Head Youth Advisor - Valerie Fites Sturgeon
Valerie Fites Sturgeon
17510 Courtney Road, Beloit, Ohio 44609
Where were you born and raised:
I was born in Alliance, Ohio and raised in Beloit, Ohio. I grew up on one of our family farms.
Where do you live now and with who:
I live in Beloit with my husband, Eric and son, Caleb. We built a house 12 years ago on a portion of the same farm I grew up on. My barn and arena are next door at my Mom’s house.
Schools attended and activities:
I attended West Branch Local Schools for elementary and high school. Most Friday afternoons, as soon as school was over, we left for a horse show so there wasn’t time for much else. I did join 4-H where I had a horse project and participated in the county horse judging club. I also showed lambs and won the lamb showmanship.
I attended Kent State University for 2 years, pledged Alpha XI Delta and joined their IHSA team. I, then took a semester off for Congress and the AQHA World Show. In January, I started at Mount Union College and finally graduated in 1996 with an Bachelor’s degree in education, K-8. I also got married that year.
Please describe what you do for a living:
I work for Mahoning County Educational Services in their early childhood and home schooling programs. I currently teach early childhood on the Youngstown State University campus.
Please discuss your current and past horses along with show highlights:
I started my quarter horse show career on the spur of the moment. Jeff Kirkbride was in my 4-H club. All the parents were sitting around at the fair talking, Lee Kirkbride thought it would be a fun idea for me to show Jeff’s horse, Mr Judge Jets, in the Small-Fry Horsemanship at Congress. The entry was made and off to the Congress I went to show a horse I’d never ridden, in a borrowed saddle, with no trendy show clothes. I placed 6th. It was decided then that I would come back the next year and be prepared. I did, I was, and I won the Small-Fry Horsemanship at the 1981 Congress. I was hooked!! During my AQHA youth career I showed Hawker McCue, Dondi Two Eyes, and Take The Fifth winning many all-around awards, numerous AQHA top tens, and multiple youth world show placings under the guidance of Clark Bradley, Sarah Bradley, and Hank Clason.
My move into Amateur brought a new horse, Artful Move, a new trainer, Rick Cecil, and the OQHA Queen Title. Congress was exciting that year, I was 2nd runner up for Congress Queen, won the Amateur Equitation, and Art was Reserve Open All-Around Horse. The AQHA World Show brought a Reserve World Championship in Amateur Pleasure Driving and multiple top ten placings. Art and I continued our winning ways the next year. I was named AQHA World Champion in Amateur Equitation, Reserve World Champion in Amateur Hunter Under Saddle, and All Around Amateur at All American Quarter Horse Congress plus many top ten placings and circuit championships.
I continued to show many offspring of Artful Move, Artectually Designed; Amateur HUS Congress Champion, Ive Got The Moves; AQHA Amateur High Point HUS, Artful Seduction; AQHA High Point Open Working Hunter with Alfred Hewitt, and The Art Connection; AQHA Reserve High Point Amateur HUS, plus many more.
Last year, Her Name Escapes Me and I placed 12th & 14th at Congress in Amateur HUS under the guidance of Hank Clason.
Do you have a hobby other than horses?
Animals continue to take up most of my free time. Caleb became interested in reining several years ago and while it’s still horse showing, very different from what I knew. One of my proudest moments was when he won the NYATT Reining at Congress. He’s also gotten interested in showing 4-H livestock and I enjoy helping him. He’s had Grand Champion Turkey and was Reserve Junior Showman with his pig. He especially enjoys the beef feeder projects and has won the Intermediate Showmanship twice, had Grand Champion and a class winner in his 2 years of participating.
What is something you have done that no one would guess you’ve done?
Back in the day, before NCEA, when Intercollegiate Horse Show Association was the only equestrian sport option, I was the 1991 IHSA National Champion in the open stock seat and IHSA National Champion individual high-point rider.