A trio of well-deserved award presentations at the exhibitors’ party featured the recounting of the contributions of three very dedicated people to the West Coast walking horse business.

A completely surprised Eva McClure was introduced by Russ Thompson, who told of her 40 years of involvement with the breed by virtue of her alliance with business associate and late husband, Mitch McClure. Their support as early exhibitors and breeders was instrumental in establishing the walking horse as a viable entity on the early AHSA multi-breed show circuit. The Courtesy Stables presence continues today under Eva’s direction at the original Somis, Calif., setting.

Paul Hughes was equally surprised to be on the receiving end of the award, but the brief recitation of his continuing contribution to the breed by Bil Hartman was ample evidence of his qualification. Upon completion of his military service in the Navy, the Missouri native set about establishing a training barn in the rapidly expanding Southern California area some 50-plus years ago. He has been a fixture in the walking horse breed throughout the ensuing decades. Paul’s influence was instrumental in the launch of training careers for Frank White, Russ Thompson and Scott Benham, among others. He is still a tireless promoter bringing new people into breed involvement and ownership from his Golden West Farms base in Ontario, Calif.

Bill Maurer’s contributions to the Southern California walking horse scene were also recognized. Maurer was an early pioneer in the management of Helene Kahn’s Merrywood Farm breeding operation. More recently he has been a long-time local board member whose diligent work as head of membership and sponsor committees was vital to the area’s show activity through the years. Though age and infirmity have slowed him down a bit, Bill and his wife, Jeanette, are regular Saturday morning visitors to watch the family horses being worked. Daughter Harriet Cappuccio accepted the award with an expression of appreciation.