Jess Cecil Inducted into AQHA Hall of Fame Posthumously During Congress Masters Class

November 1st, 2012 7:46 AM | No Comments

Jess Cecil's family accepts his award. Photo courtesy of OQHA and Jeff Kirkbride Photography

One of the highest awards an AQHA professional can be presented with is an induction into the AQHA Hall of Fame. Mr. Jess Cecil was awarded this honor posthumously on Saturday, October 27, 2012 during The All American Quarter Horse Congress Equine Chronicle Two-Year-Old Masters classes. We would like to take some time to introduce this great horseman, and congratulate his family.



Jess began his career in the industry working with Wolf Creek Appaloosa Farm, living in the Akron, Ohio area his entire life. Although he competed in several different events, his true passion was Reining. He would spend hours sitting on the rail watching Reining gurus Dale Wilkinson and Bill Horn to try to pick up tips for his own horses.


In building his own business as a trainer at Jess Cecil Quarter Horses, Jess broke, trained and showed every horse that came through his barn. His son Rick inherited his passion and work ethic. Rick enjoyed a very successful show career as a youth, amateur and professional. Today, Rick and his wife Heidi own and operate Cecil Breeding Farms, which Jess and Rick began and were actively involved with together.


Jess’s daughter, Chris Darnell, is also well involved in the industry and in the realm of public service that her family is devoted to. She serves on the National Snaffle Bit Association Board of Directors, American Quarter Horse Association Show Committee, as well as President of the Ohio Quarter Horse Association. Additionally, she helps to manage some of the industry’s most prestigious shows, as well as donating her show management expertise to many smaller shows every year.


Jess has served on nearly every committee in the Ohio Quarter Horse Association Board of Directors, being elected in 1981. He spent 30 years on the board, and throughout his years of service was incredibly involved in the futurities and Congress Souvenir Program.


Jess Cecil was also incredibly successful outside of the Quarter Horse industry, using his excellent business skills to run several companies, which included a gas station and Lanning’s Restaurant, a fine dining steakhouse in Akron. Jess’s oldest daughter Donna Cecil inherited his business savvy, and is just as successful of a businesswoman as her father. Donna also received a love of horses from her father, and taught riding lessons for more than 20 years and served on Ohio Farm Bureau’s Equine Advisory Council for a number of years.


Jess was well known in the industry for having an “open door policy”. He made an effort to mentor youth, and was known for helping up and coming horsemen and women. He was a great friend to all, and always willing to help, touching the lives of many with his generosity and kind nature. He was truly a self made man who contributed immensely to the industry with his positive ways and helping hands. He has made a huge impact on the Ohio Quarter Horse Association, and to The All American Quarter Horse Congress.


Jess would have liked to be remembered for his work ethic, raising his children- which he always said was his greatest accomplishment, and for promoting the Quarter Horse. We remember Jess Cecil today, and wish his family the best in their future endeavors.


We would like to thank Chris Darnell and the Ohio Quarter Horse Association for providing with the text and photos for this article.

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