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ARHPA Hall of Fame

(Editor’s note: The following presentations were made on Thursday night during the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show.)




Tonight’s Hall Of Fame inductee, Debbie Foley, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Ira and Roberta Foley. Her father Ira was in the Shetland pony business, and the ponies were her introduction to the world of horses. Perhaps her attraction to road horses and ponies stems from the days when, much to Roberta’s dismay, Debbie chose her fastest ponies to compete in the local steeplechase races. Roberta always thought she had raised a daredevil instead of a daughter.

Debbie knew at a very young age that she wanted to be a horse trainer. When she outgrew the ponies, she convinced her father to buy her first Saddlebred, and, since she attended school with several young women who rode with Helen Crabtree, she began showing in the equitation ranks under Crabtree’s direction. In her first appearance at the World’s Championship Horse Show, Foley won the World’s Championship for 12 and under riders, at a time when the only splits offered were for riders 12 and under and 13 to 17.

When she graduated from high school, Debbie’s father wanted her to attend college, an idea that she dismissed emphatically. Ira Foley thought that college might lead to veterinary school, so that if horse training didn’t work out, Debbie would have something to fall back on. But, she would have none of it, thinking that college would just be a waste of time, an unnecessary delay in beginning her life’s work as a horse trainer. Debbie has had many days, over the years, when she asked herself why she didn’t take her father’s advice. But, her decision to train horses and ponies is one that has benefited the industry and has led to numerous World’s Champions and World’s Grand Champions.

Lee Shipman has been one of Debbie’s most important influences as a teacher in the art of training horses. In the early 1970s, Shipman leased the barn at Silver Brook Stables from Ira Foley, and Debbie is quick to credit Shipman for teaching her the work ethic for which she is well known.

When trainer Ronnie Graham took over at Silver Brook, his influence contributed to Debbie’s love of road horses and ponies, starting her on a road that has resulted in numerous world’s titles. One of her first top entries in this division was RWC Dark Shadows, a road pony that she trained herself. Ken Philpot had his road horses at Silver Brook at the same time, and Debbie’s introduction to successful road horses came from working with the likes of WC Stingray, WC Night Flight and WGC Eyre Lad, which Philpot showed to the World’s Grand Championship – the first amateur to win the big stake.

In 1976, Debbie took over the training duties at Silver Brook and soon after produced her own string of World’s Grand Champions. Reverend Mr. Black won the open roadster pony World’s Grand Championship in 1979, and the following year “Mac” swept the road pony division by winning all of the road pony classes offered at Louisville; with Debbie driving, he took the stallion/gelding class and the stake, and then won the amateur class with his owner Andrea Hauntz.

In 1993, Debbie visited Louisville’s winner’s circle with the first World’s Champion she started from scratch: WC Bar None. The next decade brought us WC The Dark Side, WC Wrapped In Glory, WC All Glory and, in 1996, 1997 and 1998, the very special WGC Private Party. Debbie started all of these champions, took them to their show ring debuts, and on to their World’s Championship titles.

Just a few of the other fine horses and ponies of note include RWC Bomb’s Echo, RWC Tijuana Topaz, RWC Hia Lad, RWC Franny Bird, WC Exit 80, WC Amadeus, and RWC Heartland’s Painted Creation. Debbie’s most recent World’s Champion in the road horse and pony division was here last year winning the USTA class with Wuddacomeover.

Debbie currently serves this division as a member of the USEF Roadster Committee, and she has served on the Kentucky State Fair Advisory Committee and the American Road Horse & Pony Association Hall Of Fame. In all, she has amassed 26 World’s Championships in the road horse and road pony divisions, including five World’s Grand Championships. There are, most likely, many more to come.



Bob Jenkins inherited his passion for road horses from his father Carl, a member of the American Road Horse and Pony Association Hall of Fame. As a teenager, he started showing road horses and has never slowed down. He was a founding member and past president of the American Road Horse and Pony Association, and was instrumental in establishing the Road Gait magazine.

For many years, Bob was in the tire business in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and had his horses in training with Ray Pittman. Eventually, he opened his own barn where he developed and showed many great road horses and ponies. He brought out Reserve World’s Champion Road Horse Cherokee and showed Royal Ace to many Road Horse Championships throughout the Southeast. World’s Champion Road Ponies Bob had were Miss Sensation and Puff ‘N’ Stuff. Other notables include Miss Dean Key, Atom Smasher, Dark Cedar, Shoeshine Girl, On Time, and the great Doctor J. One of the most interesting road horses was a mare he brought out of a field, after she had produced three colts, and that year showed her to the World’s Grand Champion Wagon Horse – Hia Honey.

There has never been a greater or more daring driver than Bob Jenkins. It has been said that he never got behind a horse that the first thing out of his mouth was “someone change my hand holds.”

You rarely find someone who loves and is as dedicated to the Road Horse as Bob Jenkins. Therefore, it is fitting that he be inducted into the American Road Horse and Pony Association Hall of Fame, something that means so much to him.

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