angle-left Merle Wood Humanitarian Award

Merle Wood Humanitarian Award

Cathy Hanson received the 2017 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award at the 2018 AQHA Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, for her support of AQHYA members.

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Cathy Hanson of Fallbrook, California, received the 2017 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award from the American Quarter Horse Foundation March 4 at the 2018 AQHA Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

Established in 1997 in honor of the late Merle Wood, this award recognizes an individual who exemplifies an ethic of kindness and benevolence in providing opportunities for young people to be involved with the American Quarter Horse.

Hanson grew up with horses her entire life, learning from her father, Don Blazer. She competed as a youth and fell in love with the American Quarter Horse. She was drawn to their athleticism and heart. Hanson showed in the open division as a youth, and earned the title of AQHA reserve world champion in western riding in 1988 aboard the mare Lo Lindo.

Hanson is an AQHA Professional Horsewoman and was named the Most Valuable Professional in 2007. She is an AQHA director for California and serves on the youth committee, as well as the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission. She has also held various positions with the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association – voting past president, youth adviser and youth committee chairwoman, and currently serves as president of the Southern California Quarter Horse Exhibitors Association.

Hanson continues to impact the lives of the equine industry; however, her reach is far beyond the show ring. She has donated countless hours and energy to Mustard Seed, a Southern California faith-based organization that addresses the needs of foster children by using horses to establish confidence and compassion. She is also an avid supporter of the “My Horse, My Journey” program, providing clinics to horse owners who are financially unable to afford full-time training. Proceeds from this program go to support “Ray of Sunshine,” another organization that utilizes horses to help cancer patients and their families build confidence, comfort and self-esteem in the face of life-changing and threatening diseases.

“Cathy is an upstanding Christian woman who has conducted her life in a humanitarian way, never failing to be of help when help is needed,” said AQHA Past President Sandy Arledge. “She is known for her generosity and giving spirit, and is always willing to donate her time and resources.”

The deadline for nominations for the 2018 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award is May 1, 2018. For more information, call 806-378-5029 or email

For more information on the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award, visit

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