By Leslie Potter
SKOWHEGAN, Maine - In 1952 the Maine Morgan Horse Club held its first horse show, boasting 12 classes for the 16 horses entered. The Maine Morgan Horse Show continues on, 55 years later with 149 classes offered and exhibitors coming from all over the northeast United States and parts of Canada for three days of competition and fun in central Maine. With the New England Regional a mere three weeks later, Maine Morgan offers trainers and exhibitors a relatively relaxed weekend of showing right in the middle of a busy season.
The Maine Morgan Horse Club dedicated the 2007 edition of the show to Maine Lee Morgans and its founder, Richard Lee. Lee was a lifelong Mainer and a longtime breeder of quality Morgan horses, and his legacy lives on with the Maine Lee prefixed Morgans that his family continues to breed today. The dedication was a fitting tribute for this year's show as 2007 marks 50 years since the beginning of Lee's breeding program with the purchase of his very first Morgan in 1957.
This year's committee and officials worked hard to make sure the show lived up to its reputation for top-notch hospitality and quality competition. Pauline Richard took on the duties as show manager, with Janine Hawkins as the carriage division manager and Vicki Harriman managing the dressage division. The youth contest was handled by former Youth of the Year Selina Skelton-Cloutier. Mary Wahl kept the office running smoothly as show secretary. Mary Lynn Whitley was the USEF steward. Larry Wahl returned to his post as ringmaster, with John Bennett as announcer and Debbie Uecker-Keough once again coming out from California as the official show photographer.
Taking on the judging assignments were Cathy Grimes for the Park, English, Saddle Seat Equitation, Pleasure Driving and In Hand classes. Josh Merritt handled the Classic Pleasure Saddle, Hunter, Western, Equitation, Carriage and In Hand classes. Jane Sheehan scored the dressage and sport horse divisions.
The Skowhegan Fairgrounds hosts a variety of shows and competitions nearly every weekend during the summer, and over the past several years there has been much effort put in to making it as exhibitor-friendly as possible. This year the fairgrounds added new stalls just in time for Maine Morgan, and not a moment too soon as the stabling was still sold out.
Though the weather was inconsistent, ranging from warm and sunny to thunder, lightning and pouring rain, there was always a crowd in the stands while the show was in progress, enjoying the quality horses and the social atmosphere of the show. By far the biggest draw to the ring were Friday night's Breeders' Cup classes, now in their ninth year. With a class for weanlings, yearlings and sport horses, and $3,500 distributed among the top 10 in each division, these classes are a big draw for breeders around the region.
The weanlings were first to take the ring with the cream of this year's foal crop entering the ring one at a time under the scrutiny of the judge and spectators. The entries returned to the ring for a final look before the results were announced in reverse order. This year's top weanling was MTG All Eyes On Me, a charming bay foal exhibited by John Lampropoulos for ecstatic owner Melissa Gawrys.
John Lampropoulos and MTG All Eyes On Me
The Breeders’ Cup classes also offer a people's choice award, where spectators vote for their favorite. For the weanlings, it was Rick Lane and George Schott's flashy entry MEM Just Me who won the crowd over. This entry also earned a reserve nod from the judges.
MEM Just Me with trainer Rick Lane
The sport horses were presented next, though the judging had been completed earlier on Friday morning. This class is open to sport type Morgans between one and three years of age, and is judged 50 percent on movement, 40 percent conformation and 10 percent overall impression. Taking top honors from both the judges and in the people's choice voting was Kelly Howe's Dantree Constantine, expertly handled by trainer Judy Nason.
Finally, the yearlings took center stage in the final offering of this year's Breeders' Cup. Once again each horse came in for individual judging before all entries were called back for final judging and presentations. Breeder/owners Greg and Carol Fleck were delighted when Partridge Hill Tonic was the judge's choice as well as the people's choice when the son of their impressive Treble’s Tanqueray took top honors across the board.
The jubilant atmosphere doesn't end with the Breeders' Cup classes. In fact, the classes are a precursor to the exhibitors' party and Breeders' Cup auction that take place on the grounds at the end of the show Friday night. The party is always a favorite, and is a great time to catch up with fellow exhibitors, enjoy the food and drink provided by the committee while raising money for future Breeders' Cup classes.
The weather was relatively kind for the final day of the show. Though it started out rainy, much of the day actually saw sun right into the evening session. That final session is worth sticking around for, with several of the most exciting championships being saved for the end of the show. But if that’s not enough, the $500 winner take all jackpots are enticing as well, since all trainers and owners are in the running, but must be present on at the time of the drawing to claim their prize. This year’s big winners were; Dawn Campbell for the owners’ jackpot, and Sarah Lettre for the trainers. As always, a big thanks goes out to Chrislar farm for co-sponsoring the jackpots along with the show committee.
Maine Morgan is proving itself year after year as one of the best ways to enjoy top Morgan competition in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. To join in on the mid-show season party, mark your calendar for the next Maine Morgan Horse Show, July 3-5, 2008.
Complete show ring results can be found by clicking here.
Also seen at Maine Morgan:
HRH Leo and Brianna Conary
pose with the blue ribbon in
Junior Exhibitor English Pleasure Novice Rider.
Ashley Brown earned a spot at Oklahoma City
with a win in the AMHA Hunt Seat Medal on the Flat
with KH Chapter One who was later crowned
Open Hunter Pleasure Champion.
Meghann Wright teamed up with Enough Said
for a victory in the English Pleasure Junior
Exhibitor Championship for owner Amanda Hill.
WVW Winsome Airabella and Brittany Powers
won Suitable to Become a Dressage Horse
and Dressage Horse Under Saddle Championship
for owner Linda Leavitt.
Cordu earned the tricolor in the
Classic Pleasure Driving Championship
with Susan MacDougall.
Maxine Kenny proudly sported the infamous horse
head patterned day-coat from the Breeders' Cup
auction when she won the English Pleasure Youth
Championship with Indian Creek Quantico.