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<em>Journal</em>

In the Spotlight

Robert and Elise Cognetti staked their claim on the AQHA show circuit – nearly 40 years later they're still enjoying the ride.

By Katie Navarra
The American Quarter Horse Journal
September 25, 2013

AQHA exhibitors Robert and Elise Cognetti of New York, photo by Katie Navarra

Robert and Elise Cognetti stake a claim on a centrally located patch of turf at the Empire State Quarter Horse Association Fall Show, allowing them to greet fellow competitors, watch the warm-up pen, remain nearby their stalls and benefit from the shade of a nearby tree. (Katie Navarra photo)

Passing time in between classes or waiting for schooling time in the main ring can be excruciating for some competitors. But for Richard and Elise Cognetti, it's just a matter of "hurrying up and waiting" in a relaxing location. They have staked a claim on a centrally located patch of turf at the Empire State Quarter Horse Association Fall Show, allowing them to greet fellow competitors, watch the warm-up pen, remain nearby their stalls and benefit from the shade of a nearby tree. 

For the past 38 years, the Cognettis have enjoyed the shade under the same tree. Well, almost the same tree.  

"This tree has only been here about 15 years; the one it replaced was damaged in a storm at some point," they say, "but we have reserved the same stalls every year."

The couple first became involved with ESQHA when their children were young. Over the years their involvement even included Richard's position as vice president. The duo found that ESQHA and AQHA provided an opportunity for everyone in their family.  

"We picked Quarter Horses because it suited the whole family," Elise says. The ladies of the family competed in working hunter events, while the Cognetti men opted for western pleasure.   

While both of their children are middle-aged adults and are no longer active in the horse industry, Mom and Dad have carried on the tradition.  

"When our kids stopped showing, we just kept going," they add with a laugh.  

Currently, Elise is showing 7-year-old gelding Long Range Forecast in Select amateur working hunter and Richard rides the 10-year-old gelding Imagine You And Me in Select amateur western pleasure. When asked about the possibility of sharing the same horse, Elise quickly replies, "Having separate horses keeps the peace."

The Cognettis split their time between a home in Gouverneur, New York, and a home in Ocala, Florida. Seasonally, they haul their two horses between the farms and conveniently plan rest stops to coincide with Quarter Horse shows along the route. Following the conclusion of the ESQHA Fall Show, September 18-22 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, the Cognettis headed south for the winter show circuits. This fall's travel plans include a stop at the Tar Heel Fall Classic (formerly the North Carolina Quarter Horse Association Futurity) in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The American Quarter Horse Journal loves to feature the hard-working AQHA exhibitor, and In the Spotlight is the Journal’s fun new way to do so. Do you know a hard-working AQHA competitor who deserves some time in the limelight? Email AQHA Internet Editor Tara Matsler at tmatsler@aqha.org to submit story ideas, then visit www.aqha.com/inthespotlight to view more In the Spotlight stories.