2015 Pioneer Horseman Award Recipient Irv Parker

Irv Parker
July 30, 1938 – July 4, 2014

Irv Parker grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota and began his lifelong passion for riding horses.  Irv was the youngest of six children and rode horses year round, even to the one-room grade school several miles from his home.

 Irv was an agri-business man.  His profession took him and his family around the Midwest.  There was always a place for horses – 4-H, saddle clubs, and WSCA shows.  Business brought Irv to Farmington, MN where he became involved with the Flying D Saddle Club, Orchard Rangers Saddle Club and the Minnesota Trail Riders Association.

 Irv was a trail rider and loved to spread his passion for horses, camping and riding, not just in Minnesota but across the country.  He loved teaching his four children and eight grandchildren how to ride.  He also taught them that owning horses brought responsibility as well as pleasure.  You had to feed them, clean the stalls, clear the pastures and mend the fences.  On trail rides, Irv always carried a saw on his saddle.  If there was a problem on the trail, he believed he should fix it.  He believed it is our responsibility as trail riders to take care of the trails.

 Irv Parker was very passionate about the work on the Minnesota Trail Riders Association.  He was dedicated to the MTRA’s mission of preserving and enhancing the riding opportunities and experiences of equine riders and campers.  He used his business sense and experience to help their mission.  Irv and his wife Dee were MTRA members for many years and served as directors on the MTRA Board for the past several years.

 Irv led the MTRA Board as President for 4 years, sharing his thoughtful insight based on his many equine connections and years of riding experience.  Irv knew that unlike many other organizations, horsemen and horsewomen were a varied group of riders.  He became a voice representing all riders to the government agencies and the general public.

 Irv served for several years on the MTRA Legislative/Public Relations Committee.  He understood the importance of working with public policy to keep horse trails open and taken care of for all riders into the future.  This meant working with legislation, land management agencies and citizens.  His dedication to this cause led him to champion legislation to establish the Minnesota State Horse Trail Pass in 2006.  With well over a half million dollars raised from this pass, horse trails have received more attention from the DNR and many more trail improvements.  Irv also served on the Equine Advisory Group.  In this capacity, he traveled around the state hosting rides, talking with riding groups and meeting with DNR representatives in order to recommend projects for the use of these funds.

 Irv Parker died last July 4th, just before Dee and Irv embarked on their annual horse trip to the Black Hills.  Anyone who knew Irv thought of him as a kind and thoughtful friend who was welcomed around the campfire after a long day of riding.  But it is Irv Parker’s hard work and leadership that made him a friend and advocate to every equine rider in Minnesota.

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