Doug Carpenter Obituary

Doug Carpenter Obituary

AQHA is saddened by the loss of Doug Carpenter and sends condolences to his family and friends.

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Doug Carpenter, of Sulphur, Oklahoma, has passed away due to complications from COVID-19 at age 64. Born in 1957 in Rhode Island, Carpenter developed a passion for horses at a young age. When he was 13, Carpenter hitchhiked to Columbus, Ohio, to experience the 1970 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Although he slept on bleachers in the Coliseum and knew he would return to angry, worried parents, he was hooked, and knew one day he would show horses at that prestigious horse show.

After honing his horsemanship skills in Connecticut, trainer Tommy Manion took notice. Carpenter turned down a job offer from Tommy in 1976 for another opportunity, but two years later found himself working for the legendary trainer. In 1978, Tommy assigned Carpenter an unbroke 2-year-old mare in June to train and finish for the Congress Western Pleasure Futurity in October. Showing for the first time at that year’s Congress, Carpenter rode the 2-year-old Good Lookin Babe to a reserve title and a check for $10,000, beating his boss, who came in third.

A few years later, having grown frustrated with showing, Carpenter decided to trade horses for NASCAR and move to North Carolina. Thinking the 1981 AQHA World Championship Show would be his last, he didn’t even bother to change out of his work shirt when he showed Karen Sullivan’s 3-year-old mare, Miss Docs Melody, in the first go of junior western pleasure. He placed first in the prelims and came back in front of a crowd of more than 6,000 people to win his first AQHA world championship. Needless to say, Carpenter ended up staying with horses.

As a professional trainer, Carpenter trained and showed clients’ and his own horses, including the NSBA Hall of Fame stallion Hotrodders Jet Set, proving he had the knack for picking good horses and training them to be competitive.

His training skills took him to John Mulholland in 1982, where there were many top show mares as well as promising 2-year-olds and yearlings, including the great Ms MBJ Mudlark, whom he showed successfully. After tiring of the show arena, Carpenter partnered with Keith Whistle in 1987, where he would prepare horses for the show arena for Keith as well as for amateur and youth riders.

Carpenter had $70,890.89 in lifetime NSBA earnings, but the horses whose reins Carpenter touched tell the greater story of his great eye and matchmaking skills. Just some of those horses he interacted with were: Miss Docs Melody, Hotrodders Jet Set, Sheza Kinda Fancy, Time To Cash In, Docs Bo Doll, Racy Rumors, Paint Me Zippo, Cuition, Miss Surely Bars and TNT Fluid Fred.

After the tragic death of his amateur client and friend Rodney Miller in 1992, Carpenter moved to the world of reining, where he represented and sold quality horses. He bought or sold such standout individuals as 1992 National Reining Horse Association Futurity champion Boomernic, 1999 National Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity champion Smart Zanolena, 2003 NRCHA Futurity champion Chics Magic Potion and 2007 World’s Greatest Horseman champion Light N Fine, as well as top money-earning performers Jac Be Quick, Roosters Wrangler, Hes Dun His Time and Bueno Chexinic. As an owner, Carpenter earned $89,927 in lifetime NRHA earnings, in addition to $30,839 as an open rider.

At the time of his death, Carpenter continued to purchase and broker top reining, cutting and reined cow horses, as well as promising Thoroughbred racing prospects through his business, Doug Carpenter Enterprises.

In 1996, Carpenter and NSBA editor Carolyn Pryor teamed up to publish “Western Pleasure: Training and Showing To Win,” the essential book on training and competing in the western pleasure discipline that became an industry must-have for exhibitors everywhere.

In addition to his talent in the saddle, Carpenter was an avid photographer, shooting everything from landscapes to sale horse photos.

Carpenter is survived by his wife, Gwen, daughters Kelly and Katie, and granddaughter, Emma.