Professionals of the Year Announced at Convention

AQHA honored Larry Little, Lainie DeBoer and Leslie Lange at the 2016 convention in Las Vegas.

The American Quarter Horse Association

The Don Burt Professional’s Choice Professional Horseman of the Year, Professional’s Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year and Professional’s Choice Most Valuable Professional awards were presented on March 12 at the 2016 AQHA Convention.

Three industry professionals were recognized by their peers on March 12 at the 2016 American Quarter Horse Association Convention in Las Vegas.

The Don Burt Professional’s Choice Professional Horseman of the Year, Professional’s Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year and Professional’s Choice Most Valuable Professional awards were presented by AQHA Corporate Partner Professional’s Choice during the Association’s Awards Banquet.

Larry Little

The 2015 Don Burt Professional’s Choice Professional Horseman of the Year is Larry Little of Mebane, North Carolina. Little is known for his active role in the North Carolina Quarter Horse Association, having served on the board of directors, filling many roles including North Carolina Quarter Horse Association president. As one of the founders of the NCQHA Futurity, he now serves as a trustee for the event.

Little has been a member of the AQHA Professional Horsemen since its formation. At the 2012 AQHA Convention, he was awarded the Professional Horsemen’s 2012 Most Valuable Horseman Award. He has demonstrated compassion for the American Quarter Horse time and time again.

Little has successfully trained numerous youth, amateur and open horses in a wide range of events from western pleasure to western riding. Little also holds various judging credentials including judges cards with AQHA, as well as the National Reining Horse, National Snaffle Bit and American Paint Horse associations.

Lainie DeBoer

The 2015 Professional’s Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year is Lainie DeBoer of Forest Lake, Minnesota. DeBoer is perhaps one of the most dedicated and active members of the American Quarter Horse industry. She has not only trained more than 50 AQHA world champions and judged the 2015 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, but she has also been an essential catalyst of many initiatives to further AQHA.

DeBoer served on the Professional Horsemens’ Council for five years and helped develop the Nutrena Ride the Rail/Ride the Pattern clinics. She has taught the Nutrena Ride the Pattern in hunt seat equitation clinic at the Ford Youth World, Adequan Select World Championship Show and Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show. She also teaches the hunter/jumper category at AQHA educational judging seminars and developed educational DVDs for the National Snaffle Bit Association and AQHA judges seminars for hunt seat equitation, working hunter and equitation over fences.

Along with David Warner, DeBoer founded the Huntfield AQHA Hunter Derby Series, which has opened up more opportunities for AQHA hunter competitors. She is also involved in several philanthropic ventures, including the We Can Ride therapeutic riding program and hosting clinics at her farm to raise money for the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar.

Leslie Lange

The 2015 Most Valuable Professional is Leslie Lange of Greeley, Colorado. Lange has been around American Quarter Horses for as long as she can remember, and she has built a successful business around her passion for showing horses. She loves nothing more than helping students and clients to achieve their goals and have success on their own.

Lange is a judge for both AQHA and NSBA. She served as NSBA president in 2011-12. She has won multiple AQHA world championship titles and was named the Professional’s Choice AQHA Professional Horsewoman in 2003. Lange is also very active locally, where she has served as the president of the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association, as well as serving on the board of directors for the National Western Stock Show Association.

One of Lange’s favorite things about the horse industry is meeting people from all over the world. She said she feels very lucky to have had the chance to travel the world because of the horse.

About the Professional Horsemen of the Year Awards

Being named an AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year is one of the top awards of the equine industry. These individuals were nominated and voted on by their peers.

Congratulations to the 2015 professionals of the year. Look for more information on this year’s winners in the May issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.

For more coverage of the 2016 AQHA Convention, visit

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