by Pam Cusumano
CORUNNA, Mich.- The Michigan Morgan Horse Breeders’ Futurity and Fall Horse Show held its 51st annual show at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds in Corunna, Mich., on Sept. 15-17, 2006. This is a breeders show, featuring a large weanling sweepstakes class on Saturday evening as well as several classes for the youngsters competing in hand and in performance. Even though the show’s focus is on some very high quality babies, the performance classes were also outstanding. It was a heart-warming experience to see the breeders all helping each other in the show ring, even though there was a big purse to be won. These breeders truly appreciated and congratulated each other and showed they care deeply about the Morgan horse breed.
Officiating was Robert Wilson from Smithfield, Ky., who judged RaDon Weanling Spectacular; Amateur Yearling In Hand Sweepstakes; English Pleasure; Pleasure Driving; Classic; Park Futurity; Non-Futurity Stallions, Mares and Geldings In Hand. Anne Lawter from Rochester Hills, Mich., judged Hunter Pleasure; Western Pleasure; Equitation; Walk/Trot; Carriage; Miscellaneous Futurity In Hand; Sport Horse Suitability; and Fitting and Showmanship. Having two national caliber judges was a plus for the show.
The show was very well run with Leonard Kitchen overseeing a board of focused volunteers. Saturday night’s party was fabulous with a huge crowd enjoying catering by Famous Dave’s and lots of entertainment. Muriel Herrick said they served some 150 people on Sunday morning at the pancake breakfast. The show also had a judging lottery, where guest judges could win big money if they judged a class the same as the actual show judge. This went over big as railside judges had their chance to be the judge. The show officials also included announcer Dave Bedell, ringmaster Gerald Fuller, organist Logan Hyatt, photographer Shane Shiflet, show secretary Sara Ressler and USEF Steward Nancy Feehan.
There were several new additions to this year’s schedule. Friday night’s Amateur Yearling In Hand Sweepstakes awarded $5,400 to the top 10 out a grand field of 21, while the $1,000 Park Saddle Stake sponsored by Damian Hyde Stables saw GMH Gladiator and Bert Earehart earn top honors.
Friday evening started off with some of the highly anticipated in hand classes. There were breeders big and small. The common thread seemed to be that they all brought high quality babies and each had a special talent as well as endless patience with their babies. The get of Ultras Special Agent started off a winning weekend with Ultras First Class Male posing as the Futurity Gelding Champion shown by David Earehart for Steve and Annette Smith. This dynamic youngster also collected the Overall Futurity Reserve Grand Champion honors later in the show. Todd Darling presented Martha Edwards’s handsome Le French Topaz to the Futurity Gelding Reserve Champion honors.
The Futurity Three and Four-Year-Old Championship was a crowning achievement for Robert Herrick as he showed the multi-titled Century Oak Noblique to the tricolor for his and his wife, Muriel’s, Century Oak Morgans. Steve Smith captured another tricolor as Ultras Snow White posed for the reserve honors.
The final class of Friday evening was the highly anticipated Amateur Yearling In Hand Sweepstakes with an extremely competitive field of 21. The judge had his work cut out for him as all these yearlings were top quality. Ron and Lori Skover have bred several world titled horses and that night it was their time to show off their handling skills as well. They brought home the winning presentation with Key Emotion. Al and Janice Martin’s Aljak Acres were represented by another impressive white trimmed chestnut as Ken Martin guided Aljaks Double Jeopardy to the reserve honors. They came back later in the show to be named Futurity Amateur In Hand Grand Champions, with Dreammaker Moonshadow and Don Kniffen in reserve.
Ultras Spirit Of The Law was an impressive presence as Michael Slomkowski guided the charismatic chestnut to the Futurity Yearling Championship on Saturday before finishing the show as the Overall Futurity Grand Champion for proud owners Michael and Amy Bearman. The Ultra breeding program also produced the Futurity Yearling Reserve Champion in Ultras T Party who was owned and presented by Steve Smith.
The Two-Year-Old Futurity Championship saw HDP Aurora and Damian Hyde step to the head of the class for the tricolor honors. They were followed in reserve by JDS Gayla Afflaire as Steve Smith added a reserve tricolor showing.
Saturday night’s RaDon Weanling Spectacular, formerly known as the MMHBF Weanling Breeder Sweepstakes, was certainly a highlight with 33 impressive babies competing for the winner’s share of the large prize fund. The combination of breeder Joe Lengacher and trainer John Hufferd had the winning touch once again. It was Princess Makala who earned the top honors in this field with her impressive show horse ways earning another tricolor for her sire Ultras Special Agent. Sandra Stearns served notice with her young breeding program as she bred, trained and presented the crowd-pleasing KSS Maximus to the reserve honors.
Stearns and her colt, sired by Salem Command, were back to impress once again the following day as they collected the Futurity Weanling Championship over a field of 45 plus entries from the four qualifiers which were divided into colts and fillies both for the open and amateur handlers. It was a battle of “maximus” proportions as it was Bears Maximus who followed KSS Maximus as the reserve champion. Michael Slomkowski was on the lead of Bears Maximus who is another promising colt bred by Michael and Amy Bearman.
The Breeders’ Award is given to the breeder having the highest number of points earned by all of their horses entered in futurity classes. This year’s winner was Debbie Lamay, owner of JD Stables in Brooklyn, Mich.
The Alumni Pot of Gold Award is presented to the highest placing Futurity Alumni horse showing in designated classes. The winner this year was Ultras Spirit Of Play who added to a successful show for Steve and Annette Smith of Ultra Morgans, Delta, Ohio.
Michigan Futurity was indeed a spectacular showcase for high quality Morgans bred by Michigan breeders and those from the surrounding area. In addition to the Futurity and Sweepstakes Champions there was a strong presence of top performing horses and riders who continue to make the Michigan area proud in their show ring performances with several heading next to Oklahoma.
Congratulations to the Michigan Futurity and all of the remarkable winners and the show committee that made it an awesome experience. Exhibitors were delighted once again with the Futurity paybacks. The MMHBF Gala 2007 will be Saturday, March 10 in Livonia, Mich. The Gala is what makes these big paybacks possible. Visit the Futurity’s web site for more info at www.michiganmorganfuturity.com.
Complete results from the Michigan Morgan Horse Breeders’ Futurity and Fall Horse Show can be seen and searched by clicking here.