Certified Horsemanship Association Announces Winners at 2013 Awards Banquet

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The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) honored top individuals and horses at the annual awards banquet held at the International Conference at the Holiday Inn with Houghton College in Hamburg, New York on Oct. 20, 2013.

CHA Distinguished Service Award Goes to Susan Harris of Cortland, New York

This year’s recipient is so very deserving. Susan Harris is a life member of CHA and has been involved since the early 1970s when she got her Clinic Instructor rating at her first clinic. She went on to conduct many CHA certification clinics and was on the CHA board of directors for many years helping in the early stages of CHA to mold and grow the association. She is the illustrator for the CHA Composite Manual of Horsemanship which includes the Levels One through Four Manuals and also of the CHA Riding Instructor Manual. Susan is an avid horsewoman and has illustrated many other horse books, including the United States Pony Club Manuals.

Susan is an international clinician and equestrian author, artist, and educator, teaching biomechanics, anatomy and horsemanship clinics to riders of all breeds and disciplines. She is a Level IV Advanced Centered Riding clinician. She is well known as the founder of Anatomy in Motion: the Visible Horse, as she conducts clinics and speaks at horse expos throughout the world. CHA is excited to have Susan Harris as a long time member and certified instructor of CHA and welcomes her as the 2013 CHA Distinguished Service Award Winner!

“I can't thank you enough for all you did in organizing my appearance at the CHA Conference--it was wonderful to see so many old friends from CHA and around the horse world, and I was completely overwhelmed by receiving the Distinguished Service Award,” said Susan. “It was the last thing I'd ever expected (you caught me completely by surprise!), and to have such an award presented by CHA made it especially meaningful. I've always believed in CHA's mission of safety, education and quality teaching for instructors, and to be recognized in such a way by the people who make it happen in the horse industry was a real honor. The lovely silver horsehead has a place of honor in my horse library, and I will treasure it.”

Clinic Instructor of the Year is Delena Jennings from Utterson, Ontario

Without our clinic instructors CHA would not be able to grow and accomplish its mission. The CHA Clinic Instructor of the Year Award goes to a CHA clinic instructor who has shown outstanding service to CHA by conducting meaningful clinics and influencing the careers of numerous instructors over many years.

Delena Jennings has been a member of CHA since 2003 and Clinic Staff since 2004. She is from Muskoka, Ontario and grew up in Port Carling with her mom Joyce, dad Norm and brother Dennis. They lived in Moosonee for a few years while Norm was teaching carpentry to native students. When they moved back home, Norm became a farrier. Which was the beginning of her horse career. At their home in Mortimors Point is where Delena got her first horse Lady. She finished high school and went to art school and also took business.

Delena and her husband Neil started Sugar Foot Farm in the heart of Muskoka in 2004. They started off small with three horses and over the years have grown into a riding school and boarding facility offering both English and Western riding lessons for every level of student and horse. In spring 2012, Sugar Foot hosted their first CHA clinic and after great success held another certification clinic in spring of 2013. She has conducted all of the CHA clinics she has done both at her facility and others with outstanding comments from clinic participants, the host sites and her fellow clinicians.

“I am truly honored to be the recipient of the 2013 Clinic Instructor of the Year Award,” said Delena. “To be recognized by CHA, an organization filled with so many dedicated and talented people is overwhelming. I have had the pleasure of staffing several CHA certification clinics with many wonderful clinic staff partners and am amazed at how my life and career in the horse industry has grown because of it. I love my role as clinic staff for CHA, not only does it allow me to travel and meet new and interesting people and horses, but it allows me to facilitate other horse people working toward their goals of becoming good safe and skilled instructors. It has been and continues to be a very fulfilling experience.”

The CHA Partnership in Safety Award Goes Julie Goodnight from Salida, Colorado

For many years CHA has recognized an outstanding individual or organization that has helped not only the equine industry and CHA, but the community at large to promote safety awareness. Julie Goodnight believes in horsemanship safety in all that she does teaching thousands of riders a years at horse expos throughout the United States and overseas. She walks the walk and talks the talk, wearing a helmet whether riding English or Western and even while on the cover of equine industry magazines! Julie works with many riders at clinics and horse expos throughout the country and also on her RFD-TV show HorseMaster. She has been the past CHA Program Director, is clinic staff, a site visitor and a master instructor with CHA and also the CHA International Spokesperson!

