January 5, 2017
History of the Arkansas Quarter Horse Association from the archived files of Jerry Matthews
“A majority of this information regarding the biography of Arkansas Quarter Horse Association is supported by factual documentation from my files. However, in the absence of some years’ files, a small amount is from memory as best as I can recall.” Jerry Matthews
The first Articles of Incorporation filed with the Secretary of State was in 1961. Dr. W.J. Cargile was in charge, acting as the contact person. Dr. Cargile appointed himself President to get ArQHA established. Dr. Cargile was show manager of the state’s first AQHA show in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This show was held during the state fair each year. A year or so later, Cliff Packer, an auto dealer in Benton/Little Rock, who was interested in cutting horses, organized some AQHA shows with Dr. Cargile. Other outside interest began to pick up with other rural residents of our state who had interest in horses. Wayne Stroup from Searcy was in the construction and excavation business but had horses and cattle in White County. He was also on the State Fair board and was the first elected president of the newly formed ArQHA. The Association maintained itself for the next few years and took on its own identity when Wayne Boyter became president in 1967 through 1976. Wayne organized shows, established the youth association, published association guidelines and rules and organized the first Youth World team. Cindy and Tom Hoffman were the first Youth advisors. The Youth World was held at the old fairgrounds in Tulsa, OK.
Under Mr. Boyter’s guidance and direction for that seven-year reign, AQHA shows established in the state rose to approximately 20 shows per year, with most shows held at Hestand Stadium in Pine Bluff. Wayne established the first Memorial Day Circuit which is still our flagship show, in addition to many one day shows which were held at locations throughout the state: Batesville, Newport, Jonesboro, Pocahontas, Cherokee Village, Forrest City, as well as other locations. Of special note at the time – Junior Western Pleasure entries would be 40 to 80 at each of these shows.
Jimmy Clair followed Wayne as president. With a strong Board of Directors now in place, the state was introduced to futurity ideas. A stallion breeders’ association was formed along with a mare incentive fund headed by Fred Whistle of Searcy. The Association continued to grow and shows improved under the guidance of Jimmy Blair and the next president Dr. Charles Tucker of Ash Flat.
Under the guidance of the next president E.B. Gee of Blytheville, the association took on an identify of its own, becoming one of the premium horse show associations in the US in the 1980’s. The Arkansas Jamboree Futurity was born, with Jerry Matthews as futurity chairman. Over the next four years $20,000 was first added, then increased to $50,000 in added money. The show moved from Hestand Stadium to Barton Coliseum in Little Rock in 1983. Over $100,000 was paid out in prize money that year. These shows were very prestigious with show girls introducing the judges in Mercedes Benz cars with Bensky Furs and Kyle-Rochelle Jewelers. Out first production sale from our stallion breeders’ fund and mare incentive was held in the second-floor ballroom of the Hilton Hotel on University in Little Rock. This was the first year the hotel was open. It was a black-tie and formal evening gown event. The horses were brought from the coliseum to the hotel and were brought up to the ballroom by elevator. Lee Liles was director of elevator transportation. Our futurity ranked third in the nation behind the Congress and the Texas Classic. The next year the membership grew to 816 members with a mailing list of 476 households.
Due to a downturn in the economy and a declining oil market in Texas, the horse industry had hit its peak. ArQHA was able to maintain our position with the next three presidents: Warren Crisp, Gary Keeter, and John Odom. During John Odom’s presidency, the Triple Crown arena in Cabot was built and became the new home for the Arkansas Quarter Horse Association. It was a great facility with stalls and a restaurant.
President Don Ashcraft and Tommy Atkinson guided the association through the next five years with smaller futurities being re-introduced. Costume classes and a fun party atmosphere were part of all shows. Some of the top trainers and top horses came through Triple Crown Arena, and it was known for its good shows and good times. Several parties were held at Jerry and Judy Matthews’ home after the shows. On more than one occasion the start time for the Sunday show was delayed.
