Skip to content

Celebrating Excellence - 2006 AMHA Annual Convention


By Christy Howard Parsons


Lexington, Ky., - The Morgan Horse world converged onto horse country in Lexington, Kentucky, to celebrate the Morgan breed. A strong turnout of more than 300 registered attendees came together to work together towards the betterment of the Morgan horse. Previous years’ problems of division appear to be on the mend, and industry leaders are working hard to pull the breed together.


“One of my goals was to develop a cohesive Board of Directors that can discuss without division,” said AMHA president Mike Goebig. “We are all different facets of the same gemstone.”


Tom Caisse expanded upon this thought. “It is unbelievable to me that the greatest asset of this breed is what tears it apart. We have a genetic pool that is able to do anything you want it to do. Our Morgan can survive anything if it can just survive its owners.”


To that end the Annual Meeting of the Membership had an open members forum, where members could ask any question of the board or make any comments.


During this open forum, Earl Dunlap asked for help in acquiring significant historical items for the Museum, not to mention continued financial assistance.


Tami Johnson inquired about the half-Morgan registry issue. President Goebig explained that the committee studying that issue had been dissolved after a non-binding vote of the membership at last year’s convention voted not to pursue a half-Morgan registry.


Harry Sebring updated members on the status of the location of the AMHA headquarters and the Museum. The lease on the AMHA building expires in 2007. The building committee is currently reviewing the option to renew the 20-year lease. The AMHI currently owns the building and has offered to deed the building to the AMHA, but the AMHA has some questions that are currently being negotiated between the two organizations.


To put an end to rumor, it was announced that the AMHA headquarters and Museum would be staying in Vermont and not moving to Kentucky. However the AMHA is currently working on expanding the Morgan presence at the Kentucky Horse Park as a promotional tool for the breed.


Jim Lowry clarified that the expansion of a Kentucky presence is not related to the AMHA/AMHI building issue currently being negotiated.


One of the most important orders of business at the Convention is the election of new directors. Mike Goebig, president of the AMHA Board, announced new directors on Saturday, February 18, 2006 at round two of the Annual Meeting of the Membership. Georgie Green was elected to represent Region 6 and Marjorie Hazelwood will represent Region 7 for another three-year term. New to the Board is Carol Fletcher-Churchill, who will represent Region 8, and Loretta Brown, as Director-at-Large. Normally, election results are announced on Friday, however, this year's tabulation took additional time due to the large number of proxy ballots cast on the day of the election.


During the reorganization meeting of the AMHA Board of Directors, Mike Goebig was reelected as president of the Board for a second term.


During the Friday session of this meeting, Harry Sebring delivered the financial report for the association. He reported the AMHA to be in a very strong financial position as opposed to previous years where members’ equity was in a negative position.


“I think the importance of this stronger financial position is we can move our attention in the coming years to ways of increasing Morgan awareness and increasing our promotion of the breed in general. In 2005 we spent 50 percent more in marketing and promotion than in 2004 and for 2006 we are budgeted to exceed our 2005 expenditures by another 50 percent. While we need to keep an ever-present eye on the financial wellbeing of the Association, the policies and procedures we put in place in the earlier part of this decade have paid off,” delivered Sebring.


Membership at the end of the year was 10,153, compared to 10,408 in 2005. This represents a 2 percent decrease that was expected due to the conversion to a calendar membership for 2006.


Each year, more and more members attend the annual convention due in large part to the amazing schedule of activities which is put together by Erica Eulau Richard, Convention Co-Chairmen Sherry Cole, Janice McKinney, and Edward Creighton, and the AMHA Board of Directors. There is truly something for everyone on the agenda.


Many AMHA members rolled into Lexington on Wednesday to enjoy the barn tour of some of the most beautiful farms in Lexington. [See separate story and photographic coverage in this issue of Saddle Horse Report.]


Then it was time to get some hands on experience and clinics were held throughout the day at the Kentucky Horse Park. Jim Lowry recruited clinicians in virtually every discipline to share their training secrets with the AMHA members. The weather was beautiful and the clinics were entertaining and informative. There were large crowds and most clinicians had to be torn away from the microphone before they answered one last question.


The official welcome reception was held once the buses returned from the Horse Park followed by the 11th Annual AMHI Gala Auction. It was a fun night filled with great purchases, lots of laughter, and $53,000 in proceeds for the American Morgan Horse Institute that promotes educational programs and more than $15,000 in youth scholarships each year. Corcel, Inc. and Mark Bodnar sponsored this year’s AMHI Auction. Susan Fu served as auction chairman. Announcer Bill Carrington worked the crowd for their bids on 35 fabulous auction items.


The schedule for Friday and Saturday featured many choices for convention attendees. Whatever your focus, there were topics of interest, all centered in a convenient area of the hotel around the Morgan Marketplace and the Convention’s commercial exhibitors.


