Merle Wood Humanitarian Award

Butch Hammer received the 2016 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio.

American Quarter Horse Association

The Merle Wood Humanitarian Award from the American Quarter Horse Foundation was awarded on March 19 at the 2017 AQHA Convention.

Butch Hammer of Norwalk, Iowa, received the 2016 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award from the American Quarter Horse Foundation March 19 at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio.

Established in 1997 in honor of the late Merle Wood, this award recognizes an individual who exemplifies an ethic of kindness and benevolence in providing opportunities for young people to be involved with the American Quarter Horse.

Hammer has been active in the equine industry for more than 25 years. He is an AQHA director emeritus and was an AQHA director; chairman of the racing council, racing affiliate and youth racing; and a member of the marketing and membership, racing, nominations and credentials, racing champions selection and graded stakes committees. Hammer was also president of the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association and Iowa Quarter Horse Association. 

Over the years, Hammer has supported several projects and activities including starting the IQHRA Youth Days program 17 years ago, in which he is still very much involved. His vision was to introduce youth to the variety of opportunities available in the horse industry.

“I have served with Butch, in different capacities, many times over the past 12 years and have witnessed, first hand, his genuine interest, diligence and commitment to the Association and its members, particularly youth,” said AQHA Director Jim Eller of Wheelock, Texas. “He’s dedicated to whatever ‘the mission’ might be with compassion that we all can appreciate.”

Hammer’s interest in providing an opportunity for youth to learn about horses, the racing industry and the world around them has proven beneficial to many Iowa youth over the years. This program has been looked at as one of the premier youth programs, with more than $170,000 awarded in scholarships. 

“I cannot think of a more worthy individual than Butch to receive this award,” said AQHA Director Judy Coy-Horton of Wheatland, Wyoming. “He is a man of great integrity who has worked tirelessly for AQHA over the many years that he has been involved with the Association.”

The deadline for nominations for the 2017 Merle Wood Humanitarian Award is May 1, 2017. For more information, call 806-378-5029 or email

For more information on the Merle Wood Humanitarian Award, visit

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