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In Memoriam: Patricia Friggens

The Morgan Community lost one of the breed's most devoted members this past year when Pat Friggens died on July 9, 2009. Pat's love of Morgan horses spanned 69 years, beginning in 1940 when Pat was 6 and first saw a grey colt named Congo at Roy Brunk's Cottonhill farm in southern Illinois.  

Pat bred and raised Morgans. Her most famous colt was Immortalized, the World Champion Futurity Yearling Colt in 1993. Immortalized was trained and shown by Pat's close friends Mary Cockriel and Bob Kellert. Pat continued breeding and showing Morgans until 2008. 

Pat and her husband Bob raised a daughter, Suzanne, and a son, Michael.  Suzanne and Michael remember fondly a childhood that always included Morgan horse activities as part of their family life. 

Here, in her own words, are some of Pat's early Morgan memories:

On April 23, 1940, I first laid eyes on a newly foaled grey colt and his dam in the small south pasture of Cottonhill Farm owned by Roy Brunk. This was the start of a long-time love affair with the Morgan Horse.

My family had moved in 1939 from Springfield, Illinois into an old farmhouse across the field from Cottonhill Farm. My dad did extensive remodeling and repair to this wonderful old house.

I immediately became a Brunk "adoptee," preferring to be with the horses rather than home doing chores. I was fascinated by all the beautiful Morgans and the farm life. I have such wonderful memories of Thresher Dinners, and carrying water to the threshers in the field, learning to drive a tractor when I could barely reach the pedals, haying and riding on the baler. Roy used to plow the fields in the spring with a team of Morgans harnessed abreast. It was one of the most awesome sights to me. Memory sometimes dims, but I believe that most of them were stallions and it seems there were four-to-six abreast. I think Roy broke his youngsters that way - putting them between the seasoned studs.

My curiosity regarding horses was unlimited. I watched the pasture breeding, foaling and castrations with equal interest. I literally lived at the Brunks' homestead during the day for months on end.

Congo was growing up and had turned coal black, as grey colts usually do. Roy knew he had something special   in Congo, so moved him out of the yearling pasture and into a huge box stall on the west side of the Brunk’s wonderful old barn. The stall faced the road and my house was across the field. I would start calling Congo when I left the house and he would start whinnying back. I would climb up into his window and feed him carrots and grass and pet him, and he would put his head in my lap and almost go to sleep.  I visited Congo on the way to school and on the way home. He was kind and trusting and we loved each other mutually. I've never seen another stallion like that in my lifetime. I have often thought about our kid-horse relationship and how much effect it had on me and my love for horses.

I used to ride with other girls from surrounding farms and we would all go to a little spot in the road called "Beamington." Sound familiar? Yes, Helen Greenwalt and Doris Ryan's Beamington was named after this little store and gas pump and a few houses. The store had a huge plate glass  window in front and I would ride Congo up to the store. When he saw his reflection in the window he’d start bellowing and challenging the image. It was a riot - all the other kids always wanted me to show Congo his reflection. We would go in the store and get some sort of treat (Twinkies, etc) and Congo always got half.

I went to the Illinois State Fair every year, sometimes in the back of a stock truck holding several of the Brunk Morgans. No fancy horse trailer then - I would sit up on the bales of hay stacked in the front of the truck. What wonderful experiences those were. Lewis Pape and Janet used to open the horse shows with a pair of Morgan parade horses and the flags. I'm sure you have all heard of Mr. Breezy Cobra. Well, he was usually paired with one of his daughters for the parade. 

Roy was a friend of the man who managed the Budweiser Clydesdale teams and they would always be at State Fair. They would throw me up on one of those massive horses and let me exercise it early in the a.m. My little legs would stick straight out as I walked this huge horse all over the fairgrounds. Incredible! 

I cherish the memories of sleigh rides at the Greenwalts, when the neighborhood would go together in a huge box sled filled with straw and pulled by plowhorses, and Greenwalts would have their double-seated sleigh with a team of Morgans. We would ride behind both sled and sleigh on sleds or skis. What fun and how simple our pleasures were then.

My first registered Morgan was a stud colt called Trimando by Trinango. I was eighteen when I bought this horse. He eventually was sold to the Mosher Brothers in Utah where he was used at stud on the ranch horses. All but two of my Morgans have had Brunk bloodlines up until ten years ago…Cherie Belle won the West, so to speak, and was by Mr. Breezy Cobra.

If I was so gifted, I could write a book about the wonderful childhood I had in Illinois with the Brunks, Greenwalts and their famous horses… Congo, Flyhawk, Black Dee, Nelleanne, Nella, Squire Burger, Lamont, Mr. Breezy Cobra, Trinango, Maudee, May Burger…just to name a few.

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