“What an honor to receive this recognition from my peers,” said Julie. “Honestly, it was getting involved with CHA almost 20 years ago that made me realize the importance of being a good role model to our students, both in safety aspects and personal actions. It was some of my peers in the organization that made me realize the unique platform I had to set an important example in wearing helmets when riding. It hasn’t always been easy, but the results have made it worthwhile, when I see the increase of helmet use in equestrian sports.”

CHA Instructor of the Year is Tara Reimer of Steinbach, Manitoba

This award is given to an outstanding CHA certified instructor who demonstrates safe, effective and fun lessons. Students from around the continent send in nominations about their instructors and why they should be awarded this honor. Tara Reimer is a CHA Clinician and has been certified for over 12 years. She runs Cloud 9 Ranch in Steinbach, Manitoba and is the CHA Region 2 Director.

“My oldest daughter is now 11 and in her 4th year of lessons, and over the years my other two daughters and I have signed up as well, and have loved every minute with Tara,” said Kim Loewen. “There are many qualities a person needs to be a great instructor and I believe Tara has been blessed with more than I can mention & describe. A gifted instructor needs to be able to work with and understand both horses and people, and she excels in both capacities.”

“Tara is a very caring person, and her knowledge of both horses and people enables her to be a great problem solver,” said Alanna Dudych. “Tara can see what kinds of changes need to be made to benefit the well-being and learning of both horse and rider. She is a very perceptive instructor. She knows that we and the horses are all unique and will learn in different ways and at different speeds. She is patient and encouraging and pushes us to do our best, yet never pushes too hard. Her timing is right on. Frustration in her classes is almost nonexistent, but sense of accomplishment frequent. Her classes are a lot of fun no matter what age she's teaching. Tara instills in us character building traits like patience, thoughtfulness, persistence, and need for working hard when being involved with horses and riding, and also needed in successful everyday life.”

“Being honored as CHA 2013 Instructor of the Year is my most treasured award as it was a result of nomination letters from some of my students,” said Tara. “By no means does this award suggest I am a better instructor than the others but rather it shows I have the best students who share my passion for horses and also desire to improve as horsemen and women! This award is for my students. It is a result of their dedication and I want them to feel proud of themselves and CHA as well.”

The CHA School Horse of the Year is Brady Who from Star T Ranch in Aledo, Texas

We often recognize people and organizations that have done great things in the horse industry, but what about the horses themselves? The CHA School Horse of the Year Program is about these wonderful animals that spend countless hours being patient with new riders and not-so-new riders. The winner of this award, not only gets recognition, but is immortalized into a Stone Horse model thanks to the generosity of Peter and Elaine Stone. Brady Who, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, is the winner this year.

“When he came to us at 16-years-old, we were Brady’s last chance to get a home before heading to the auction barn,” said owner Kim Gardner Taylor. “My husband said we couldn’t have him, he was an ugly flee bitten gray bag of bones, and we could never resell him, because no one would ever want him! I wanted to take a little test ride just to see what he might have to offer. When I longed him and saw him move, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a 10+ mover! So naturally I had to ride him too. When I did, it was obvious that someone had been riding him in an inappropriate bit and saddle as he was quite fussy, but I could also see that there was definitely something great underneath all of that. So I begged and bargained with my husband to keep him and got my way!”

“Over the next few months, I fed and wormed him properly, and put him on a joint supplement,” said Kim. “Brady also got lots of muscle building work and really started to come around. He was always just the right amount of in front of my leg and so soft and flexible, starting to be very nice to ride! Fast forward a year or so and my husband and I started to show him in Jumpers, Dressage and Eventing. He was always in the top three in everything he did! I couldn’t get enough of him. Then we decided to have Brady start benefitting others and he became a lesson horse and what an amazing lesson horse he was! He has great sense about who’s on his back, and what they are capable of doing, always slower and more cautious with a green rider. I haven’t known many horses that have this ability to give an advanced rider and a green rider just the ride they are looking for! Brady has given so many children and adults the chance to learn skills and gain confidence. Everyone at our barn wants to ride him! I don’t think I will ever have the privilege to have a horse like this in my life again.”

