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2002 AMHA Honorees



Posted February 27, 2002
The following speeches were read by Conky Price on Friday, February 8, 2002, during the AMHA convention in Kissimmee, Florida.

HALL OF FAME
HENRY E. I. & MARTHA VERGE duPONT

The Morgan horse is indebted beyond measure to the generosity of the couple we honor as inductees into the AMHA Hall of Fame. While our admiration for their contributions is enormous, our hearts are sad as we welcome Martha duPont this evening, as she mourns the recent, sudden loss of her husband, Henry E. I. duPont.

Together, their love of, generosity towards, and support of the Morgan horse has done much to give our wonderful breed a higher profile in the equine world. The duPonts are champions of the underdog, doing much in the state of Delaware to provide proper housing and care for neglected children. Mrs. duPont once said, "I felt the Morgan horse was also an underdog and not getting the recognition it deserved as a wonderful and beautiful horse that could do many things."

Thus began their dedication to promoting the breed of horse they both loved. They made possible the construction of the AMHA headquarters in Shelburne, Vermont and helped fund the National Museum of the Morgan Horse where there is now a significant collection of historical Morgan artifacts. They commissioned internationally acclaimed artist Gwen Reardon to create a panorama of the Morgan horse throughout the years. This painting is the focal point of the museum and is seen by the many visitors that visit there throughout the year.

They were also responsible for the creation and installation of the Morgan horse statue rendered by Gwen Reardon at the Kentucky Horse Park. The duPonts felt the breed needed a realistic representation that would be admired by the thousands of horse-lovers that attend the park each year. They sponsored photographer Robert Vavra's book, Classic Book of Horses, with its outstanding historical section on the Morgan horse. They commissioned the microfilming of the United States Department of Agriculture's accounts of the government Morgans and helped make them available to the Morgan world.

The duPonts also played a large role in producing the widely distributed booklet titled The Year of the Morgan. They promoted Morgans as elegant carriage horses when Mr. duPont drove his handsome, black four-in-hand in two Presidential Inaugural Parades, the Devon Marathon and various social events in this country as well as Canada.

Mrs. duPont served on the AMHA Board of Directors where she chaired the Morgan Promotion Committee. She was a Trustee on the AMHI and is presently a Trustee Emeritus. She originated the Morgan Breeders' Group, serving as its president until it was superseded by the AMHA Breeders' Committee. She headed the AMHA Bicentennial Committee and designed a flag and commemorative plates as well as helping make the Bicentennial Show at the Kentucky Horse Park possible. For two years she headed a Morgan exhibition there over the Fourth of July weekend. The duPonts produced a film showing the Morgan as a family show horse of many persuasions that was slated for ESPN.

On their own farm, they bred almost 200 Morgans and today the Nemours prefix is a well-known name on the registration papers of show, sport, and home-loved horses, with a number of breeders using the duPont stock as foundation for their own programs.

It gives us great pleasure and pride to express our appreciation for what this couple has contributed to the Morgan breed by inducting Henry E. I. and Martha Verge duPont into the AMHA Hall of Fame.

HALL OF FAME
JOHN BENNETT

Our inductee was born and raised on a dairy farm in Putnam, Connecticut. He acquired his first pony at the age of eight and soon started showing at some local shows. He was first introduced to the Morgan breed when his father purchased a yearling colt from the University of Connecticut. The young colt was sent to trainer Bob Brooks for his formal education. That relationship with Bob gave him the inspiration to start working with horses. While in high school he trained horses during the summer months.

After high school he attended the University of Connecticut, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. Upon graduation he returned home to the family farm, but soon discovered that managing dairy cows was not in his future.

He went to work for his older brother running a boarding stable and soon was back to training horses of all breeds. One day some local people brought him a flashy chestnut colt to work. He was a handsome fellow with four white socks. Our honoree worked him that winter and took him to the Connecticut Morgan Horse Show the following Spring where the flashy horse won the two-year-old pleasure driving class. The horse was Big Ben Doc Davis.

