Some people, the really lucky ones, feel truly blessed when accomplishments from years earlier come back around for a full-circle, repeat performance. It happened to Kathy Hodges of Flower Mound, and according to her, the second time tasted just as sweet as the first.
Kathy grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma. It was her entire life, and everything about it was important to her.
“We had horses and cattle,” she explained. “We stood a stallion for our own mares as well as for the public. Our breeding program was geared to both halter and performance horses, and I did a great deal of showing in those days. Being competitive with horses produced from your own program was equal to creating your personal brand and then advertising it in competitive arenas.”
It was a good life, and Kathy was under the impression that her future was well laid out.
“Everything looked pretty clear,” she said. “I intended to continue the horse and ranching involvement, and I settled on Oklahoma State for a degree in agricultural communications. After that, I could see my path taking me to work for the AQHA Journal in writing or advertising and design.”
AQHA refers to the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, which registers and lays out all the rules and requirements for Quarter Horses, along with their breeders, owners, and trainers.
With that vision leading her, Kathy lined out her classes, moved into the dorm to mark her first time living on a paved sidewalk, and joined the college’s youth judging team. Her life was changing, but in the direction she anticipated.
“It was wonderful,” she remembered. “There were 12 of us on the team, and we traveled all over the country, judging horses on their physical appearance (conformation) and how that conformation would potentially allow them to achieve success in whatever performance discipline was chosen for them. It was a fantastic experience.
“Our coach was Bob Story, who eventually became a veterinarian. He taught us so much and was always there for us. We competed in youth judging at the 1978 World Championship Quarter Horse Show and we won! There’s no way to put our excitement into words.”
The trophy for the event eventually moved into the shadows. Kathy came to Texas 28 years ago. She did not embark on a career with AQHA, although she did work briefly in advertising and communications for the widely respected Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, OK. She returned to college to pursue a teaching degree. She retired during the COVID struggles after teaching 34 years, with 27 of those at the kindergarten level. She has an adult daughter from a previous marriage, and two adult sons from her husband David’s previous marriage. David is in the mortgage business and, per Kathy, is a huge volunteer with several groups and projects.
During her teaching years, Kathy also owned and managed Celebrations Invitations for six years in Flower Mound.
At this point, Kathy had first-hand experience with horses and cattle, competing, award-winning level livestock judging, journalism and advertising sales, teaching, retail business ownership, and the intricacies of being a wife, mother, and grandmother. But she wasn’t finished.
“I met Donna Phillips who owns Spa 360 in Flower Mound,” she explained. “We visited and, not long after, she approached me about managing the boutique portion of her spa. I accepted and, now, I go in every day. I go to markets and do all the buying.”
And something else happened very recently, something that puts Kathy in that small group of very lucky people mentioned at the beginning of this article.
“I found out Dr. Story, my judging team coach from all those years ago, was being inducted into the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame,” Kathy said. “I also received word that he wouldn’t accept the honor without his team there with him. As I said earlier, he was always there for us.
“I went, along with several other team members. It was wonderful, and it gave all of us another look at a very special time. We all felt good.”