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Theft of 15 Championship Buckles Saddens APHA Youth Exhibitor and Enrages Horse Community

Filed under: Breaking News,Featured |     

By: Brittany Bevis

Caption: The award's cabinet sadly sits empty at the Knaus family farm. Photo courtesy of Peggy Knaus

Caption: The award’s cabinet sadly sits empty at the Knaus family farm. Photo courtesy of Peggy Knaus

One of the saddest parts of growing up is coming to terms with the realization that people don’t always do the right thing. The unfortunate reality about human nature is that people lie, cheat, steal, and engage in all types of deceptive behavior. However, this is a lesson we hope no one learns too early on in life.

14-year-old APHA exhibitor Summer Knaus came face to face with this realization over the weekend when 15 Championship buckles belonging to she and her mother, Peggy Knaus, were stolen from their farm’s office.

“The buckles were in the office in the barn,” Peggy Knaus says. “We live on two or three miles of gravel road. We just moved here to Cleveland, Missouri, which is 35 minutes south of Kansas City. We live out in the country in the middle of nowhere, and very few people know we live here.”

“The buckles were the only things taken. Nothing else was taken, no saddles or show equipment. I had an expensive drill, saw, and screw gun, and they didn’t take those, which were sitting right in front of the buckles. Someone will probably try to sell [the buckles] for quick cash at a pawn shop or on eBay.”


In a theft scenario like this one, the first thought that comes to mind is that the thief must be someone with personal knowledge of the property and office. However, Knaus isn’t sure that’s the situation in this case.

“I have one guy who works for me a couple of hours in the morning,” she says. “He has worked for the lady that owns this property for 15 years. He doesn’t strike me at all as the type. I can honestly say that I don’t think he’s ever been in that room. No one ever goes in there.”

“The barn is on two miles of gravel off the main road. The house is back behind the barn, so someone could drive by pretty easily without us being able to see them. If you were looking to just take things, [a buckle] would be the thing that could quickly be turned into money.”

It has been determined that the theft must have taken place sometime over the weekend of September 21st and 22nd. The police have already been out to investigate and did take fingerprints in the area. Knaus says one good fingerprint was found, however, it’s likely that the print might belong to Knaus or one of her children. The results of the police investigation are still pending.

“Some of the buckles were Summer’s and some were mine,” she says. “We are compiling a list of what each of them says and what class and what year and what World Show they were from. I think only one had my name on it. There was one Pinto buckle, some from the APHA World Show, Bakersfield, and Paint Horse Congress. They took all 15 out of the boxes.”

Caption: One of the stolen buckles is a Reserve Youth World Championship buckle from the 2012 Pinto World Show. Image courtesy of Peggy Knaus.

Caption: One of the stolen buckles is a Reserve Youth World Championship buckle from the 2012 Pinto World Show. Image courtesy of Peggy Knaus.

“Summer has worked her heart out [to win those buckles]. She showed at the World Show for the first time when she was eight years old. She won for the first time last year when she was 13. She’s just now getting the confidence that she can win [a buckle]. She did all of the work on that horse she won with at the World Show. We got it in March, and she worked her tail off.”


Caption: Summer Knaus takes a little break between classes at the 2013 AjPHA Youth World Show.

At the 2013 AjPHA Youth World Show in July, Summer and Looked All Over won the Youth Solid Paint Bred Showmanship, Horsemanship, and Equitation and were Reserve in Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle. Although no thief can steal Summer’s happy memories of these personal achievements, Knaus is saddened that her daughter has to go through such an upsetting experience.

Because Knaus is a horse trainer, she is familiar with the amount of hard work, dedication, and perseverance needed to have continued success in the horse industry. Because Knaus is a mother, she knows the level of personal sacrifice and emotional investment that is put into each performance.

“There’s not a lot you can say,” she says. “People steal. It’s just part of life, and I hate that it happened to her. We will do all we can to find them. I believe in the power of positive thought and prayer. That’s why I posted the message on Facebook soliciting help. That was something I could do for her. As far as consoling her, she has to self-sooth somewhat. There isn’t anyone who can feel the way she’s feeling.”

Knaus is currently in the process of creating a buckle inventory with photos and details to assist in the recovery of the stolen buckles. We will provide that list as soon as it has been made available to us.

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