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New England Morgan Horse Show Celebrates 65th Anniversary



When you speak of tradition in the world of Morgans, there is no richer tradition than the one found the last week in July each year in Northampton. July 25 - 31, 2004, marked the dates of the 65th annual New England Regional Morgan Horse Show. This year's show had advance billing as the show of all shows, and it came through with flying colors! The show featured an incomparable list of superlatives. The level of competition, prize money, enthusiasm and camaraderie were unmatched. It was truly a show for the record books! The nearly 1,000 horses competing marked the largest number ever. The number of stables and exhibitors in attendance were also record setting with nearly all 50 states as well as Canada and Great Britain represented. The depth and quality of the competition in all divisions represented the best the breed has to offer. The success of the 2004 New England Regional starts right at the top with the management and show committee who have earned the moniker Team New England. Their hard work and determination have helped this show achieve new heights and have helped to chart a new course of success that will benefit the Morgan breed and the show horse industry. The level of competition and enthusiasm were created by several amazing events that all took place during a memorable week in Northampton. The show featured a record purse that was distributed throughout the week. The Pinnacle Prize Fund (see separate story) awarded the champions and reserves in the 12 East Coast Championships with over $50,000 in total prize money thanks to the sponsorship of generous donors from around the country. 2004 also marked the second awarding of the $10,000 Winner Take All Amateur English Pleasure Championship (see separate story), thanks to a donation from the Remember November Sale and organizers Peggy Alderman, Rick Lane and Rick Stevens. Another added attraction to the show was the return of the $70,000 Morgan Breeder Sweepstakes (see separate story). After an absence of seven years, the Sweepstakes returned to one of its original sites with the closest-ever contest in the points system between the champion and reserve champion. The Thursday evening session was dedicated to the Sweepstakes which was preceded by a fabulous party and followed by the annual NEMHS Benefit Auction. In keeping with the tradition of insuring the financial stability of the show and the continuous improvements the show has enjoyed, Thursday night's NEMHS Benefit Auction (see separate story) enjoyed phenomenal support from those donating and purchasing the trips, breedings, clothing, jewelry, artwork and tack offered to the tune of over $30,000. When show manager Fred Nava and show chairman Molly O'Brien came on board to resurrect the New England Regional, they along with the show committee set a goal of improving the horse show in every way. Piece by piece they have worked their magic to not only bring the show back to its former glory, but to surpass even their own expectations in every way imaginable. Their master plan has been achieved by bringing this great show into the 21st century with a flourish while maintaining the traditions that have always set this show apart from all others. Show chairman Molly O'Brien had this to say, "On behalf of the New England Morgan Horse Show Committee, our sincere thanks to all of our exhibitors for bringing so many great horses to our show. We also thank the Morgan Breeder Sweepstakes for adding to the energy and excitement that was evident throughout the week. Of course, we couldn't have enjoyed such a great show without the help of our staff and volunteers, all of whom worked so hard to make sure every detail was handled. Lastly, my utmost appreciation to Fred and Christine Nava for their untiring work and dedication -- New England wouldn't be what it is today without both of them." Another record-setting aspect of the show was that of horse sales. About 20 horses changed hands during the show with many more transactions in the works (see separate story). This helped to reaffirm the strength of the Morgan show industry as a whole. Although Northampton is all about the highest level of show ring competition in every discipline in which Morgans perform, this show also features good old fashion fun. Whether it was the costume stick horse and leadline classes interspersed on Wednesday's Breeder's Night (see separate story on All American Futurity) or some good-natured fun amongst friends, Northampton is surely the place where friends of the Morgan horse gather to renew their friendships and enjoy all that is Morgan. The weather is always one of the major concerns for a show of this magnitude. Mother nature was the only one who could put a mild damper on the week's festivities. The week started off on a good note with sunshine and bearable temperatures. Then, just as it is prone to do, a