“I first rode Brady when my confidence was really low because I had been riding a horse that stopped at fences,” said rider Caroline. “After riding this honest guy a few months, my confidence was back. We had so much fun at schooling shows because I knew I could trust him to do his job as long as I was doing mine. I was so nervous at my first USEA show; I almost wanted to go home. But I knew I could count on him and that calmed me down. I love him because I can trust him to be a gentleman. He expects me to be a rider, not a passenger, but takes care of me, too. I am so grateful I had him as my first reliable partner. He has done wonders for me.”

“From the get-go, he graciously and enthusiastically accepted my shortcomings as a senior rider; if he had any opinion about me when we met he kept it to himself,” said rider Jo Shrader. “As we got to know each other, it wasn't long before I realized that everything anyone has ever said about the necessary qualities of a school horse was true in his case. And then some; you see, he is not just ANY reliable school horse. Brady is able to instill a confidence that only a good teacher can do. During our rides he constantly relays to me, "Don't you worry about a thing; I'll look after you." "If I can do it, so can you...." He oozes love for what he does and this has had a profound effect on me. Both of us are getting on in years and neither of us will make Rolex ....sigh! But somehow Brady can make you feel you're already there!”

Top Finalists for the 2013 CHA School Horse of the Year Award are:

1. Mini, AQHA Registered mare My Sweet Performer, from Cloud 9 Ranch in Steinbach, Manitoba
2. Donner, Oldenburg gelding, from Life Adventure Center in Lexington, Kentucky
3. Quila, AQHA Registered mare Zippos Kool Kitten, also from Cloud 9 Ranch in Steinbach, Manitoba
4. Mighty Special, APHA Registered gelding, from Flying Dollar Ranch in Italy, Texas

The Volunteer of the Year is Tara Gamble of Edmonton, Alberta

CHA relies heavily on our wonderful volunteer members to help in a variety of ways to help enhance the association. Tara has been with CHA since the early 1990s, as a certified instructor, site visitor and clinic staff. She has worked tirelessly for CHA on the board of directors as secretary, president and past president. Tara has been instrumental getting CHA on the map in her home country of Canada, not only with the Alberta Equestrian Federation, but also with Equine Canada. She has traveled for CHA to the World Equestrian Games where she did clinics and taught riding, to the American Quarter Horse Association Convention, to the Alberta Horse Owners and Breeders Conference, and to the Mane Event in Alberta and many others. Tara wholeheartedly believes in the CHA mission to educate others about safe horsemanship in all that she does running her own equine program.

“Being named CHA volunteer of the year is a huge honor,” said Tara. “It has been my pleasure to serve CHA! Receiving this award was a complete surprise, and it's CHA: the membership, staff and board who I wish to recognize and thank as I have been blessed with many opportunities to assist in the organization's growth and development. This is one of the highest honors possible and I am so grateful for this experience."

TEAM CHA Horse Connections Rewards Winner – Anastasia Kirkland from Willard, Missouri

TEAM CHA is the youth arm of our association and the Horse Connections Rewards program awards youth that turn in hours of working with horses, taking riding lessons and learning about horses. This year’s winner is Anastasia Kirkland from Willard, Missouri. She is 12 years old and in 7th grade. She started riding lessons at age 7 and got her first horse, Dixie a registered Paint mare, when she was 8. Anna competes in 4H western classes and dressage. Anna also owns a grey 10-year-old Thoroughbred who she rides in dressage.

“I have enjoyed the Team CHA Horse Connection Program for the past three years as it really makes you aware of the time you commit to your horses and riding,” said Anastasia.

Save the date for next year’s CHA Award Banquet! The 2014 CHA Annual International Conference is set for Oct.23 – 26, 2014, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. It is open to the public and to all horse enthusiasts. The purpose of the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) is to promote excellence in safety and education for the benefit of the horse industry. CHA certifies riding instructors, vaulting coaches, barn managers, drivers and trail guides; accredits equestrian facilities; publishes educational equine manuals, produces educational horsemanship DVDs, and hosts regional and international educational conferences that are open to the public. For more information please visit www.CHA-ahse.org or call 859-259-3399. To find a certified horseback riding instructor or accredited equine facility near you visit www.CHAinstructors.com