Inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2017
In the 1970s, English classes were new in AQHA competition, and Sandy Vaughn was in the forefront of the push to make them standard.
She became a respected voice in the industry, and in 1995, she was the first AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year – an award voted on by her peers.
When Sandy was 14, a friend took her to a stable, where she became enamored of horses. She started taking riding lessons at Hill Meadow Stables, a mile from her house, a distance she walked daily.
“I would come home and do my homework, and I would walk out to the stable,” Sandy says. “I would help at feeding time, and I would do whatever needed doing along with my lessons.”
At 16, she started leading trail rides and then going to horse shows.
At one of those shows, she met Jon and Marge Riker of Westenhook Farms. At 19, Sandy became the trainer on Westenhook, where she broke out about 70 head of 2-year-olds every year.
Jon’s interest – in breeding and in horse shows – was in the American Quarter Horse as an English horse.
After 13 years, Sandy left Westenhook and went to Florida. For the past 32 years, she has worked on the property of Tom and Diana Scott in Wildwood, Florida. It was there that she found a new crop of up-and-coming amateurs and youth who were eager for everything she could teach them.
Sandy became involved in governance, both through AQHA and the Florida Quarter Horse Association. She was an AQHA director from 2006 to 2013, serving on the show and contest committee as chairwoman of the English subcommittee, the show violations hearing committee, the Hall of Fame selection committee, and the animal welfare and dressage task forces.
“I believe in firmness and discipline and respect,” she says. “I don’t believe in submissiveness of a horse. I just want them to respect me and my space. I’ve tried really hard for my lifetime to convey that thought to my clients and other horsemen. It’s important.”
Vaughn was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2017.