Minnesota Horse Council Announces 2019 Horse Person of the Year

                                            Glen Eaton

The Minnesota Horse Council’s Horse Person of the Year was started over a quarter century ago as a way to honor some of the outstanding people in the horse industry – those who stand out from the rest for their contributions to equine activity.

 This year’s honoree is none other than Glen Eaton.  Glen has been a member of the Minnesota Horse Council since about 1982 and a Director since 1989.  Glen’s primary interest for the Minnesota Horse Council has been the Minnesota Horse Expo, which has raised millions for the MN Horse Council.  An event which has allowed the Minnesota Horse Council the means to implement programs and grants as well as educate and yes, entertain and bring together, the horse people of Minnesota and beyond

The Expo had started in 82 at the Minneapolis Auditorium downtown.  Glen heard there was no color guard and thought this was a wrong he could right.  As the story goes, he promptly volunteered The Gambler, his Zuhrah Shrine AQHA patrol horse as the perfect calm, unflappable horse for the job and made his first Expo appearance.  This included him manning the Shrine Booth making him unwittingly one of the earliest of Expo vendors.

 In 1988, Mark Ward asked Glen if he would assume the duties of Expo exhibit director.  With his previous experience as the coordinator of the Upper Midwest FabriCare trade show for the dry cleaning industry, it made perfect sense.  One of the biggest challenges facing the young Horse Expo was to find a new venue since the Minneapolis Auditorium was going to be torn down.  1989 found the MN Horse Expo at the State Fairgrounds, using just the Coliseum and the Horse Barn.  The Coliseum floor was split those early years: half horse arena and half vendor booth show floor.

 Glen joined the Horse Council in 1989 – that means he’s served over 30 years on the Council.  He was named Horse Expo President in 1991.  Throughout the 90’s, Glen added vendors and a building, more vendors and a building, still more vendors and a building until the MN Horse Expo stretched from the Dairy Building down Judson Avenue to the Compeer Arena  using every building and sometimes patch of outdoor dirt space for his beloved exhibitors. Last year we added the Swine Barn – partially because of a Cattle Barn wall malfunction but we’re keeping it this year! During those early Expo years, we created awareness of the Expo anyway we could think of – including talking our way onto Cub Food bags and proposing the Aisle of Breeds at the State Fair as an Expo promotion.  Glen was always there to advise and help with any crazy new idea. The Aisle of Breeds exists today as an amazing example of Horse Expo and Horse Council volunteerism reaching thousands of new people each year with horse breeds to pet and horsepeople to answer their questions.  Without Glen’s help and buy in it would not have succeeded past the first year.

 Backing up just a bit, Glen was raised on a dairy farm in St. Croix Falls, WI where his dad and he first used draft horses to work the fields but became the proud owners of what might have been the first Farmall tractor sold in the local dealership in 1946.  After graduating High School in May of ’50. Glen opted to join the Navy that August.  He trained at Great Lakes Naval base and received orders to report to Florida where his accounting skills landed him both shore and ship duty.  After his four- year stint, Glen was honorably discharged in 1954.

 Glen joined the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol back in 1983 even though he had no horse of his own.  Not until he purchased The Gambler that fall and practiced that winter did he achieve his parade form and go on to participate in the Zuhrah and Osman Shrine Horse Parades all over the country.  Sadly, in 1990 The Gambler broke his leg in his pasture ending a relationship that couldn’t be duplicated.

 Glen retired from his business career in sales at the Weinberg Company in 2007 but not from the Minnesota Horse Expo.  Having achieved many awards in the dry cleaning industry, Glen was also the recipient of the American Horse Council’sMarjorie Van Ness Awardfor leadership and service to a state horse community.  He is the first and only Minnesotan to be awarded this honor.  Later he helped form and hold office in the Coalition of State Horse Councils, now a long standing committee of the American Horse Council.  Recently, the Minnesota Horse Council has awarded the title of Expo President Emeritus to Glen – another honor he’s the first and only to hold.

 Glen has long been known for his attention to detail, his willingness to volunteer many, many hours, his complete follow through and his calm in the midst of uncertainty.  “It’s got to be a two way street” and “It takes three years to establish a vendor building” are words he lives by.  A newspaper writer in a recent 2019 interview at Expo mentioned: “Glen is the eternal optimist about the horse industry ...”  In Glen’s words, “It’s going to keep on.  Seems more people – especially younger people – are finding bonding with a horse can be a rather genuine friendship.”

 For that optimism, service and support of the horse industry as MN Horse Expo president for almost three decades, as a Horse Council Director and executive board member for 30 years, for the leadership and consistency you’ve shown in everything you’ve done involving horses and their people over the years: the Minnesota Horse Council names you, Glen Eaton: Horse Person of the Year.

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