Dick Pieper accepted the 2015 Western Horseman Award on January 17 during the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas.
In the 1960s, Pieper began competing in American Quarter Horse Association events, showing all-around horses to numerous AQHA titles. He then focused on reining horses, qualified for the National Reining Horse Association Futurity finals for the first time in 1976, and won the event in 1977 on Spanish Mountain. Pieper served as NRHA president from 1983 to 1988, and was instrumental in the development of the current judging system.
In the early 1990s he shifted to breeding and showing cutting horses. His success with Playgun in the show pen and breeding barn helped make the stallion one of the leading sires of performers in cutting, cow horse and ranch horse competition.
Today, the Marietta, Oklahoma, horseman conducts horsemanship clinics throughout the country and remains an outspoken advocate for sound horsemanship practices.
“If I could get a large number of people to understand that it’s not through abuse that we get things done, but through patience, perseverance and repetition, that is my goal,” he said in the January 2015 issue of Western Horseman. “And that releasing these horses at a time when they’ve done well, and letting the release become the reward, is effective. If I could get that across to people, everything I’ve done in my life would have been worth it.”
Pieper currently serves as a director of the Ranch Horse Association of America and the American Stock Horse Association. He has held judge’s cards with several associations and has judged at major events, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress, AQHA World Championship Show and National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity.
Each year, the Western Horseman Award is given to an outstanding individual who has made significant contributions to the Western stock horse industry and who embodies values the magazine embraces: impeccable Western horsemanship; a commitment to education, authenticity and ethics; and a passion for the Western way of life.