In 1978 he returned home and opened up John Bennett Stable, working with such notable horses as Laurelledge Renegade, Lady Diedre, Tedwin Taurean, and UC Top Brass. In 1985 he was elected president of the Connecticut Morgan Horse Association, a position he held for the next two years. During that time he had an extreme interest in promoting our youth, so he appointed the present AMHA board member, Eileen Hunter, to develop the Connecticut Morgan Youth Group. A year later, our inductee accepted a position at the University of Connecticut as the horse Unit Manager, a job that entails managing an 85-horse herd, running a Morgan breeding program and teaching several equine science courses. Most recently he has been the coach of several intercollegiate horse judging teams that have competed at such prestigious competitions as the Quarter Horse Congress, Arabian Nationals, and twice a the Morgan Grand Nationals.

He is active in his County Farm Bureau and holds a U.S. Equestrian card in the Morgan and Saddle Seat division. Most recently he was on the judging panel at the 2001 Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show.

Today our inductee resides with his wife of 29 years, Sue Ellen. They have three children, Jennifer, Katherine, and John III. Please welcome our newest Hall of Fame Inductee, John Bennett.

AMHA HALL OF FAME
BEVERLY CLEMENTSEN

Our next Hall of Fame Inductee was a member of the Northern California Morgan Horse Club, the Sacramento Valley Morgan Horse Club, the California Carriage Association, and the SPCA. She never believed in being one of those people who just sends in their dues. She was a worker. She served as editor of the Northern California Morgan Horse Club's newsletter, The Korral, for over five years. During this time she built up the advertising revenue so that the publication became solvent. Later she did the same thing with the Sacramento Valley Club's publication, Hoofprints. She also compiled and oversaw publication of at least two editions of the Region VII Directory, each one containing a couple of hundred pages of historical articles, member listings, and photographs. She also chaired the Dressage division of the Mother Lode All Morgan Show for numerous years. For the Sacramento Horsemen's Association, an open all breed club, she chaired the summer schooling show series, raising several thousand dollars every year in addition to leading numerous trail rides in the foothills of the Sierras.

Our inductee owned Morgans for several years, buying her first mare, Dina Vermont, from Gene Davis's stock farm in 1954. She loved the Red Vermont and Funquest lines, and prized the bright red chestnut horses above all. She was indefatigable on the show circuit and encouraged many newcomers to participate.

Ron Smith rode one of her homebred mares, Justin's Beaucatcher to win the California State Horsemen's Association English Horsemastership Award, the first and only time a Morgan had made it to that level of competition. With Rocky's Jubilee, Ron was the only male rider to ever win the Hunt Seat Gold Medal at the Grand National.

Our inductee's daughters, Betty and Barbara, won lots of ribbons in Hunter over Fences, Hunter Pleasure and showmanship classes in the open and 4-H divisions with her beloved Justin's Beaucathcher. Justy's son, Barbet Sweet Pete, won numerous Hunter Pleasure championships and Dressage ribbons on the Class A Morgan circuit. Using Curly Jones' stallion, Paradise Diablo, she won many carriage and Reinsmanship classes in both the open and Morgan show circuits. She applauded the introduction of the Classic Pleasure Division and competed with a couple of mares in those driving classes as well.

She was an avid trail rider and even competed in competitive trail rides a time or two. Riding along the American River or over on the California coast at Point Reyes was one of the great joys of her life. Rain or shine, from 20 to over 100 degrees, little could keep her from a trail ride. The riding was therapeutic and seemed to offer her relief from some of the stresses of her job as a county social worker.

Winner of an AMHA Master's Certificate, she was the kind of person who always volunteered if one of the clubs was holding a clinic, breed demonstration, potluck, or other event. She was an officer and Board member who made every meeting. She was someone who could be counted on and when she volunteered for a job, she always followed through.

