AQHA honors Jerry Erickson, Michelle Tidwell and Suzy Jeane as the 2021 AQHA Professionals of the Year.
The American Quarter Horse Association is proud to announce the 2021 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year, Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year and Most Valuable Professional award winners.
The 2021 Nutrena Don Burt AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year is Jerry Erickson of Whitesboro, Texas. Erickson has committed his entire life to the horse industry. He is a long-time trainer and breeder who specializes in English classes. He is an AQHA-approved judge and has served on multiple committees and councils, including the Show and Amateur committees, and the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council. He was also a member of the group that was instrumental in making working hunter under saddle an AQHA-recognized class.
Erickson is a knowledgeable horseman who has been a respected industry leader for decades. He truly loves to teach anyone willing to learn and has dedicated his time to improve the industry. He has served as a clinician at many AQHA judges’ workshops and acted as a mentor to a multitude of judge applicants as they prepare to test for over-fence classes. He has also served as a Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinician numerous times at AQHA’s championship events.
When Erickson is not devoting his time to training, judging, committees or teaching, his focus can be found in his breeding program. He has invested 33 years into raising top-quality American Quarter Horses, and his program has produced four AQHA world champions and five reserve world champions, among many other AQHA achievements.
The 2021 Nutrena AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year is Michelle Tidwell of Madisonville, Texas. Tidwell is a long-time AQHA member and has shown her commitment to the industry by serving on the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council and AQHA Show Committee. Additionally, she has been a Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinician and a supporter of the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Endowment Fund. Tidwell has also devoted herself to teaching the youth of the industry. She has been involved with organizing the American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup and has served as a team coach for the past decade. She has been a trainer and coach for more than 20 years. Her clients range from 4 years of age to over 70. Her passion is to ignite the heart of any rider from beginner to professional.
Tidwell can be defined as having the true heart of a cowgirl. She was the first recipient of the Carl McCuistion True Grit Award, which is given to an AQHA Professional Horseman who goes above and beyond. She is known for being someone who works in the background without a desire for recognition. Tidwell’s passion and true grit are contagious in the horse industry and evident by the countless riders she has helped mentor along the way.
The 2021 Most Valuable Professional is Suzy Jeane of Bryan, Texas. Jeane has been an active member of the Association of Professional Horsemen since it began in 1994. She has also been an AQHA judge for more than 20 years. Jeane has an infectious smile and actively strives for excellence, pride and integrity in every aspect of her life. She has woven her life to include her passion for horses and for mentoring her fellow equestrians.
She has made an impact on the horse industry in many ways, including forging a path for her fellow women in the industry by being the first female president of the National Snaffle Bit Association and by receiving the 2004 AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year award. As an industry leader, Jeane sets an example for young adults in the industry. She is dedicated to her students as an equestrian coach at Texas A&M University and is known to be an encouraging and positive influence on those around her. She also volunteers her time by serving on multiple committees and boards, such as the Texas Quarter Horse Association board of directors, the AQHA Show Committee and American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup Committee.
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’s Council and approved by the AQHA Executive Committee. All 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 Endowment Fund, which Nutrena matches. To date, Nutrena has donated more than $40,000 to the Endowment Fund.
AQHA Director of Communications and Events