He changed the face of AQHA and now has a place in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
April 14, 2013
From The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum
When Bill Brewer was growing up in southwestern Oklahoma, he dreamed of being a cowboy. He never dreamed he’d work his way up the ranks to become the wagon boss and a strong, confident presence at AQHA, the world’s largest equine registry.
“I’ve worked since I was 5,” Bill says of his early life with parents Billie and Aileen. “My first job at the age of 5 was to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. We did it all – repaired our fences, built new fences, built the barn, repaired the roofs, dug the hole for the storm cellar, worked our own cattle, plowed and planted the wheat, and maintained the equipment.”
After graduating with an animal science degree from Oklahoma State University in 1967, Bill went to work as a field representative for the American Polled Hereford Association.
After three offers by Ronnie Blackwell, who was the assistant to the AQHA executive secretary, Bill in 1971 drove to Amarillo for an interview with Ronnie and then-Executive Secretary Don Jones. He accepted a job as an advertising representative for The American Quarter Horse Journal.
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And for the next 37 years, AQHA and the American Quarter Horse were Bill’s passion. From 1971 to 1972, he served as a sales representative for the Journal, then moved up to director of advertising in 1972. In 1978, Bill became AQHA’s senior director of administration and field services. Five years later, he became the senior director of administration and marketing. Then, in 1992, Bill was appointed the Association’s executive vice president.
Bill, the AQHA Executive Committee and the staff expanded AQHA’s business model from being primarily a breed registry to including long-term initiatives to offer more opportunities for people to enjoy their horses through membership-based programs.
AQHA developed the trail ride program, which features more than 100 rides each year all over the world; marketing alliances with reining, cutting, palomino, buckskin, snaffle bit, equine veterinary and dude ranchers
associations; the Best Remuda Award, which recognizes the Quarter Horse breeding programs of ranches all over North America; and breeder recognition and legacy awards for longtime American Quarter Horse breeders; the Bank of America Racing Challenge Program, which provides more racing opportunities for older American Quarter Horses; the development of America’s Horse as the official member publication of AQHA; and a project Bill’s very proud of – the remodeling of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, which puts the Hall of Fame members – horses and humans – front and center.
Bill won’t take credit for developing those programs single-handedly. “No one makes it alone” and “Hire people smarter than you” are philosophies he always championed when it came to giving equal credit to the employees at AQHA for his accomplishments.
“Everybody said it could never be done,” said the late Don Burt, a horseman, fellow reining advocate and AQHA past president. “Bill Brewer never took no for an answer, and with AQHA behind it, it has moved forward. I think he deserves a lot of credit for that foresight.”
In AQHA's "Reining Basics With Craig Johnson" DVD, Craig discusses the psychology of the horse and benefits of “good confusion” in keeping your horse alert and thinking during a riding session. Any “mistakes” the horse may make are just opportunities, as Craig sees it, to help the horse (or rider) take another step in learning.
Bill cites the registration of more than 2 million of the now more than 5 million horses in the registry and a growth in membership numbers from 276,500 to more than 350,000 during his 16-year tenure as examples of the success of the customer service-driven management model he implanted.
Next to his wife, Sue, Bill’s closest confidant was, without a doubt, Don.
Prior to and after retirement, Bill’s
activities in the equine industry included working with the American Horse Council, the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo, the United States Equestrian Federation, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation, FEI, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, as well as his church, country club and the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. He has also been recognized as a graduate of distinction from Oklahoma State University and has received leadership awards from Texas 4-H and the National Western Stock Show. In 2007, he was inducted into the Tri-State Western Heritage Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2008.
He has also spent more time with Sue, and son Shane and his family, wife Shanna and grandkids Grady, 10; Holland-Rae, 7; and Lydia, 3.
He now joins the 2013 class of inductees into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Craig Johnson, an AQHA world champion reining exhibitor and leading money earner in the National Reining Horse Association, has had a profound impact on reining as a discipline. The AQHA "Reining Basics With Craig Johnson" DVD is essential for any horseman and is a valuable learning tool.