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AMHA Golden Reins Award: Josie Davis




Josie Davis rode her first Morgan at the University of New Hampshire as an undergraduate in Animal Science. While showing at the Granite State Morgan Horse Show, Josie was recruited by Dr. Donald Balch to come to the UVM Morgan Horse Farm for the 1967 summer as a tour guide and show rider. This experience changed the course of her future forever when “The Horse That Chooses You” found her and captured her heart as did meeting Steve Davis, who would much later become her husband. That summer also resulted in the iconic picture of UVM Kathy and Josie on the cover of the October 1968 issue of The Morgan Horse magazine.

Josie’s first teaching position was at the University of Minnesota at Crookston, where she developed a two-year technical equine program.

In 1991, Josie was asked to develop an equine program for the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department at the University of Vermont Burlington campus. The teaching model was unique in that it was based on a cooperative barn teaching concept where the students could immerse in the complete experience of managing and running a 22-stall barn as a boarding and teaching facility. 

Morgans, the mainstay of the model, were primarily leased from Miner Institute and the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. Josie received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educators Award in 2000 and the UVM College of Agriculture’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001.

In Josie’s tenure at UVM hundreds of students were introduced to Morgans. In collaboration with Katie Ballard at Miner institute, Josie and Katie’s stallion semen preservation research resulted in Josie earning her PhD in reproductive physiology in 2001. The following year Josie took a position as Associate Dean for Academic Programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Science while continuing to teach equine classes and advise students until 2013.

Service to the breed has included six years as a NEMHA Director, Chairman of the NEMHS youth contest from 1989-1996, and Vermont Morgan Horse Association Youth Contest Chairperson from 1989-2014. 
For her work with the youth programs and Morgan public service Josie received the 2000 VMHA Person of the Year award.

Retirement in 2016 has allowed Josie a renewed focus on family while still maintaining connections to the wonderful Morgan horse community. We are pleased to present Josie Davis with the AMHA Golden Reins Award.

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