WHC announces annual award recipients

posted April 2, 2018 7:52 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Pat McKnight | Correspondent

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    Longtime teamster Richard Berner will be honored for his contributions to the state’s horse industry at this year’s Midwest Horse Fair. The late Berner will be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement award Sunday, April 22 along with the Horse Person of the Year, the Judge of the Year and the Equine of the Year.

Along with the “man with the pipe,” the Wisconsin Horse Council will recognize two other equestrians and an exceptional horse at the Midwest Horse Fair April 22.

The late Richard Berner of Watertown was named this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. The award recognizes a person who has devoted at least 25 years of service to the equine industry in any area. Those areas can be in youth activities, education, research, industry promotion, related legislation and regulation, trails or other equine-related activities or events.

Berner was nominated by Marcia Haase on behalf of the Jefferson County Draft Horse Association. Berner was one of the founding members of the organization.

“Dick carried so much knowledge of horses that he should have written a book,” wrote Haase in nominating Berner. “With that ever-present pipe in his mouth, he was both mentor and a friend. He loved plowing, planting, threshing, logging, giving hay rides and sleigh rides. He also enjoyed talking with visitors at Old World Wisconsin, helping them understand the reasoning behind what the exhibitors were doing. He loved to help others with problems with their horses or equipment and loved teaching at driving clinics that our club held.”

Members of the JCDHA are from farm backgrounds and the show world. Haase recounted how initially there was some friction between the two factions. However, Berner came to accept that the show draft horse owners loved their horses as much as those from farm background.

“Acceptance of us show people started our club on a new journey,” Haase said. “We started holding events at each other’s farms and both factions were committed to learning about what the others did. It brought out a respect that was not present earlier.”

Haase also shared Berner’s dedication to Old World Wisconsin, a state outdoor historical site near Eagle. The site’s historic farmer, Dirk Hildebrandt, echoed in his nomination comments Haase’s regard for Berner.

“Dick further enhanced the experience of our visitors through his interactions and sharing,” Hildebrandt wrote. “He was never too busy to talk to someone about the finer points of plowing or to give them a detailed history of his horses’ lives. More children have petted Dick’s horses on the nose than can be counted. Visitors remembered Dick. They might not know his name but more than one described talking with, ‘the man with the pipe.’ We knew who they meant.”

Berner’s widow, Carol, will be accepting the award for her husband at the Midwest Horse Fair’s awards presentation ceremony.

Horseperson of the Year

This year’s WHC Horseperson of the Year will be the second time Karla Kegley of Franksville will be in the WHC award winners circle. In 2009, she was WHC’s Judge of the Year.

Kegley owns and operates Kegley Performance Horses where she instructs students in various horse activities ranging from recreational to competitive.

With judge’s cards from WHC, Pony of the Americas Club, Wisconsin 4-H and Wisconsin Interscholastic Horsemanship Association, Kegley puts in more than a few miles throughout the year judging at shows. Kegley also travels as a competitor and hauls students to shows.

The hours spent training, teaching, giving clinics and hauling students to shows as well as judging have fashioned her mantra, “Time and miles, time and miles.”

Kegley is being recognized this year for going above and beyond the professional aspect of her business. When a friend was injured during a clinic, Kegley not only traveled to the hospital with the student, she started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help with the friend’s expenses.

When another friend was diagnosed with cancer, Kegley organized a benefit to help with medical costs, raising nearly $5,000. After the woman passed away, Kegley stepped up to host the “Day at the Horse Farm” event the friend and her husband usually hosted for the local Big Brothers/​Big Sisters organization.

Judge of the Year

Dawn Brandow of Antigo has been selected as the 2018 WHC Judge of the Year. She holds cards with WIHA, state 4-H, WHA and POAC. Along with being a competitor herself, Brandow has worked with numerous top 10 Quarter Horse Congress competitors.

According to the nomination form, Brandow doesn’t rest on her laurels, but updates her knowledge by attending the annual judges’ seminar, AQHA Congress seminars and other monthly judges’ clinics.

Those nominating Brandow for the honor related how the horsewoman worked with their 4-H horse project and were pleased Brandow didn’t intimidate the participants as had been the experience with other judges. Brandow instructed the young riders in both English and western disciplines.

The 4-H club leader was impressed with Brandow’s willingness to continue to work with the youth past the allotted time for the clinic.

“She refused to cut things short without an issue being addressed,” wrote the club leader. “Most would be anxious to leave after a long day in the hot sun, but Ms. Brandow stayed as long as riders needed.”

The consummate educator, Brandow advises the riders in ways to improve their performance in the show setting as well as providing reasons for her placings to the audience.

Equine of the Year

Not the least of the honorees is a spotted Paso Fino owned by Tracy Porter of Milton. Selected as the WHC Equine of the Year, Casadero Sin Par lives up to his name.

“Sin Par means ‘without equal,’” Porter said in nominating her horse. “He has taken me to places I could never have gotten to without him, and I can’t imagine a day without him.”

Caz demonstrates the versatility of the Paso Fino by doing team penning, drill team, 25-mile endurance rides as well as performing before crowds throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“Jumping through hoops of fire, wearing his ‘udderly’ famous Holstein costume or suffering the contortions of Vetine Hagenslave, the robust trick rider, he brings the audience from tears of joy celebrating the human/​equine relationship to poking fun and laughing at ourselves,” Porter said. “Trust me, Caz takes creative liberties in his acts.”

The 23-year-old former stallion has entered parades and made school visits for hands-on learning. Along with competing and excelling in shows, he is also a member of a water ski club.

“In 2016, Caz joined the Rock Aqua Jays, and became the first horse to compete at the National Water Ski Show Championships,” Porter said. “During intermission, he mingled on stage with the crowd and quickly became one of the most recognized skiers on the team.”

The equine pair struggled through some difficult health issues together.

“He helped me learn to ride again in 2002 after I shattered my C5 and C6 (two vertebrae in the spine),” Porter said. “I returned the favor in 2005 when it took a year to nurse him back to heath after he was badly injured when a tornado blew through our farm.”

Awards ceremony

The four awards will be presented to the recipients at the WHC Awards Ceremony at the Midwest Horse Fair 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 22, in the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum.

Future nominations for the awards may be submitted by individuals, clubs or associations. Anyone who with knowledge of someone deserving to be recognized for their work in the state’s equine industry is invited to obtain a nomination form and information about the awards program by visiting the awards page http://www.wisconsinhorsecouncil.org.

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