A fiery red head who always had an opinion, she gave immensely of her time, money, and energy to support her first love, the Morgan horse. It was a terrible loss that she only lived to enjoy a couple of years of retirement before her untimely death almost two years ago. It is with sincere gratitude for her many years of service that we induct Beverly Clementsen into the Morgan Hall of Fame.

MAN OF THE YEAR
ROBERT D. RILEY

AMHA's Man of the Year Award should be bestowed upon someone who represents the best of the Morgan horse. This year's winner epitomized the greatest qualities of our beloved breed. He spread the word on everything concerning the Morgan horse to all who would listen and he did it tirelessly, with a kind nature and gentle hand.

His early childhood started out with horses; horses who were usable and good-minded. His family's horses were work animals, fulfilling many jobs around the farm such as plowing, driving buggies, and carrying people from town to town. The horses he first came to know were draft horse and Morgan cross that produced hardy, surefooted and practical animals.

After graduating from high school he moved off the farm to Chicago to pursue his dreams of work and family. In November 1952, he bought his very first Morgan, Lady-Star who had a black 3-month-old filly at her side that came to be his favorite horse of all time, Mary J.

While doing a variety of jobs, he always kept some horses to work on the side. After agreeing to pick up and deliver a horse to a woman in Michigan, he developed a business of buying horses, breaking them to ride, and driving them east to sell, always guaranteeing that each was what he said it would be, or he'd take it back.

After retiring in 1973, he began training for the Sterne family of Montbelle Morgans in Illinois. After that he went to work training at the Epleys' Juneacres Farm in Iowa, where he retired after 17 years. He could not keep his hands entirely out of Morgans though, and continued to work with problem horses and also volunteered to work with handicapped children at Jennifer Steensen's Field of Dreams Handicapped Riding Program. In the mid 90's he was inducted into the AMHA Hall of Fame.

It is impossible to grasp the number of hours spent promoting the Morgan horse through talks, seminars, clinics, and personal contact. He refused to ever accept payment for his time, except of course, for the occasional gooseberry pie, that had to have cream on top. We are of course talking about Bob Riley, who passed away on April 19th of 2001. Bob will be missed by many people whose lives he has touched with his soft voice and quiet hands. Accepting the award tonight is Donald Riley, Bob's son.

AMHA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
KATHIE HORMAN

Throughout the childhood of this year's Woman of the Year, she read every horse-related book she could get her hands on. Each year her birthday wish was to have ponies at her party. She grew up on a ranch and at the age of eight started riding lessons. She would go on to show horses in English and Hunter Seat until her college years. Once married and after absorbing all of the horse knowledge she could, she began a quest for the perfect horse, which led to her owning horses of various breeds.

Upon a trip to Rickford Stables, she was shown Quarter Horses and Arabians, to which she commented to Dale Rickford, "I have seen too much junk, show me one with charisma." The story goes that Dale looked at her with disgust and disappeared into the barn. When he returned, he brought out a gorgeous liver chestnut horse with a reddish mane and tail. Our recipient replied, "I'll take him." It turned out that this particular horse, Kantrices Carmel Air, was a two-year-old stallion, but it didn't matter. She recognized the horse of her dreams, thus beginning her 20-year love affair with the Morgan breed.

Throughout the years she has had the privilege of owning some very special Morgans, such as West Mountain Woody Gee, GTR Dream Weaver, and TSF Saturday's Trouble, all of whom went on to win championships with our recipient and her daughter.

Without a doubt, our Woman of the Year is best known for her generous and giving spirit. For many years, she has put on the After Glow party and Auction at the Grand National, as well as co-hosting the exhibitor's party. She has made quilts to benefit AMHI and AMHA and has donated a special quilt for the National Museum of the Morgan Horse. She served on the AMHI Board for the past 12 years and the NMMH Board for the past eight years. She even compiled a cookbook that was illustrated by Nancy Eidam as a fundraiser.

