AQHA Horseback Riding Program: 5,000 Hour Awards

Congratulations to the Quarter Horse division Horseback Riding Program participants who have completed 5,000-hours.

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Alexander Varn
Tal Vez Un Kid aka "Tally"
Baden Wuertemberg, Germany
Tally (Tal Vez Un Kid) is my best buddy, confidante and soul horse. She has never let me down and has always had my back no matter the situation.   With the help of my trainer, we left the arena and began exploring our surroundings on increasingly long rides. We’ve had so many wonderful and amazing experiences.  We’ve ridden in the Alps and the Rockies, competed in ranch rodeos, worked cattle, done mounted archery, been in parades, completed the Pikes Peak Range Ride, flown in an airplane together, been on camp trips and have just had an incredible time.

For the last five years, Tally has also been helping wounded warriors heal.  She also babysits my four-year-old daughter, who has been insisting that Tally is now her horse. Tally and I still hit the trails every chance we get, quite often without a bit, bridle or saddle. We’re now working on the next 5000-hour journey and even though I’m having to share her with my daughter, I couldn’t have a better horse to make the journey with again.

Thanks for this great program! Looking forward to all the adventures during the next 5000 hours.


Lisa Lenaburg
Bein Lazy
Tioga, TX

Amy DeRuiter
Tiebreaker Magic
Falmouth, Michigan
"Tie (Tiebreakermagic) is my heart horse.  My very handsome flashy boy. He is calm, and he is all I have ever wanted in a great trail horse.  We go on awesome adventures through nature together in the forests of Michigan. My absolute favorite memory from our HBR journey is when we would take a new trail never ridden before and just explore, come back home hours later refreshed and excited to do it again.  Tie and I have signed up again for another round of HBR experiences and I'm hoping to experience a closer bond with my horse.  Thank you for this great opportunity AQHA."


Tracie Gregg
Whizkey N A Gun aka “Dot”
Oracle, AZ
"This is my girl Whizkey N A Gun aka “Dot”. She is such a dream, not only is she a reiner, but I have taught her to smile, lay down, bow, several other tricks, and she is a really nice trail horse. This photo was of us helping our local fire department with traffic control for the Walk of Hope. She tries very hard to please, is smart, and has a great mind. I am not sure i can pin point just one favorite memory on my HBR journey, every day I am blessed to be with this amazing mare and to share her journey. My goals and plans for my next riding chapter are simple;  to go out and see more of this beautiful country we call home. And to maybe teach her a few more tricks along the way."

Wynna Urban
Royal Red Resolve & Royal Red Leona
Aiken, SC
"My three horses listed are my current trail horses.  I showed Step on a Bumble Bee in reining.  Royal Red Resolve was born on my farm.  I still have her dam Royal Red Leona who is age 31.  Via King ID Gage is  my beautiful blue roan. My favorite memory is a picture of me and my mom riding.   My mom is age 90 in the picture.  She is on Royal Red Leona and I’m riding her daughter Royal Red Resolve by Einstein aka Great Resolve.  So mothers & daughters (horses & humans) enjoyed each other. My current goal is to ride every day and enjoy my journey with my AQHA horse friends."


Cindy Spanel
Viteo Stylish Dream
Amarillo, Texas
"When Dreamer was born he was curious about me and would just follow me around.  He would run with me when I would run in the pasture and it was like having a puppy follow you.  His personality is such that he is curious about everything around him as if he’s looking for the answer to life.  My favorite memory is going to different places and states.  Our country has so much beauty and all I have to show for it is the memory in my mind because the one thing that Dreamer doesn’t like is if I would pull my phone out it always spooked him.  I couldn’t ever have my ringer on because that was his chance to bolt. I really would like to do a few other states’ trail rides in the next few years.  Just hope the gas prices don’t get in my way."

