The American Quarter Horse Association is a abuzz after one of its most prominent members, former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell, is accused of stealing more than $53 million from her day job.
Reps with the AQHA tell KWQC Crundwell donated more than $1500 dollars to their foundation in 2011. She has also donated between $1500 and $10,000 in her lifetime, putting her in the “silver” category for donations.
So far, the association has not been contacted by the FBI in regards to these donations, but Crundwell did make money from this.
Horse showmen say you can get anywhere from $2500 up $100,000 for a win, but they say you can’t make the kind of money Crundwell had solely from this.
“You just wonder how she was coming up with that,” AQHA Member and Judge Larry Hansch says.
“She always had a lot of money and people always wondered, where she get all that money?” John Irvin, who’s been in the industry for 40 years says.
Rita Crundwell is a hot topic in the horse industry nowadays. The former comptroller had an expensive hobby; horsemen say it’s enough to make a living, but not the kind of living Crundwell had.
“She would have a cargo trailer for her equipment and her clothes pulled by another big truck, and all of her help came in other vehicles,” Irvin says, “There was a big caravan, and when Rita pulled in you knew she was there.”
Many who were at the same shows as Crundwell say she was always very generous with her money, donating to and sponsoring several shows.
“At the time, nobody knew, and we all asked questions and never got the questions answered until now,” Hansch says.
Now that those answers have come out, there are still a lot of questions.
“That’s been probably the biggest topic is when are they going to hold the sale?” Hansch says.
Many are interested in buying one of Crundwell’s 311 horses, but with a federal investigation still ongoing, there’s no telling when that sale, which could bring Dixon over $7.7 million, will happen.
In the meantime, horsemen say Crundwell’s absence at competitions might help the industry.
“Some people may not have wanted to show or stopped showing because they had a hard time beating Rita,” Hansch says, “Some of those people might come back now.”
“She’s always had work-ethic, up early, up late,” he says, “I wish it hadn’t of happened that way.”
The AQHA has put out a statement on the issue to address horse owners who may have dealt with Crundwell and her horses.
Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. says: “Naturally, this is a big issue to touch the industry. I think it’s important to remember that legal proceedings take time, and as AQHA receives information, we will work with those people directly affected.”
According to an AQHA rep, Crundwell is still in good standing with the association and has not been barred from competing.
Read the full AQHA statement here: http://bit.ly/KQ3mMl