Jim Shoemake

Jim Shoemake

He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2008.

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Although he moved to a St. Louis suburb about the time he entered high school, some of Jim Shoemake’s favorite memories included his father plowing with a team of horses.

Shoemake was born to a farming family in a small Missouri town 130 miles south of St. Louis.  As he grew up, Shoemake had to put the horses on hold for a while.  Following high school, he graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and then joined the Army.  After military service, he returned to St. Louis, fell in love and married Rita, the younger sister of an old schoolmate, and then entered law school at St. Louis University.

Upon receiving his law degree, Shoemake was named to the Attorney General’s Program for Honor Law Graduates and spent the next year in Washington, D.C., working in the Department of Justice.  After a year, he returned to St. Louis as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.  Two and a half years later, in 1970, he went into private practice.  By 1971, Shoemake realized he had found a home, and he and Rita began to think about horses again.

Shoemake had owned horses for more than 30 years; his family had been competing in Quarter Horse shows for more than 20.  They had shown an All American Quarter Horse Congress pleasure futurity champion and a mare that earned three world championships.  Shoemake didn’t participate in shows himself, but provided support to his daughter Sarah, and his trainer, Gil Galyean.

Shoemake had worked on some very high profile cases, including, as a young lawyer less than a year out of law school, helping prosecute a man for committing espionage for the Soviet Union.  Shoemake was elected president of the American Quarter Horse Association in 2002.  In an interview he said, “As long as God gives me the physical and mental ability, I don’t ever want to quit practicing law.  I may slow down some, but I don’t ever want to quit because I enjoy doing it.  And I don’t ever want to be without a horse.  I’m serious about that.  I’ll always want to have horses.  I just love them too much not to have them.”

Jim Shoemake was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2008. He died June 28, 2017 of leukemia.


Biography updated as of  December 2017.