South Dakota Quarter Horse Association honors over 20 breeders at convention |

South Dakota Quarter Horse Association honors over 20 breeders at convention

Larry Larson
for Tri-State Livestock News

Decades of unwavering insight into the promotion and improvement of the American Quarter Horse breed has led the South Dakota Quarter Horse Association into the strong organization it is today. Now into it's 69th year, the SDQHA continues to be a national leader boasting 3,600 total AQHA memberships with a state population of approximately 80,000 registered Quarter Horses.

Their annual convention was presented at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center along the banks of the Missouri River in Pierre, on Saturday Jan. 6. An Executive Committee meeting in the morning, followed by their general membership meeting in the afternoon, a social, silent auction, awards presentation and banquet in the evening capped off another successful year for the association.

Approximately 450 people literally filled the ballroom for the evening presentation honoring the year-end award winners along with a special 'SDQHA Legacy Celebration' this year featuring many of the state's AQHA 50 Year Breeders, AQHA 50 Year Legacy Breeders and the Inductees from South Dakota into the AQHA Hall Of Fame. The membership of the SDQHA welcomed AQHA President Ralph Seekins, and his wife Connie, from Fairbanks, Alaska and Second Vice President Stan Weaver, and his wife Nancy, from Big Sandy, Montana to take part in their celebratory weekend.

Elected to lead the SDQHA in 2018 were President Kristen Gonsoir, Groton; Vice President Amanda Dikoff, Hermosa; Victoria Cuka, Vale, was re-appointed as the Secretary/Treasurer and Webmaster; Janet Hansen from Fort Pierre was once again named the Point Secretary for the upcoming year.

Directors from the East are Amy Krueger, Ferney; Dean Townsend, Andover; and Jodie Svennes from Brandt. Representing the West are Shirley Wetz, Vale; Becky Johnson, Mud Butte; and Hope Hall from Box Elder. The Central region directors are Penny Petersen, Mitchell; Kristen Gonsoir, Groton; and Sheila Prins, Sisseton. Amanda Dikoff, Hermosa; Joni Hunt, Faith; and Joellen Miller from Houghton are representing the SDQHA as the At-Large Directors for 2018.

AQHA directors representing the SDQHA at the national level include Janet Hansen, Fort Pierre; Debbi Holmes Stockstill, Virgil; Jim Hunt, Faith; and Dean Johnson from Mud Butte. Continuing to serve on the AQHA National Board of Directors are the SDQHA Elevated National Directors Georga Sutton, Gettysburg, Honorary Vice-President; Dr. R.M. Christensen, Harrisburg, Director At Large; Larry Larson, Rapid City, Director At Large; James Sutton, Onida, Director At Large; Michael Clites, Brookings, Director Emeritus; and James Hootman, Harrisburg, Director Emeritus.

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This slate of National Directors will be attending the upcoming AQHA Convention March 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida.

Top honors for 2017 include:

• SDQHA Open All-Around Horse, CD Dyna Cee – a 2012 Sorrel Stallion owned by Reid & Melanie Hockenson from Nichols, Iowa. Sired by NRCHA Hall Of Fame Sire CD Lights and out of a Smart Chick Olena/Docs Hickory bred mare.

• 2017 SDQHA Reserve Open All-Around and Amateur All-Around was Flacons Red Rose owned and shown by Penny Petersen from Mitchell. They also competed Open and Amateur Championships in 2017.

• Reserve Amateur All-Around honors went to Heather Sutton, Gettysburg, with RWS Vacas Benito Bar and the

• Select All-Around for 2017 was Nancy Tweet from Wentworth with Many Good Taxreturns.

• Level 1 Amateur All-Around was Wanda Carr from Chester, with One Powerful Krymsun.

• Reserve Level 1 Amateur All-Around went to Jodie Svennes, Brandt, and A Mr Showpoke.

Special association awards included the selection of Kristen Gonsoir, Groton, as the SDQHA Professional Horseman and Joni Hunt from Faith as the Sportsmanship Winner for the year 2017.

The association was privileged to present their 2017 Producer of the Year that evening as well – Cee Heart Quarter Horses, Clayton & Sally Chord from Edgemont, South Dakota. The Chords' first foal crop was registered with AQHA in 1983 and they currently run a band of 47 broodmares in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota near the Wyoming border.

Also recently announced as the 2017 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year was Crago Cattle Company from Belle Fourche, South Dakota. The legacy started in the early 1950s when Margaret and the late Vince Crago settled in Spearfish Valley and it continues today with their three sons and now onto the third and fourth generations. They will formally be presented with this prestigious award on the evening of March 4 at the AQHA Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

The South Dakota Quarter Horse Youth Association (SDQHYA) also met on Saturday for their membership meeting and election of officers for 2018.

