Ken Smith, Jr., 63, a past member of the NCHA Executive Committee, and a non-pro limited age event champion also ranked three times in the NCHA Top 10 World standings, passed away on Sunday, February 3.
Born in Charlotte, SC., Smith moved with his family to Hopkins, S.C. in 1966, where his father, Ken Smith, Sr., purchased his first Quarter Horse, and where at the age of 10, Ken Jr., began showing Quarter Horses, American Saddlebreds, and cutting horses. In the 1990s, Ken Jr. served as a member of the NCHA Executive Committee; Ken Sr., was elected president of AQHA in 1999, was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2006.
“When I was a teenager, there weren’t many other teenagers (cutting) in this part of the country,” said Smith in a 1996 interview. “Everybody likes to show with their peers. Plus, most of the cuttings then were out in the middle of a cow pasture somewhere; tough conditions and tough cows, in the mud or the rain. Now most are in covered arenas and it makes it a lot nicer. When I was doing it before, it was pretty much a new thing out here.”
Smith began cutting in earnest in the late 1980s, when he showed the gelding Power Player, bred by Shorty Freeman and sired by Freckles Playboy. In 1989, Smith and Power Player placed second in the Non-Pro division of the Augusta Fall Futurity Classic and third in the Open. In 1990, Smith and Power Player earned $40,225 to place fifth in the NCHA Non-Pro World standings; in 1991, trainer David Stewart and Smith showed Power Player to place eighth in the Open World standings; and in 1991, Smith and the gelding placed tenth in the Non-Pro.
It was also in 1991 that Smith showed homegrown Haidas War Hero to place as reserve champion of the NCHA Futurity Non-Pro Limited. In 1994, Smith and Haidas War Hero won the NCHA Non-Pro Challenge.
Ken Smith, Jr. is survived by his parents, Ken and Patsy; sons Logan and Taylor; sister Cameron (Marc) Vogt; and Joye (Joseph) Horne. After a private burial, there will be a gathering at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 9, at Red Gate, the family’s farm. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, Columbia, S.C., is assisting the family. Memories may be shared at www.dunbarfunerals.com