Professionals of the Year Announced

Professionals of the Year Announced

AQHA honors Robin Frid, Nancy Sue Ryan and Art O’Brien as the 2023 AQHA Professionals of the Year.

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The American Quarter Horse Association is proud to announce the 2023 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year and Most Valuable Professional award winners.

Robin Frid
The 2023 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year is Robin Frid of Pilot Point, Texas. Frid and his wife, Jenny, own and operate Robin Frid Show Horses where they specialize in all-round show horses. Frid has had a very successful career winning both AQHA World Show and Congress championship titles. He has also coached many youth and amateur exhibitors to championship titles. He mentors many trainers and is sought after for advice by many trainers.

Not only is Frid a respected trainer, but he has spent countless hours giving back to AQHA. He goes above and beyond to assist at the state and national level. Frid has served as the chairman of the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council, Show Committee, and Show Council, and currently chairs the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission. He has also been very active with his state affiliate, the Texas Quarter Horse Association, including serving on the board of directors and as TQHA president.

Frid has been an AQHA Professional Horseman since 2011 and an AQHA member since 1994. His other accomplishments include being named 2022 AQHA Most Valuable Professional. He has held his AQHA judges card since 2007.

Nancy Sue Ryan
The 2023 Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year is Nancy Sue Ryan of Nocona, Texas. Ryan has dedicated her life to promoting and bettering the American Quarter Horse both inside and outside the arena. She owns and operates Show Stop Farm, one of the leading breeding farms in the country. As the breeder of multiple AQHA World Show and Congress champions and reserve champions, Ryan’s passion about the care of the American Quarter horse does not go unnoticed. She has earned a spot at the forefront of the industry raising some of the best horses in the show pen today.

She has not only bred but also trained multiple AQHA and NSBA world champions and reserve champions. She was inducted into the NSBA Quarter Million Dollar Club in 2010. Ryan has donated horses for competitions, judges’ education and free clinics on top of donating to the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s annual online auction. She has also hosted AQHA educational videos and played a role in the development of many young professional horsemen, mentoring them and devoting her life to the betterment of the industry.

Ryan has been an AQHA Professional Horsewoman since 1994 and an AQHA member since 1991. She received her AQHA judges card in 1993. She is also a 2021 NSBA Hall of Fame inductee and NSBA judge.

Art O’Brien
The 2023 Most Valuable Professional is Art O’Brien of Findlay, Ohio. O'Brien has more than 40 years of experience in the equine industry as a trainer, exhibitor, riding instructor, coach and judge. His focus has been primarily on showing performance horses and coaching clients at AQHA events, along with NRHA and NSBA competitions. 

An AQHA Professional Horseman and an international clinician, O’Brien has won world champion titles in both AQHA and the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) in trail, western riding, western pleasure and reining, and his students have won world champion titles in 12 different events. He also holds judges cards with AQHA and NSBA and serves on the board of directors of the Ohio Quarter Horse Association.

O'Brien graduated from the University of Findlay and has dedicated much of his career to the Western Equestrian Studies program's continued growth and success. Currently, along with holding the position of director of the western riding program, O'Brien is a teaching faculty member and the head coach of the University of Findlay ranch horse team.

About the Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsemen of the Year and Most Valuable Professional Awards
Being named a Nutrena AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year or Most Valuable Professional are the top awards an AQHA Professional Horseman can receive in the equine industry. Each year, individuals are nominated by AQHA Professional Horsemen for the prestigious honor of being named a Nutrena AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year. From these nominations, the slates of nominees for the Nutrena Don Burt Professional Horseman of the Year and Nutrena Professional Horsewoman of the Year awards are compiled by the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council and approved by the AQHA Executive Committee. All AQHA Professional Horsemen then vote to determine the Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsemen of the Year award recipients. The Most Valuable Professional is nominated by their home affiliate and then voted on by their fellow AQHA Professional Horsemen.

Learn more about AQHA Professional Horsemen.

Nutrena supports AQHA Professional Horsemen by sponsoring the Ride the Pattern clinics at AQHA championship events. During the clinics, donations are accepted for the Professional Horsemen’s Endowment Fund, which Nutrena matches.

AQHA news and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more information visit www.aqha.com/news or tune into our Podcast, “Let's Talk AQHA.”