Earl Compton The purpose of the Alabama Quarter Horse Association’s Pioneer Horseman Award is to honor an individual residing in the state of Alabama who has been instrumental in the long-term breeding, showing, raising, and caring for the American Quarter Horse for at least 20 years. This nominee does not have to be a member of the Alabama Quarter Horse Association. The recipient of this award is chosen by a committee made up of current ALQHA members and/or board members who have been appointed annually by the current ALQHA president.
When it comes to horses, there are those people who will diligently work for years riding horses, going to clinics, working with trainers, reading books and yet they never achieve the ability to watch or work a horse and “see” its true potential.
Then there are those folks who have the “gift”. They become well known in horse circles because of their ability to look at a horse, maybe ride it, and tell you if that horse will have what it takes to be a competitor or athlete. And folks…..people who know horses, know that competitive horses are indeed athletes. And like athletes, unless they can learn how to use and control their bodies by basic training and repetition, they can’t and won’t be able to consistently perform well.
This year’s Pioneer Horseman, Earl Compton is one of those people with the “gift”. Oh…he’ll tell you the secret to success in showing your horse is, once you get a good horse, you have to figure out what you want that horse to do and then “explain” it to him in a way that he can understand. Earl will also tell you that rhythm, balance, timing, consistency, repetition, and lots and lots and lots of riding and is the key to having that truly competitive horse. But in all honesty…he is simply one of those amazing individuals that has that innate ability to see potential talent in a horse. I’ve seen him apply those same principles to folks who have ridden with him over the years. You will learn when you ride with this man that if you, as a rider, have faults that you are not willing to work on, you will not get the best performance out of your horse.
Over the year’s, he has been involved in rodeos, open shows and of course breed shows. If any of you in the room have been showing for the last 50 plus years …you may actually remember him riding and showing saddle horses. He has trained and campaigned Quarter Horses in Halter, Western Pleasure and his first love, Cutting.
He was born and raised in Montevallo.
He is one of 8 children.
He had loved and ridden horses since he was a small child.
This past December 18th he not only celebrated his 75th birthday but also his 55th wedding anniversary tohis lovely wife Carolyn.
He has 4 children, 9 Grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
Just a few of the horses he has ridden or worked with over the years include: Nightcaller, Sailfish, ToKay, Alabama Bonanza, Ole Man Honcho, Sierra Socialite, Sniploose N Fancytoo, Flashys RedHot Image, Zips Mighty Chip, and Willie Be A RedHot.
Julia Caro shared the following story about this year’s recipient. Although her father and brother had been showing cutting horses for a while, when her brother left for Auburn, she was thrown into cutting by her dad. Now… the only time Julia had ever ridden a trained cutting horse was when Mr. Buddy had went out and bought one and there was no one else around to try it out while he watched. If you’ve ever ridden a cutting horse, it’s bad enough riding a strange horse but if it’s a strange cutting horse, you’re in for a bigger challenge. Earl Compton would bring his two cutting mares down to work cattle at the farm and would let Julia try cutting on his little mare called Sailfish. Julia didn’t have a clue about what to do. This went on for a few weekends until Earl had had enough. He took Julia off to the back of the pen and gave her some advise she says ultimately provided her with the most fun she’d ever had in her life….He calmly said, “Julia…The secret is to forget what the horse is doing…. watch the cow!!” According to Julia, the heavens open up and the choirs of angles started singing! After that advise, she never looked back and said that she enjoyed some of most fabulous rides she’s ever taken on a horse.
Over the years there have been a lot of folks that have sought his wisdom, his knowledge, and his advice when it comes to buying or showing horses. There are so many individuals who have benefited from his counsel, encouragement, support and help. Many of us have been touched by either being lucky enough to have worked and ridden with this year’s recipient, or maybe you’ve ridden and shown a horse that Earl bred or trained.
Some folks know him as PaPa. Now he’ll have another name to add to that list….that of Pioneer Horseman….. please join me and the Alabama Quarter Horse Association as we present and honor Mr. Earl Compton as our 2010 Pioneer Horseman of the Year.