Several years ago when the Board held their meeting in Utah, she stepped in at the last minute to host the event. She single-handedly turned a dwindling Utah Morgan Horse Club into a very successful and now flourishing club. Service is second nature to her as she is always looking to help others and make their lives better. She has funded several scholarships for needy students who otherwise would not get an education. She also has been known to give Morgan horses to kids who could not afford them.

This year's recipient exemplifies the AMHA Woman of the Year by giving her all and expecting nothing in return. She has represented the Morgan horse as a devoted owner, client, rider/driver, coach, and promoter. Please welcome Katherine Kercher who is accepting on behalf of her daughter AMHA Woman of the Year Kathie Horman.

GOLDEN REINS AWARD
LARRY BOLEN

The recipient of our next award can be described as dedicated, honest, a perfectionist, sometimes stubborn and always generous, but across the board when asked to give a few thoughts about this man, friends and colleagues alike choose the words "true professional".

Never too busy to give advice or lend a helping hand, this consummate professional has dedicated his life to the Morgan breed. He began his show career with the Morgan horse in his late teens, cutting his teeth at weekend shows held on dusty baseball diamonds. Attending the Morgan Gold Cup was the highlight of the year. Watching the powerhouse strings of Carrousel and Whitney Stables dominate the show, only intensified his determination to one day have an enviable string of champions himself.

With the help of equally dedicated business partners, he was able to realize his dream. Under his direction, Cedar Creek Farm steamrolled through the 1980s and 1990s with such superstars as Hyland Acres Command, Mirabel's Isabeau, DM Premonition, Prince Of Highland, Green Meads Big Ben, and homebred horses such as Cedar Creek Calypso, Cedar Creek Giselle, Cedar Creek Harlequin, and Cedar Creek Interlude. Many feel his greatest skill is pairing amateur with horse. Always enthusiastic to put clients in the ring, his list of world champion riders and drivers are too numerous to list. Perhaps as much a part of his career as trainer, was his role in marketing and developing one of our breed's most influential stallions. I Will Command's career in the breeding shed culminated with being listed at the top of every major sire rating in the country. His sons and daughters are still winning in today's show rings.

Today finds our recipient as much in the thick of things as ever. In his barn you can find a number of indications that he has realized his dreams. From the numerous happy clients gleaning what they can from their perfectionist instructor, to the beautiful babies still being produced from carefully chosen lines. But perhaps most noticeable is the diverse string of champion performers that by no accident line the aisle ways of his pristine stable.

We hope that Larry Bolen will continue to grace the Morgan world with his quiet, yet strong presence. Please welcome Golden Reins Award honoree Larry Bolen.

GOLDEN REINS AWARD
JOHN DIEHL

This Golden Reins recipient was a man before his time. He made stars out of Morgans from many different bloodlines in his fifty-some years as a professional. His hallmark was his ability to make a horse's mouth and set a horse's head. He claims that was a God-given talent. A born showman, his flamboyance and joie de vivre often made him a controversial figure in the show ring. No one could present an in-hand horse or let a horse trot on in form like John. He helped set the precedent for today's upheaded, pleasure show horse.

Born in a little town in Pennsylvania, John did his stint in the Navy before going to work for a saddle horse trainer in Ohio. He found the weather there too cold for his liking so he moved to Florida in 1959 where he went to Tim White's Camelot Farms, one of the top Morgan stables of the day. He wintered in Florida and summered in Pennsylvania, hitting shows up and down the east coast and always was the ones to beat with Kane's Spring Delite, Camelot Guenevere, Trophy's Becky Date, Trophy's Bracelet, and Trophy's Award, who was the 1964 AHSA Horse of the Year. Trophy offspring were admired for their athletic ability and desire but were difficult to make wear a bridle properly. John's saddle horse background gave him the touch, giving his Morgans a lovely mouth. His Trophy horses became top show ring competitors.

When Camelot Farms stopped showing horses in the mid 1960s, John moved back to Pennsylvania where he opened a stable called the Spanish Bit. Although he showed other breeds including American Saddlebreds, Arabians, hunters and jumpers, Lyndon Beeker was his Morgan star that won many park saddle and harness classes in the Northeast.

