A most festive occasion it was a banquet room applauding the best of their own.
Certainly an enthusiastic crowd as 100 hat-adorned cowboys and cowgirls gathered for the Ottawa affair kicked off with steak supper serenaded by cowboy singer Rusty Rierson.
Masterminded and hosted by everything-horses cheerleader Ernie Rodina hosted induction of the 2016 class into the Better Horses Network Hall of Fame.
Horse owner affiliations from four decades as feed merchandizer, Rodina initiated the Better Horses publication 18 years ago. Popularity expanded to nationwide syndicated radio programs which Rodina cohosts.
Growth of the Better Horses Network continued to internet availability, and will soon include television broadcasting.
Evening program featured additional singing and recitation by champion cowboy poet Jeff Dawson with accompaniment from his wife Dawn, who cohosts the Better Horses Radio Show.
Knowing and closely working with so many cowboys, Rodina initiated the Better Horses Hall of Fame to honor those elite horsemen helping horses and horse loving people on every level.
Inductees are Dr. Fred Gardiner, Dr. Bill Stuart, John Teagarden and Tim Trabon.
Unable to attend due to health issues, Tim Trabon is a Kansas City businessman who always had a heartfelt attraction for the cowboy life.
Trying rodeo first as a very young man, Tim was determined to pursue being a cowboy and bought his first horse 24 years go.
It was an uphill learning curve for Tim who made progress when he became acquainted with John Ballweg. “I was a beginner, and John’s worst student. But, John was always very patient with me, and became almost a father, as I continued to learn about horses,” Tim has reflected.
“Horses offered a new dimension, a challenge. When I’m working with horses, my other problems seem to go away. Instead, I’m thinking about my horses and improving my abilities with them,” Tim has insisted.
Still undergoing treatment for cancer, Tim Trabon would appreciate prayers sent his way.
Senior among inductees, Dr. Bill Stuart of Kansas City made special effort to attend. He was all smiles throughout the evening as accompanied by his wife Jan and a table surrounded by family and friends.
“Doc Stuart is a great veterinarian, a great horseman, a great friend of horse owners, and a great polo player,” Rodina credited.
Appreciations were shared by the good horse doctor’s acquaintances. “I specialized in large animal treatment, but always liked horses best. I was fortunate to care for some of the best horses in the country. And, even more privileged to know and assist several very top horsemen,” Dr. Stuart appreciated.
“I continued to learn about horses from John Ballweg for about 65 years,” Dr. Stuart acknowledged.
“I always liked horses and was concerned for their well-being. Still, the best part has been the people, my friends who owned and worked with horses,” Dr. Stuart insisted.
With family and the room of friends, John Teagarden of LaCygne reflected fond acquaintance with each of the other inductees, acknowledging John Ballweg, too.
His initial introduction to Ernie Rodina was remembered by John, as Ernie was credited for unrelenting assistance to horse owners.
Since being inspired by horsemanship instincts of his dad, John has had most diverse horse involvement working closely with his wife Candy.
Judging horse shows for five decades, John and Candy’s three daughters successfully showed home raised horses. Now their grandchildren exhibit those horses.
Leader in everything livestock, John is a longtime Linn County Fair Board member, especially in growth of its professional rodeo.
John’s brainchild, the Eastern Kansas Pro Rodeo Circuit has expanded spectator attendance and contestant quality.
Emphasis in the Teagarden Quarter Horses program is producing barrel racing horses that are collecting checks in major competitions.
“I’m so appreciative of all the people who’ve had such an influence and shared their knowledge,” the always-humble John Teagarden emphasized.
Dr. Fred Gardiner was all smiles crediting family and Garnett veterinary clinic staff, seated at his table, for their assistance throughout his career.
Horse affection for Dr. Gardiner began when he was very small watching his dad and uncle drive cattle. “I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy,” he declared.
Nothing like being mounted horseback, Dr. Gardiner treated all animals, but his biggest service has been working with horses for horse owners, including John Ballweg.
Stories of his experiences as a cowboy veterinarian brought grins to listeners.
Having sold his practice, Dr. Gardiner still assists horse owners in caring for their horses. “I want to get more involved with my own horses, and everything to do with horses.”
The Hall of Fame inductees were presented especially engraved buckles.
Unique in their own way working with horses and people, common denominator of the Hall of Famers is they’re friends with intermingling horse affiliations, and have all been positively influenced by John Ballweg who passed away last summer.