The American Quarter Horse Journal, March 25, 2010 -- During the 2010 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Annual Convention in Kissimmee, Fla., two professionals were chosen as the best by their peers.
Dianne Eppers of Grayslake, Ill., was named the Professional's Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year. Jeffrey Pait of Sparta, N.J., was named Professional's Choice Professional Horseman of the Year.
The award, sponsored by AQHA Corporate Partner Professional's Choice, is voted on by AQHA's Professional Horsemen Association members and is a surprise to the recipients. The award comes with a ring to commemorate the occasion
"Being Professional's Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year is an honor, but more importantly, it is an honor to be a Professional Horseman," Eppers said. "I have spent many years sharing my enjoyment with newcomers in the business, so to be a person who opens the door to new clients in the industry is a pleasure."
Eppers trains and coaches amateurs and youth in all-around events. She is executive director of the National Snaffle Bit Association, an AQHA alliance partner.
In addition to her own world and reserve world championships, she has coached six youth and amateur exhibitors to high-point all-around titles.
In 1983, Eppers helped organize the National Snaffle Bit Association. She is among the organization's top-100 western pleasure riders. She also helped organize the Midwest Pleasure Horse and the Midwest Reining Horse associations. She serves on AQHA's judges committee.
Pait works for Cofrancesco Farms as resident trainer, a position he has held for 25 years. His focus is western pleasure and halter. He has made five AQHA Champions and has trained 11 world champions. He has also coached many youth and amateur exhibitors to world championships.
"It is such an honor to be picked by your peers," Pait said. "Words can't describe it. It's overwhelming. All my life, everything I've done has been with a horse. It's a way of life. I love being around them every day."
In addition to competing, Pait leads clinics and conducts lectures about horses to educate new horse owners and 4-H and other youth groups.
Besides being an AQHA Professional Horseman, Pait is an AQHA judge known for his kindness to less-experienced competitors.
For more information about the AQHA Professional Horsemen program or to find a Professional Horseman in your area, go to target="_blank">4ahorse.aqha.com/findatrainer.html.