Carla Wennburg, who lives in Robeson County for almost a decade, teaches riding classes at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg and leads its competition team.
The American Quarter Horse Association chose to honor Wennburg for her work over the years as a horsewoman.
“As a judge, as a rider, as a showman, as a coach, it means that my industry appreciates what I’ve done,” she said.
Wennburg has been riding since she moved to Lumberton with her family from Massachusetts when she was 7 years old more than 40 years ago. She soon started riding with the help of locals who owned horses. Noody Johnson, who owned a local car dealership, owned Arabian horses and helped Wennberg get her first horse.
“I told my father I would not move from Massachusetts if I didn’t have a horse,” Wennburg said.
She started competing in horse shows in eastern North Carolina and South Carolina. Later, she would travel to neighboring states and eventually competed in national competitions in Texas and Oklahoma.
The career that started as Wennburg’s hobby has taken her around the world. She has been a Quarter Horse judge for 22 years, but also shows horses. She has shown and judged all over the United States and Europe and taught riding at the University of Georgia and Colorado State University before coming back to Laurinburg to teach at St. Andrews three years ago.
“I grew up in Wycliffe,” said Wennberg, who lived in Lumberton for nine years, in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. “I know the history of Lumberton before it grew. We loved the tobacco warehouses and the cotton fields. That’s what I remember as a kid.”
The American Quarter Horse Association has 350,000 members and registers 5 million horses. The association records pedigrees of American quarter horses — the most popular breed in the United States. The breed is used from everything from cattle herding to racing.
“The fun thing about the American quarter horses, it’s an all-around horse,” Wennburg said. “We have 90 events that we compete in.”