2020 Annual Award Winners

Each year, the Wisconsin Horse Council presents awards for the Horseperson of the Year, Judge of the Year and the WHC Director of the Year. In some years, there is also a Legislator of the Year. 2008 was the first year that nominations were accepted for the Special Achievement Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, and new in 2016, Equine of the Year was added.

Recipients of the Horseperson, Special Achievement Award and Lifetime Achievement Award are nominated by the public and voted on by the WHC Board of Directors. The WHC Director of the Year and Legislator of the Year are nominated and voted on by the Board of Directors. The Judge of the Year is an annual award given by the Wisconsin Horse Council and is based on a person’s contributions to Wisconsin’s equine industry as a judge.  The winner is chosen by past, active Judges of the Year. The Equine of the Year candidates are submitted by members in each district to their District President and appointed district members chose a winner. The winner from each district is then sent to the WHC Board of Directors and a final WHC Equine of the Year is chosen.

Please join us in applauding these people and horse for the contributions they have made to our equine industry in Wisconsin.

Do you know someone who deserves to be nominated for recognition for their work in our equine industry?  Check out the WHC Awards Program on our web site www.wisconsinhorsecouncil.org.



Director of the Year

Endurance means different things to different people, but to our Wisconsin Horse Council’s Director of the Year, Katie Bachhuber, it means putting over 10,000 miles on horseback. Katie has been part of the endurance riding community for several years and has played many different roles in promoting her sport. Katie represents the Distance Riding Association of Wisconsin on the Horse Council and serves as the Council’s vice president as well as being on the Council’s public relations committee. When Katie was president of Horse Council’s District 3, she was instrumental in getting the district’s Trail Program developed and implemented. Katie’s devotion and participation to her sport doesn’t end with the Horse Council. She promotes endurance riding by being a Director-at-Large for the Arabian Horse Distance Riding Association. Katie also knows the management involved in actually seeing that endurance events actually happen. She has managed many endurance events throughout the state and has often just stepped in when help is needed at rides where the group has found itself shorthanded. The accomplishments go on! Katie is the vice president of the Northern Kettle Moraine Horse Trail Association and has acted as the liaison between this group and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to secure manpower and funding for much needed trail improvements. Any person who enjoys riding the trails in Wisconsin needs to be grateful to Katie and others who work tirelessly for the enjoyment of trail riders.


Show Judge of the Year

What do we expect from a judge? We expect any kind of a judge to be fair and have ethics. A horse show judge should be held to these same standards, and Kimberly Ziegler is a great example of these attributes. Kim has gone through rigorous testing and interviews to earn her Wisconsin Horse Council’s judging card, The Color Breed Conference and Western Saddle Club Association, and has recently earned her National Snaffle Bit Association card. Kim continually mentors and encourages new judges. No matter how disastrous an exhibitor’s ride might be, Kim will be encouraging and supportive.  She will give advice without being intimidating and has the presence a judge needs to keep the ring organized and efficient. Kim is fair, enthusiastic, and an inspiration to other judges and exhibitors. The Wisconsin Horse Council is proud to name Kim the Judge of the Year.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime achievement award winners, Rodney and Charlene Boom, have a wonderful mantra – “Horses aren’t our whole lives. Rather, horses have made our lives whole.” The Booms are well known in many different places where you’ll find horses. Horses the Booms have raised can be found on trail rides, horse shows, rodeo arenas, a mounted police force, kids’ summer camps, and of course, the Midwest Horse Fair. Rodney and Charlene have dedicated their breeding program to raising all-around horses. When a horse leaves their farm, it has received the basics and can go in any direction the new owners want to go. Every business needs repeat business to survive, and the Booms’ certainly have had that. One family has purchased 11 horses from them. Giving back has also been important to Rodney and Charlene. They have provided horses for the Wisconsin Badger Camp at Prairie du Chien for the past 35 years. They have also hosted the District FFA Horse Judging contest with students representing 16 schools. The Midwest Horse Fair saw them as part of the Mounted Patrol as well. Even though the Booms are in their mid-70’s, they still raise their own hay and corn for their herd of approximately 35 horses. On another note, in these days of huge student debt, Charlene could give counsel to many students. She put herself through college by, what would you expect, selling horses! Rodney and Charlene are certainly deserving of their Lifetime Achievement Award.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Bernie and Colene Stuttgen have been in the horse business for over 50 years. They started out with Quarter Horses but then after an accident during which one of the horses broke its leg, Bernie and Colene were forced to take a break. When they started looking for a driving team, fate struck! They came across a team of Shires and a life time love affair started. At that time, 1988, there were only 3,500 Shires in the United States, and the Stuttgens were determined to increase those numbers. As the Stuttgen family grew, so did their horse family. After building their herd up to about 20 head, Bernie and Colene hit the show circuit running. They showed at nine shows a year with their ten-horse hitch. It took over ten hours to prepare the team. Each horse had to be bathed, braided, harnessed and hitched. It couldn’t have been done without the help of the whole family. The team needed to be driven about ten miles a week just to keep them in condition. In recent years the Stuttgens have reduced their herd. The kids have their own families and are busy, so there are fewer hands to help with the preparation. However, Bernie and Colene plan to keep at least one team so they continue to show at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls. Their hope is to keep that tradition for many years. Congratulations, Bernie and Colene, on receiving the Wisconsin Horse Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


