The National Snaffle Bit Association is sad to share that horseman Doug Carpenter, of Sulphur, Oklahoma, has passed away due to complications from COVID-19 at age 64.
Born in 1957 in Rhode Island, Doug developed a passion for horses at a young age. When he was 13, Doug hitchhiked to Columbus, Ohio, to experience the 1970 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Although he slept on bleachers in the Coliseum and knew he would return to angry, worried parents, he was hooked, and knew one day he would show horses at that prestigious horse show.
After honing his horsemanship skills in Connecticut, trainer Tommy Manion took notice. Doug turned down a job offer from Tommy in 1976 for another opportunity, but two years later found himself working for the legendary trainer.
In 1978, Tommy assigned Doug an unbroke two year old mare in June to train and finish for the Congress Western Pleasure Futurity in October. Showing for the first time at that year’s Congress, Doug rode the two year old Good Lookin Babe to a reserve title and a check for $10,000, beating his boss, who came in third.
A few years later, having grown frustrated with showing, Doug decided to trade horses for NASCAR and move to North Carolina. Thinking the 1981 AQHA World Championship Show would be his last, he didn’t even bother to change out of his work shirt when he showed Karen Sullivan’s three year old mare, Miss Docs Melody, in the first go of the Junior Western Pleasure. He placed first in the prelims and came back in front of a crowd of more than 6,000 people to win his first AQHA world championship. Needless to say, Doug ended up staying with horses.
As a professional trainer, Doug trained and showed clients’ and his own horses, including the NSBA Hall of Fame stallion Hotrodders Jet Set, proving he had the knack for picking good horses and training them to be competitive.
His training skills took him to John Mulholland in 1982, where there were many top show mares as well as promising two year olds and yearlings, including the great Ms MBJ Mudlark, whom he showed successfully. After tiring of the show arena, Doug partnered with Keith Whistle in 1987, where he would prepare horses for the show arena for Keith as well as for Amateur and Youth riders.
Doug had $70,890.89 in lifetime NSBA earnings, but the horses whose reins Doug touched tell the greater story of his great eye and matchmaking skills. Just some of those horses he interacted with were:
• Miss Docs Melody – two-time AQHA world champion in Western Pleasure, granddam of The Krymsun Kruzer
• Hotrodders Jet Set – NSBA Hall of Fame sire and AQHA All Time Leading Sire
• Ms MBJ Mudlark – 1986 AQHA world champion in Junior Western Riding (pictured at left)
• Sheza Kinda Fancy – 1987 AQHA world champion in Youth Western Pleasure, 1989 AQHA reserve world champion in Senior Western Pleasure
• Time To Cash In – 1989 AQHA Superhorse, multiple AQHA world and reserve world champion in Working Hunter, Hunter Hack, Hunter Under Saddle, Western Riding, Pleasure Driving (pictured above)
• Docs Bo Doll – 1988 AQHA world champion in Junior Western Pleasure
• Racy Rumors – AQHYA reserve world champion in Western Pleasure
• Paint Me Zippo – 1989 APHA world champion in Two Year Old Snaffle Bit Western Pleasure
• Cuition – 1991 AQHA reserve world champion in Two Year Old Snaffle Bit Western Pleasure
• Miss Surely Bars – top five and top ten AQHA World in Western Pleasure and Western Riding, earning 95.5 Open and 94.5 Amateur Western Pleasure and 38.5 Open Western Riding points
• TNT Fluid Fred – 1991 AQHA Two Year Old Western Pleasure world champion, Congress Junior Western Pleasure champion
After the tragic death of his Amateur client and friend Rodney Miller in 1992, Doug moved to the world of Reining, where he represented and sold quality horses. He bought or sold such standout individuals as 1992 National Reining Horse Association Futurity champion Boomernic, 1999 National Reined Cow Horse Association Futurity champion Smart Zanolena, 2003 NRCHA Futurity champion Chics Magic Potion and 2007 World’s Greatest Horseman champion Light N Fine as well as top money-earning performers Jac Be Quick, Roosters Wrangler, Hes Dun His Time, and Bueno Chexinic. As an NRHA horse owner, Doug earned $89,927 in lifetime earnings, in addition to $30,839 as an Open rider.
His client list included Clinton Anderson, Bob Avila, Shawn Flarida, Benny Guitron, Dell Hendricks and Tim McQuay. At the time of his death, Doug continued to purchase and broker top Reining, Cutting and Reined Cow Horses as well as promising thoroughbred racing prospects through his business, Doug Carpenter Enterprises.
In 1996, Doug and NSBA editor Carolyn Pryor teamed up to publish Western Pleasure: Training and Showing To Win, the essential book on training and competing in the Western Pleasure discipline that became an industry must-have for exhibitors everywhere.
In addition to his talent in the saddle, Doug was an avid photographer, shooting everything from landscapes to sale horse photos.
Doug is survived by his wife Gwen, daughters Kelly and Katie, and granddaughter, Emma. The NSBA family extends its sympathy to Doug’s family and everyone in the horse community who knew and loved the horseman known as “Carp.”