UF Riding Instructor Posthumously Inducted into Hall of Fame
The late University of Findlay riding instructor and coach, Clark Bradley, was posthumously inducted this fall into the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame, receiving one of the highest honors bestowed in the equestrian industry.
Bradley was inducted in the AQHA Class of 2023 along with three other highly accomplished equestrians and three horses. They are showcased with displays in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum in Amarillo, Texas, which is dedicated to the world’s most popular breed of horse and the people who have played a major role in its history.
A UF instructor and coach for more than three decades, Bradley assisted the western equestrian team in achieving several national championships and two reserve national championships.
“Clark was dedicated to instructing and mentoring future horse trainers, along with showing and judging horses. We are deeply grateful to see this special recognition for his talent and dedication, changing the lives of UF students throughout his career,” UF President Katherine Fell, Ph.D., said.
President Fell and other UF leaders and equestrian faculty attended the American Quarter Horse Foundation’s induction celebration September 15-16 in Amarillo, Texas.
Among his many accolades, Bradley was honored as the 2001 AQHA Professional Horseman of the Year and was past president of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) and Ohio Quarter Horse Association. He is in the All-American Quarter Horse Congress Hall of Fame and joined his dad, Bailey “Stretch” Bradley, in the NRHA and American Quarter Horse Halls of Fame. He was also an AQHA, NRHA, and National Snaffle Bit Association judge.
Dr. Tod Beckett, DVM, owner of VCA Animal Hospitals and UF Board of Trustees member, has fond childhood memories of watching Bradley’s work on campus.
“Clark found my first horse for me in 1972. He enjoyed working with young kids and watching them grow up,” Beckett explained. “Clark was so ahead of his time and modernized the industry in many ways. At a time when you typically saw four-horse trailers, I remember he was one of the first to show up at a horse show with a semi for nine horses. He took competition to a new level.”
Lisa Vignerot ’87, an AQHA trainer and UF Board of Trustees member, noted the impact that Bradley made on UF students beyond the traditional classroom and horse arena.
“A lot of students made it through his program and got something out of it, not just about horses and not just about instruction,” she recalled. “Clark formed our work ethic, he taught us to persevere through challenges. He helped to form our personalities. I think everyone walked away a better person because of Clark.”
Shawn Flarida, an NRHA $7 million rider and owner of Shawn Flarida Reiners, pointed out how much of the equine industry has changed because of Bradley’s influence on students.
“So many judges and major trainers that the UF program produced will be shaping the industry for another 30 years in breeding, showing, judging, and competing,” he said. “Clark helped so many people, giving clinics and teaching students. Without Clark, I wouldn’t have learned to give public presentations or put on a horse clinic. I think his people skills were better than his horse skills – and his horse skills were the best. He had a way of being on everybody’s level, from professionals to young kids just getting started.”
This fall semester, more than 750 UF students are majoring in equestrian studies, equine studies, animal science, or pre-veterinary medicine.
Kenneth McIntyre Jr., vice president of University Advancement, said the Clark Bradley Memorial Fund has been established to honor the Findlay legend and provide support for the next generation of equestrian student leaders.
“The list of those whom Clark impacted is long and successful,” McIntyre said. “We thank all of our alumni and friends who are making gifts in Clark’s memory. Thank you for supporting and extending his amazing legacy at the University of Findlay.”
In addition, funds will support a new gateway arch created by a local metalworking artist that enhances the entry to the outdoor riding arena at UF’s western farm.
To make a gift, visit givecampus.com or contact University Advancement at 419-434-4008.