Equine of the Year

The Honor of being named the Wisconsin Horse Council’s Equine of the Year goes to Lincoln, a 15-year-old Percheron who works as a therapy horse for SMILES, Inc., a therapy riding center. Lincoln’s presence cannot be ignored, and that does not refer to his size! Lincoln is a gentle giant who helps clients with diagnosis such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Cognitive Impairments, Anxiety/Depression and more. He delivered 131 therapy sessions in 2019 alone. Lincoln connects with each of his riders, melting their anxiety away. His broad base delivers a safe and comfortable ride, allowing clients to focus and balance. Lincoln is patient and dependable. His riders know every week they can count on him. His size pushes his riders to overcome fear and build trust. This goes for his horse handlers too! Never has SMILES had a horse so intuitive and perceptive. He always knows exactly how to connect with his riders whether it’s through his goofy personality or soothing gait. Everyone who has the privilege of working with Lincoln is left feeling inspired and bursting with confidence. Lincoln is an ambassador for the Percheron breed and is an advocate for therapeutic riding.


Horseperson of the Year

Gail Rentmeester is the Wisconsin Horse Council’s Horseperson of the Year. She is a great example of an equine professional who has come up through the ranks of 4-H as a youth, becoming a leader herself,  and then becoming  a professional working to get the next generation of equestrians into the industry. Gail authored a brochure titled “Helping Parents Navigate Through Equine Sports” to illustrate the benefits and affordability of equestrian sports. There are education days at Gail’s facility, Windfeather Training Center, where the focus has been topics such as equine nutrition, care, and conformation. Windfeather Training Center welcomes a group of students from Aldo Leopold School in Green Bay every spring for a day at the barn. Students learn many of the basics, sit in both western and English saddles, compete in a scavenger hunt, and brush a horse. For many students, this is their first experience with a horse. Gail is also the driving force behind the Wisconsin Desert Horse Association (WDHA) Youth Group. She has developed the M.A.N.E. (My Arabians Need Equestrians) program which provides opportunities for youth to learn horsemanship. Gail maintains a Goggle classroom allowing accessibility to knowledge and information for all members. Windfeather Training Center is an approved American Horse Council Time to Ride facility and hosts open barn events providing free opportunities for the general public to meet and spend time with horses. Dedication, passion, and commitment describe Gail’s approach to the education of today’s youth. As our world becomes more and more of an urban society, these opportunities are extremely important to the equine industry. Congratulations, Gail!


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