Sharlene Bergum
Bootiful Lil Bovine
Sturgis, South Dakota
"'Bootiful Lil Bovine' was a tough little cookie to get started, but as I earned her respect, she earned mine.  After a good number of ground-work hours, and many more wet blanket hours, this became my “heart horse”.  Riding, especially starting colts, seldom comes without an unscheduled dismount or two. But this little mare never left me, and was kind and quick minded as she figured things out.  She loved cows in the Team Sort and willingly plowed through wooded areas or dense brush, wherever I would point her, while gathering cows or exploring new trails. She was the best lesson horse too, always sensitive to her rider. 
My next chapter is still starting and riding more colts and getting young horses off on a good foundational start. I am now doing some Long Distance Riding and Endurance rides.  I am riding Working Equitation and exploring the back country through the American Endurance Ride Conference Organization and putting more miles on good horses. Having been an AQHA member for more than 45 years, I thank you, AQHA, for offering a great horse program, with the Horseback Riding Program just being one part."



Sue Becker
CC Ritcy Fritzy aka "Ritz"
Clarkston, Washington
"Ritz was a great trail horse. We enjoyed the Asotin, Washington to Joseph, Oregon trail rides, 100 miles 100 riders, then we rode in the Chief Joseph Day Parade. Ritz was a wonderful companion."


Joni Patten
UF Gray Smoke aka "Pedro"
Dawson, Georgia

Pamela Tavaglione
Catalena’s George aka "Orzo"
Riverside, California
"I now realize how naïve I was when I signed up for the AQHA Horseback Riding Program. I had no idea that, although I seem to be riding all the time according to my family and friends, it still took me 15 years to log 5,000 hours.  99% of those hours were completed on the single horse I own, Catalina  George, or as I call him, 'Orzo'.  On his back, I have enjoyed a multitude of different activities- drill teams, parades, ranch sorting, trail trials, obstacle challenges, volunteer work with 3 mounted law enforcement units, travel and rides through half a dozen states.  But the thing that has brought me the most joy are the friendships found along the way.  As we age together, the rides may become shorter but there is no less laughter and joy."


Joy Gallupe
Knoxville, Maryland
"I have 3 American QH mares: Hershey is my most athletic, high energy girl that loves to chase cows and play at liberty.  She taught me how to ride and where all the buttons are.  She really was my inspiration to join the AQHA horseback riding program because of all of the time I knew I was going to put in with her!  She is so much fun to play with.  
Minnie is the sweetest, most forgiving, well behaved mare that has earned me so many awards.  She does whatever I ask of her from bridleless riding, to ranch shows, obstacle challenges, cowboy races, playing at liberty, and sitting in the bean bag.
Annabelle is only 3.  I got her at 4 ½ months and she has been learning and playing ever since.  She is on TikTok and is well known.  She is goofy and has her own personality.  She also plays at liberty.  She is amazing at obstacles and time will tell what her future holds.  She loves to play, sit down, lie down, sit up, and get me a beer!
I have so many favorite memories, but probably all the time that I put into learning how to ride bridleless and playing around with that.  Since those days, I have figured out how horses learn and how to teach them.  I was a 5th grade teacher - now I am a trainer for the horse and the owner.  During this program, I was inspired to keep going and be all that I could be and be a better communicator for not only my horse but all horses and owners who come to me now.
For now I am doing so much training of horses and their people, that my horses are not getting as much attention as they used to.  I am trying to help teach people how to effectively teach their horses using positive reinforcement.   In the meantime I am showing in trail challenges, working equitation and ranch shows on a local level.  In a few years, I plan on trail riding all around the state!"

Ellen Hollifield
One Royal Voodoo, owned by Rogers Heaven Sent Ranch of Tucson AZ, shown by myself at the 2022 NRCHA Western Derby
Scottsdale, Arizona - 2022 NRCHA Western Derby
My journey to the 5,000 hour buckle began in 2015 when I purchased an AQHA membership and began recording hours in the HBR program.  As a reined cowhorse loper and later, assistant trainer, the vast majority of my hours were earned in an arena. I have no idea how many miles I have covered trotting circles, but this buckle represents the blood, sweat and tears shed over those miles. The seven years it took to accumulate 5,000 hours, on the backs of many different horses,  have encompassed a vast amount of physical and mental struggle. I have blown out boots, ripped jeans and had blisters and sores on every part of my body where clothing can cause friction. I have soaked through my clothes with sweat riding in the summer, and shivered all day in the saddle in the winter. I have worked fourteen and sixteen hour days for weeks at a time during show season. I have ridden some of the best equine athletes in the United States. I have turned back in the cutting pen for my bosses, ridden two-year-olds, exercised bridle horses and gone down the fence. Every hour of that process was recorded for this buckle. Rather than a favorite memory, these experiences are what this award represents. This buckle marks my struggle, my sacrifice, and my pursuit of excellence. 
As soon as I reached the 5,000-hour marker in the HBR program, I immediately renewed my membership. I will continue to record hours in the HBR program, and every registered quarter horse I swing a leg over will contribute to my next 5,000 hour award. It is my hope that the next buckle I earn through this program will represent an equal amount of education and improvement on my horsemanship journey as this one. My deepest thanks to everyone at the HBR program at AQHA.


