The Wisconsin State Horse Council presented a full slate of honorees at this year’s Midwest Horse Fair. The organization recognized four people for their lifetime of service to the horse industry as well as a Director of the Year, a Horseperson of the Year, a Show Judge of the Year and a Horse of the Year. Special Achievement awards were also presented to an equine professional and a fundraising organization.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
This year, Lifetime Achievement awards were presented to Wes and Jane Licht, Ron Miller and Robert Housel.
• Wes and Jane Licht were recognized for sharing their life’s experiences and skills with the state’s horse industry.
Identified as ambassadors in the world of horses, the Lichts have worked with their Morab horses as well as training others for the past 40 years. Wes was an educator for 32 years and continued to be an educator in retirement by instructing novice riders as well as training horses.
Along with giving clinics and demonstrations, he enters driving competitions. He also gives sleigh rides and carriage rides.
Over the years, the Lichts brought many of their students to the MHF to perform. The couple team up to present the Morab demonstration with Jane handling the costumes, scripts and music, and the set-up and decorations at the Morab booth.
• Ron Miller, too, was an educator, and he also brought that experience and skill to the horse world. As a teacher and youth mentor, he was instrumental in making a difference in many lives.
Miller holds judging cards in several different horse organizations. His wife, Pat, remarks Miller is genuinely happy when he sees people succeed.
According to Pat, “Ron really believes that showing is about simply improving yourself, not trying to beat someone else.”
In addition to helping teach youth, Miller mentors novice judges, sharing his knowledge with new judges.
An active member of the American and Wisconsin Quarter Horse associations for 40 years, Miller served as either a director or officer with WQHA. During the 1980s, he was the WQHA Futurity Secretary and the AQHA Region 3 show manager and committee chair for five years. During his tenure, Miller was instrumental in building up the organization to be the largest in the country.
Along with serving as the WQHA representative on the Wisconsin Horse Council Board of Directors, Miller served as the WHC treasurer for more than 20 years and co-chaired the Judges and Championship Challenge committees.
• Bob Housel has been an active committee member of the Heart of the North Rodeo for over 50 years. He fostered a strong and growing horse industry in both his local area and at the state level.
He was voted the organization’s Committee Person of the Year in 2000 and has been a rodeo delegate at the National Finals Rodeo for 28 years. He serves on several committees including Animal Welfare and Exceptional Rodeo, an event held for individuals with special needs.
Along with his involvement in rodeo, Housel is active in the 4-H program. He’s organized and worked at local 4-H horse shows for over 37 years and managed the trail class at the state 4-H show for 20 years. He’s also helped organize and worked at the state 4-H tack sale at MHF.
Director of the Year
Pat Miller became a member of the Wisconsin Horse Council Board of Directors in 2003, representing her business, Pat’s Chaps. Currently, she serves as the co-chair of the WHC Championship Challenge Committee, a program for equestrians competing for top honors in open shows and chairman of the WHC Awards Committee.
Since 2008, she has been a member of the Midwest Horse Fair Board and its chairperson for the last four years. During her years on the Midwest Horse Fair Board, the annual fair has risen as a national leader in equine expos, realizing an increase in financial success as well as production excellence. She also committed much personal time, along with other WSHC Board members, in guiding the fair through difficulties to achieve the success it now enjoys.
Equine of the Year
Choke was matched with T.J. Clibborn at the Madison Extreme Mustang Challenge Makeover in 2009 through a computer draw. After 90 days of training, Choke went on to be one of the top 10 finalists in the competition.
She also won the colts division of the Extreme Cowboy competition in Belvidere, Ill. Choke was an area divisional champion of America’s favorite trail horse in Wisconsin. When she competed in Texas at the America’s Favorite Trail Horse event, she finished second out of 100 horses.
Choke and Clibborn took on the roles of equine ambassadors, giving many demonstrations all over the state. At Career Days in Sun Prairie in 2017, they gave youngsters a peak into what an equine career might be like. In Atlanta, Choke also gave rides to children who had never touched a horse. Choke and TJ have even been Salvation Army bell ringers.
Horseperson of the Year
Terry Kluever’s selection as Horse Person of the Year recognized his willingness to give of himself.
Terry has participated in events across the country ranging from the Quarter Horse Congress to local fun shows. Terry is experienced with a wide diversity of breeds, disciplines and levels of competition. He holds WHC and Wisconsin 4-H judging cards. He helps local clubs and national organizations raise funds for projects.
Ever ready to share his knowledge, Kluever teaches youth in a non-threatening way. His kindness and sincerity extends outside the horse community.
His generosity extends beyond the equine world where he will adopt any dog, donkey or child in need of a home. He would even donate a kidney; which in fact, he actually did.
Dr. Anne Clary was recognized for her dedicated work in the draft horse world. A licensed veterinarian and equine chiropractor, she and her husband, Joel, owned and operated a farm since 1997. They have been involved with draft horses through breeding, raising and training a six-horse hitch from their herd.
Clary has served as the president of the Wisconsin Draft Breeders Association and scheduling educational workshops for both adults and youth. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Percheron Association and was involved with the planning and implementation of Percheron World Show.
She created a youth crew, teaching the young equestrians such skills as braiding, clipping, showmanship and driving, team building and problem solving needed to prepare for the 2018 Percheron World Show. She took them to shows to gain the experience needed in the show ring and to keep the draft horse world vital and growing.
Friends of the Governor Dodge State Park-Equestrian Committee
The Friends of the Governor Dodge State Park-Equestrian Committee was presented with the Special Achievement Award for their ambitious goal of funding and building a new equestrian campground in one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks.
A permanent campground for horses and their owners at the Governor Dodge State Park’s was part of the park’s master plan as early as the 1980s. However, funding was never allotted in the Department of Natural Resources portion of state budget for the campground.
The volunteer committee made up of dedicated trail riders originally set a target of more than $3 million dollars, but working with the park’s land manager, a more attainable solution was developed without sacrificing amenities. The final campground design has 21 pull-through sites for both large and small trailers with electricity.
Organized in 2015, the group has raised over $137,000 of the $650,000 goal since it started the fundraising campaign in June 2018.
Show Judge of the Year
Sara Gronski was recognized for her work ethic and generosity as a show judge. Along with her fair and ethical judgements, Gronski is friendly yet professional, both inside and outside the arena. She is also known for moving shows along with precision.
Gronski works with young exhibitors to help them communicate better with their horses so they feel less frustrated in difficult situations and giving those needing a kind word a confidence boost. She also teaches at no charge at 4-H clinics where she helps the young riders improve their skills.