Jack Junker

Jack Junker of Stillwater, Minnesota, got his start with Appaloosas as a family activity. His daughters Kim and Kelly began riding in 1969, showing on the regional and national levels. The girls competed for seven years, winning numerous awards with their Appaloosa show horses.

After Kim and Kelly finished showing, Jack maintained his interest in horses. He eventually began volunteering as a ring steward at a regional Minnesota show. His calm demeanor and knack for getting people and horses where they needed to be led to ring steward duties at regional shows in Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and Alabama; the Paint World; Pony of the Americas International; St. Paul Minnesota Reining Derby; and the Minnesota State Quarter Horse Show. Jack's extensive knowledge of show rules and procedures and his professionalism in the pen made him a highly sought-after ring steward throughout the horse industry in general.

In 1989, Jack, an insurance agent by vocation, accepted an invitation from then- ApHC Racing Coordinator Lex Smurthwaite to serve as ring steward at the World Championship Appaloosa Horse Show in Fort Worth, an honor that Jack says is his greatest Appaloosa moment. Since then, Jack has been an influential part of the professionalism and efficiency of both the National and World shows for nearly 20 years. Not only does Jack keep the shows running smoothly, he greets exhibitors with a friendly smile, calms their nerves with his easy-going charm, and encourages them with kind words.

A true ambassador of the Appaloosa breed, Jack personifies what the Appaloosa industry is all about-a caring person who loves the Appaloosa horse and welcomes fellow Appaloosa enthusiasts, both new and old, to the Appaloosa family.

Because of Jack's enthusiasm for the breed, his outstanding service as a top-level ring steward, and his contributions and loyalty to the Appaloosa industry, Jack received with the Appaloosa Horse Club's prestigious George Hatley award in 2000. The Appaloosa Youth Association also honored Jack with the Youth Supporter Award in 2001 and 2006, the 2001 award being one of Jack's fondest Appaloosa memories.

Jack also contributes to the success of the ApHC's judges' program as an ex-officio member of the APHC Judges' Committee. The high regard and respect the board of directors has for Jack's opinion led to his appointment to the committee in the late 1990s. The directors wanted to ensure Jack's long-term and consistent input on applicants, procedures, judging policies, rule changes, show procedures and related matters.

Jack is also an instrumental part of the Color Breed Council, particularly the
International Equine Judges' Seminar. Jack serves on the ApHC committee that evaluates judge applicants, assists with various aspects of conducting the seminar and assists the Color Breed Council in conducting the ring stewards' seminar.

Whether shepherding nervous exhibitors in and out of the arena, or assisting with the judge and ring steward programs, Jack goes about his business with a friendly smile and cheerful, upbeat attitude. His outstanding commitment and leadership have contributed immensely to making the National and World shows polished, quality events, and improved the judge and ring steward programs' standard of excellence.

As for what winning the award means to Jack, he says humbly, "It's a great honor, but it's not just about me. It's about all of the ring stewards and show staff that I've worked with over the years-and my family: my wife, Jean; and my children, Julie, Beth, Kim, Kelly and John-they all share in this with me.

"It's been a labor of love for me," Jack continues. "It's been a tremendous ride-the people and the horses-my every work effort as a ring steward has been directed toward the betterment of the exhibitors and the horses."

Jack says that his greatest Appaloosa accomplishment is his longevity as a ring steward. Performance Department Supervisor and longtime friend Keri Minden-LeForce agrees, "Jack is passionate about what he does and about improving his part of the greater equine industry. He loves the Appaloosa breed and sees his job as ring steward as his opportunity to give back to the people and the organization who've been good to him for many years. Jack's greatest contribution isn't one or two big things he's done. Rather, it's years and years of little things that have positively impacted the organization and how we do things."

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