front came in just after Monday evening's classes. The skies were gray for much of the day on Tuesday, but the classes remained outdoors in spite of the threatening skies. Just after the start of the Tuesday evening session, the skies opened and the show went on with horses and riders still giving it their all during several torrential downpours. The final three classes of the session, beginning with the Roadster To Bike class, were postponed until Wednesday morning when classes were forced into the less than spacious and inviting indoor ring for just two sessions. Due to tremendous preparation and work by show manager Fred Nava and grounds coordinator Mark Caisse and a healthy dose of sunshine, the track and grandstand ring were back in shape for the Wednesday evening session and the remainder of the week. In addition to show manager Fred Nava, show chairman Molly O'Brien, show co-chairman Christine Nava and the show committee, a host of other officials helped to make the show so successful; including, secretaries Linda Burke and Jewel Marsh; USEF Stewards Mary Lynn Whitley and Joyce Hamblin; announcers Peter Fenton and Bill Carrington; ringmasters Kent Moeller, Grace Yaglou and Larry Wahl; farriers Tim Keller and Rick Howe; veterinarian Jay Merriam; grounds and stabling supervisor Mark Caisse; security supervisor Curt Collins; organist Nancy Roberts; recorders Carole Hutchison and Robert Marsh; dressage coordinator Edith Root; sport horse coordinator Bill Hutchison; driving coordinators Elsie Rodney and Susan Koso; course designer David Raucher; paddock superintendent Anne Blizniak; technical delegate Jean Kinsella; videographer WDA Video; photographer Bob Moseder; and a host of others. Honored with the task of pinning the 2004 New England Regional Champions were Ken Swanson (Stallions and Geldings In Hand, Park Harness, English Pleasure, Road Hack, Classic Pleasure Driving, Roadster, and Futurity); Doug Untiedt (Specialties In Hand, Hunter Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Trail, Stock Seat and Hunt Seat On The Flat Equitation, Hunt/Western Beginners, Futurity and Miscellaneous); John McDonald (Mares In Hand, Park Saddle, Pleasure Driving, Classic Pleasure Saddle, Saddle Seat Equitation and Beginners, and Futurity); Danute Joan Bright (Carriage Driving); Robert Crawford (Hunters, Jumpers, and AMHA Hunt Seat Medal Over Fences); and Sara Schmitt (Dressage). Manager Fred Nava had this to say about this year's show, "After working for so many years to rebuild the show, it was very rewarding to have exhibitors come from across the country to be a part of the Northampton tradition. I hope that we met everyone's expectations and that they enjoyed our New England hospitality. I am so fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers and staff as part of Team New England. This show was a tribute to just how great they all are and I thank them for their unwavering commitment and dedication." The 2004 New England Regional Morgan Horse Show will stand as a lasting tribute to all who contributed to it this year and over the past 65 years. A special $1000 award sponsored by Taylor River Farm was presented on Saturday evening to the member of Team New England who most exemplified team spirit. Committee member Sissy Paradis, who served in many capacities including shuttle driver, earned this award and a round of applause from the audience. The Saturday evening session also included a special dedication of the new center ring gazebo in the grandstand ring to the memory of the late World Champion Particular Red. Red's owners Robin and Robert Veghte purchased the gazebo for the show in Red's honor with Robin Veghte along with Red's trainer Peggy Alderman and his world championship rider Amanda Shahan on hand for the presentation. Much of the history and tradition of New England can be seen through the pages of the show program. This year's program cover featured a special likeness painted by Jeanne Mellin Herrick of World Champion Saddleback Supreme trotting around the Northampton grandstand ring with trainer Fred Herrick. The names of the trophies presented at Northampton are as legendary as the champions who have had their names engraved on them. This year a new trophy was established as the family of Mark H. Hanna donated a trophy in his honor in the Amateur Park Harness Championship to carry on the memory of Mark Hanna and his love for the Morgan horse. As the sun set over the final session of the 65th annual New England Regional Morgan Horse Show, it was only fitting that this record-setting week came to a close with a blue moon rising over Northampton. A show like this truly comes along once in a blue moon. For complete coverage of the 2004 New England Regional, please see the August 8, 2004, Saddle Horse Report print edition. Complete results can also be viewed, searched and printed in the results section of www.saddlehorsereport.com.

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