Robert Hobbs took over as president from 1993-1995. The Triple Crown property was sold and shows moved back to Pine Bluff. Interest and entries remained high at shows. It was in the decade of the 1990’s that the Youth World Show became the main focus for exhibitors. Our youth association grew rapidly during this period. We had strong youth advisors during this period with Jan and Earle Love, Kathy and Randy Ashcraft, Jerry and Judy Matthews, Bob and Cinda Brock, Terry and Julia Moore, Dennis and Eliza Conrade, Jean Russom, and Susie Fuller.
Randy Hickman served as president from 1996-1999. A new era of horses and trainers were coming on the scene. Tom Jones of Pottsville built Galla Creek Stables and invited the ArQHA to move our home there. Randy saw the Association through some years of declining interest due to the economy and the development of other interests for the American family.
Doug Smith was president from 2001 through 2002. During this time the Association saw an increase in timed event entries. Doug maintained the integrity of the judged events but brought new ideas to the timed event arena. This added some spark to a declining interested in horse shows during that time.
Jerry Mathews was president from 2003 to 2006. The idea of split combined horse shows was introduced. This took our show schedule from 14 weekends per year down to four weekends while still offering 12 shows. This maintained the process of Youth World qualifying while reducing expenses and increasing income. These ideas along with the help of an uptick in the economy and a strong board of directors’ involvement saw the Association begin to show improvement in show interest and show revenue.
Jerry Fuller became president in 2007. Mr. Fuller and his innovative ideas have guided the association through the introduction of Select Amateur and Novice classes and streamlining the shows to run more efficient with time. With his management and farming knowledge, he brought a new dimension to the term “good dirt.” Under his direction, the footing at our shows has been unequal. Jerry relies on the Board of Directors in all his decisions but continues to monitor and guide the association on how to make our shows better and more efficient. As of this writing, Jerry continues to serve as president and guides the Association to preserve its heritage and secure its future.
The narrative of the Arkansas Quarter Horse Association was recalled and written using the seventeen presidents as a reference, listing the progress and highlights of each to continue the progress of the association. However, in each presidency, there were key people that played an important role in the success of each president and the success of the Association. The following is a list of some of those that Jerry Matthew's recalls playing a key role in the history of our Association:
Van & Brenda Jackson
George Ann Atkins
Judi Fisher (first paid secretary)
Wanda Northcutt (member and state representative)
Linda & Bruce Norton
Ilene & Johnson Baber
Kathy & Randy Ashcraft (youth advisors)
Jerry & Judy Matthews (youth advisors)
Jean Russom (youth advisors)
Terry & Julia Moore (youth advisors)
Jim Trammell (first paid staff person)
Dennis & Elisa Conrade (youth advisors)
Shelia Brown (Trail ride coordinator)
Ray & Linda Bell
Darrel & Joyce Saul
Cindy & Tom Hoffman (youth advisors)
JE & Carol Fox
Doris White (EB Gee secretary)
Earle & Jan Love (youth advisors)
Other Key Events:
1) Association was first recognized by the Secretary of State with a charter in 1961
2) First National Directors in early 1960’s – Kenneth Gaylean & Cliff Packer
3) First approved National Directors – Wayne Boyter, EB Gee, Buddy Brown.
4) Stallion Inventive Fund – Wayne Boyter; Mare Incentive Fund – Fred Whistle
5) First Halter and Pleasure Futurity in 1973
6) Jim Trammell was hired as the first paid staff person, opened a rented office space at 10020 Rodney Parham, Suite B
7) New Corporation papers filed with the state, 1983
8) First Breeders Futurity, 1988
9) Member Survey
10) Inventive plan through Prime Quality Feed, where ArQHA got $7 per bag
11) Banquet, Jan 13, 1996, Riverfront Hilton in NLR, 275 attendees, $11.25/person
12) First Youth Scholarships were awarded to Becky Jackson and Jessica Matthews
13) Walk Trot 10 & under, introduced in 2003