A Note From Your AQHA President

Where Did Your Horse Passion Start?

AQHA President Ralph Seekins shares how he was introduced to American Quarter Horses as a young boy.

Ralph Seekins shares how he was introduced to American Quarter Horses as a young boy.

As I travel around the American Quarter Horse community, there are a couple questions I particularly like to ask our folks – from youth to Super-Selects. And those questions always seem to light up the person’s eyes as he or she enthusiastically fills me in.

What do I ask? Well, it goes something like this, “Tell me how you first got interested in horses.” And then, “How did that lead you to American Quarter Horses and to where you are today?”

Myself, I clearly recall that, when I was 4 years old, my family moved to Cody, Wyoming.  There, I was introduced to and enthralled by horses of all sizes, colors and breeds. My mom recognized my early passion and she decorated the top of my 5-year-old birthday cake with little plastic cowboys and prancing horses. I can still picture that cake to this day.

At that time, my dad had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin, having finished his civil engineering degree through the G.I. Bill of Rights and was newly hired by the Bureau of Reclamation – a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. So, with a wife and four little boys living on an entry-level government salary, there wasn’t any spare change for even a little horse.

But there were people in our little church who did have horses. We’d visit the family’s Wapiti, Wyoming, home on many a Sunday afternoon as our families shared an after-church “pot luck” dinner. Strange, but for some reason, I just kept wandering down to the horse corrals. They recognized my passion and did a lot to nurture my interest, sure that it would someday bear fruit.

Then, on my 8th birthday, I opened my only gift. It was a bridle. Breathless, I ran outside sure that there was a horse to put it on. He wasn’t there. But later that day, I met the retired ranch horse that taught me how to ride (bareback) and so much more.

Long story short, as I grew older, there were new horses in my life to learn with and from. But I distinctly remember watching in awe as beautiful and talented American Quarter Horses put on cutting demonstrations at the Cody Rodeo. Everything else around me had to wait until those demos were over.

“Someday,” I swore, “I’ll have one of those American Quarter Horses myself.”

Now, decades later, my family is blessed to have a few of those amazing American Quarter Horses. They are shared by my wife, Connie, and me, our children, our grandchildren, 4-H kids, therapeutic riders and more. And today, I spend a lot of my time looking for kids with horse passion written across their personas, helping to nurture their budding passion.

So, if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d really like to hear from you out there – from kids to seniors – where your American Quarter Horse passion started, how it grew and where it is today. I’ll bet it has been just as exciting and fulfilling in your life as it has been in Connie’s and mine. Won’t you take a few minutes to share your story with me and, in turn, with all of us at AQHA, on AQHA’s social media platforms? Whether it is a story on AQHA’s Facebook page or a photo of you and your favorite American Quarter Horse on Instagram, I know you have a great story, and I’m eager to have you share it.