Tim McQuay (left) and Jennifer Easton (right) accepting an award from Greg Darnell (middle) at the 2000 NRHA Futurity, when Hollywood Dun It was inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame. • QHN file photo

Reining Industry Grieves Loss of Jennifer Easton

Jennifer Easton, a longtime member of the reining community, passed away Aug. 1 at the age of 69. She posted her first check to Equi-Stat in 1989 and garnered more than $11,000 in the reining pen. But her greatest impact in the industry came from her role as a breeder and owner.

Alone, Easton bred money-earners with total earnings of $32,772. During her longstanding partnership with Equi-Stat Elite $3 Million Rider Tim McQuay under the alias McQuay/Easton LLC, she bred 70 performers with $862,341 total earned.

That impressive record earned McQuay/Easton LLC the 21st spot on last year’s Equi-Stat Lifetime Reining Statistics breeders chart.

At the top of their roster was Starbucks Sidekick (Smart Starbuck x Dun It For Chex x Hollywood Dun It), a 2003 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Open finalist and earner of nearly $200,000. The stallion, who was ridden almost exclusively by Equi-Stat Elite $1 Million Rider Dell Hendricks, ranked among the top 50 on the 2016 Equi-Stat Lifetime Reining Statistics horses chart.

As an owner, Easton had 22 money-earners to her credit with total earnings of $256,743. One of her standout performers was 1997 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion Dun It With A Twist (out of Peppermint Twist x Peppy San Badger), who went on to earn more than $100,000. McQuay/Easton LLC owned his sire, the legendary Hollywood Dun It (Hollywood Jac 86 x Blossom Berry x Dun Berry).

Hollywood Dun It, the 1986 NRHA Futurity Open Reserve Champion and 1987 NRHA Derby Open Champion, went on to make a huge mark on the reining industry as a sire and has produced earners of more than $7 million, including 10 offspring with more than $100,000 each to their credit.

Beyond her impact as an owner and breeder, Easton graciously offered support to several organizations in and out of the horse community.

A longtime resident of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, Easton supported development of reining in the region. She donated $500,000 for a new horse barn at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF). The university, about 35 miles east of St. Paul, Minnesota, has an equine program with a strong emphasis on reining.

“That was Jennifer. She was a very caring, loving person and very generous,” said Larry Kasten, a North Central Reining Horse Association (NCRHA) member who retired from UWRF after 30 years in the equine program. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody that loved horses more than she did.”

Easton’s philanthropic interests went well beyond horses, including Native American, environmental and women’s causes.

She founded the First Peoples Fund, a Rapid City, S.D.-based organization that supports Native American artists and cultural initiatives. Easton also founded the Sumasil Foundation, which provides college and technical school scholarships to help women achieve growth and independence.

“She was fun to talk to because she did a lot of very, very different things,” said Diane Clark, publicist for the NCRHA. “She was an entertaining person to find out what she’d been up to. She was usually elbow-deep in something.”

A celebration of Easton’s life will be held on Aug. 23, 4-8 p.m., at Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd. Stillwater, MN 55082. Visitors are welcome to join in honoring her and all she did.