Certified Horsemanship Association Announces Winners at 2014 Awards Banquet

The Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) honored top individuals and horses at the annual awards banquet held at the 47th Annual CHA International Conference at the Marriott Griffin Gate Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 25, 2014.

CHA Distinguished Service Award goes to Jim Glunt of Martinsburg, Pennsylvania

The CHA Distinguished Service Award is a lifetime achievement award for an individual who has gone above and beyond through the years promoting and upholding the mission of the Certified Horsemanship Association and all we stand for. Some of our past winners include Susan Harris who did all our drawings for our Composite Manual of Horsemanship and has been a CHA clinician for many years.

This year’s recipient is so very deserving. Jim is a visionary with regards to implementing safety in riding programs. He implemented CHA safety standards and CHA instructor certification in the riding programs he developed and oversaw back in the 1970s and 1980s. Jim has also encouraged the growth of certified CHA instructors by hosting 4-5 certification clinics, including standard, combined, and pack and trail clinics per year for several years, while being the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Tippecanoe in Ohio.

As a Past President of CHA, Jim had the foresight to see the necessity for CHA to have a booth at the Equine Affaire when the Equine Affaire was just beginning at the O’ Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio. He also introduced CHA Certified Instructors to speaking and presenting at the Equine Affaire. Most importantly, he educated his staff and CHA members on the emphasis to, “Set your students up for success.” He had the foresight to see that CHA gave riding instructors the tools to accomplish this task. His diplomacy, kindness, and the diligence to put others’ needs first enabled him to be one of the best ambassadors CHA has ever had. He is a clinic instructor for standard, equine facility manager (EFM) and combined clinics. A member for over 35 years, Jim is a CHA site visitor, EFM, standard (English/Western) and a pack and trail level 3 instructor.

“I accept this award with a deep sense of gratitude and humility,” said Jim. “As a riding instructor I was looking for a formal acknowledgement of my skills. I saw a CHA certification clinic as the way to establish my credentials. However, I found much more than certification and soon became involved with CHA in various ways. Through this involvement I learned not only about horsemanship and instruction, but also about professionalism and leadership. I’ve always felt CHA gave me much more than I was able to return. I believe teaching horsemanship is all about communication, whether with people or with horses. CHA taught me more ways to communicate with both of these groups and how to do it both effectively and efficiently. CHA’s unique certification process (40 hours of observation and feedback), program standards including accreditation, along with manuals and teaching materials offers tremendous support to those of us involved with teaching and managing horse programs. This association has grown into the acknowledged leader in horsemanship and safety. All in all, I wish to offer all those involved a very big thank you for this honor.”

Clinic Instructor of the Year is Kristi Harris of Pryor, Oklahoma

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 staff person who has shown outstanding service to CHA by conducting meaningful clinics and influencing the careers of numerous instructors over many years.

Kristi has been a member of CHA since 1980, so for 34 years! She is a standard and driving clinician for CHA and has her overnight guide certification. She had conducted CHA clinics in over 22 states, including combined, seasonal and standard clinics. She has a total of 133 CHA clinic experiences under her belt and has certified over 960 riding instructors! Kristi has been an open and 4H horse show judge for over 20 years and a district commissioner for the United States Pony Clubs. She has trained horses and taught lessons at numerous barns in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Dressage, hunt seat, western equitation, speed events, trail, packing, vaulting, and driving are just some of the disciplines that she teaches. Kristi was the Region 8 CHA Director for 9 years and has been on numerous CHA committees, including the Composite and Standards Manual revision committees.

“It was both a surprise and an honor to be selected as the CHA Clinic Instructor of the Year,” said Kristi. “I truly enjoy the whole CHA clinic process. Getting to meet so many amazing riding instructors from all over the continent and work at some wonderful host sites is an added bonus. Of course it requires two clinic instructors to conduct a CHA clinic and I am truly grateful to all of the fine horsemen and women I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 30+ years. I am honored to have been chosen for this special recognition when there are so many deserving candidates! I have always said that at each clinic I learn something about myself, others, horses/horsemanship and/or teaching. Thankfully, out of over 100 clinics, I’m still learning new things at every one.”

The CHA Partner in Safety Award Goes to North American Trail Ride Conference

For many years CHA has recognized an outstanding individual or organization that has helped not only the equine industry and CHA, but the equine community at large to promote safety and awareness–this is the Partner in Safety Award.

This year the award goes to an association whose mission is to promote horsemanship and horse care as they apply to the sport of distance riding by offering a variety of challenging and educational experiences designed to strengthen horse and rider partnerships. This association provides long distance competitive trail rides for riders of all equine breeds and from all disciplines. They promote safety, sportsmanship, education and trail horse advocacy through qualified evaluation of horse and rider by veterinary and horsemanship judges, in a fun, responsible environment for the whole family. Even their Judges Manual says, “Our goal in this sport is to go from A to Z in the safest way possible with a horse that is still able to carry on tomorrow. Good horsemanship helps us achieve that goal.”

“NATRC strives to provide and promote a safe, fun, and educational environment for our competitors to challenge themselves and their horses, and we sincerely appreciate CHA’s recognition and validation of those efforts,” said Kim A. Cowart, NATRC President. “CHA sets a gold standard for equine safety, so it is with much honor that we accept their 2014 Partner In Safety Award. Thank you Certified Horsemanship Association, and thank you Mary Anna Wood for accepting on behalf of the North American Trail Ride Conference.”

CHA Instructor of the Year is Teresa Kackert of Menifee, California

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.

