By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
While growing up in West Texas, Gary Carpenter was heavily involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. Although his parents went to college in Texas, when he became acquainted with Dr. Edward Murray (D.V.M.,’62), the veterinarian convinced Carpenter that CSU was the place for him.
While on campus, Carpenter was a member of the horse judging team, which he deems “one of the best things CSU does for students.” The experience developed his skills in leadership, public speaking, and decision-making. He also says it “lit my fuse.” He learned a great deal during two internships, as well. One was on a cattle farm in Germany and the other on a horse farm in Nebraska. He also spent two summers working at a racetrack in Ruidoso, NM.
Carpenter credits his experiences at CSU for building a network that led to some of his professional positions. He had planned to go back to the family farm, but instead he “just kept getting jobs.” Working on a horse farm in Lexington, KY, gave him a great start. Then he heard about an opening at the Arabian Horse Registry in Denver. He worked there for a couple years, dealing with records and public relations; that experience gave him “a taste for association work.” Next, he returned to CSU, doing public relations for Dr. B.W. Pickett in the animal reproduction lab. Carpenter also advised students and did some teaching.
He next ran the Arabian Horse Trust for four years, followed by a 10-year stint as executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, then head of The Jockey Club, the latter two positions both in Kentucky. Carpenter return home to Texas to fill executive positions with the American Quarter Horse Association. After eight years there, he returned to CSU to serve as industry outreach and liaison director for the Equine Sciences Program. From 2010 through 2013 he managed the Legends of Ranching Performance Horse Sale, taught classes, advised students, and promoted the program.
Carpenter is a Certified Association Executive through the American Society of Association Executives. He has served as commissioner and CEO of the National Reining Horse Association for the past six years. In 2016, he received the Equine Industry Vision Award, recognizing ingenuity, service, and innovation across the industry.
This stalwart member of the CSU Alumni Association proclaims he “loves this place and what I’ve seen it do for people.” He pays back by speaking to current students, helping them create networks, and matching students with organizations, internships, and individuals to lead them to rewarding jobs. His favorite campus memory is of a night at the Adams/Atkinson Arena. In the classroom upstairs, a Kentucky equine veterinary practice was recruiting interns. Below, the polo team was saddling up for practice. At the other end of the area was a therapeutic riding session. Carpenter proudly explains he was overcome by the realization that “the only place this happens is CSU!”