2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

AQHA shares highlights of the Association’s memorable moments from 2017.
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By AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines

As we welcome 2018, it's always fun to look back at great moments from the year we're leaving behind. For AQHA, 2017 was filled with incredible moments for our industry.

Please enjoy this look back at 2017, compiled by the AQHA Media team.


  • Jessies First Down is the 2016 racing world champion, champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. The 2011 bay gelding is by FDD Dynasty and out of Jess A Classy Lady by Mr Jess Perry. He earned $430,042 in 2016 for owner-breeder Ted G. Abrams of Houson.
  • Anna Morrison begins as chief international officer for AQHA. Patti Carter takes over as senior director of judges.


  • Box O Quarter Horses of Gordon, Nebraska, becomes the 2016 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of The Year. The award, presented by AQHA and the AQHA Ranching Committee, recognizes Ranching Heritage Breeders who continue to uphold the ranching tradition. Box O Quarter Horses is owned and operated by Jecca and Cash Ostrander.


  • At the 2017 AQHA Convention, Ralph Seekins is elected the Association’s president, succeeding Sandy Arledge. Dr. Jim Heird becomes the first vice president, and Stan Weaver becomes second vice president. Norm Luba of Louisville, Kentucky joins Butch Wise of El Reno, Oklahoma, as members of the AQHA Executive Committee.
  • Five horses and five people are inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame: Casey’s Ladylove; Dashing Phoebe; Majestic Scotch; Strawfly Special; Zips Chocolate Chip; Marvin Barnes of Ada, Oklahoma; AQHA Past President Peter J. Cofrancesco III of Sparta, New Jersey; Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Texas; Dick Monahan of Walla Walla, Washington; and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Sandy Vaughn of Hernando, Florida.
  • AQHA Professional Horsemen Casey Devitt, Bennie Sargent and Christa Baldwin are honored as the top professionals of the year.
  • Butch Hammer of Iowa is named the 2016 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award winner.
  • In their 10th year, the Zoetis Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships grew by 50 percent, as exhibitors are allowed to enter one class or all of them. Limited youth is offered as a world championship class for the first time, and Meredith Graber of Cannelburg, Indiana, wins it on CSR Lay Down Sally.
  • AQHA Ranching Heritage-bred horses competed for almost $115,000 in the inaugural Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals.


  • Justin Billings and Karen McCuistion begin work in the shows department as manager of shows and manager of AQHA Professional Horsemen and Team Wrangler, respectively.
  • AQHA announces it will move the Zoetis VRH World to the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma in June 2018.
  • AQHA announces it will add seven 13-&-Under world championship core classes to the 2018 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.


  • More than 4,850 entries compete at the 2017 Level 1 Championships for 262 titles spread across three shows in Oklahoma City, Las Vegas and Raleigh, North Carolina, in April and May.
  • For the first time, an AQHA show management workshop is webcast live.
  • The American Quarter Horse Foundation awards more than $365,000 to AQHYA members through 150 scholarships.


  • Exhibitors competed at the Merial AQHA Regional Championships in regions 5, 8 and 9.


  • Ty Cornelius of Mount Pleasant, Arkansas, is elected the new AQHYA president during the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar. Kylie Good of East Berlin, Pennsylvania, is elected first vice president and Caleb Sturgeon of Beloit, Ohio, is the second vice president. Olivia Tordoff of Powell, Ohio, and Alan Hinds of Lawrence, Kansas, are elected AQHYA executive members.
  • For the first time, $5,000 in scholarships is presented to the outgoing AQHYA officer team.
  • Exhibitors competed at the Merial AQHA Regional Championships in Region 6.
  • AQHA’s celebration of National Day of the Cowboy draws a huge crowd to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum.


