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UPHA Young Trainer of the Year – Tom Lowry


Editor's Note: The following speech was read by Chad Graham, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006 at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Tonight we are here to recognize many of those, who have gone above and beyond in order to improve the industry for all of us. It is my great pleasure to the present the Young Horseperson of the Year award to a person who demonstrates the criteria of the award on a daily basis.

The Young Horseperson of The Year shall be a person 35 years of age and under that has been involved in the training and showing of horses within our industry. He or she shall be a person that has given beyond the call of duty to promote the show horse industry and his or her profession, and to inform, educate, and promote in general. He or she shall be dedicated to the industry in an unselfish manner and shall have interest in the industry and an interest in the respect of the profession - the professional horseman. They shall be presented the UPHA Young Horseperson of the Year.

When I read the criteria for the YHPOTY, I realized how accurately tonight's honoree has been described.

Tonight's honoree has a rich family history in the horse industry. Their involvement in this business spans several generations. Throughout the years, a rich tradition of true horsemanship was sustained. It would be the virtues taught by family that would later mold tonight's honoree into the truly amazing person and remarkable horseman.

The story begins with our honoree's grandfather. He had a farm in Pittsfield, a small town about 30 miles outside of Quincy, Ill. Known for being an ambitious farmer and businessman, Ed Lowry started to involve his family into the horse business. The old adage says, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” Soon after the death of Ed Lowry, his grandson came along and carried on his legacy. He would pass not only his ambition and work ethic onto his grandson but his love for breeding, showing, and training ponies.

Under the guidance of his father Dr. Joe Lowry and mother Judy Lowry, many early lessons in horsemanship were taught at home. The Lowry family enjoyed the horses and ponies together in their everyday routine. His mom said as a youngster his first love was horses. He did 4-H, in hand, rode, and drove. His mother kept the kids involved riding every day, whether it was after school or a ride in the middle of the day. Two older sisters Jill and Jolene helped keep the youngster in line. They did everything together.

It seems that when he and his sister once were angry with the management of their household, they packed some cookies in their saddlebags and rode off into the sunset. He didn't run far but I don't think they were too worried anyway. His mother said his sense of direction was uncanny while riding with his dad on his farm calls. I don't know what happened to that skill - he can't find his way out of a wet paper bag now. He's always asking me “Umm, hey Chad, ahh, I don't know, maybe Jeff & Mary, or Kurt knows. I don't know where to go.”

As the years passed Tom kept himself steadily involved in horses whether he was riding in parade or showing his “good stock”. He also was very active in other sports -- active being the operative word -- but always kept his passion for the horse. According to his mother this helped him become well-rounded.

At the age of 12 Tom would experience one of the most defining moments in his life. The Illinois State Fair was the stomping ground for Tom and his pony Gee Whiz. He had won all over Illinois and was gunning for the crown jewel, a win at Illinois State Fair. Tom had won the Land of Lincoln and juvenile stakes and he begged Joe and Judy for a try at the big stake. After deliberating, Tom's parents decided to let him show, after all, they thought a good beating might do him some good as a character building experience.

Around that same time there was a stunning blond lady who was earning wins all over with her ponies. Mary Gaylord had a good week that same year at the Illinois State Fair and was taking her Ed Lowry-bred Edition's Headliner to the show. Stake night came and Tom and Mary went head-to-head. Tom's family recalls the class as one of the best of the year. When they pulled into the line-up the judge announced that there would be a work-out. Tom and Mary went back to the rail. Joe recalls them lining up side by side, he and Judy could hardly breathe while waiting to hear who the champion was. Tom would get the victory, marking one of the highlights of his career. Mary collected her ribbon, gave her pony to Abel [Vega] and Mr. Shea and then waited for Tom to exit so she could congratulate him. This was a glimpse of what was to come.

Tom graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics and looked for direction toward a career. Even though there was a successful outcome for Tom in college, according to his family this wouldn't have been possible without Jeff McClean.

In Tom's second year he had to take some time off. During his break from ISU Tom worked for Jeff and got a lot of character building positions. Judy partially credits Tom's making the dean's list and graduating to these experiences.

Tom then went to work for the great pony trainer Gib Marcucci. Here he would add to his already vast knowledge of working ponies and get a look at professional horse training. He then returned to Illinois and took a job at Jeff McClean stables. Jeff's original offer was only for the summer and here we are 16 years later and they haven't run him off yet.

Jeff and Tom had many interesting times. Jeff tells a story about when Tom taught him to drive a big rig. They were at the Illinois State Fair and saw a brand new tractor trailer for sale and were curious to see what the rig was like. The owner offered a test drive and naturally they took him up on it. Jeff threw Tom the keys and off they went. Jeff said they took a little drive and brought it back. He asked Tom where he learned to drive those big trucks, Tom responded, “That was my first time.”

Tom has seen many successes in his career. His good friend and veterinarian Hugh Behlin credits his success to his work ethic and attention to detail. He calls Tom the “master of detail.” He never misses an opportunity to teach the next lesson to his ponies or to improve on what he has already taught. With these successes we have seen some truly great ponies including Southern Dreams, Regal's Trademark, Neon Deon, Heartland Elise, Sis, H. Triple Crown, Bruschetta, Royal Canadian, Wild Thing, Dreamaire, Heartland Production, Shake Don't Stir, and my favorite American Flyer, just to name a few.

Now that you have seen the ponies and know his background I would like to tell you what sets Tom Lowry apart from all the rest. I spoke with his family: Joe and Judy Lowry, Jill Lowry, Jeff and Mary McClean, and all of the friends he has made in this business. The same qualities came up in all of these conversations.

“Tom, you are an expert horseman, a true friend to all of us and most deserving of this award.  Congratulations on being named the Young Trainer of the Year.”

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