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UPHA Larry Bacon Lifetime Achievement and ASHA Lifetime Achievement: Jimmy and Helen Robertson

Once in a while, along comes someone who puts our show horse industry ahead of his own interests. Rarely we find two people who work as hard as the other to accomplish complementary objectives, both of them successfully.

When those people are married to each other, and their contributions are this significant, and represent the strongest attributes of team work, collaboration and mutual respect, well, it’s almost indescribable.  Unless, you are describing Helen and Jimmy Robertson.

Tonight, we honor our dear friends and colleagues in a way that’s not only rare, but historic in our industry. Tonight, this treasured couple is receiving a pair of prestigious awards: the United Professional Horseman’s Association Larry Bacon Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Saddlebred Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

Both are the children of horse professionals, Helen the daughter of Pat Moulton Close and Jimmy the son of the legendary Jim B. Robertson.

Helen created, developed and championed the popular UPHA Ribbons of Service program in 2009, leading junior exhibitors to raise $600,000 and donate countless hours of service for important charities across our nation. 

In 2014, Helen was honored as St Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Volunteer of the Year. St Jude’s then-representative Chris Carkeet had this to say: “To quote Danny Thomas, the late entertainer and founder of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, ‘Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.’ Helen and Jimmy are two people who have made the world a better place by helping others.”

Helen and Jimmy were the catalysts for the UPHA Pink Ribbon Program. In fact, the idea was born at their barn on a chilly February morning and debuted to a wonderful reception at the UPHA/American Royal that November. More than $300,000 was raised to help fund the cure for breast cancer at horse shows from the east coast to California.

For the United States Equestrian Federation Jimmy has served on the Saddlebred and roadster committees, he was the chairman for both the Hackney and equitation committees.  He continues to serve both UPHA and ASHA with distinction.  

Helen has lent her leadership skills to UPHA and the USEF equitation committee. Both Helen and Jimmy have marked the cards at our industry’s largest and most prestigious horse shows.

Of course, it was Jimmy and Helen who took on the very challenging job at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, showcasing Saddlebreds, Hackneys and Roadsters, all putting their best feet, ears and talent forward in front of an international audience from some 40 countries, both live and televised in prime time. It was truly, according to many respected horsemen, our industry’s finest hour.

Then, the pair stepped right into the 2010 World Cup Competition. Not only did the exhibitors have a great time with this supportive, low stress, make-it-fun pair of coaches, they claimed the gold medal for the three-gaited team.

While Jimmy and Helen have had many national and world’s champion horses, ponies and equitation riders, it’s their influence on imprinting their clients with sportsmanship and leadership that’s impossible to overlook. 
Perhaps what they are most proud of is that out of their barn they have mentored the following award recipients: Four ASHA Frank Ogletree Youth award winners, an AHHS Spirit of the Medallion Sportsmanship winner, a USEF Junior Exhibitor of the Year winner and two UPHA Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award winners.

Now, we see them twice a year, supervising the sales lane at our industry’s largest and most prominent public equine auction Robertson Equine Sales.

Helen and Jimmy have stepped forward many times to honor others in our sport. In fact, it was Jimmy who led the drive to locate the exquisite Tom Moore statue in front of Freedom Hall, so that all who visit can appreciate this legend’s contributions to the show horse world and all it provides.

This just-won’t-quit pair have been honored with many industry awards, but tonight we bestow our highest compliments upon our dearest of friends Helen and Jimmy Robertson, as we award them the United Professional Horseman’s Association Larry Bacon Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Saddlebred Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award. 

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