By Megan Ulrich
Recently named AQHA’s Leading Open Exhibitor for 2018, Jennifer Paul made history as the first woman to earn the title. Not only that, but she did so with an impressive 948.5 points accumulated throughout the year aboard a variety of horses, putting her name among industry greats.
“When you look down through the list and see names like J.D. Yates, who’s amazing and a great cowboy and who’s won this title many times, well, I just feel honored, very, very honored,” Jennifer says, likening the award to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the horse industry.
“By being the first woman to achieve this, maybe it’ll open up more opportunities for other women to feel like they could shoot for the award, also. The pleasure horse world is male-dominated, but women shouldn’t feel intimidated,” Jennifer continues.
Though Jennifer was born into a life with horses, her beginning was surprisingly humble, which made this achievement that much more sweet. Early in her life, Jennifer’s mother, Bonnie McCulla, made her little girl her sidekick at local open shows where she was plopped on whatever horse the family had at the time. “Whatever my mom had available, and whatever we could afford, was what I would show. Some weren’t real broke, and some I was just able to do Showmanship with,” Jennifer recalls. But despite the challenges those horses offered, they kindled a fire in the eight-year-old equestrian.
At the age of 15, Jennifer established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the show pen aboard the first horse she called her own, an AQHA gelding named Specifically Special. With the gelding as her partner, she won titles at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA Youth World Show.
As an amateur, Jennifer showed in all-around events on her horse, Ima Cool Diamond. She’d compete in Halter, Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Trail, and Amateur Versatility all in one day–an experience that helped her become the horsewoman she is today. “That horse was so talented. She was a true all-around horse. She could win Western Pleasure and Poles in the same night,” Jennifer recalls with a laugh.Click here to read the complete article