The Great Western Paso Fino Horse Association, previously known as Great Western Paso Fino Owners and Breeders, Inc., was formed in January, 1975 with one thought in mind: To make Paso Fino household words west of the Mississippi River and on to California. At that time, there were few horses and even fewer owners and breeders in this entire area. Most Paso Fino horses were concentrated in the Southeastern United States, and most related activities were there also. Great Western set out to change this by gathering together every Paso Fino owner, breeder and aficionado in this vast area.
Great Western”s first training clinic and point show was held at Bear Creek Arena just outside of Houston, Texas in April, 1975. They had lots of help from their Midwestern and Southeastern PFOBA friends. That first clinic and show turned out to be a moral booster and enthusiastic success, though a financial disaster. In 1976, they held two Class “A” shows at the same location, and though still “in the red”, the increased activity was encouraging.
1977 brought more encouragement, particularly when Elna White, then in her third term as Great Western”s President, was elected President of the National PFOBA organization. In 1978, Houston, Texas became the site of the first Grand National Championship show held in the west. They also had four class “A” PFOBA shows, co-hosted a North American Trail Ride conference, sanctioned a 50 mile competitive trail ride, and had a Judges and Training Clinic that same year.
Their membership was growing and moving west – New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Idaho, California and more new members in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. The most significant achievement during this time was the Paso Fino Breed”s acceptance by the American Horse Shows Association. Recognition by AHSA meant they could participate in large all-breed shows as well as AHSA sanctioned PFOBA shows for regional and national points as well as Horse of the Year Awards. More importantly, becoming a part of AHSA gave us protection against drub abuse and cruelty to our horses.
Great Western produced still another National PFOBA President in 1979, and Stan Wadsworth remained in that office through 1981. This same year brought us glory (and a great deal of work) in co-hosting the 1981 Grand National Championship show in Wichita, Kansas. This show was the highlight of PFOBA’s short history as well as Great Western’s.
Through the efforts of Ray and Winona Walton, this Grand National Championship Show was a financial success attended by over one hundred visitors from Colombia, south America and Puerto Rico as well as thousands of spectators. Great Western horses won six National Championships, seven Reserve national Championships, and two Grand National Championships, proving the outstanding quality of our “Western” Paso Finos.
With success of the Paso Fino horses west of the Mississippi, we have seen the spin-off of several new regional organizations, Southwestern, California, rocky Mountain and Northwestern. Great Western PFOBA also got a new name, Great western PFHA. We have members in Alaska, Arizona, western Canada, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Great Western has emerged as one of PFHA”s strongest and most active regional groups. we have a great Western chapter organized in most of our states with regional activities as well as local activities for our members. We hope to keep Great Western active by continuing on our original path and we quote from the second Great Western newsletter written after the 1975 national Convention…”The Paso Fino really won.
Our horses are the ones that will benefit and prosper, and that's the name of the game. We must keep the horse – this very exceptional, very special breed of horse in first place in our minds at all times. Let us remember what we are pledged to do – to improve, to promote, to take great care of these fantastic horses – our friends, our teachers, our most pleasant companions. Great Western will take its place as a formidable group – being above pettiness and join together for these magnificent horses. Let us be horsemen first and people second.”