The Meet the Trainer roundtables were very successful again this year. The various disciplines were represented with round table discussions with the most prominent trainers in each discipline.


Perhaps one of the most enjoyable forums was the 70s Show Ring Horses. Renee Page put together a slide presentation of the best of the best of the Morgan show horses of the 1970s. Sally Longenecker and Judy Whitney Harris joined her on the panel. The standing-room only crowd laughed and cried along with the panel as they told old stories about the “Nationals” (which were at New England at the time) and the legends of the time.


The information-gathering sessions were also a hit with topics from being prepared for emergencies and disasters, to advice on how to juggle riding with family time and work, to developing a lesson program, to publicity campaigns.


The Grand National Show Committee under the direction of 2006 show chair Elaine Galatz met to give a progress report for the 2006 Morgan Grand National. Continued improvements in the facility include additional parking, an improved warm up ring in barn 7, and two new work areas including a covered work area that measures 100 x 200 feet.


Several additional classes are planned for this year’s show including Master’s Finals classes in Classic Pleasure, Classic Pleasure Driving, Amateur Park Harness, and Amateur Park Saddle. Master’s Finals will qualify for the Amateur World Champion Park Harness and Park Saddle classes.


It was also announced that additional Futurity money will be available and a new Cochran incentive will be available in the Three-Year-Old English Pleasure Futurity.


The youth of the AMHA were also involved with a full schedule of events of their own. The AMHA Youth Clubs of the Year were recognized. The AMHA Youth Club Contest consist of three challenges: a scrapbook contest to determine the club of the year, an educational display contest exhibiting an area of horse mastership, and a Blue Ribbon Club contest which requires the participating youth club to submit 50 horse bowl questions, maintain 100% AMHA membership for all club members, and participation in the Youth Club of the Year contest. In addition, clubs are recognized with special achievement awards for those who go beyond the standard requirements in certain contest categories. The winners of this year’s contests are: Granite State Mystical Morgans (Best Breed Promotion, Best Special Effort and Most Original as well as Educational Display Contest), Missouri Valley Morgan Youth Club (Best Community Service and Blue Ribbon Club), A Bit More Morgan Youth Club (Best Educational Activities), The River Riders Youth Club (Blue Ribbon Club), Tropical Trotters Youth Club (Best Year Book Cover and Best Photographs), Ethan Allen Youth Group (Educational Display Contest),


More than 80 local, regional, and international clubs and national service organizations are affiliated with AMHA. These clubs reach Morgan owners, breeders, trainers, and enthusiasts in eight countries, and serve such special interest groups as Lippitt, Singlefooting, and Western Working Family line breeders, as well as Dressage, Reining, and Open Competition enthusiasts. The variety of the clubs mirrors the versatility of the Morgan breed.


The AMHA Club of the Year Award recognizes those clubs that have excelled in promoting the Morgan horse throughout the year. The winners of the AMHA Club of the Year for 2005 are: North Central Morgan Association, Florida Morgan Horse Association, Mississippi Valley Morgan Horse Club, Wisconsin Morgan Horse Club, Indiana Morgan Horse Club, Inc., Iowa Morgan Horse Association, and Virginia Carolinas Morgan Horse Club.


Another important aspect of the Annual Convention is the recognition given to individuals and horses that have made an impact upon the Morgan breed. The Awards committee of Eileen Hunter and Phyllis Shopbell, Co-Chairmen, Chris Cassenti, Joyce Metters, Bill Pettis and Terri Sanborn did a great job of honoring these award winners.


James Brown took over as master of ceremonies at the Awards luncheon on Saturday. AMHA Master’s Certificates for devotion to the Morgan breed for individuals over the age of 60 were presented to Loek and Robert Niemeth, Carl Hartell, Janice McKinney, and Richard Schuler.


The Open Competition Program showcases Morgans competing in open arenas. Participants in this program compete in a variety of disciplines including competitive and endurance trail, dressage, reining, jumping, driving, and English and Western pleasure. These Morgans, their owners, and riders are true ambassadors of the breed and are promoting the Morgan horse every time they enter the ring or take to the trail. WCM Beaumark, LGM Challanger, LCS Ice Princess, Cindra’s Peek A Boo, Wesmor Jane Aire, HDEF Miss August, Kizzy’s Kitten, Bethesda Horus, Richwood First Class, Morgan Loomis, and Rebecca Jones were honored with AMHA Open Competition Awards.


The AMHA also honored judges who have judged the Morgan breed for twenty-five years. Tom Caisse, Anne Judd, Pierre Loiselle, and Anne Speck have held their Morgan card for 25 years. Stephen Davis and Mary Woolverton have held their Morgan card for 30 years.

