’s give and take. I hope AQHA has more Trail Challenges. I’ll travel for these events.”
– Suzzette Stroud, AQHA competitor, and Zippa Rona, Boynton Beach, Florida

Upcoming Trail Challenges

  • May 6, Smith, Nevada
  • May 13, Brunswick, Maine
  • May 19, Palm City, Florida
  • July 7, Topsham, Maine
  • July 29, Lodi, New York
  • August 18, East Sparta, Ohio
  • September 15, Eugene, Oregon
  • September 29, Conewango Valley, New York

Don’t miss the June issue of America’s Horse for more on Florida’s inaugural Trail Challenge. America’s Horse is just one of the great benefits of AQHA membership.

The Horsemen’s Reunion

April 7, 2012

Catching up with old friends and giving colts a good start in life in the process.

By Holly Clanahan for America’s Horse

By Day 5, the colts were being ridden together in a large outdoor arena. Here, a group of riders tracks a couple of steers. Scroll to the slideshow below to see more photos. Journal photos.

It began as a problem: Cathie and Rowly Twisselman had a lot of horses to get started under saddle. Normally, they hire Martin Black to come in and start colts at their Madonna Inn Quarter Horses in California, but in 2011, events conspired against them so that that didn’t happen.  So, here it is 2012, and they had a crop of 2- and 3-year-olds to get started.

But there’s another way to look at problems: as opportunities. The Twisselmans, Martin and Chris Cox hatched the idea for the Horsemen’s Reunion. They asked 18 other respected colt-starters to come to Paso Robles, California, April 2-7, where they would have those six days to get two colts started apiece. The horsemen came at their own expense — some of them from Canada, Australia and even Switzerland — as a way to pay back to the horse world. The event also benefits Western Wishes, a cowboy-oriented group similar to Make-A-Wish.  As Cathie said, “It’s all about giving.”

Although the Horsemen’s Reunion is not a competition, there are lots of winners here: spectators, who had almost more learning than they could take in; the colts, who got great starts in life; and the horsemen themselves, who seemed to be having a genuinely good time. Many of them are longtime friends — in fact, Bryan Neubert remembered first meeting Joe Wolter in 1972 — and they enjoyed the chance to catch up with one another. Read the rest of this entry »

The Road Down Under

March 11, 2012

Team Australia wins Road to the Horse 2012. You won’t want to miss the photos!

By Holly Clanahan

Road to the Horse 2012 winners Guy McLean and Dan James of Australia celebrate with event producer Tootie Bland. Scroll to the slideshow below for more great photos from the final day of this event. Journal photo.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie … oy, oy, oy!

That Outback spirit was alive and kicking in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as Australians Guy McLean and Dan James won a hard-fought battle at Road to the Horse 2012, defeating teams from the United States and Canada.

After two days of round-pen sessions totaling four hours, the trainers were preparing for their final obstacle course on Sunday afternoon, when event producer Tootie Bland introduced yet another twist: 60 extra points for any team willing to switch horses with their partners. Team Australia was the only one to take her up on that offer.

So Guy, who said he’d always wanted to ride a Dan James-trained horse, took the ride on Remember Sunset, while Dan rode the horse that Guy had purchased from the Four Sixes Ranch, Valliant Paddy.

Guy joked with the audience throughout his obstacle course, at one point asking, “How do you steer this thing?” when the horse began going a little wobbly. He completed the entire course — which included among other things, upright poles to weave in and out of, a “wheel” of ground poles elevated in the center, some small jumps, a tarp on the ground, jump standards with foam noodles the horse had to push through, and a log drag. Bonus obstacles included a platform for the horse to step up onto so the rider could reach up to ring a large bell hanging from the rafters, and a water box. Guy finished these, then had time to read a poem he’d written as an ode to Australia, where he is known as a bush poet. He then returned to the round pen to unsaddle his horse and tell him, “thank you, my friend.” Read the rest of this entry »