Skip to content

UPHA Alvin Ruxer Lifetime Commitment and ASHA Wing Commander Meda: Helen Rich and Ali Degray

Helen & Ali. You don’t even have to mention last names to know who we are talking about. This mother/daughter duo has been involved in the show horse industry for over 20 years and has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to UPHA’s and ASHA’s mission, members, goals and programs. 

Helen likes to have a good time. Fortunately for us, she loves to see everyone else have a good time too. As a major supporter of the UPHA Convention for a number of years, we’ve enjoyed her fabulous welcome parties and entertainment. 

Nancy Becker says, “I’ve personally had the distinct pleasure of working with Helen and Ali and there is not one area of this sport these two haven’t touched. The fact that they have done it so well is why we are here tonight. Their impact on our industry goes far beyond the measure of World and National Championships, and I am so very proud and grateful to call the two of them my friends.” 

Horse shows across the country benefit from their support and hospitality as well. They are major benefactors for their hometown UPHA Chapter 16 shows, many years being the ones that kept them afloat. Beyond their local chapter, they give generously to Blue Ridge Classic, Cleveland Tri-State Charity, Shelbyville, Southern Saddlebred Fall Finale and the World’s Championship, to name a few. 

“Everyone works so hard, shows so hard, and is so serious about competing,” Helen said. “It’s nice to see people lighten up and enjoy themselves.” On why she has focused so much of her support on UPHA functions, she says “UPHA represents everything I believe in.”  

She’s branched out to some other breeds and disciplines recently and while she enjoys those horses and ponies, “Some of those people spend a tremendous amount of calories keeping their butt cheeks clenched together,” she reports, while the Saddlebred and Hackney folks are “happy, accepting, and simply more fun”.

Ali is following in her mother’s philanthropic footsteps and is just beginning her “lifetime giving career” as a newly elected member of the ASHA Board of Directors and supporter of the American Saddlebred Museum.  “I feel like I’ve been ‘getting’ for 22 years now and it is time for me to start giving back,” she says. She will no doubt bring refreshing, new ideas to the table and serve as an awesome role model for her generation, as well as those to follow.

Their love of the breeds and all animals runs deep and their love of the people involved in the sport is a close second. They have done so much for so many, whether it be associations or individuals. While their caring nature is a huge asset, it is the fun-loving attitude that they bring to the show ring and all that they do that makes them the poster family for why we should show horses and ponies.

Finally, a word from someone who knows their dedication to this industry as well as anyone, Tammy DeVore. “To know Helen and Ali is to love them. Five years ago, our lifelong friendship began. These awards highlight all the good that Helen and Ali do for this business; however, I would like to take a minute to tell you about a part of them that most people may not know. 

Helen and Ali both have an incomprehensible compassion for each of their animals. The relationship between both women and their equine partners is a love and a partnership that most people only dream to have. What they do is truly for the love of the horse. Helen and Ali, your commitment to me and my family is second to none and I could not be more proud to be here with you as you receive these awards.”  

Congratulations to Helen Rich and Ali DeGray for receiving the UPHA Alvin C. Ruxer Lifetime Commitment Award and the ASHA Wing Commander Medal.

More Stories

  • **Updated Event Cancellations

    Saddle Horse Report will provide daily updates to the list of canceled and postponed horse events. Read More
  • A Blast From The Past

    Saddle Horse Report is pleased to bring you a series of past feature stories on some of the greats of our sport. Please enjoy this walk down memory lane. Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Diamond Jubilee

    Let’s take a trip back to 2010 and remember some of the highlights of the Diamond Jubilee at the famed Del Mar Fairgrounds. Read More
  • UPHA Maria Knight Memorial Scholarship; Up to $10,000 Offered

    The UPHA Maria Knight Scholarship was established to honor UPHA Professional, Maria Knight and her commitment to providing a college education for her daughter... Read More
  • From the Desk of Marty Schaffel: Acts of Courage

    I was never prouder to be a member of our association than when I saw the statement that was signed by so many of our members. Clearly, these are difficult times. Tough decisions have to be made. What is reassuring to me is that people are making those decisions and are acting with courage. Read More
  • American Saddlebred Museum Launches Educational Resources & Movie Club

    The American Saddlebred Museum has added online resources and educational offerings to its website. These resources include reading lists, activity sheets, coloring pages and writing prompts. Resources range from fun activities to true educational resources for educators. New activities will be added regularly to keep the page fresh and young minds active!   Read More
  • A Letter To UPHA Membership

    I hope this email finds you healthy and safe. These are frightening times for all. Our membership is unique: We are not just working to keep our families and staff safe; we are also tasked with providing the highest level of care for our horses and ponies. Read More
  • American Saddlebred Museum – April 2020

    The Museum's first Movie Club meeting was a big success! Don't miss our next installment on April 11 at 3:00 p.m. EST when we will discuss Secretariat! Wondering how it works? The concept is similar to a book club, but you watch a movie instead of reading a book. Read More
  • JLC Launches Horsemen’s Relief Fund and

    The Joint Leadership Council (JLC) is taking an active role in assisting the trotting breed community during the COVID-19 pandemic by launching a Horsemen’s Relief Fund through the UPHA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. The JLC also has launched a website to help horsemen find federal assistance as well.  Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Pro-Am

    We won’t be heading to Pro-Am this week, so let’s reminisce about some of the memories. Here are some highlights from 2010 and you can share your memories... Read More