A Grand Island resident has been elected to lead the American Quarter Horse Association - the largest equine breed association in the world.
Gene Graves says quarter horses have been a big part of his life, and now that he's been elected president of the American Quarter Horse Association he wants them to be an important part of the lives of others.
"We just have to get out there with the membership and get those people engaged, involved and let them know that we're behind them also," says Graves, a past president of the Nebraska Quarter Horse Association.
Current NQHA President Debby Brehm says Graves has already done a lot for the breed and horse ownership at the state level.
"The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world - there's probably three million horses that are registered and over 300,000 members and so to have a Nebraskan representing us is a tremendous, tremendous honor," says Brehm.
Gene McCloud owns the Grand Island Best Western and Super 8, but his family also owns and shows horses. He says Graves will be "a great ambassador for the quarter horse industry." McCloud believes having a local person lead the AQHA will establish Grand Island more solidly on the horse show map.
"The quarter horse people when they come to your town they also eat at your restaurants, stay in your motels, and have a huge impact on the economy as they show their horses," says McCloud
Graves says the horse industry is flat now with the economy, but believes it will take off again soon.
"Right now we've got some real challenges ahead of us, and we've got a lot of good people though that are right there to help," says Graves.
Graves says he's looking forward to his year as president, but also excited to getting back to showing horses once his term is up.