Anyone who knows Cheryl Erpelding, knows she’s a cheerleader for AHP and a perfect choice for this award.
The AHP Chris Brune Spirit Award was the brainchild of the 2015 AHP Champion, Deborah Taylor, who saw the award as a way of recognizing the efforts of members other than the Board of Directors. She hoped that this award would encourage members to seek involvement in the association and eventually lead into leadership roles. Initially titled the President’s Spirit Award, the award is presented to the member who has done the most consistently to assist and support the association. The Board of Directors selects the winner. In 2004, the inaugural award was presented to Chris Brune and the title changed to the AHP Chris Brune Spirit Award.
“Cheryl is not only a professional that I admire, she’s a person that I like. Her enthusiasm for AHP and the horse industry spans decades,” says Kim Brown, who earned the Spirit Award in 2014.
Erpelding started her publishing business in December 1986. San Diego County Riding Magazine was an 8-page startup with a press run of 2,500 copies. She hand drew her logo, typeset, and shot her printing plate negatives with a graphics arts camera in her garage.
“Many of us in the horse industry have seen lean times as well as flush times, and Cheryl is no exception,” says Jennifer Bryant, the 2013 AHP Spirit Award winner. She has generously shared her experience as publisher of California Riding Magazine in “Small, But Mighty” sessions held at AHP seminars as well as in conference calls with other small publishers.
Pat Trowbridge, the 2012 AHP Spirit Award winner, says, “Cheryl always took the time to offer great business advice to small publishers sharing her expertise. I respect Cheryl for her business knowledge and willingness to be available in her busy life for others. She is so well deserving of this award.”
In August 2013, Erpelding made the difficult decision to sell her business to MPM Publications, publishers of Horseman's News, Pacific Coast Journal, Texas Horseman, and West Coast Horsemen. She continues on as the Sales Manager and front woman for Riding Magazine and sales consultant for other MPM publications.
“Although life has handed Cheryl some lemons, she perseveres with grit and grace. That’s what I call spirit,” says Bryant. “She is the first to be happy for your success or to commiserate when things take a downturn.”
In 2011, Erpelding developed secondary lymphedema one year after undergoing surgery for uterine cancer. She is an advocate for further research and better health insurance benefits for people who suffer from this debilitating lifelong disease.
“Cheryl has always and continues to champion AHP. She has been instrumental in recruiting new members and has gone over and above giving extra time to promote AHP at the trade shows and various events,” says Trowbridge.
Erpelding has worn many hats in her career, from publisher to horse show announcer, riding instructor, advocate, and photographer.
In the AHP world, the hat she has worn is a mentor and champion. It was her determination that motivated many of AHP’s old-timers to embrace and learn to love the new AHP logo. Her best one liner was the tagline, “Promoting excellence in equine media.”
“There are many types of spirit in life,” says Chris Brune, AHP Executive Director. “Kindred spirit that you share with others of like interest. A cheerful spirit that roots for the underdog and applauds the achiever. Cheryl has both those spirits, but the spirit I admire most is her optimistic spirit.”
Erpelding was unable attend the AHP seminar in San Antonio, however fellow spirit award team member, Pat Trowbridge, and AHP past president, Warren Wilson, surprised her with the announcement of her award at the Western States Horse Expo in California.
AHP congratulates Cheryl Erpelding and welcomes her to this special AHP “spirit team!” She joins a growing list of enthusiastic AHP supporters including previous award winners Chris Brune, Lua Oas Southard, Barrie Reightler, Ellen Kiser, Daniel Lew, Christy West, Becki Pitcher, Doug Hayes, Pat Trowbridge, Jennifer Bryant, and Kim Brown.