Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) members, instructors, and speakers gathered to participate in the 2020 CHA Virtual International Conference, Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony. During the two days attendees engaged in networking, expanded their knowledge over a variety of equine topics, and honored the highly anticipated 2020 winners for the annual Certified Horsemanship Association awards.
We all started out learning how to ride on a certain horse. If our family did not own horses, it was very likely that a wonderful school horse taught us how to ride. So it is only fitting that an outstanding horse be honored as the Certified Horsemanship Association School Horse of the Year. To commemorate such an outstanding honor, the winning horse receives a hand-painted oil painting from CHA member Julie Fischer from Colorado with bark from her camp as the frame and a wooden and leather trophy plaque from Lone Star Awards.
Earning the 2020 Certified Horsemanship Association School Horse of the Year award was 30-year-old Quarter Horse gelding Dallas from SpringHill Camp in Evart, Mich. “Without fail, kids that come through the barn will ask who my favorite horse is,” says Katrina Lechlitner. “As the barn manager, I am always diplomatic and will say that I have lots of favorites. It just depends on the job that needs to be done. Then I whisper, ‘It’s actually Dallas, but don’t tell the other horses.’ They usually giggle and then ask if I always ride him because I love him so much. It’s then that I have to confess that I have never ridden him in the 15 years I have been in charge. ‘I only get to ride the ones that need help listening, and Dallas never does anything wrong, so you get to ride him.'””
The students will then ask her, “Why do you like him so much then?” and Lechlitner shared, “That is my favorite moment. ‘Dallas makes me proud, and I can trust him to take care of you. I’m kind of like his mom now, and all the lessons he learned growing up, he is teaching you. He’s my favorite because he’s using all of his lessons to help other people, and I know that you will do the same thing when you are older. We should all want to be just like Dallas.'”
“It doesn’t stop there though,” continued Lechlitner. “The staff always ask that question too. With them I am a bit more coy. I’ll ask them who their favorites are and why. Without fail, they will name a horse that they feel like they are training or one of our flashy colored horses. They are almost disappointed when I tell them it’s Dallas. My response is a bit more age appropriate though. ‘You like the idea of that other horse, I’d say that makes them dateable. Dallas is marriage material.’ Of course those conversations lead to talking about their future, but when they do get distracted by a boy at camp, it gives me a chance to offer some perspective. ‘Is he a Dallas or just dateable?’ That is the kind of reputation every man should strive for.
“He’s 30,” shared Lechlitner. “We’ll never be able to replace him. I am confident I will cry uncontrollably on his last day. Until then I will keep asking the dentist for the ‘live forever float,’ the farrier for the ‘stay sound forever trim,’ the vet for secrets to ‘make him live forever,’ and myself to learn how to care for him the best I can.”
Lechlitner called it an honor to have Dallas be recognized by CHA as the 2020 School Horse of the Year. “There are so many special lesson horses in CHA programs everywhere ,and Dallas truly is our backbone,” seh said. “It was so hard to put his 18 years of service into words to nominate him, because we felt we could not do his history with us justice. His name puts a twinkle in the eye of so many campers, guests and staff alike. It’s been fun to share this recognition with all those who have crossed paths with him. He might just be another sorrel horse, but he’s the heart and soul of our herd. SpringHill Camps has been blessed to have a horse like him.”
The CHA School Horse of the Year Program honors the best of the school horses who are part of CHA member programs. Each equine finalist receives a plaque from CHA and were also honored at the virtual CHA Awards Ceremony. The top five finalists included:
◆ Cresson – Whispering Willow Farm in Wisconsin ◆ Dallas – Spring Hill Camp in Michigan ◆ Indy – JT Ranch in Washington ◆ Maverick – Birch Bay Ranch in Alberta ◆ Sonora – Camp Chippewa in Kansas
The first award recipient to be honored during the virtual awards ceremony was the CHA Volunteer of the Year. The coveted award that recognizes the countless hours and dedication CHA volunteers spend changing lives through safe experiences with horses. The winner was Pam Prudler of Sacramento, Cali.
