PtHA mourns the loss of a great horseman, Don Burt

Don Burt ~ 1930 – 2012

Released by Pinto Horse Association
November 30, 2012

Don BurtBETHANY, OK –  The Pinto Horse Association of America mourns the loss of a great horseman and PtHA Hall of Fame Judge, Don Burt. Don Burt passed away Saturday, November 24. A horseman, leader, visionary and, above all, gentleman were on the short list of words used to describe him when he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2004. Burt was also awarded USEF Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy in 2007 as well as being added to the Honor Roll of Distinguished Officials in 2011.

Burt grew up in the river bottoms of Burbank, California, which during the 1930s was a horse-showing capital. He, his father and grandfather all made a living raising horses. During World War II, Burt and his friends would ride their horses over the Hollywood Hills to shows, and when he was in high school, he worked at the Marwyck Ranch, which was owned by actress Barbara Stanwyck and actor Groucho Marx. Burt galloped racehorses in the mornings, and worked the show horses in the afternoons.

A training injury later in life led Burt to judging and he judged the AQHA World Championship Show seven times, the AQHYA World Championship Show three times, and was named judge of the year for the American Horse Shows Association ten times. As a judge, he presided over national and world championship shows for many breeds. Burt retired from judging when he was elected to the AQHA Executive Committee in 1992. He became AQHA’s 46th president in 1996.

Most recently, Burt wrote a monthly column, “On The Rail,” for The American Quarter Horse Journal.

“I had the privilege of visiting Don and wife Ardys a few months back and, as recently as November 17, Don and I reminisced about the many trips and meetings we made together on behalf of AQHA, especially regarding reining and its approval by the International Equestrian Federation,” said AQHA Executive Director Don Treadway Jr. “During my visit and even my most recent chat, Don remained his cheerful self even though his physical health had significantly declined.”

Condolences may be sent to Ardys and the family at 79 Narcissa Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-5952. A private memorial service will be held.
Donations may be made to the American Quarter Horse Foundation, (806) 378-5029,

One Response to “PtHA mourns the loss of a great horseman, Don Burt

  • Karen Homer-Brown
    6 years ago

    When I started my judging career (approximately 38 years ago), Don helped guide my learning experiences and offered many suggestions throughout the years after I received my licenses. He taught me how to look at horses, signs to look for both good and bad, what to keep an eye on and to always remember “action causes reaction”. Over the years, I have tried to pay forward to other learner judges that have worked with me the knowledge that he imparted on me. As a licensed judge, I had the opportunity to work with him many times in many breeds. I always learned something new and we always had a good time.

    We also worked many times together as clinicians at Judges’ seminars. The best lesson I learned from him was to always start your clinic instruction at a basic level. He said “… you can always go up with what you want to convey, but it is very difficult to go the other way, because by then, you are way over their heads and have lost their attention.” Another great lesson he gave me dealt with the importance of “timing” in the delivering of information and to “… know your audience.”

    Don stressed the importance of due diligence on saving your income. He told me “… for every show you judge (or whatever you do in the horse business) always designate a percentage and put it away.” I have been doing that since the beginning. Frankly I was afraid not to do what Don advised me to do. I truly valued his counsel and did not want to disappoint him.

    Don was a lot of fun and there are some personal things that we had many laughs about. I am not prepared to discuss them publically. Needless to say, he made every occassion fun.

    Lastly, Don was so innovative and always thinking out of the box. I would like to believe that has rubbed off on to me a little. I hope I can do him justice in the future. The twinkle in Don’s eye will remain shinning for eternity. He had a way with people and he was a true horseman, great friend and an inspiration to horse show judges everywhere.