The leadership of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) regrets to announce the passing of Clark Bradley, of Findlay, Ohio, coach of the University of Findlay Western team for over 30 years. Bradley had a significant impact on Western performance and horsemanship as an instructor, team coach, competitor and judge.
“Clark taught very well,” said Cindy Morehead, former head coach of the University of Findlay team and IHSA Hall of Fame inductee who met Bradley when he first joined the Western program in 1978. “I think we were very fortunate because there weren’t a lot of trainers that had the capability of communicating as Clark did. He was very easy-going. He was very patient. He had a good sense of humor, too. He was just a great fit for the program.”
During Bradley’s tenure at the University of Findlay, the Western team won seven IHSA/American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Team National Championships and had five AQHA High-Point Open Rider National Champions.
“He lived his life doing something that he loved and was able to share his knowledge so other people could have successful lives doing what they love with horses,” Morehead said. “His No.1 priority wasn’t himself. He wanted people to learn the right way with horses, whether it be riding or taking care of them.”
Spencer Zimmerman, coach of the University of Findlay IHSA team, was a student of Morehead and Bradley at their summer camp as a youth and when it was time to select a college, he chose the University of Findlay. He studied under Bradley during his four years as a student, then returned to coach alongside his mentor.
“He was a living legend,” Zimmerman said. “He proved himself. He had a career that most of us will probably never have and he was so humble about it. His training techniques and program really worked.”
Zimmerman explained that with Bradley, you continued working until you got it right. He was never in a rush and he treated his beginner students with the same care as his most advanced students. Zimmerman looked up to Bradley’s humble leadership style and said he hopes to emulate him in his life.
Coaching side-by-side, they won back-to-back IHSA/AQHA Team National Championships in 2018 and 2019. After their win in 2019, Zimmerman credited Bradley for building a strong reining program at the school. “We are forever grateful for him,” Zimmerman said.
His family was very important in his life and his wife, Bonnie Bradley, was integral to his success in the show pen and in life. According to both Morehead and Zimmerman, they had a relationship like no other.
In 2001, Bradley was named the AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year. He was inducted into the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Hall of Fame and the All-American Quarter Horse Congress Hall of Fame. Bradley served as president of the NRHA and was a member of the NRHA board of directors for 27 years. He was president of the Ohio Quarter Horse Association and a national director for AQHA.
As a competitor, Bradley won numerous All-American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in Western pleasure, reining, roping, ranch riding, cutting and versatility. He was a two-time NRHA Futurity champion.
Bradley was a respected and sought-after judge for the AQHA, the NRHA and the National Snaffle Bit Association. He officiated at every AQHA Congress since its founding in 1967. His judging assignments sent him across the globe, including Brazil, Australia, Belgium, Germany, England, Switzerland, Alaska and throughout the United States.
Bradley grew up on his family farm in Hilliard, Ohio. His father, “Stretch” Bradley, was a top Quarter Horse and reining professional and an NRHA Hall of Fame inductee. Bradley attended Texas Christian University then served in the United States Marine Corps.
Upon his return from military service, he joined his father in the family business training horses. He had success in Western pleasure and performance and won the 1968 and 1974 NRHA Open Futurity. Later, he worked for Dale Wilkinson, known as “the father of modern reining.” Wilkinson founded the University of Findlay equestrian program. Bradley joined the University of Findlay Western program from 1978-85, then left to pursue riding and training interests for the next decade. He returned to the program in 1996 until his retirement in 2021.
“Clark had an immense impact on his Findlay IHSA members,” said IHSA Executive Director Peter Cashman. “His legacy lives on in his many students who fill the professional ranks and other roles in the equestrian world.”
ABOUT THE IHSA
The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) welcomes all genders at all riding levels and offers individual and team competition in hunter seat equitation, Western horsemanship and reining at more than 400 member colleges and universities. Membership in IHSA means that college students can participate in horse shows regardless of their experience or financial status. Students compete from beginner through advanced with suitable, provided horses, eliminating the expense of horse ownership.
Founded in 1967 by Bob Cacchione, it is the oldest and largest intercollegiate equestrian organization with 10,000 members in 47 states and Canada. IHSA college and university team participation is represented through a variety of programs, including varsity athletics, academic departments and club sports. IHSA offers valuable hands-on experience and professional development in multiple facets of the equine industry. Many IHSA teams participate in service projects, giving back to their communities. Through the IHSA, students enhance their college experience and develop the tools that help build successful careers.
Carrie WirthEQ Media, LLC