By L.A. Pomeroy / Tara MatslerIntercollegiate Horse Show Association / The American Quarter Horse JournalNovember 14, 2013
AQHA Professional Horseman Clark Bradley's life has been rooted in American Quarter Horses. As a testament, this photo of Clark was taken in 1985, 16 years prior to when the University of Findlay instructor and equestrian team coach won the AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year Award. (AQHA file photo)
American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman Clark Bradley of Findlay, Ohio, was honored with the 2013 Living the Mission Award on Saturday, October 26, at the All American Quarter Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio.
Each year, the Southern Belle Invitational seeks to recognize outstanding professional trainers who exhibit behaviors that reflect the equine industry in a positive light in the American Quarter Horse community. The prestigious award is presented each year in recognition of the professional equine trainer that demonstrates character, integrity and stewardship in their life and business practices.
“We search for professional horsemen and -women who we believe are ambassadors to the community and reflect the equine industry in a positive light. These individuals encourage others to become involved in equine events so that they may recognize the positive rewards and impact that horses can play in their lives,” said Connie Hill of the Southern Belle Invitational and Ohio Quarter Horse Association.
“These are individuals who do the right thing even when no one is looking; they serve the equine industry and their communities outside the equine world with a servant’s heart and look to improve the community around them for their fellow man. These individuals place the welfare of the horse above the consideration for winning.”
Without a doubt, AQHA Professional Horseman Clark Bradley epitomizes the criteria for the Living the Mission Award.
Clark, who has dedicated his life to helping horse enthusiasts achieve their dreams, was awarded the AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year Award in 2001 and is a 30-year AQHA cumulative breeder. His father, Bailey "Stretch" Bradley, was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2010. Clark's son, C.R., is an AQHA Professional Horseman and has earned numerous roping titles.
Among his many roles, including AQHA Director Emeritus and judge, Clark is the western coach of the University of Findlay's Intercollegiate Horse Show Association equestrian team and an instructor at the university, as well.
“Clark Bradley,” wrote one of his students, “has been an inspiration not only in the classroom and show arena but also in life. He and his wife, (Bonnie,) have been role models that have served students well when life’s stress creeps up as it does for all of us at one time or another.”
Another recalled the Clark home as always open: “He is our surrogate parent.”
“While I would not want my name revealed,” penned a Findlay alum and nominator, “I feel moved, compelled, to send this nomination for Clark Bradley. I am a Findlay graduate and there were times in my life during those years that I made some bad choices. Clark could have given up on me, a lot of people would have, my own family did. He never sugarcoated anything for me. He talked to me like an equal and his experience and wisdom made me the successful professional I am today. I owe my happy marriage, my intact family and my successful training business to the experiences I had from one of the greatest mentors in this industry, Clark Bradley.
“He literally changes lives by his involvement in the equine industry.”
For Clark, whose timeless horsemanship earned him several top ten finishes at this year's Congress, including the ranch pleasure reserve championship title, the recognition was completely unexpected: “It was a total surprise to me. We were sitting in the stands during a break in the Masters when my wife, Bonnie, told me to stop for a moment and listen to the announcer. I heard them say, '... the recipient is Clark Bradley' and thought, oh my ...”
Since 2000, Clark has coached five University of Findlay teams to IHSA national championships and AQHA high-point western team trophies (2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
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