The Bold and Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse
The Bold and the Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse” was a previous exhibit that featured twelve women who made a tremendous impact on the American Quarter Horse – as an association and a breed. Some were breeders, some were owners and competitors, and others were chroniclers and artists who recorded not only history but life at the time. All were leaders and visionaries, and each left their mark on the American Quarter Horse. Their efforts opened the doors to others and made it possible for the lifestyle to exist in the industry.
The women included in the exhibit were by no means the only trailblazers. There are many unsung heroes whose dreams and sacrifices created the American Quarter Horse of today. Sharon Ralls Lemon, an American author, said:
“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.”
Her quote defines the focus of “The Bold and the Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse” exhibit. These visionary women embody the elements of grace, beauty, spirit and fire.
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A woman who wore many hats, Suzanne Jones was involved in nearly every aspect of the horse industry – from breeding to showing to riding in international competition and more.
Suzanne was the daughter of an Army colonel who was skilled in horsemanship. She first sat horseback at the age of one and by five, was competing in horse shows. At 10, she defeated 15 skilled riders in a stakes race.
After studying at a girls’ college in Virginia, Suzanne attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she rode with the rodeo team and a women’s club called Desert Riders. After graduating with a degree in English she decided to pursue her passion – horses. She was involved in English and Western riding as well as dressage. She traveled to Kansas City in 1950 for the American Royal Horse Show to show jumpers and hunters. In 1951, she traveled to Mexico City for training in jumping.
Suzanne’s career as a trainer took off after she graduated from the University of Arizona. Four of her personally trained mounts were certified as Olympic prospects, one of which was sent to the final tryouts. Another of them, Nautical, climbed to fame as the subject of the Walt Disney movie “The Horse with the Flying Tail.”
In 1953, Suzanne qualified for the United States Equestrian Team, which was to compete in Canada, the United States and Mexico. A revolution in Mexico cancelled the shows south of the border, ending her international show career.
Suzanne had a filly named Maroon (TB) that New Mexico rancher R.C. “Punch” Jones had tried to buy from her previous owner and then tried to buy from the then Suzanne Norton. In 1954 Suzanne and Punch were married and the coveted filly, Maroon, would produce a bounty of Quarter Horses that would reward the couple’s operation for generations. She became the foundation of the Jones’ breeding program.
Starting in 1962, Suzanne was active in 4-H through her four children. She became a 4-H judge and clinician in New Mexico, and worked with the New Mexico 4-H Horse School, renamed the Suzanne Norton Jones 4-H Horse School in 1992.
Suzanne judged horses and taught clinics on a national and international basis, and held cards for the Palomino, Paint and Appaloosa associations, as well as the American Horse Shows association. She served as an AQHA judge from 1962 to 1993.
An accomplished author, Suzanne wrote that rider and horse should become partners in whatever discipline they choose. She would be the first to agree that the horse-human connection defies simple
Suzanne and her husband received the Association’s 30-year continuous breeder award and the 40-year cumulative breeder award. Their ranch has produced 351 registered foals, 131 of which have earned nearly $2 million at the racetrack, and 26 have earned 2,061 points in the show ring.
In an interview, Suzanne once said, “The requirements for a happy, well-adjusted life are the same in the horse and human worlds. When children understand how to bring a horse to its full potential, they begin to understand the structure of society – discipline, friendship, respect, understanding, companionship and mutual trust.
Want to learn more about Suzanne Jones? Purchase a "The Bold & Beautiful: Trailblazing Women of the American Quarter Horse" companion book from museum to learn more about the stories and history of the 12 women in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.