Merle Wood Humanitarian Award

Merle Wood Humanitarian Award

Ruti Shadmot and Edward McNelis received the 2018 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award at the 2019 AQHA Convention in Fort Worth, Texas.

Exterior photo of the Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo

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From The American Quarter Horse Association

Ruti Shadmot of Moshau Faran, Israel, and Edward McNelis of Nampa, Idaho, received the 2018 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award from the American Quarter Horse Foundation at the 2019 AQHA Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. 

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

Ruti Shadmot
Shadmot is the first international AQHA member to receive the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award. She is a retired teacher who has a background in agriculture and runs her family’s pepper farm and spirulina operation in Israel. American Quarter Horses are the backbone of her passion and quest to connect young people throughout Israel with the power of the horse and its ability to inspire. She organized the Israel Quarter Horse Association as an AQHA affiliate in 2002, with the initial goal to give youth riders the opportunity to show and be recognized on a local as well as international level. 

Shadmot selflessly volunteers her services and tirelessly fundraises to make sure the youth in Israel have the opportunity to ride and compete. She also sponsors and manages AQHA shows in Israel and is a believer in organizing clinics to help the youth, amateurs and trainers stay current with American trends in the horse industry. Shadmot became an AQHA international director in 2001 and was elevated to director emeritus in 2018. She also served on the AQHA International Committee from 2001 to 2018. She has found that the combination of youth and horses is the common denominator that trumps the ingrained feelings forged by centuries of religious and cultural war and unrest. 

Edward McNelis
Ed McNelis worked in banking for 34 years and is currently involved in real estate, cattle, ranching and horses. He has traveled across the state of Idaho in support of youth, showing, racing and fundraising. Over the years, he has become the voice of the industry to the legislature in Idaho. McNelis is an AQHA director emeritus, and has served on the amateur, public policy, membership and marketing, Hall of Fame selection, and nominations and credentials committees, as well as the affiliate and Foundation councils. He is a past president of the Idaho Quarter Horse Association and Idaho Horse Council, member of the Governor’s Appointed Idaho Horse Board, racing steward in Idaho, and chairman of various committees.

McNelis organized, developed and chaired the Idaho Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. He also chaired and organized the first induction of individuals into the Idaho Hall of Fame. He has helped raise record amounts of money, grown the number of new members and held clinics for youth. McNelis has always been a writer and has written for state, regional and national publications. He understands the value of communication and informing people. He donates all income derived from his writing to youth-related programs and has helped raise thousands of dollars for American Quarter Horse youth, 4-H, FFA, Youth Day at the races and other youth programs. McNelis continues to live by his motto, “I will not be a part of programs that do not benefit youth.”

The deadline for nominations for the 2019 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award is May 1, 2019. For more information, call 806-378-5029 or email

The Merle Wood Humanitarian award is awarded by the American Quarter Horse Foundation. The award exemplifies the Foundation’s mission to connect horses and people through charitable giving in order to develop and support programs and initiatives that preserve our horse’s legacy and further the overall wellbeing of the American Quarter Horse and the people who comprise the Quarter Horse family.
For more information on the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award, visit

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