2002 Horseperson of the Year is Walt Westman
The Minnesota Horse Council announced the selection of Walt Westman of Andover, Minnesota, as Minnesota's HORSEMAN OF THE YEAR. The announcement was made at the Council's Annual Meeting on January 25. Westman, who has trained and ridden Horse Show Champions in several disciplines, is recognized in the equine industry for providing a venue for beginning and recreational riders that instills a lifelong interest in the world of horses. He is the thirty-third person so honored.
Westman grew up in Anoka, Minnesota. He rode his first horse, a quietly plodding workhorse, on his father's farm in Anoka County. In 1936 he began operating a riding stable on what was then the northern edge of the Twin Cities in the city that later became Hilltop. The stable offered rental horses, sleigh and hay rides, horse boarding and lessons. After serving in World War II in the 1st cavalry division (later motorized!), he returned to continue operation of that stable. In 1948, the residential areas were expanding all around the stable. Hilltop Stable was moved to Maplewood. With that move, Westman was able to add an indoor show arena - one of the first available in Minnesota. He built an outdoor arena in the natural bowl provided by th e valley just east of the stable and added a cross-country jump course through the expansive pasture area. The University of Minnesota Women's Riding Club conducted their horse shows there for many years. Northwest Saddle Club, a young organization at that time, bought land from Westman and built its club house, show grounds and riding area. (NWSC is now located in Lino Lakes.)
After World War II, Westman and his buddies started the Cavalry Club. It now has 25,000 members and is strong and active! The 1st cavalry division, is now at Fort Hood.
Westman operated Hilltop Stables in Maplewood until his retirement in 1977. He remains active in the equine industry.