Clark, Trotter Earn Special Awards

Val Clark, Johnny Trotter honored with special awards during AQHA Racing Champions ceremony.

Q-Racing Journal

TQHA executive director Val Clark and AQHA past president Johnny Trotter were honored Wednesday night.

Two industry leaders were given special honors on January 20 during the AQHA Racing Championships Awards Ceremony at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City.

TQHA Executive Director Val Clark was given the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award, which is presented to a woman for her contributions to the racing industry, while AQHA Past President Johnny Trotter was the recipient of the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award, given to a man for his service to the racing industry.

Val Clark

Val Clark wasn’t born in Texas, but she got there as fast as she could.

The Manitoba native always dreamed of Texas, of horses and cowboys. Now she’s living the life as the executive director of the Texas Quarter Horse Association, a position she has held since 2013, and now she has been awarded the Mildred N. Vessels Special Achievement Award.

TQHA is AQHA’s largest affiliate, with about 2,500 members, and includes both racing and halter/performance divisions.

As the head of TQHA, Clark oversees the organization’s many contributions to the horse industry and the state of Texas.

TQHA executive director Val
was honored with the
2015 Mildred
N. Vessels
Achievement Award

The show side approves around 50 AQHA shows per year, and also helps its members earn points, awards and world show qualifications. 

TQHA runs the Accredited Texas-Bred Program for racehorses, which provides millions of dollars in purse supplements to owners, breeders and stallion owners of ATB horses, while the annual sale for Accredited Texas-Bred yearlings, each July in San Antonio, makes sale graduates eligible for the six-figure purse offered in the TQHA Sale Futurity. They also oversee their flagship Texas Classic Futurity, a Grade 1 race with a million dollar purse. 

TQHA works on legislative issues on behalf of its membership, including legislative processes regarding equine industry issues, and funding a Political Action Committee.

The TQHA Foundation provides scholarships for involved TQHA youth members wishing to further their education.

With her husband, Dave, Clark now lives near the Austin suburb of Elgin, and lives the Texas life. They enjoy trail riding their Quarter Horses and helping promote the American Quarter Horse lifestyle. 

“We’re all in this because we love the horse, right?” she asked in an interview. “So no matter what we do – whether it’s showing high level or racing or trail riding or just going out feeding them and hugging their neck every evening – we’re all horse owners and we’re all united and bonded in that. I think that’s unique and very special, and people who don’t have horses don’t have that blessing.

“When I tell people I have horses, I always get a reaction,” she continued. “People love horses. We need to be ambassadors for the horse industry, even for people who will never ever own a horse. My husband and I took our horses to the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, and do you know how many letters I’ve gotten from Carson National because I let a whole bunch of kids pet my horse in camp? No, they’ll never own a horse – or maybe they will. But in any case, we can all be ambassadors for the horse industry.”

Johnny Trotter

AQHA Past President Johnny Trotter has served the industry for years, and now adds another accomplishment to his record, as he is the recipient of the Gordon Crone Special Achievement Award.

Trotter is the CEO of Livestock Investors LLT and owns Bar G Feedyard near his home at Hereford, Texas. He has been an AQHA director for more than a decade, and served on the Association’s executive committee, standing as president in 2014-2015. 

Trotter was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015 and works tirelessly as one of the country’s largest feedyard owners, horse breeder, community leader and philanthropist.

AQHA past president Johnny
Trotter is the 2015 Gordon
Crone Achievement Award

Trotter is very involved in his local community, having served on the West Texas A&M University Foundation, West Texas A&M University Alumni Association and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is a former member of the Texas Cattle Feeders board of directors and was the 2006 recipient of the Tri-State Fair Western Heritage Award. He is a member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

His involvement in the American Quarter Horse industry is focused on racing, roping and horses used for ranch work and breeding. In his own name, Trotter has bred and/or raced the likes of champion and sires One Famous Eagle and Hez Our Secret ($887,426) and runners like Bodacious Dash ($756,495), Bodacious Eagle ($634,902), Dash Back Perry ($226,642), Bay Eagle Glory ($223,553), Famous Little Reba ($192,612) and many more. 

He is also an avid team roper and participates in numerous ropings, including the World Series of Team Roping.

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