Led by Youth Advisor Becky Johnson from Mud Butte, the SDQHYA slate of officers will be President Madelyn Seidel, Bison, Vice President Shelby Holmes from Sioux Falls, Treasurer Adi Kuxhaus, Pierre, and Secretary Kim Johnson, Mud Butte. Association Reporters are East River, Zane Zilverberg, Holabird, and West River Emily Johnson, Black Hawk, and Kendra Johnson from Mud Butte. It was announced that Shelby Holmes from Sioux Falls was the recipient of the coveted 2017 SDQHYA Sportsmanship Award and two SDQHYA Scholarship Awards were also presented – Madeyn Seidel, Bison, and Zane Zilverberg from Holabird.

Their year-end Awards were also presented at the banquet on Saturday night.

• Emily Johnson from Black Hawk, South Dakota and her gelding RPM Machine were the SDQHYA 2017 All-Around Youth All Ages, Level 1 All -Around 13 and Under and High Point Junior Girl.

• Allison Longhenry, Garretson, captured the Level 1 All-Around with Rachel Retterath, Brookings, taking the High Point Senior Girl and Colin Sprinkle from Aberdeen ending the season as the High Point Senior Boy.

Full coverage of the 2017 Year-end Winners and current updates can be found at

SDQHA Legacy Celebration:

Added this year as part of the SDQHA Convention was the ‘SDQHA LEGACY CELEBRATION.’ An evening meet and greet was held on Friday for the honorees and dignitaries at the Casey Tibbs Center across the river in Fort Pierre. The stage was then set for Saturday evening honoring 8 AQHA 50 Year Breeders, 13 AQHA 50 Year Legacy Breeders and South Dakota inductees into the AQHA Hall Of Fame to date from the state of South Dakota. After each of the ranches was showcased, country music entertainer Red Steagall took the stage for an enjoyable end to the evening.

AQHA 50 Year Legacy Breeders (Consecutive) honored during the celebration were Lowell Thomas Barrett, Watertown; Dean Hereford Farms, Wessington Springs; Jerry G & M. Sue Golliher, Belle Fourche; Gene Hunt, Eagle Butte; Harry Kenzy, Iona; Ronald H. Krogman, White River; Lee Lopez, Lemmon; South Dakota State University, Brookings; Don & Kathleen Strain, White River; James L. Sutton, Onida; Raymond Sutton; Gettysburg; Triple U Enterprises, Fort Pierre; and R.C. & J.I. Waldner from Brookings.

AQHA 50 Year Breeders (Cumulative) were Broken Heart Ranch (Ralph & Helen Pederson Family), Firesteel; Dr. R.M. & Linda Christensen, Harrisburg; Glen W. Hollenbeck, Clearfield; John G. Johnson/Johnson Training Stables, Lemmon; John Knippling, Gann Valley; Gilbert & Zelda Lutter, Redfield; Arthur & Frankie Reeves, Mobridge; and Dean Reeves from Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

The SDQHA was proud to also honor the accomplishments of inductees into the AQHA Hall Of Fame. Stanley Johnston, Ree Heights, the first individual from South Dakota named to the Hall Of Fame, was inducted in 2015. Before his death in 1982, Johnston was influential in the introduction of the Driftwood, Poco Speedy and Doc’s Jack Frost bloodlines into the state of South Dakota and many breeders to this day still advertise their programs as Johnston-bred horses.

March of 2017 saw the AQHA Hall Of Fame Induction of Casey’s Ladylove, a 1961 buckskin broodmare owned by the James & Frances Loiseau Family from Egan. The lineage from this one mare led to the incorporation of the word ‘Frenchman’ (due to the French ancestry of the Loiseau family) into the names of many of the Quarter Horse Industries leading performers and sires including the $11+ Million Dollar sire Frenchmans Guy, NFR Qualifier and NFR Sire PC Frenchmans Hayday; Million Dollar Sire Frenchmans Fabulous, etc.

Slated for Induction on March 4, 2018 will be the first couple in AQHA history – Ray and Georga Sutton. The Sutton Ranch is home to the oldest Quarter Horse production sale in the world. After Ray’s accidental death in 2005, Georga and their daughter Heather continued operation of their ranch along the east bank of the Missouri River west of Gettysburg. Now maintaining a stallion battery of 15 stallions, they boast a broodmare band of over 100 head along with large cattle and buffalo herds.

Quilts donated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe were presented to the Loiseau Family and the Sutton Ranch along with Ralph and Connie Seekins, Stan and Nancy Weaver and Red Steagall.

The ‘SDQHA Legacy Celebration’ Committee was Jim and Joni Hunt, Faith; Leroy and Shirley Wetz, Vale; Vicky Cuka, Vale; and Dean and Becky Johnson, Mud Butte with Tif Taylor Robertson of TNT Enterprises managing the event.