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Letter to the Editor from Susan Overstreet

Dear Editor,

Sad to say, we are indeed in a state of disarray, with nearly incalculable damage having been done by a coalescence of events. The deep, wrenching damage caused by the recent Ekstrom case will continue to haunt us, although we can hope that the lessons learned will serve us in good stead. There is also no doubt that the Internet has offered us both good and harm, good in the rapid exchange of communication, harm in the number of people so quick to offer offense and confrontation.

We have recently seen a spate of "Letters to the Editor" published the Saddle Horse Report. I applaud all Morgan professions for their call to arms in fighting apathy and I in particular support Sandy Sessink's brave rallying cry to her fellow professionals. She is correct in saying that we must all stand to be counted if indeed we wish to have a voice. Her willingness to challenge her fellow professionals speaks well to her commitment to her industry and to her passion for engagement.

I am saddened, however and deeply discouraged by some of the words used by the authors to describe the outcome of the recent election. I think it likely that any reasonable person would read the messages to say that the Morgan community must somehow "take back" the fortress if we are to survive and prosper. I cannot help but think that this attitude has in large measure resulted in our current divide and will do absolutely nothing to heal future rifts.

Speaking as a person whose entire history and likely future is concerned with show Morgans, I am discouraged on behalf of the vast majority of members who do not show, do not wish to show and have little interest in the workings of the show world. Our community is not the sole jurisdiction of those who promote, train, buy, sell, work and breed the show Morgan. Our community is, as it should be, a gathering of people who collectively represent all aspects of Morgan horse ownership. Our board should be representative of working Morgans, color Morgans, sport Morgans, trail Morgans, pleasure Morgans, backyard Morgans and yes, show Morgans. Our board should be a reflection of the body politic, representative of all disciplines, interests and endeavors. It is not the exclusive domain of those who represent the show world, it is not our inherent right to dictate and it is not appropriate to fail to welcome those who now join in governance.

It is foolish to assume that "apathy" is the reason that our complexion now changes. It is not apathy. Rather, it is activism. We see the actions of those who have felt disenfranchised and have ample justification for those feelings. We see the result of people gathering in unison to say that they want the right to help dictate the future and well being of the Morgan horse. We hear, if we listen, the words of a long silent majority in stating their opinions, their judgments and their aspirations.

Why would we not embrace the ability to spread our wings and grow more representative? Why would we not welcome the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and prevent them in the future? Why would we not reach out a hand of friendship and open our minds and hearts to all segments of our far flung world? Is it so necessary to assign base motives to those who disagree with us? Do we have to reduce our behavior to allegations, accusations and simply unkind comments?

I, for one, don't think so. I think we have a chance now to truly market, protect and cherish our common legacy, the Morgan horse. I think, if we are wise, that we can learn from one another, grow in our education and expand our marketplace. I think we can find that the sandbox is large enough for all of us and that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

I hope we can do all of these things. I join with Melissa and Sandy in hoping that the next election sees not only a great turnout, but of equal importance, a great variety of well qualified people. I hope to see show people join in cheering on sport people, working owners bridging the gap with color breeders, backyard Morgan lovers finding joy in the power, elegance and grace of a Park champion. I hope that we finally, once and for all, prove ourselves to be worthy custodians of this remarkable breed we all profess to love.

So, welcome to Linnea Sidi. Welcome to Robert Painter. Welcome to Mary Jean Vasiloff.

Congratulations to all current Directors and those who ran again and won. Warm thanks to those leaving the board. Thank you to all candidates for caring enough to run, win or lose. We have all been the beneficiaries of your efforts and we will continue to be.

Thank you, each of you, all of you. We are grateful.

Susan Overstreet

Nightmusic Farms

Champion Morgan Horses

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