Reaching Members in Latin and South America

Clinics funded this summer by the Verdugo International Horsemanship Grant will focus on genetics, nutrition, judging, training and showing.

American Quarter Horse Association

Chance O'Neal (left) instructs a Verdugo International Horsemanship Camp in Uruguay in 2011. (Credit: Journal)

This summer, AQHA will send representatives from four universities to 12 countries to help strengthen horsemanship skills and equine science knowledge related to the Quarter Horse. This outreach is done through the combined efforts of the AQHA international horsemanship camp and Verdugo International Horsemanship programs.

The William R. Verdugo International Horsemanship Grant helps support those efforts concentrated in Latin America. AQHA Past President, Verdugo had a passion for sharing knowledge. In 1994, he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. He was instrumental in initiating Fresno State University’s cattle and horse reproduction programs, and coached the horse and livestock judging teams during his tenure as a professor at FSU. 

Since 2010, the Texas A&M University Equine Initiative has conducted seminars supported by the Verdugo Grant in Latin America. Equine Initiative staff have presented to participants in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay, with additional attendees traveling from Brazil and Venezuela. This is in addition to their active involvement in the AQHA international horsemanship camp program since 2002.

This year’s clinics are scheduled for June 19-21 in Costa Rica and July 18-20 in Paraguay. Each host country submits topics of interest, then Equine Initiative staff tailor clinics to fit the affiliates’ requests.

In Costa Rica, hands-on topics will include both reining and colt starting. Lecture sessions will focus on genetics, nutrition and judging. In Paraguay, the team will focus on ranch sorting, Versatility Ranch Horse and nutrition. Since the Texas A&M Equine Initiative has been working in Latin America, the team has witnessed an increase in superior Quarter Horse genetics, evidenced by the caliber of equine athletes that are now found in these countries. It’s not uncommon to see Quarter Horses excelling in multiple events and displaying the breed’s versatility. 

AQHA Executive Committee Member Dr. Jim Heird, along with Dr. Josie Coverdale and Anna Morrison, a Ph.D. candidate, will conduct the lectures and horsemanship clinics. This year, professional horseman Chance O’Neal will be accompanying the team to help share his knowledge with those in Latin America.

“Incorporating professional horsemen into our groups of faculty and student instructors has been a very positive experience for us and for the host countries. It allows us to share knowledge from people who are training, riding and ranching every day, and these professional horsemen can really relate to the gauchos, cowboys and horsemen who are attending the seminars. This only strengthens and reinforces the information that we bring to the seminars from the university and the Association,” Morrison said.

2015 Verdugo International Horsemanship Camps with the Texas A&M Equine Initiative