Around the World with AQHA President Sandy Arledge
AQHA President Sandy Arledge shares how the American Quarter Horse has connected her with people from all over the world.
By By Sandy Arledge, 2016-17 AQHA President | June 20, 2016
American Quarter Horse Association
As we age, it is increasingly apparent that our friendships become more and more important. Our extended families, including our animals, make the difference in our world! Throughout our lives, we touch and are touched by many from all walks of life, and each of those encounters leave a little “something” with us, contributing to who we become.
Over the course of the years, I have been most fortunate to have met thousands of people from all over the world, and most have a connection to the American Quarter Horse. While social media has many negative sides, one of the most positive is the ability to reconnect with those who may have fallen off the immediate radar!
Recently, I have had the good fortune to become reacquainted with several folks who have been quietly in my past. One is a young woman, mother and now grandmother, who was one of my earliest students after I moved from Texas to Southern California in March 1970. Laura was a horse crazy girl, like so many of us, and was enthusiastic in her desire to learn to ride. She had the support of her family and became very accomplished as a 9-year-old.
Her parents agreed to buy her a horse, and my search located a wonderful gray gelding by Major Thunder. “Bobby” was the typical American Quarter Horse: kind, pretty, smooth to ride and forgiving of a child’s mistakes. The love between them grew, and when her parents were transferred to Hawaii, a crisis loomed. Laura was distraught with the prospect of leaving Bobby. After some discussion, the decision was made to fly Bobby to Oahu, where he would be boarded. Crisis averted! After clearing the required quarantine period, Bobby boarded the plane to the islands.
(Photos of Laura and Bobby courtesy of Laura Bronson)
When I had the good fortune to visit, a few months later, I was treated to a lovely visit with the family and Bobby’s new home, the farm where he was boarded. (I later learned that it was owned by AQHA racing icon Abigail K. Kawananakoa.) I will never forget riding the horses up the mountain, where we could pick the native fruit that was growing on the hillside. This was my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands, and it was a special time with great memories.
Time passes and life happens, and I lost track of Laura and Bobby. Recently, I received a Facebook friend request. Lo and behold, it was Laura! She is still living in the islands, and after having a career as a racehorse trainer and exercise rider on the track there, she drifted into motherhood and grandmotherhood. Now she wants another horse so she can share her passion with her granddaughter, and Laura wants another American Quarter Horse, of course!
(Photo courtesy of Laura Bronson)
We will find the perfect horse for her and ship it to the islands for an idyllic life with wonderful people. The American Quarter Horse brings so much joy to so many, and I am absolutely privileged to have been a part of so many lives, both horse and human, for so many years. Thank you, AQHA for making that possible.
Now I am off to Australia for the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup, and remain AQHA PROUD!
Until next time!