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The Competition and The Weather Heat Up At CT Morgan

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Connecticut Morgan Horse Show hosted its 45th edition on June 7-11 at the Eastern States Exposition Grounds. For many exhibitors it was their third trip to this well-appointed show facility thus far in 2005 following April's UPHA Chapter 14 Spring Premiere and May's Vermont Spring Classic. Although there were hints of warm weather at the first two shows, it was officially Summer at Connecticut with daytime temperatures swelling to the 90s with not much cooling even at night. While the temperatures were hitting record highs, numbers at the horse show made a dramatic comeback as well. Stalls were sold out at the show for the first time in several years. Along with the numbers came excellent quality and numerous classes and championships with numbers well into the teens.

Connecticut Morgan is steeped in tradition with a reputation for attracting many top entries at the starting point of the show season. Each year, many young horses as well as new horse and rider combinations emerge on the scene at Connecticut Morgan. This year¹s show featured a few such debuts along with the season debut of some other winning veteran performers. In addition to the horses performing in the ring, a number of trainers brought horses to work for later shows that had those at railside buzzing with interest.

This was the fourth year for the present show schedule that features in hand classes on Tuesday night and two sessions of performance classes per day on Wednesday through Saturday. This schedule left plenty of time in the morning and between sessions for other work and entertainment.

The Connecticut Morgan Horse Show is sponsored by The Connecticut Morgan Horse Association, Inc. and benefited a pair of worthy causes this year. They are the Tupenny¹s Terrence Equine Colic Research Program and the AMHA Morgan Horse Exhibit at the Kentucky Horse Park.

In addition to the awarding of many of the show's championships, there were some other special awards presented on Saturday night. The session started off with the presentation of the colors by The Connecticut Morgan Youth Group. CMHA scholarship awards and youth high point awards were presented by CMHA president Johnna Chenail to Christine Cote, Jessica Bellonio, Kerry Wolfe and Kate Richardson. The awards for Saturday¹s Youth Of the Year Contest rounded out the presentations with Kate Foy earning the title of Senior Youth Of The Year along with a trip to the finals competition in Oklahoma City. Liz Conner earned the reserve honors while Madison Wiles-Haffner repeated the title of Junior Youth Of The Year with Hillary Wiles-Lafayette in reserve.

The party schedule began with Copper Beech Morgans sponsoring a pizza party to start the socializing following Wednesday evening's classes. A grand Connecticut Morgan Horse Show Hall Of Fame celebration was held following Friday night's session in honor of this year's inductee, Heyday Independence (see separate story). The Quinn and Sogoloff families hosted a marvelous party for all of Indy's friends and fans to enjoy at the Cedar Spring Farm stabling area.

The Connecticut Morgan Horse Show thanked its exhibitors on Saturday by starting off the day with an omelet breakfast which was served in conjunction with the well-attended Classic Pleasure Symposium (see separate story) sponsored by the Brown/Klein family. The show concluded with a coffee and dessert party in the main barn aisleway to toast the 2005 champions on Saturday evening.

The list of Connecticut Morgan Horse Show officials was once again headed by show manager Mary Ellen Holcomb and assistant manager Johnna Chenail, who also served as barn manager and hunter coordinator. Linda Burke maintained an organized office as horse show secretary. Bill Whitley and Grace Yaglou shared the duties as ringmasters while Stacy Wright joined the crew as USEF Steward. Farrier Tim Keller was busy as always while Kris Koss made the rounds as show veterinarian. Announcer Kenn Marash and organist Bob Dunham maintained their ringside posts.

Exhibitors kept photographer Howie Schatzberg and his always-efficient crew busy as they ordered pictures and made the best use of the scenic show grounds with some special shoots in between sessions. The list of officials also included Deb Becroft and Richard Jones (carriage coordinators), Katja Eilers (dressage coordinator), David Raucher (hunter course), Melissa Weinand and Rebecca Smith (trophies), and Jim Holcomb, Frank Hester and Ron Matthewson (paddock).

Handling the judging duties at this year's show were Pierre Loiselle (Park Harness, English Pleasure, Stallions and Mares In Hand, Hunter Pleasure, Classic Pleasure Saddle, Hunt Seat Equitation and Roadster); Anne Judd (Park Saddle, Pleasure Driving, Geldings In Hand, Classic Pleasure Driving, Western Pleasure, Saddle Seat and Western Seat Equitation, and Leadline); Pamela Hunt (Working Hunter); Ann Marie Gregorio (Dressage) and Bilie Hill (Carriage Driving).

The Connecticut Morgan Horse Show celebrated its 45th anniversary by continuing its tradition of top competition in 2005. The show ring highlights follow in a companion article. Complete results may be found in Show Results on this website.

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