Michael Honold
Rolling Smokes aka "Smokes"
Lingle, Wyoming
I rode and worked with a few horses in this program, but my favorite one is Rollin Smokes, aka "Smokes". He is a gelding that I bred and raised, and am now riding quite a bit on the ranch and some in the feed yard. I enjoy the way he is very grounded and has an especially good mind to him. The horseback riding program was a pretty easy program to be involved with, because of how much I ride everyday. I work on a ranch and ride pens for a feed yard. In saying this, I need good minded and solid built horses to ride to keep up with the everyday rigors and that's what I get with my ranch raise Quarter Horses. My future plans will be to continue to ride and use my horses on an everyday basis as well as to continue to breed well rounded Quarter Horses.


David Richard
Docs Snipper Fivekay
Hillsboro, Missouri


Marsha Heap
               Hijacked The Jewels aka "Emma"  College Station, Texas

Emma is the old-school, classic Quarter Horse standard of brains, ability, emotional stability and very easy on the eyes. Basically, she’s the example of why we all ride a Quarter Horse!  She has an incredible work ethic, an innate ability to do any task I ask and the patience to put up with her human. She is very opinionated, yet will easily do whatever is asked of her.  

She’s my therapist, work partner, ride-or-die road warrior.  I sometimes call her ‘Lugnut’ because she keeps the wheels on when my life hits a pothole! 

I am proud we won an International Bridleless championship title that happened only because of the riding time while participating in the HBR that cemented the connection & trust with my horse. 

Future plans have to include  continuing the never-ending daily ranch work, and to find other challenging disciplines that can give us something fun to do, including making new friends or discovering parts of America when we get lost going to shows.

Joy Bond
 CierrasTalknNuggett and Twice As Hot Krymsun
     Sturgis, Michigan



 Janelle Cameron
Mr. Peppy’s Bonanza, Betarocknrumble, Goodtimebootscootin, and Elko
Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

Each one of my horses has taught me something different. That’s one of the cool things about horses and getting to ride so many different ones. 
I have lots of good memories but I think it’s neat to look back at where I was 5,000 hours ago and compare it to now; I’ve come a long way not only in my horsemanship but in my life as well. 
I am an equestrian strength and performance coach and owner of Optimize Your Ride. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned in my formal education in Kinesiology and what my horses have taught me to helping other riders become the best partners they can be to their horses!

Susan Olah
One Hot Zippin Chili
Harrisonburg, Virginia​​​​​​


Vickie Higgs
KM So Radically BO, aka "Tex"
Martin, Tennessee​​​​​​

Jordan Roberts
Millhod aka "Millie"
Kemmerer, Wyoming
I got Millie from the AQHA Ranching Heritage program and it has been an amazing journey with her. She is so sweet and willing to learn. She has a strong personality and is always willing to go the extra mile for me. Millie has always been loving and truly a best friend.
My favorite memory from my HBR journey is the quality time that I get to spend with my horses. It allowed me to make memories with friends and family, while doing something I love. 
My goal, during our next riding chapter, is to compete at a competition with the University of Wyoming ranch horse team. 


Karen Morey
Blue Driften Lady
 Clarinda, Iowa

This photo was taken in Buffalo, Wyoming. Buffalo Wyoming  Blue Driften Lady is the fourth home-raised horse I used for the horseback riding program.​​​​​