  • Silver Spur Operating Co. is named the 2017 Zoetis AQHA Best Remuda winner. The ranch, headquartered in Encampment, Wyoming, is the ninth-largest cattle producer in the United States with a long history of breeding quality ranch horses.
  • For the second year in a row, Jim Bound of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is the Adequan® Select All-Around Amateur on Bound To Cash Chex, a 2007 palomino mare by Nu Chex To Cash and out of SF Kings Firstlady by King Of Four Mac. “Lilly” was bred by Hilldale farm of Brashear, Texas, and is owned by Jim’s daughter, Jax.
  • Exhibitors from four countries competed for 35 world championships at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, with 773 exhibitors showing 1,084 horses. Even more youth compete in judging and speech contests.
  • AQHA announces the end of the AQHA Incentive Fund program.
  • Fall championship season kicks off with a wide range of events giving American Quarter Horse owners the opportunity to earn more than $51 million.
  • The AQHA Executive Committee approves animal welfare measures that will affect 2018 tie-down classes and the use of furosemide (Lasix) in show horses.


  • Fly Baby Fly wins the All American Futurity (G1) by 1 1/2 lengths in :21.492. The fastest qualifier, Bigg Daddy, is second. Fly Baby Fly is a 2015 sorrel mare by One Famous Eagle and out of Higher Fire by Walk Thru Fire. She was bred by Julianna Hawn Holt of Blanco, Texas, and is owned by the Fly Baby Fly Partnership of New Waverly, Texas.
  • Anna Morrison is tapped to lead the American Quarter Horse Foundation in addition to her duties as chief international officer.
  • Exhibitors compete at the Merial AQHA Regional Championships in Region 2.


  • Elexxah Maxwell of West Mansfield, Ohio, teams with Zips Bossy Chip to smash American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Van Decka’s 30-year record for the all-time leading youth horse by points. Van Decka earned 4,270 youth points in his show career, and Zips Bossy Chip topped that record. Zips Bossy Chip is a 2008 bay mare by UK Mito Boss. She was bred by the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, and is out of the Jessies Fancy Chip mare Suzies Fancy Chip. Ellexxah can compete in youth classes until the end of 2019.
  • Three AQHYA members earn scholarships during the AQHYA National Youth Racing Experience in Altoona, Iowa.
  • AQHA honors 50-year Legacy and Cumulative breeders at a dinner.


  • The 2017 Zoetis AQHA Best Remuda Award is formally presented to Silver Spur Operating Co. during the Working Ranch Cowboys Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo. Razzle Dazzle Rey, a 2012 sorrel gelding owned by John C. Brian of Weatherford, Texas, earns top-horse honors at the event.
  • Four AQHYA members earn $5,000 in scholarships through the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program.
  • BFR Igniting Sparks is the Lucas Oil Superhorse at the 2017 Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show. The 2009 palomino stallion is by Shining Spark and out of Sliden Wright By by Smart Little Lena. He was bred by G. Scott Gaddy of Clements, California, and is owned by Beechfork Ranch of Weatherford, Texas.
  • Johnna Letchworth of Horace, North Dakota, rides Krymsun Kryptonite to the AQHA All-Around Amateur title at the 2017 Lucas Oil World. Krymsun Kryptonite is a 2012 brown gelding by One Hot Krymsun and out of Sweet Talkin Jeannie by Sweet Talkin Chip. He was bred by Rick Meredith of Granbury, Texas.
  • Amy Jo Erhardt of Oxford, Ohio, won the title of Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau Leading Owner
  • AQHA Professional Horseman Ross Roark won his 100th AQHA world championship title during the Lucas Oil World. 


  • The brown stallion Mr PYC To You shocks the racing industry when he wins the $750,000 Champion of Champions over former world champion Heza Dasha Fire. The son of PYC Paint Your Wagon out of the Vital Sign mare Stylish Sign, owned by Jose Flores and Ron and Denise Van Amburgh, won at odds of 60-1 – the longest-shot winner in the race’s 45-year history. He was bred by The Mixer Ranch. The following night, Jaime Gomez saddles up the filly J Fire Up, whom he also bred, raised and co-owns, to win the $1,703,450 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The filly is by Kiddy Up and out of the Walk Thru Fire mare This Boogie Fires. Jaime co-owns her with Darling Farms and Ernesto Solis.
  • For the first time, the annual AQHA judges conference is webcast live. AQHA also offers ring steward and show steward webinars.

Happy New Year! I wish you all a prosperous 2018, and I thank you for your service to AQHA and our industry.