2015 Pioneer Award Recipient Barb Ahrens

Barb Ahrens
November 22, 1942 – February 13, 2015 

Barb was born on November 22, 1942.  She grew up on a hog farm in Okabena, MN.  Barb’s first horse was Star.  He was black and had a white star on his forehead.  It is said that the neighbor brought him over one day when Barb was a young girl and she fell in love with him.  She loved his spirit.

She was about 14 years old when she joined the Spafford Thunder Riders.  She and Star were part of the drill team.  Barb and her friend Margie also entertained folks at horse shows.  They would stand up on their horses bareback holding hands and gallop around the arena.  Barb liked taking risks.  She also rode Star in barrels and pole bending.  Her horse was her first love.

Barb seemed to have her hand in the horse world her whole life starting with Star.  She met her husband Gaylord in that saddle club.  Gaylord had a love for horses all his own.  That was surely one reason they ended up together.  Barb and Gaylord managed a horse farm in their early years as a couple Gaylord became a farrier and they had many horses of their own.

A few of her most notable adventures:

The Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association.  She along many great friends handled all the office work for racing in Wadena and then in Lake Elmo.  She was involved with trying to get racing in the state of Minnesota in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Barb was a secretary for the Blue Ribbon Sale Company.  She was roped into this position by a longtime friend, Jim Jeffords.  Barb and Kaye Horton put the sale book together on pedigrees, handled everything in the office in Iowa where the sale was held including bid results, papers, payments, mailing out papers to new owners, you name it.

She began working Hunter/Jumper shows as an assistant secretary to good friend Margaret Roth in the mid-1980s.  She had a knack for working with the show management while making the exhibitors very happy.  She soon became the head secretary at many local shows.  Kids would flock to the horse show office to visit with Barb and grab a handful of candy from her desk.  Truth be told, adults too.

Barb and Gaylord started hosting Hunter/Jumper shows of their own – River Bed Stables Horse Show at their place in Rockford, MN.  These were a hit.  Lots of fun and crazy memories from a week in mid-July every year until just a few years ago.  Thank you Barb and Gaylord for offering your beautiful farm to promote the industry for so many years.

To the end, Barb was still working at shows in Arizona, Iowa and around the Twin Cities.  She could even be found in the Fair Office the last few years.  She had been working with current management and her dear friend and partner in crime, Patty Humphries, to make the Great MN State Fair Horse Show even better.  She was even pictures on the Zamboni after a fair planning meeting last year.  There was no end to the fun when Barb was around.

Barb was a true pioneer when it came to the horse world.  She never stopped learning and trying to better the horse community.  She could always be found to have a helping hand, a word of advice, a big hug, and a smile that could spark a light in all she met.  She is missed every day by her family friends and horse family.

Her memory lives on in all of those she met, young and old alike.  We remember her with a smile and a wave and “I’ll see ya next time” from the office door as we pull away from the show grounds.

Barb was also known to dance until closing with her fellow horse lovers at the Medina Ballroom many Saturday nights.  She wouldn’t miss a song a dear friend recall.

Rest in peace, Barbie.  We know you are smiling down on us today.  Congratulations on your award.  Thank you for all you have done for us.

Barb left earth on February 13, 2015.  She was married to Gaylord Ahrens.  Together they had two children and four grandchildren.  Barb’s grandchildren were the light of her life.  She would never miss a concert, ball game, hockey game, soccer game, lacrosse game, grandparent’s day, if she could help it.

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