2023 Special Congress Awards

October 19th, 2023

The All American Quarter Horse Congress recognizes and honors individuals who have left a lasting impact on the Congress and the Quarter Horse industry.

The Friend of the Congress Award is one of these such honors. This is a prestigious recognition presented to individuals who have demonstrated unwavering commitment, dedication, and support to both the Congress and the Quarter Horse community. This award was presented to Steve and Kathy Headley. The Headley's journey with Quarter Horses has been nothing short of inspriring. Over the years, they have generously shared their time, resources, and love for the American Quarter Horse to nurture the growth of this remarkable breed. Their support has helped create a thriving community of horse enthusiasts and has elevated the Congress to new heights. The Friend of the Congress Award recognized the enduring dedication of Steve and Kathy Headley to the Quarter Horse family and their unwavering commitment to preserving its heritage.

 From Left to Right: Dr. Scott Myers, Steve Headley, Congress Queen Jessica Blevins,
Chris Darnell, Justin Billings, 
Kelli Diaz, Bob Geesaman, Casey Devitt, and Greg Tordoff

The Champion of the Congress Award was presented to Vern and Rita Habighorst of Blue Ribbon Custom Tack. This award celebrates a partnership that has spanned four remarkable decades, and honors the steadfast support of Vern and Rita to the Congress. For the past 40 years, Blue Ribbon has been more than an event sponsor; they have been an integral part of the Congress family and the rich tradition this event embodies. Their dedication to the sport and our community has been unparalleled, and it has allowed the Congress to reach new heights. The heart of the partnership with Blue Ribbon lies in Vern & Rita’s genuine passion for equestrian sport, their commitment to innovation, and their relentless pursuit of the highest standards of quality. Their saddles have carried riders to countless victories, turning dreams into reality on the Congress stage. They have helped create lasting memories and remarkable stories of triumph.

 From Left to Right: Greg Tordoff, Casey Devitt, George Seanor, Vern Habighorst, Rita Habighorst,
Dr. Scott Myers, Justin Billings, Chris Cecil Darnell, Congress Queen Jessica Blevins, Kelli Diaz, and Bob Geesaman

And finally, Chris Cecil Darnell was recognized as the newest inductee into the All American Quarter Horse Congress Hall of Fame. In 2005, Chris joined the OQHA Board of Directors, eventually serving multiple terms as president and Congress Tri-Chairmen and embarking on a journey of service, leadership, and passion that continues to inspire. Similar to her father Jess Cecil, Chris has left an indelible mark on OQHA and the Congress, as her dedication and tireless commitment have left not only a lasting impact but have also helped to shape the future of the association. Her time on the board has been marked by countless hours of hard work, thoughtful decision-making, and the pursuit of excellence in all that she does. Her vision and leadership have helped OQHA and the Congress evolve and grow, ensuring its continued success for years to come.

 From Left to Right: Dr. Scott Myers, Chris Cecil Darnell, Family of Chris Darnell,
Justin Billings, George Seanor, 
Kelli Diaz, Bob Geesaman, and Casey Devitt

May these honors be a reminder of the deep appreciation for all that Steve and Kathy Headley, Vern and Rita Habighorst, and Chris Cecil Darnell have done for Ohio Quarter Horse Association and the All American Quarter Horse Congress!