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ASHA Individual Award Winners Announced


Lexington, Kentucky ­– The American Saddlebred Horse Association has announced its seven 2006 Individual Award winners with Jim Aikman, Stonecroft Farm, Sarah Rowland, Carson Kressley, Jeanette Durant, Charles and Carol Court, and Will Harris receiving top honors.


The winners will be recognized at the 2006 Annual Meeting during the American Saddlebred Ball Saturday, February 18 at the Keeneland Entertainment Center.


The seven winners will be honored at the Ball with a custom-crafted julep cup, which is symbolic of the highest honor upon which one can be bestowed by the American Saddlebred Horse Association.


This year’s winners are: Lifetime Achievement Award – Jim Aikman; Breeders Award – Stonecroft Farm, Don Spear and John Scheidt; Meritorious Service Award – Sarah Rowland; C.J. Cronan Sportsmanship Award – Carson Kressley; Lurline Roth Sportsmanship Award – Jeanette Durant; Gordon Jenkins International Award – Charles and Carol Court; and Frank Ogletree Youth Award – Will Harris.


Aikman, a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, has operated his Hide-A-Way Farms for decades.  As one of the most popular futurity trainers and handlers in the industry, Aikman founded the All American Cup, which has offered the highest futurity payouts in the history of the breed.  In 2005, over $160,000 was awarded in the weanling division.  Looking to share his wealth of knowledge, Aikman put together a booklet on training and conditioning, as well as a video on showing weanlings and yearlings.  He was inducted into the World’s Championship Hall of Fame in 1995.  Aikman has served the American Saddlebred Horse Association in a number of different capacities including as president from 1980-1983.  He is currently chairperson of the State Futurities Committee, and a member of the Breeders and Kentucky & National Futurities committees.  Some of Aikman’s accomplishments include breeding the influential stallion Hide-A-Way’s Firefly Supreme, and the great show horse CHBlackberry Delight.  Aikman still participates in futurities, as he showed Pull Up Your Socks to a first place in the Limited Breeder’s Stake at the Wisconsin Futurity. 


Don Spear and John Scheidt of Stonecroft Farm, in Simpsonsville, Kentucky, have bred numerous World’s Champions and other successful Saddlebreds by following their motto, “never underestimate the importance of the bottom line.”  Stonecroft Farm is the breeder of 2004 Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion CHBoucheron (Shamrock Santana x Whata’ Jewel Whata’ Jewel), and 2005 Five-Gaited Stallion World’s Champion I’m First (CF First Night Out x That Special Face), who began standing stud at Stonecroft in 2005.  Stonecroft has also bred several other World’s Champions including CHRevival, The Last Straw and CHAmusing.  Included in the line of Stonecroft broodmares is the 1996 and 1997 Fine Harness and 1999 Three-Gaited World’s Grand Champion CHA Sweet Treat.  Stonecroft Farm has always supported responsible breeding and has sponsored the American Saddlebred Horse Association’s Breeders’ Award program at the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show, which recognizes the breeders of Reserve and World’s Champions in selected classes with custom-made medallions.


Sarah Rowland of Kansas City, Missouri, is a tremendous supporter of the American Saddlebred.  Her dedication to the American Royal Horse Show has been unparalleled.  Rowland was the chairperson of all horseshow activities for a number of years, and was the Saddle Horse chair person for the 2005 show.  This year, the American Royal won the United Professional Horsemen’s Association award for Horse Show of the Year.  Rowland has dedicated great amounts of time and financial resources to the entire industry.  Rowland has now enjoyed success on her popular and successful mare, CHAn Heir About Her.  Rowland has ridden CHAn Heir About Her to championships at Rock Creek and the American Royal. 


Carson Kressley of New York, New York, has brought the American Saddlebred into millions of homes across the country by often talking about the breed during various interviews on television, in magazines and through other appearances.  Kressley has been riding American Saddlebreds since he was 15 and was a member of the U.S. Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup Team; he has also served as a member of the board of directors for the U.S. Saddle Seat Equitation World Cup.  The Emmy Award-winner owns several Saddlebreds and often shows them at various competitions across the country.  Last year, Kressley endorsed a holiday ornament with Joy to the World Collectibles, in which the American Saddlebred Horse Association received $25,000 as a result of him doing autograph sessions with Fortunoff.


Jeanette Durant, a resident of Homer Glen, Illinois, grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, where she got her first professional training position with Everett and Kay Ledbetter.  She was one of the first women to ever show a five-gaited stallion.  She helped pave the way for other women in the industry to gain respect at the World’s Championship level.  Some of Durant’s most memorable rides include CHSylvan’s Choice, CHReassessment, CHBlue Chipper, Oakwood’s Courageous Commander and many others.  Her list of riders she either started or helped develop is quite enviable.


Chuck and Carol Court of Abbotsford, British Columbia, are credited with revitalizing the Saddlebred industry in British Columbia.  When the Court’s moved their training stable from Arlington, Washington, where they had had much success, to British Columbia, the industry was struggling at the time.  However, several of the Court’s clients moved with the Courts, and they attracted a number of clients from British Columbia and Alberta.  They became very involved with the British Columbia Saddlebred Club and helped to revitalize the British Columbia Country Classic Horse Show, which is a popular show in the northwest.  The clients of Court Farm have become aggressive in the Saddlebred industry by showing outside of their circuit at shows such as the American Royal.  Their clients have also made purchases from Missouri and Kentucky.  The Courts have won several awards from their region including the 2005 Horse Industry Professional of the Year Award from the Horse Council of British Columbia.  As a result of the Courts’ dedication, people in British Columbia are now having fun and enjoying their Saddlebreds.


Will Harris of Arrington, Tennessee, possesses the characteristics of an outstanding youth role model in the Saddlebred industry.  Harris has won several blue ribbons with his family’s five-gaited mare She’s Bedazzled ADW, including the 2005 Junior Exhibitor Riders 16-17 World’s Championship, and he has also won several by catch riding for trainers.  Harris makes the extra effort by participating in a number of youth programs sponsored by the American Saddlebred Horse Association, including Junior Judging, ASHA Youth Conference and ASHA Annual Auction at the Kentucky State Fair.  He has also served on the Association’s Youth Planning Committee.  Harris exerts dedication each weekend as he makes the four-hour trip to ride at Infinity Stables in Simpsonville, Kentucky.     


ASHA members nominate individuals for the awards and the board of directors selects each winner.  Information will soon be available to register for the Annual Meeting and to attend the American Saddlebred Ball in February.

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