The call of the sun beckoned John back to Florida's Hainlin Mill Farm where he took Bald Mt. Ira Hawk, Echobrook Jeanette and Camelot Lady Kristen to much success as he made his way up the coast to New England.

He later moved to Georgia, where he still lives today. He presented horses such as Cambridge Sir Lancer, Topside Mastermind, Illawana Kazan, Rosea, Wilderness Pride, Foothill Figure, Townshend Donachime, Neighknob Ethan, Dawnhill Storm Cloud, High Meadows Superb, Millsearl Soldier and Applevale Commander.

Perhaps the horse that earned him the most notoriety was one that belonged to Tom and Charlene Hilgenberg. John with Ashley deBoyd were forerunners for showing a pleasure horse up on the bit and in form in all gaits. The Hilgenbergs thought their stallion had the ability to become the AHSA Morgan Horse of the Year, an award based on points and highly sought after in the early 1970s. Tom needed someone to work full time with Ashley, so he selected our recipient. When the 1972 show season was over, John and Ashley had participated at 13 A, two B and one C rated show. This was a total of 80 classes with eight championships, five reserves, 39 nine blue ribbons and a record-setting total of 1,369 AHSA points. The presentation of English pleasure and driving horses would never be the same.

While he says he has retired, John Diehl is still enthusiastic when he sees a nice Morgan and has one of his own he shows a few times a year. He has been the consummate professional and is certainly deserving of the honor of AMHA's Golden Reins Award.

GOLDEN REINS AWARD
MIKE GOEBIG

Our recipient of the AMHA Golden Reins Award is a man now enjoying the success of a Morgan dynasty he was instrumental in creating. An admittedly self-taught trainer, this man started early in his life to forge a career in the equine world. His passion and respect for the Morgan horse no doubt originated with his parents who were always involved with horses in some fashion. His father, born in 1898, worked as a teamster in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and owned more than 100 horses that did the heavy pulling at that time. His mother Dorothy's interest was primarily showing Morgan parade horses that were very popular in the 1940s.

He bought his first horse, Tas-Tee's Indian Summer, at the Tas-Tee Farm dispersal sale when he was eight years old. She was paid for with nickels and dimes he had saved. He successfully trained and showed this mare 3 years later, but by 1963 decided he wanted a park horse as well as a pleasure horse. He leased a talented gelding, Spring Glo, from Camelot Farms and in 1965, at 14 years of age, won the hotly contested Gelding Park Saddle Stake at the National Show in Northampton, Massachusetts. Spring Glo was then purchased and the team went on to many more victories in the years that followed.

In the next several years, he began watching top trainers like Tom Moore and Sullivan Davis and emulating their techniques and professionalism. At 19, he spent a summer with Doris Ryan at Irish Lane Farm and had the opportunity to train Beamington to saddle and show him at the Midwest Charity, where he took home the Junior Park Saddle Championship.

In 1972, at age 21, our award recipient had six or seven horses to train and opened his own training facility in Coopersburg, PA. In the next 11 years, Mike would produce a number of champions and soon he had more customers than space. In 1986 Broadmoor opened its doors. Today this training barn is known for its commitment to professionalism as well as its friendliness. Mike has trained numerous World and National champions in many different divisions including The Master's Touch, Opies Boy, HVK Frango, and many more.

Mike serves as president of the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Club as well as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Show Committee. He is also a past chairman and founding member of the AMHA Professional Horsemans Committee.

As a trainer, Mike has the ability to figure out what a horse wants to do, what it is suited for and then gets that horse to perform to the best of it's capabilities. He has done it time and time again, always matching horse to rider. The Morgan breed is indeed fortunate to have such a talented trainer to showcase its unique gifts.