“Pam has devoted her life to enriching newcomers to the safety and joys of horsemanship since 1972,” said CHA member Lisa Lombardi about Prudler. “At that time, she first became a CHA certified riding instructor and was immediately hired to teach at the location where she was certified, Shady Lawn Farm in Oakdale, Cali. It was there at Shady Lawn that she met educators who wanted to include safe horseback riding at their camps, and she got involved with further developing what was then called Camp Horsemanship Association. The main idea was to come up with a leveling system that resembled what was already in place for Red Cross water safety. The earned certificate or patch would mean the same in any camp program, so that the campers riding skills would not need to be re-tested if they chose a different camp.
“In approximately 1980, she and others from around the country met in Illinois to put together official CHA manuals that would include the written materials and illustrations already being used by Shady Lawn Farm,” continued Lombardi. “During her time at Shady Lawn Farm (1972-1989), Lois Orr, Pam, and others pushed for having certified instructors, helmet use, coordination with liability insurance companies, and to expand the CHA program to include western states. She still owns horses and has taught hundreds to ride, including her own nieces and grandnieces. Today nothing gives her more joy than watching children with horses. She has dedicated her life to educating others in the safety and joy of horsemanship. Pam is, and always has been, a contributor to the horse world and to CHA.”
The CHA Partner in Safety Award is given to a person or entity that embodies horsemanship safety at the core. The CHA Partner in Safety goes to Marmon Valley Farm in Ohio.
Marmon Valley Farm began as a samll farm camp with five horses in 1964 with 75 acres and began certifying CHA instructors and campers soon after. Programs have included both English and Western at all four levels, jumping, drill teams, driving, vaulting, pack trips, gymkhana and simple trail courses. Now over 50 years later, it’s an established horse facility with 500 acres and 150 horses. All campers ride on the 250 wooded acres of trails. They also host small horse shows and have a public riding stable that serves hundreds of guests every year. They can put out 25 riders every half hour on a busy fall Saturday.
Marmon Valley Farm and the Wiley family have been a supporting member of CHA, holding clinics to provide safe programs for over 50 years! This family has three generations of CHA Certifiers. Marmon Valley Farm in Zanesfield, Ohio has hosted 49 certifications clinics since 1996, certifying 353 CHA Instructors.
“The Marmon Valley Farm staff was excited to be this year’s proud winner of the CHA Partner in Safety Award,” said Jane Wiley Olsen. “We appreciate the recognition for all the hard work our staff have put in over the 50 years to keep horseback riding and horse-related activities safe in our organization and many others. Thank you for recognizing us in this wonderful association.
CHA Certifiers are vital in order to continue growing the association and accomplishing CHA’s mission. The CHA Certifier of the Year Award is reserved for someone who has shown outstanding service to CHA by conducting meaningful certifications and influencing the careers of equine professionals over many years. This year’s award was given to Cheryl West from Oklahoma.
West is a CHA Certifier in the CHA English/Western Instructor Certification, Equine Facility Managers Certification and Instructors of Riders with Disabilities Certification. She has also been a very active regional director for her area of the country.
West has had this said about her someone who nominated her for the award: “It has been a pleasure to learn the ropes of how to conduct a CHA Certification from her. She runs a smooth, orderly and clearly lined-out clinic. She is quick to make adjustments and adapt when needed. She remains positive, fair and energetic throughout the process, even during the long days. She challenges each equine professional attendee in a way to help them see their fullest potential and encourages them to shine in their unique individual style. She brings years of experience with passion, enthusiasm, pride and encouragement for each participant. She takes pride in representing CHA to others. Cheryl challenges herself and continues to grow in order to bring out her very best for those around her. She is an inspiration and models grit, determination, perseverance and passion.”
