Professionals of the Year Announced

AQHA honors Tom McBeath, Debra Cooper and Eugene Spagnola as the 2020 AQHA Professionals of the Year.

The American Quarter Horse Association, Amarillo – The American Quarter Horse Association is proud to announce the 2020 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year and Most Valuable Professional award winners.

 Tom McBeath
The 2020 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year is Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi. McBeath is a reputable AQHA Professional Horseman, approved AQHA judge and AQHA director. He previously served as chairman of the AQHA Show Committee and Show Council, served as a member of the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission and currently serves as part of the Mississippi Quarter Horse Association affiliate. Additionally, he is a member of the 2020-2021 Team Wrangler, a joint initiative between AQHA and Wrangler that promotes educational outreach for the horse industry.

McBeath has been an AQHA Professional Horseman since 1994 and AQHA judge since 2002. He has judged the Farnam AQHA World Championship Show; Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show; AQHA Select World Championship Show, presented by Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan); AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships; and All American Quarter Horse Congress. McBeath operates Tom McBeath Quarter Horses, in addition to volunteering his time educating the next generation of horsemen and -women through judging initiatives, riding instruction and volunteering with universities and Equestrians With Disabilities initiatives. McBeath is passionate about teaching people how to ride and connecting people to the equine industry, while also encouraging his fellow AQHA Professional Horsemen to advocate for all aspects of the equine industry as a unified group.

 Debra Cooper
The 2020 Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year is Debra Cooper of Cave Creek, Arizona. Cooper is a longtime American Quarter Horse enthusiast and one of the original members of the Arizona Quarter Horse Youth Association. She has a passion for teaching people to enjoy horses. Her primary motivator is creating a journey of learning between horse and rider and applying her judge’s perspective to instruction. Cooper has instructed and shown more than 20 AQHA world and reserve world champions across various disciplines.

Cooper has been an AQHA Professional Horsewoman since 1999 and an AQHA judge since 1989, while also holding a judges card with the National Reined Cow Horse association. She has judged every major AQHA event in the United States, including the Farnam AQHA World, Ford Youth World, Adequan® Select World and All American Quarter Horse Congress. Outside of the United States, Cooper has judged the European Championship of American Quarter Horses. She has served on the Arizona Quarter Horse board of directors, is a member of the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Committee and has been an instructor for multiple Nutrena Ride the Pattern Clinics.

 Eugene Spagnola
The 2020 Most Valuable Professional is Eugene Spagnola of Harwinton, Connecticut. Spagnola is a dedicated horseman who has been involved with the American Quarter Horse since he was a youth and remains active in all aspects of the industry today. Spagnola has coached AQHA competitors since 2000, became an AQHA Professional Horseman in 2001 and an AQHA director in 2021.

Spagnola is the manager and co-owner of Powderbrook Farm, where they focus on training quality all-around performance horses, while also teaching youth and amateur horsemen and -women to be better stewards of the American Quarter Horse. He has trained AQHA world and reserve world champions throughout his career in various events. Aside from coaching and training, Spagnola has served on the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, Show Council and Show Committee in addition to being the current chairman of the Professional Horsemen’s Council. Additionally, he is active in his local affiliate, serving as president of Region 6 and as a member of the board of directors for the Connecticut Quarter Horse Association.

He believes that as an AQHA Professional Horseman, his job is to guide and develop horsemen and -women by utilizing the code of ethics and leveraging relationships with the Association and affiliates to better serve members. Spagnola strives to serve as an example on what it means to be an advocate for the horse and represent the interests of members from all walks of life.

 About the Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsemen of the Year and Most Valuable Professional Awards
Being named a Nutrena AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year or Most Valuable Professional are the top awards an AQHA Professional Horseman can receive in the equine industry. Each year, individuals are nominated by AQHA Professional Horsemen for the prestigious honor of being named a Nutrena AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year. From these nominations, the slates of nominees for the Nutrena Don Burt Professional Horseman of the Year and Nutrena Professional Horsewoman of the Year awards are compiled by the AQHA Professional Horsemen Council and approved by the AQHA Executive Committee. AQHA Professional Horsemen then vote to determine the Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsemen of the Year award recipients. The Most Valuable Professional is nominated by their home affiliate and then voted on by their fellow AQHA Professional Horsemen.

Learn more about AQHA Professional Horsemen.

Nutrena supports AQHA Professional Horsemen by sponsoring the Ride the Pattern clinics at AQHA championship events. During the clinics, donations are accepted for the Professional Horsemen’s Crisis Fund, which Nutrena matches. To date, Nutrena has donated more than $40,000 to the Crisis Fund.

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Sarah Davisson
AQHA Director of Communications and Special Events

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