Teresa has been a member of CHA for over 25 years and is a clinician for both our Standard and Equine Facilities Manager clinics as well. She has had this said about her teaching:

“She is one of the most knowledgeable riding instructors I have ever known. She has an eye for seeing what we need to master so that we can keep making progress each time we ride. Her patient and subtle reminders while working with students are all part of her exceptional teaching abilities.”

“I have seen her give lessons to various age and experience levels of riders both in groups and individually, all the while keeping a calm, safe and positive learning environment. Her communication skills are clear and professional.”

“She is a consummate professional with excellent knowledge of both horses and people combined with an ability to clearly explain concepts to a variety of students. She has a great understanding of biomechanics of both horse and human and the ability to see something that is not working right and knows what solution it will take to fix it. Because she has ridden and trained so many horses, she has an innate sense to know what the student’s horse is doing and why and then help the student.”

“I am so honored to receive the instructor of the year award for 2014 from the Certified Horsemanship Association,” said Teresa. “This organization has done so much to move our industry forward in such a positive and professional manner, I am privileged to be a part of it. Receiving this award was even more meaningful to me since this year is the Chinese year of the horse! I was ecstatic when I saw the award was a belt buckle since winning a belt buckle has always been on my bucket list! I am excited to be part of CHA now and into the future as certified instructors continue to improve the quality of instruction and help to ensure positive experiences for everyone involved in our amazing industry. Thank you CHA and everyone who makes CHA the incredible organization that it is, for all the hard work you have done, and for bestowing such a prestigious honor upon me.”

The CHA School Horse of the Year is Pumpkin from Houghton College in Houghton, New York

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 who were able to be with us this year and present this award themselves!

Pumpkin in an active school horse from Houghton, College in Houghton, New York. He is a 22- year-old Halfinger that Houghton College has owned for 17 years. He has had this said about him. “His consistent kindness, versatility, quietly friendly demeanor, patience, and sturdy build that lets him handle almost any size and weight rider make him worth his weight in gold.”

“He is my most favorite lesson horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching with. As an instructor using him, he was my first choice horse, even with a barn full of good school horses to choose from. His shorter height, broad back, and cute, friendly face immediately helped a nervous child feel at ease. His is a packer and took care of anyone I put on him. Not terribly fond of going forward, unless convinced his rider really wanted him to, he never made a beginner nervous. I always knew the child on him would be safe.”

“He is reliable, dependable, and loving. Beginners to advanced riders can enjoy him from dressage, to jumping, to driving, to western. Everything he taught me, I can transfer on to another horse. For life, I will know how to ride. I have not, since him, felt like one with a horse, since the days I rode him. He was special to me and impacted my life. I still treasure everything he taught me, and still love him. That is the kind of horse that is worthy of this nomination: one where the impact is lifelong.”

“Pumpkin has been a faithful, kind member of the Houghton College lesson herd since he was five years old,” said JoAnne Young Horsemanship Director at Houghton. “He is much loved, multi-talented (capably teaches riders in hunt seat, western, driving, eventing, carries beginners, riders with disabilities, as well as intermediate and advanced), and incredibly helpful to students and instructors. You could truthfully say he is worth his weight in gold to us! It was an honor and a great pleasure to have him recognized as the 2014 CHA School Horse of the Year. He faithfully lives up to CHA’s standards of what a great school horse should be!”

Other Top Finalists for the 2014 CHA School Horse of the Year Award are:
1. “Ben” from the Life Adventure Center of the Blue Grass in Lexington, Kentucky

2. “Cory” from Circle C Equestrian Center in North Carolina

3. “Donut” from Camp Sycamore Hills in Tennessee

The Volunteer of the Year is Laura Jones from Thunder Bay, Ontario

CHA relies heavily on our wonderful volunteer members to help in a variety of ways to enhance the association. Laura is not only clinic staff for CHA and an active regional director for Region 3, but she also created our CHA Webinar series that debuted this year. While working on her master’s degree, Laura decided to use CHA as the association to work with. Her ideas from that project led us to updating our purpose statement last year to make sure that education was included in it. Then she created our very first webinar–“How to Become a CHA Certified Riding Instructor”–so clinic participants would know what to expect before they attend a clinic. From there, the webinar series grew and we now do one a month that are available for downloading at any time for those that need their continuing education credit hours and for the public as a whole.

“In the United States, 80% of Americans, and in Canada just over 80% of Canadians, live in urban settings,” said Laura. “As society moves further from our rural roots, many urban people are not exposed to large animals, and simply do not have the knowledge to assess the risks associated with horseback riding. CHA’s purpose is to change lives through safe experiences with horses, and that cause is one I support wholly and completely. I am one of many great volunteers who all contribute our time, energy and expertise, to advance CHA’s purpose. On behalf of all the people who volunteer for CHA, I was very honored to receive the volunteer of the year award for 2014.”

TEAM CHA Horse Connections Rewards Winner – Abigail Martin from Brighton, Colorado

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. Abigail rides at CHA member Promenade Stables that went 2nd in their division of the Time To Ride program. She rides on the drill team with her horse AQHA gelding Buddy, loves natural horsemanship, mentors younger students and hopes to attend Meredith Manor when she graduates from high school.

SAVE THE DATE for next year’s CHA Award Banquet! The 2015 CHA Annual International Conference is set for October 23 – 25, 2015 in Amarillo, Texas with AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum and West Texas A&M University. 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 or call 859-259-3399. To find a certified horseback riding instructor or accredited equine facility near you visit






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