The American Horse Council (AHC) will honor the equine industry’s brightest leaders at its annual meeting and national issues forum on June 5, 2023. The conference will be held in Denver, Colorado. Four champions of the industry will be awarded with the presentations of the Van Ness Award, the Hickey Award, the Rolapp Award, the AHC Champion Award and United Horse Coalition’s Unity Award.
The Van Ness Award is named in honor of the late Marjorie Van Ness of New Jersey, a long-time leader and friend to the horse industry. The award is presented to an individual that best emulates the dedication and commitment of Van Ness to the improvement of the horse industry at the state level.
The 2023 Van Ness Award winner is Chelsie Huseman, Ph.D., assistant professor and extension horse specialist in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. Dr. Huseman has served the school and equine industry in many capacities, and her talents have been utilized on the state, national and international level on all fronts, including academia and industry.
The Hickey Award is named in honor of past AHC President James J. Hickey Jr., who served AHC from 1993 to 2016. This award is presented to an individual who has been a great supporter of the horse industry and the AHC.
The 2023 Hickey Award winner is Jerry Black, DVM, whose contributions cover a host of organizations, including the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Cutting Horse Association, and California Veterinary Medical Association. He served as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in 2021 and was AHC Board Chairman from 2016 – 2019.
The Rolapp Award is presented in honor of the late Rich Rolapp, who was President of the AHC from 1974 to 1993. This award is presented to a member of Congress who has been a great supporter of the horse industry.
The 2023 Rolapp Award winner is bittersweet because we are presenting the award posthumously to Representative Jackie Walorski, who died last year as the result of a traffic accident on August 3. As a member of Congress, Walorski was the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support. It was from that position, Representative Walorski threw lifelines from Congress to families, farms and small businesses. She promoted legislation to extend the Paycheck Protection Program safety net, advocated for tax relief and promoted improvements to quality of life in rural communities through better access for health care, broadband and education.
The AHC Champion Award is presented to the AHC member (individual or group/association) that has demonstrated extensive and exemplary advocacy for the industry and the AHC.
The 2023 AHC Champion Award winner is Gary Carpenter. Throughout his career, Carpenter served within multiple aspects of the equine industry, including 10 years as executive director of the AAEP, as well as executive positions with The Jockey Club, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and the Arabian Horse Trust. Carpenter is past chair of the Horse Show Committee for the AHC and has previously served as a member of the council’s Government Affairs Advisory Committee and Animal Welfare Committee. It was recently announced that at the end of this year, Carpenter will be retiring from his tenure as Commissioner of the National Reining Horse Association.
New to the award lineup this year is the UHC Unity Award, which recognizes an individual (or organization) that has taken initiative to be involved in, and work towards, programs that promote responsible ownership and breeding, and/or programs that support horses at-risk or in transition and their owners.
The inaugural UHC Unity Award winner is Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Maryland. Days End Farm embodies the spirit of the unity that UHC seeks within the equine industry towards helping at-risk horses and their owners. Through their Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS), Days End Farm provides a perfect example of an owner assistance program that utilizes an all-hands approach within the industry to ensure that owners can find responsible options and assistance programs when in need.
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