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The Light of Ann Admonius

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Ann with Troy and Zippos Tiger Bar at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. Photo Harold Campton.

The horse industry changed forever when Ann Admonius added her touch.


By Delores Kuhlwein

John Steinbeck once said, “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

The light, in the case of the horse industry, perfectly applies to Ann Admonius of Ocala, Florida, who passed away this February.  Why the loss of her presence is so profound is complex, not only because of her seemingly endless philanthropy, but also because anyone who enjoys Western Pleasure just may have Ann to thank.

Ann’s Mark on the All Around Industry

Ann made everyone sit up and take notice when she started showing AQHA in 1985, especially when she won the title of 1986 AQHA Amateur 31-49 Rookie Of The Year, Reserve Amateur All Around in 1987, and as she earned more than 500 AQHA points, all with her horse Deeno Man.

She later raised the bar with NSBA Legacy Award winner Zippos Tiger Bar, a 1989 gelding by Zippos Mr Good Bar and out of Lori Tiger by Tiger Leo. He was the first horse that her trainer, Troy Compton, won a World Championship in Western Pleasure with, and Troy explains, “People think I found Zippos Tiger Bar, but I didn’t – she picked him out for me when she bought him from Rodney Miller. Ann could see the talent in horses – she had an eye for that – and she would see talent in people as well.”

Troy says Ann first knew him when he was an assistant who worked for others for many years, including Jody Galyean.  One day she came up to him and said she wanted to be part of his team when he went out on his own.  “And she did it in a big way,” he says.

Together, Troy explains, they were unstoppable.  “At the time I was just starting out, just to have that kind of talent was amazing. We won all the 2-year-old pleasure classes and the Tom Powers Triple Crown. It was like that when we started out; we just won, and that’s just the way it always was with us. We were on the same wavelength, and we had greatness together, the two of us, and we talked afterward about how hard it is to recreate that.  It’s so awesome to know you had something that changed the industry.”

Change it they did, with Zippos Tiger Bar winning the AQHA World Championship in Junior Western Pleasure in 1992, and Ann earned a third with “Butch” in Amateur Western Pleasure, and they easily completed his AQHA Superiors in Open and Amateur Western Pleasure, followed by countless wins in futurities and at Quarter Horse Congress.  He followed up with Top Tens in Junior and Amateur Western Pleasure at the 1993 AQHA World Show.

While they were winning with Butch, Troy reveals that he had seen Good Version as a yearling in Nebraska, and he impressed him, but since he was a lean, lanky colt at the time, he waited.  “In the spring of his two-year-old year, Stan Steyskal had gotten another trainer to start riding him, and that trainer called me and said I’d better look at this colt.”

The result was Troy watched him and bought him for $35,000 at a time when he probably didn’t have $35 to his name.  “I wrote a hot check,” notes Troy.  “I got nervous that that night and called Ann – she was asleep, and her husband woke her up.  I then told her I’d just written a check for one of the greatest horses I’d ever seen, and she asked if I believed in him, and she wired me the money in the morning.  Six months later, we won the Congress in the Two-Year-Old Western Pleasure.  I could tell a million more stories like that about Ann – when we were together, she gave me confidence as a trainer, and she had a big personality, she knew the ins and outs of the industry, she was awesome at the public part of it and I wasn’t, so it was a great partnership.”

After an illustrious career, Good Version was inducted into the NSBA Hall of Fame breeding category, siring “more than 1,300 foals with 432 becoming AQHA point earnings. More notably, his get have earned $578,337.97 in NSBA earnings, $558,041.92 in AQHA Incentive Fund earnings and more than 37,000 AQHA points. Some of his offspring include Show Diva, Batt Mann, RV Won Good Version, Gypsys Little Image and RL Cocoas Version. Good Version Inc, co-owned by John Wainscott and Bill & Brenda Guffey, purchased the stallion in November 1993 as a three year old year and owned him for the duration of his career until his death in 2006” (NSBA).

Being part of history, Troy reveals, is very humbling.  “We were in my mind, some of the biggest players the industry saw when Western Pleasure was still the big draw.”

In addition to the two history-changing horses, Ann also placed her mark with Im Up To No Good, Hes Up To No Good, Miss Potential Zip, Too Good To Skip and Good Miss Molly. “She also won four AQHA world championships with the AQHA mare Precious Mister and also showed A Mona Lisa Clu, under the guidance of Ross Roark. Ann accumulated lifetime NSBA earnings of $89,539” (NSBA).

Spreading Her Light

Ann extended her love of horses to the reining industry when Bob and Dana Avila convinced her to ride a reiner, and she was hooked, moving to the sport in 2009. It was that year when she won at Quarter Horse Congress, earning a title in Limited Non-Pro Reining, and she embarked on her journey with trainers such as Bob Avila, Shawn Flarida and Shannon and Mark Rafacz. In 2021, she achieved the benchmark of earning more than $50,000 in NRHA earnings. That same year, Markel presented their Non Pro Commitment Award to Ann.

It was more than her eyes and her talent that impacted the industry, however.  As a generous donor, she didn’t hesitate to invest her time and money into growing areas of the horse community.

In fact, Troy says as competitive as she was, the care of her horses was of utmost importance. “Taking care of the horses was just as or more important than the winning, and you went that extra mile because of how she was,” he adds. “She did truly care about the horses, and when something happened, she would be as heartbroken as I was, and she was right here with us. She was truly a horseman.”

Ross Roark was known to say that Ann told him to “take care of her horses like they were my own but send her the bill” (NSBA).

Her caring nature is behind her name as a charter member and donor on the lists of many foundations and associations, such as the Reining Horse Foundation, the Florida Reining Horse Association, the World Conformation Horse Association, and Horse Farms Forever, an organization inspired to conserve “horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts in Marion County, Florida.”

Additionally, Ann was a founder of The Sanctuary, a sports therapy and rehabilitation center established in 2007 in Ocala, a partnership with Ron Scott and with Tom and Amy Grabe of The Equine Chronicle and The Canine Chronicle. At the time, it was an innovative and groundbreaking venture offering alternatives such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and a 126-foot-long, 14-foot-deep saltwater equine swimming pool on its 26-acre property.

For Ann, her care for horses knew no bounds.

The Legacy Left

Ann left an undeniable impact on the Western Pleasure and all around Quarter Horse industry, and her passing highlights the importance of recognizing where we came from as a community now more than ever.

Connie Lechleitner of NSBA says that Ann was, number one, “a great judge of horse flesh, a lover of horse talent in many different disciplines, and a person who always lived life to the fullest no matter where she was or what she was doing. She was someone that I looked up to from the beginning of my career in the horse industry, and I always looked forward to seeing her in the stands, in passing at some event or wherever our paths crossed. I will miss her smile and her ever-present laugh, both of which lit up any room she was in. RIP, Ann!”

Troy explains, “I thought she was the perfect owner and client – a lot of people leave trainers, but Ann, she worked with the greatest trainers in each discipline, and she always made it comfortable for the trainers to work together.  Ross and I are great friends, as Bobby Avila and I are, and we all have a lot of respect for one another.  She saw the bigger picture in the industry, and she was a true horse person. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for Ann.”


Photos by Harold Campton, Rick Childress, Doug Leahy, and KC Montgomery.

The Equine Chronicle also wishes to extend our deepest condolences to all who loved Ann. Our heart goes out to all for this loss of such a special person.

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