“Its in my genes,” Jim Dudley said of his love for horses. “I’m a horse-aholic.”
Dudley grew up in the corn country of Iowa but spent his youth on top of a horse instead of a combine. He was riding horses by the time he was 3 and bought his first American Quarter Horse when he was 10. He got involved in AQHA in 1967 and was on the ground floor of forming the Iowa Quarter Horse Youth Association.
“The Quarter Horse has been a huge part of my life,” Dudley said.
Becoming a horseman is generally a trade that is part instinct and part mentor. Dudley found amentor in his uncle, Warden Dudley.
”He raised some great horses, “ Dudley said. He used to tell me, you breed the best to the best, and hope for the best, and that still doesn’t work all the time. Buy you have to have your horses better than your neighbors’.”
Dudley paid for his animal science degree from Iowa State University by training, shoeing and trading horses. He worked for two years at a fertilizer company after he graduated but decided to go back to what he loved. He has been training horses ever since. He has owned, trained or bred top-10 horses at the AQHA World Championship Show in almost every discipline.
“I am a vertically integrated equine specialist,” Dudley grinned.
The Iowa native owns and operates Dudley Quarter Horses in Columbia, Missouri. Horses are a 24 hours a day, 7days a week job, and that doesn’t always leave time for many hobbies. Dudley’s hobby is judging horse shows. He has judged the AQHA World Championships and the AYQHA World Championships several times as well as the AQHA Amateur Select World Championship. Dudley is a past National Snaffle Bit Association president and had been a judge since its inception. He also holds judges cards in the National Reining Horse Association and the American Paint Horse Association.
Dudley values the ideals of a true horseman and focuses his goals as a trainer around this philosophy. “The ideals for the Quarter Horse that the Association founders set are really important to me. These horses are versatile, and therefore we as horseman should be as well,” he said.
Dudley is not only passionate about showing horses but also the well-rounded life experience AQHYA offers its youth.
“AQHYA is one of the finest association that matures young people into adults,” he said. “The most important thing these kids should take away from showing horses is maturity and responsibility, not just an award.”
Dudley’s daughter, Shannon, was an active AQHYA competitor and received an AQHA scholarship to attend Iowa State University. She graduated with a Master’s degree in materials engineering.
The key to staying on top is to never stop learning. Dudley is a firm believer in continuing his horse education.
“The industry changes, and its important to keep up with what’s going on. The day I stop looking our and trying to learn something new as a horseman will be the day finished in the industry.”