Karl Stressman was named the new executive vice president of the AQHA. • Photo courtesy of AQHA.

New AQHA Executive Vice President Hails from Rodeo & Roping Background

An executive with experience leading organizations in the rodeo and team roping industries has been selected as the new executive vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).

The Amarillo, Texas-based association announced Tuesday that Karl Stressman will take the reins as the leader of the largest equine breed registry in the world on May 16.

Officials say Stressman has more than 25 years of experience in the Western and horse industries, possesses the business knowledge to further current growth patterns, initiative to drive change, leadership skills required to manage a passionate team of talented staff, foresight to recognize future needs and a desire to ensure the best for AQHA members and their American Quarter Horses worldwide.

Stressman was one of 40 individuals who applied to fill the role, which became open last May due to the resignation of former AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines. Huffhines took a job later that year with Colorado State University.

“Karl is a strong and passionate leader who is dedicated to fostering an environment of open communication, collaboration, innovation and creativity to continually support and achieve the Association’s mission, vision and values,” said Dr. Scott Myers, the AQHA president for 2022-23. “The American Quarter Horse industry is in growth mode, demonstrating year-over-year increases in key AQHA business initiatives, such as memberships, transfers and registrations, and with Karl’s knowledge and expertise we will continue that trend to drive the Association forward.”

Stressman’s resume includes several positions within the Western industry over the years, including director of event marketing at Wrangler, commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and president of the United States Team Roping Association (USTRA). 

Officials say he not only brings years of experience, but also recorded success in areas including negotiating and executing the richest contract in the history of the PRCA, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo; negotiating and executing the naming rights to the NFR for Wrangler; negotiating the first international PRCA deal with Mexico; increasing the national sponsorship at PRCA and number of PRCA-sanctioned rodeos during his growth of the administration; and negotiating a partnership with the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to induct women into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

“I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with some of the greatest companies and associations in the western industry,” Stressman said in a statement released by the AQHA. “I am truly honored and appreciative to have the opportunity to add AQHA to that list. There are very few positions that could lure me out of retirement, and AQHA is certainly at the top of that list. I am looking forward to working closely with the AQHA Executive Committee and staff to continue the growth initiatives for the future.”

As AQHA executive vice president, Stressman will serve as chief executive officer of the Association. He will not only lead the Association’s staff, but he will also work with a variety of passionate groups comprised of industry professionals and lifelong American Quarter Horse owners, breeders and competitors to ensure the Association is on a path for consistent growth and success. These groups include the AQHA Executive Committee, AQHA Board of Directors and AQHA Standing Committees, which assist in the development and implementation of strategic goals and objectives of the Association and American Quarter Horse Foundation.

Stressman has a passion for team roping and was named the National High School Rodeo Man of the Year in 2009, Women’s Professional Rodeo Association’s Person of the Year in 2014 and Resistol Man of the Year in 2017.

In addition to a love for the Western way of life, Stressman is also a family man. He and his wife, Allie, have eight children and 11 grandchildren.