The 2005 AMHA Gold Medal winners were also recognized at the Luncheon: Western Seat – Natalie Nelsen; Saddle Seat – Brooke Gove; Hunter Seat on the Flat – Laura Pecherski; Dressage Seat - Sarese Reed; Hunter Seat Over Fences – Kelsey Robinson; and Reining – James Gallagher.


The awards luncheon closed with a video of some of the most exciting winning moments from the 2005 Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show.


Karen Homer Brown did a professional job as master of ceremonies on Friday evening. The banquet began with an introduction of all of the current AMHA Board of Directors followed by recognition of several people who have put forth a special effort on behalf of AMHA over the past year with certificates of appreciation. A pair of equine award winners was selected as Basswood Valiant Boy was honored as the Program Owned Therapy Horse of the Year while Battersea Norfolk was chosen as Individually Owned Therapy Horse of the Year.


The evening continues with prestigious award winners. [The award presentations are printed in their entirety in Saddle Horse Report.]


Lisa Singer was honored with the International Award. Margaret Van Meter was honored with the Cecil Brown Sportsmanship Award.


The AMHA Golden Reins Award was developed to honor professional trainers and instructors who have made their career with Morgans. The recipients of the Golden Reins Award have influenced the Morgan industry through their knowledge, time, talent, and commitment. Award winners have been active in the Morgan world for at least 30 years and have spent those years instructing or training. This year’s recipients of the Golden Reins Award were Susan Parks Morgan, S. Robert Orcutt, Kathryn Schwartz and Bonnie Sogoloff.


The Youth Person of the Year was Gael Jaeger. The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Robert Atkinson.


The highly respected Man of the Year Award went to a most deserving Jim Stewart, while the equally coveted Woman of the Year Award went to Anne Brown.


There were a trio of inductions into the AMHA Hall of Fame with Lee Baldarelli, Ruth Parkinson, and Ray and Carol Potts adding their names to the list of esteemed members.


In 2004 the AMHA Board of Directors approved instituting a Breeders Hall of Fame Award. This award is given to breeders who have produced Morgans that have had a significant impact on the breed. The 2006 recipients were East of Equinox Farm, Herbert V. Kohler, and the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm.


On Saturday evening, the AMHA Stallion Service Auction closed out the Convention weekend in its usual fun fashion. Bidding online continues to be a big part of the stallion auction. The bidding began online with over 70 stallions being auctioned, which was narrowed down to the top ten bids representing 16 horses that were auctioned live. This year’s stallion service auction brought in $134,270 which benefits the ten AMHA Regional Horse Shows (20%), the World Morgan Futurity (40%), and marketing and promotion for the American Morgan Horse Association (40%).


Barb Rudicel, who prefers to remain behind the scenes, was recognized at the Annual Membership meeting for her dedication to the World Morgan Futurity and the Stallion Service Auction which is so beneficial to the industry.


Interestingly enough the four stallions that topped this year’s auction all stand in Kentucky. The hometown crowd was delighted with the results.


Stonecroft Trilogy, owned by Stonecroft Farm’s Don Spear and John Scheidt, topped the stallion auction with a bid of $5,700. It was purchased by the Cedar Meadow Morgan Farm. Mizrahi, And The Beat Goes On, and HVK Bell Flaire also stand in Kentucky and ended up at the top of the bids on Saturday night. A complete list of the top stallions follows.


Item Name                                           Bidder                                      Winning Bid

STONECROFT TRILOGY                 Cedar Meadow Morgan Farm  $5,700

MIZRAHI                                            Sandra Nelson                          $5,600

AND THE BEAT GOES ON              Daniel Peachey                       $5,050

HVK BELL FLAIRE                           Dawn Fire                                $4,800

TUG HILL WHAMUNITION           Judy Caldwell                           $4,000

SLB DA VINCI                                   Geoffrey Longenecker              $3,900

ASTRONOMICALLEE                      Cingate Morgans                      $3,700

HVK VIBRANCE                               Baccarat Farms                          $3,600

STAND AND DELIVER                     Marsha Shepard                       $3,500

FUTURITY FRENCH COMMAND   Elizabeth Peccatiello               $3,100

DBA STREET TALK                          Avona L'Carttier                       $3,050

MINION MILLENNIUM                   Garry Glover                            $3,050

HOLLYBROOK STAGE RAGE         Nancy Vidler                            $2,500

HYLEE'S GALAXY SEVEN               Ja Ja Ventures                             $2,500

SIMPLY MASERATI                        Baccarat Farms                             $2,500

TUG HILL COMMANDO                  Chris Nerland                           $2,200


In addition to the stallion services, the front cover of the December 2006 Morgan Horse Magazine is auctioned off on this night. It brought $6,200 and was purchased by Ann Hailey.


Harry and the Lashwhips capped off the entertaining evening with a terrific night of music and merriment for the satisfied Morgan crowd.

More Stories