CECIL BROWN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
JANEY LUCINE

This year through the Cecil Brown Sportsmanship Award, we are recognizing an individual who continues to make many Morgan competitions a pleasure through her volunteer roles and one who has a lifelong background of exhibiting the virtues of sportsmanship as a competitor and teacher of young competitors. As is the case in many young girls' lives, our winner fell in love with horses at an early age. She was fortunate to be introduced to the Morgan breed through an incredible family. Highview Farm in Pawnee, Illinois, was owned by Ly and Helen Greenwalt who became affectionately known as Ma and Pa Greenwalt. Here, our award recipient learned to properly care for and ride the beautiful Morgan horses and even after her family relocated to Philadelphia; their family made annual summer journeys back to Illinois that kept them all in touch. Helen's sister Grace Brunk Woods was opening a riding school in Philadelphia and Helen was more than happy to recommend our winner to help out. Soon the pair was looking for suitable Morgans in the Philadelphia area.

While keeping busy with her growing interests in the Morgan world, she was also studying to become a nurse. She met her husband-to-be at the hospital where they both worked and when they completed their medical training, they married. Her husband knew nothing of horses but was soon pulled into the lifestyle with the purchase of their first stallion, Squire Penn, whom she showed in the park saddle and parade divisions. Soon after, a three-stall barn and riding ring were built to house their small band of Morgans. After 5 years and the addition of a few more horses and a couple of daughters, the family moved to the suburbs in search of a larger farm.

They now had an official breeding farm and their sights also turned to the show ring, where our recipient showed in a variety of divisions. They exhibited at many shows and took an active role in both the Mid-A Show and also the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Club.

She passed her love of horses on to her daughters and they too enjoyed many very successful years in the show ring as standouts in English Pleasure, Park Saddle, and Saddle Seat Equitation classes.

For almost 30 years, our recipient and her husband were able to travel throughout the country to attend AMHA Board meetings, and meet many Morgan owners, breeders and trainers. For the more than 40 years that our award winner has owned Morgan horses, her barn doors have been open to countless promotional and educational activities for horse enthusiasts of all ages. She has been involved with Morgan horses as a promoter, breeder and exhibitor, always showcasing the Morgan in its best light.

This year we are pleased to award the Cecil Brown Memorial Sportsmanship Award to Janey Lucine.

YOUTH PERSON OF THE YEAR
JOHNNA CHENAIL

Each year, AMHA presents special recognition to an adult who has made outstanding contributions to the Morgan Youth Program on a national level. This year's recipient has dedicated hours to the young people brought together by the Morgan horse.

Our recipient had experience in horses by the time she discovered Morgans. Her first Morgan was B H Grand Illusion, a bay foal that she won in an essay contest. She later showed him in Western Pleasure and still owns him today. She received her Equine Studies degree from the University of Connecticut and worked for Bob Brooks.

Our Youth Person of the Year works very hard, but is also known for her ability to make learning fun and enjoyable, too. She has been an active member of the Connecticut Morgan Horse Association since she was a teenager, and now heads the club as its president. She has been co-chair of the Connecticut Morgan Horse Show for the past several years, as well as lending a hand at the Summer Finale. Perhaps her biggest accomplishment though has been forming her Nob Hill Neighbors Youth Club, in which kids take part in field trips, a yearly camping outing, and various local community events. They are an active club and for the past two years have been honored as AMHA's Youth Club of the Year and Reserve Club of the Year. Her group participates in the Youth of the Year Contests across New England and one of her students, Annie Wildermuth, has competed at the Grand National for the past two years, and was the 2001 Reserve Youth of the Year winner. She also runs a horse bowl contest once a year. Despite her hectic schedule at the Grand National, she participates in the judging contest and is always there to lend a helping hand.

It is clear that this year's recipient has had a big impact on many of today's young horse people. Through her dedication and encouragement, young members have learned a sense of sportsmanship and fair play, discipline, responsibility, and have acquired leadership and citizenship skills. Our Youth Person of the Year, Johnna Chenail.

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