AQHA Awards Outstanding Volunteer Service

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Betty Flarida receives the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award at the 2014 AQHA Convention.

The American Quarter Horse Association

Betty Flarida of Springfield, Ohio receives the 2013 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award form the American Quarter Horse Foundation.

Betty Flarida of Springfield, Ohio, received the 2013 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award from the American Quarter Horse Foundation March 14 at the 2014 AQHA Convention in New Orleans.

Flarida has always been “all in” when it comes to horses and youth and giving back to the industry.

A youth adviser for the Ohio Quarter Horse Association from 1998 to 2008, Flarida helped the Ohio youth team qualify for the All American Quarter Horse Congress and Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

In the years when Flarida didn’t have immediate family at the Ford Youth World, she and her husband, Bill, helped with many activities and stayed for the full show, serving as counselors, mentors and cheerleaders.

Flarida was a member of the AQHA Youth Activities Committee for 14 years, from 1995 to 2009, attending all committee meetings, some twice a year, in a generous donation of time. In 2008, Flarida was named the AQHA youth adviser of the year.

Flarida was also a horse-show mom for her own sons, Mark, who is now a farrier and two of them, Shawn and Matt, are now professional horse trainers. These days, Flarida is cheering on a grandson who is a horse trainer and another grandson who is just getting involved in youth activities.

The Merle Wood Humanitarian Award is presented each year to an individual whose outstanding voluntary service has been marked by actions or deeds that have enabled young people to experience positive opportunities and or activities involving the American Quarter Horse. A multitude of service activities will be considered and is not restricted to any one type of action or deed involving youth.

Established in 1997 in honor of the late Merle Wood, an AQHA honorary vice president, this award is designed to recognize an individual who exemplifies an ethic of meritorious kindness and benevolence in providing opportunities for all young people to be involved

The deadline for nominations for the 2014 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award is May 1, 2014. For more information, call 806-378-5029 or email

For more news on the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award, visit 

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