“It is humbling and gratifying to know that I could have a positive influence for others in our industry,” said Cheryl West. “It’s a huge responsibility to be a CHA Certifier, and I enjoy making a difference.”
Often described as the lifeblood of the association, individual certified instructors undoubtedly play a key role in the success of the association and its mission. Earning the title of 2020 CHA Instructor of the Year was Trisha Kiefer-Reed from Montana.
Kiefer-Reed has had this said about her by a nominee: “She has the ability to teach each student regardless of what level they are at. She not only tells the students how to adjust themselves and their horses, she breaks down the mechanics and explains the why and how of the maneuvers and the adjustments. She has the ability to adjust how she explains things to the level of each rider. This results in success for each and every student. I think this is the ‘pot of gold’ for the students that are fortunate enough to ride with her. Trisha is a powerhouse of energy. In the past twelve months alone, she has tirelessly spread enthusiasm for safe and sane horsemanship throughout her home state of Montana as well as Alberta, Wyo., and the far reaches of Alaska.
“Trisha is very involved with WE United Association that is about the sport of working equitation,” continued the nomination comments. “One of the things that impressed me the most about Trisha is that she took the time to learn about the sport before she jumped in and began to offer instruction in it. Trisha began to teach clinics and private lessons grounded in the discipline of working equitation after over a year of intensive professional growth. As word of the quality of her instruction began to spread, her clinics began to sell out, and her weekends quickly filled. Trisha is a CHA Master Instructor and Clinician and is the consummate professional. She is excellent at meeting the horse and rider where they are on any given day. Her enthusiasm and humor make her instructions fun and memorable. She’s patient, fair, encouraging, and possesses the best sense of humor ever!”
Kiefer-Read said she was deeply honored and humbled to be recognized among such an outstanding group of men and women. “My goal now is to keep learning and sharing information, keeping this chain of knowledge strong for our aspiring instructors,” she said.
The CHA Distinguished Service Award is a lifetime achievement award for an individual who has gone above and beyond through the years promoting and upholding the mission of the association. The 2020 recipient is Beth Powers of Bellefontaine, Ohio.
For 30 years since the beginning of her equestrian career, she has been a friendly face to everyone she meets while she shared her love for CHA, its members, staff, and mission. Her passion for life is evident immediately in conversation. She will quickly share that she is a lifetime member of the CHA proud team! Powers is a fixture each year at the CHA booth at Equine Affaire in Ohio where she continues to share her love of the profession and the organization. She has volunteered her time in that booth for more than 20 years! Setting it up, spending each of the four days talking to members and prospective members, tearing it down and keeping all the furniture and carpet at her house throughout the year.
Powers is a CHA Life Member and is certified in both English/Western Instructor and Trail. She is a CHA Site Visitor and Site Visitor Trainer, and she conducts trainings of new site visitors at CHA International Conferences every other year. She has been many roles in leadership with CHA, including committee chair all the way up to president. Powers was nominated and elected to the Board of Directors in 1999 and is just now rotating off after 21 years of service.
“I was completely surprised by this recognition,” said Powers. “I have had many opportunities over the years to tell our CHA story of safe, fun and effective horsemanship to anyone who would listen. I have traveled all over doing conferences and trade shows for CHA and realize CHA is still needed and is just as relevant as it was over 50 years ago. Thank you so much.”
Beyond the 2020 awards, you can see a complete list of past Certified Horsemanship Association award winners at www.cha.horse/international-conference/#award-winners.
CHA’s motto is “CHA Equine Professionals Change Lives Through Safe Experiences with Horses.”” The purpose of CHA is to promote excellence in safety and education for the benefit of the horse industry. CHA certifies equine professionals, accredits equestrian facilities, publishes educational manuals, produces educational horsemanship videos and webinars, and hosts regional and international conferences. For more information on the largest certifying body of equine professionals in North America or to find a certified equine professional or accredited equine facility near you, please visit www.CHA.horse.
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