The 2002 Pioneer Award Winner is Paul John Riley
The Minnesota Horse Council announced the Pioneer Horseman Award. The award is designed to honor those individuals from past years whose expertise and contributions made long-lasting positive changes in the equine industry. The third award was announced at the Minnesota State Fair Horse Show on August 31, 2002.
The 2002 recipient is Paul John Riley, of rural Albertville. Riley began his career in the equine world at the age of eight when he got his first pony, which was kept behind the family home on 37th and Pleasant Avenue South in Minneapolis. The pony was sold when Riley went into the Marines after high school. He often said he had the last horse in Minneapolis.
Riley was stationed in Hawaii where he met his wife of 47 years, Ellen. All of their children, Patrick, Dixie, Ellen, Michael and Colleen were born there. The family returned to Minnesota and during the late 50's and ea rly 60's, Riley drove his four-pony hitches for the Clover Leaf Creamery and Pako Photo promotions. He and his ponies also appeared at many birthday parties, stores celebrations and major parades in the Minneapolis area.
In 1965 the family moved to Osseo, started raising American Quarter Horses, and began going to WSCA shows. Riley stood his AQHA stallion, Sano Champ, and for a number of years, the family rode horses sired by the well-known stallion. The horse that he himself rode, Aledo Bar Champ, was one of these horses.
Mr. Riley spent many happy years with his daughters and their ponies at horse shows. He encouraged many, many friends and neighbors to go along as well, and soon had them hooked on showing. In 1985 he retired from the Milwaukee Railroad Police and began to compete at shows himself. He and his horse, Aledo Bar Champ, were a pleasure to watch, especially in their favorite class, Pole Weaving. Right up until 2001, they were hard to beat. He was a member of Boot Jack Saddle Club and competed at the State Fair and the WSCA Championship Show. For over 30 years, the Riley family was together every weekend at these events. Mr. Riley was always at the gate encouraging every rider to do his or her best. He met and made many, many friends over the years. He never needed many "things" and always went out of his way to take care of other people. He leaves a legacy of caring for the other person that will be hard to follow.