Walter T. Hughes and Nancy S. Hughes

Walter T. Hughes and Nancy S. Hughes

Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2022.

2022 American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame inductees Nancy and Walter Hughes

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Walter and Nancy Hughes were ambassadors for AQHA and the most versatile horse on earth. A horseman known internationally as an owner, breeder, trainer, exhibitor and judge, Walter and wife Nancy exemplified service in the worldwide development of the American Quarter Horse.

Walter, who died in 2012, was a trainer for 42 years, with special interests in cutting, reining and western pleasure. During his 36 years carrying an AQHA judge’s card, he judged Quarter Horse shows in 12 countries, including Germany, where the Deutsch Quarter Horse Association awarded “Onkle Walter” an honorary life membership for his help in developing a quality western riding program in that country.

On this side of the pond, Walter officiated shows across the United States and most provinces in Canada, including the AQHA World Championship Show, American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup and All American Quarter Horse Congress. Walter also had judge’s cards with the National Reining Horse, National Cutting Horse and the National Snaffle Bit associations. A co-founder of NSBA, Walter was chairman of that organization’s judges committee and was inducted into the NSBA Hall of Fame in 1989. He was the first horseman from the western discipline to be inducted into the Maryland Horse Council’s Horseman’s Hall of Fame. The East Coast Cutting Horse Association gave him the Ford Spalding Memorial Sportsmanship Award.

Walter served as an AQHA director from 1971 until 1995, serving on the youth, membership, judges and Hall of Fame committees, and served as chairman of the judges committee. Nancy served on the Foundation Committee and Council for many years. The couple traveled the world together, and both earned Lifetime Achievement Awards from the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council.

Born in Philadelphia, Nancy Strohsacker was introduced to the Quarter Horse world by her first husband, Bill Patton, with whom she had children Will and Cindy. The Pattons acquired the Skipper W filly Skip’s Dilly, who became an AQHA Champion and the 1966 high-point western pleasure mare.

In 1968, Nancy and the kids moved to Damascus, Maryland, where she married Walter in 1969. That same year, the new couple purchased land that became Maryland Meadows Farm. Nancy spent her days as a sixth-grade teacher, her evenings assisting Walter with boarding and breeding Quarter Horses, and her weekends on the road with him showing their next champion. They purchased, trained and showed to Superiors in halter and western pleasure the Otoe stallion Brio, who went on to sire AQHA Champion Bo Brillo. They also owned and trained Brazos Brio, the 1977 world champion junior working hunter; and Docs Boots, who became an NCHA money earner.

The love of horses started early for Walter, who grew up the son of an Irish factory worker in Boston. Walter scrounged riding time at public stables around the city. He joined the United States Air Force after high school and ended up stationed at Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“That was the first time I realized that there were particular breeds of horses,” he said. “A horse was a horse, to me.” In New Mexico, a lot of them are Quarter Horses. “It just went from there,” he said.

Horses took Walter and Nancy a long way. Ardent advocates of bringing along youth and the next generation of horse people, Walter and Nancy spent immeasurable time helping local 4-H and FFA groups learn more about horses. Nancy, who died in 2017, especially advocated for therapeutic riding programs. They did the same for new Quarter Horse enthusiasts around the world, often through clinics after judging international shows.

That was then. This is now. Walter and Nancy Hughes, ambassadors, take residence in the embassy known as the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame with induction in 2022.


Biography updated as of August 2022.