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Gene Parker – A Tribute to a Great Horseman

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126 – January/February 2019


On September 29, 2018, the horse world lost one of its best. Gene Parker, 68, owner of Gene Parker Farms in Orrum, North Carolina, passed away at the JP Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He had suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the stands at the APHA World Show on September 28th while watching his girlfriend, Shannon Thrower, ride a horse in the practice pen. Efforts to revive the beloved horseman were unsuccessful, and he passed away the following day. He leaves behind a strong legacy as a leading breeder, trainer, judge, and consummate horseman.

Gene Parker built a state-of-the-art breeding facility in Orrum, North Carolina, that was featured many times on Carolina Hoofbeats TV. Throughout the years, his trophy room filled to the rafters with championship trophies and reminders of titles won. In 2011, Gene was inducted into the North Carolina Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was honored at the AQHA Convention with the Don Burt Professional’s Choice Professional Horseman of the Year award. Gene was universally recognized as an expert in conformation, and he was one of the founders of the World Conformation Horse Association in 2007. Gene was committed to promoting opportunities to expand the Halter industry while preserving the integrity of the conformation standard. Since its inception in 2007, the organization has grown to offer generous futurities, a robust adult and junior membership, and a scholarship program.

Gene’s impact on the Halter industry is indisputable. He was active in the North Carolina Quarter Horse Association and served as an AQHA Director for many years. Throughout the years, he managed World Champions and World Champion sires including Skys Blue Boy, Chips Hot Chocolate, Livation, Gone Viral, and many others. Although best known for his contributions to the Halter industry, Gene came from a long line of farmers and was the first in his family to pursue a career with show horses. His first big win came in 1979 when he won a Reserve World Championship title in Junior Western Pleasure. Although he went on to create a dynasty in Halter, Gene still enjoyed Cutting and Roping as a pastime. Friends and colleagues remember Gene as a professional horseman who gave back to the equine community, quietly and without hesitation. Professional horsemen Debbie and Bob Kail of Scottsdale, Arizona have high praise for their old friend. Debbie says, “We knew Gene for over forty years, from showing with him, judging him, and being judged by him. He was a wonderful guy, a great showman, and a real gentleman.”

Gene’s girlfriend of six years, Shannon Thrower, recalls, “He would always share his knowledge with me and anyone who asked. He was an honest man. You knew, when he gave you his opinion, that it was the truth. He was a man of integrity and respect.’

Click here to read the complete article
126 – January/February 2019
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