Nominations for 2024 American Horse Council Annual Awards Open

The American Horse Council (AHC) is looking to honor the brightest leaders in the equine industry. The nomination period for the prestigious awards is now open. Honorees will be named during the AHC’s annual meeting and National Issues Forum, to be held in Washington, D.C., June 9-12.

These awards highlight the remarkable achievements and contributions made by those dedicated to advancing and promoting the horse community. While there are so many individuals and groups that should be recognized, the AHC looks to accept suggestions from all industry stakeholders.

The annual awards include:

The Van Ness Award is named in honor of the late Marjorie Van Ness of New Jersey, a long-time leader and friend to the horse industry. This award is presented to an individual that best emulates the dedication and commitment of Marjorie Van Ness to the improvement of the horse industry at the state level.

The recipient of the Van Ness Award must fulfill at least one of the following criteria:

  • Successfully worked to pass legislation that had a beneficial and significant impact on the horse industry in his/her state.
  • Developed programs through state government or state agencies that promoted and represented the interests of all horse people in the state.
  • Increased awareness, generated interest, and raised the visibility of the horse industry through educational programs and related events.

Last year’s recipient of the Van Ness Award was Cheslie Huseman, PhD, assistant professor and extension horse specialist in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University.

The Hickey Award is named in honor of past AHC President James J. Hickey Jr., who served the AHC from 1993 to 2016. This award is presented to an individual who has been a great supporter of the horse industry and the AHC.

The recipient of the Hickey Award must meet the following criteria:

  • Exhibited a history of service and leadership to the industry and AHC.
  • Made a lasting impact on AHC and the industry.

Given willingly of their time and expertise with the simple goal of improving the industry.

The recipient of the 2023 Hickey Award was Jerry Black, DVM, whose contributions cover a host of organizations, including the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Cutting Horse Association and California Veterinary Medical Association.  He served as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in 2021 and was AHC Board Chairman from 2016 – 2019.

The Rolapp Award is presented in honor of the late Rich Rolapp, who was President of the AHC from 1974 to 1993. This award is presented to a Member of Congress who has been a great supporter of the horse industry.

The recipient of this award is selected by AHC staff and leadership. In 2023, the award was given posthumously to Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

The AHC Champion Award will honor an AHC member (individual or group/association) that has demonstrated extensive and exemplary advocacy for the industry and the AHC. The recipient of this award will be selected from nominations by AHC staff and leadership.

The recipient must meet the following criteria:

  • Exhibited a history of service to the industry and AHC – routinely attending participating and presenting at AHC events, Fly-ins and webinars, serving on AHC committees and/or task forces.
  • Exhibited leadership by routinely submitting letters to congressional offices regarding legislative issues and furthering the goals of AHC.
  • Involvement in and recognition of education, research and professional development of the industry.

The 2023 AHC Champion Award was given to Gary Carpenter, who recently retired as Commissioner of the National Reining Horse Association.

The UHC’s Unity Award which recognizes an individual (or organization) that meets the following criteria:

  • Active member of the United Horse Coalition for two or more years, in good standing.
  • Taken initiative to be involved in, and work towards programs that promote responsible ownership and breeding, and/or programs that support horses at-risk or in transition and their owners.
  • Used their industry relationships to work collaboratively to further strengthen and promote the mission of the United Horse Coalition.

The inaugural winner of the UHC United Award was Days End Farm Horse Rescue, located in Woodbine, Maryland.

Nominations are due April 1, 2024, and may be sent to the attention of current AHC President Julie Broadway at

More information regarding the 2024 AHC Conference and National Issues Forum will be released soon.

About the American Horse Council
As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.

The AHC is member-supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen’s associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.

Contact: Megan Arszman
American Horse Council
Phone: 202-296-4031