Skip to content

New Format Is A Hit At The UPHA/AHHS Convention

by Leeann Mione

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Like a breath of fresh air, this year’s UPHA/AHHS Convention blew into Cincinnati’s Westin Hotel and renewed, invigorated and pumped up the morale of those that attended. Great “round robin” seminars, terrific awards, night banquets and auctions as well as the usual rule change forums and general membership meetings kept the schedule both entertaining and informative.

The Westin Hotel was extremely accommodating to guests and helped things run smoothly, and the food throughout the weekend was met with rave reviews.

Thursday the AHHS board of directors and the UPHA board of directors had their respective meetings as did the UPHA equitation committee. The Hackney rule change forum began the afternoon’s schedule and was followed by the first of two UPHA general membership meetings.

At the Hackney rule change forum, rules regarding Hackney ponies were approved to be presented as proposed at the USEF Convention. A proposed rule pertaining to Hackney horses was changed. The proposal will go to the USEF with several words omitted. As is often the case at rule change forums, changing the language of that rule prompted much discussion by those in attendance.

Thursday evening’s auction and awards dinner began with a moment of silence for Ed Frickey who along with his wife, Karen, was an important contributor to the AHHS. USEF Hackney horses and ponies of the year were presented as well as the annual AHHS awards.

Mary Dell Pritzlaff was named the AHHS Mr. and Mrs. John Costello Breeder of the Year Award for her important contributions to the breed by her Seamair Farm. Pritzlaff was unable to attend so Larry Bacon accepted her award.

Outgoing AHHS President Lambert “Junior” Schut was presented with the Lydia Luhman Pederson Distinguished Service Award by David Estes.

Sandra Surber took the podium to present the Anna Lee Spires Judd Amateur Exhibitor Award to Elsa Mikkelson. It was Mikkelson herself however, who stole the show. She was a ball of energy as she took the podium and read her acceptance speech.

The Spirit Of The Medallion Award, awarded to a youth or youths who have demonstrated an exceptional desire to participate with a Hackney, was awarded to the Ohio High Steppers.

Meagan Heath won the Junior Exhibitor/Youth Award which was presented by Maureen Lydon.

Terry McKenzie was named the Bill G. Robinson Trainer of the Year which was presented by Dr. Alan Raun.

Dick Halstead, breeder of the current Hackney Horse World Grand Champion Halstead’s Viking, along with many other multi-titled Hackney horse champions, received the first ever Hackney Horse Preservation Award for his efforts to protect and preserve the Hackney horse. Rodney Root read the speech and Linda Allen presented the award to Halstead.

Jody and Carter Van Nattan were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mary Kirkton accepted the award for Jody Van Nattan who was unable to attend. Carter Van Nattan was the longtime manager of the Illinois State Fair Horse Show and with Jody, spent a lifetime promoting the Hackney. Jody Van Nattan is the current manager of the Illinois State Fair Horse Show.

The open competition High Point Awards were also presented after dinner and the evening concluded with the successful AHHS Live Auction. Sandra Surber donated a Napa Valley stay for four people. Mary Campbell donated a four-night stay for four people at a beach house on Lake Michigan. Mike Felty donated a 1925 Kentucky State Fair Fancy Turnout Trophy which was a large silver-plated loving cup. Brent and Jane Jacobs donated an unusual framed photo of a driving horse with harness by H.W. Meyer which was an ad for W.S. Trigg Saddlery Company in Paris, Texas. RaDon donated a deluxe trunk and four captain’s chairs. Jerald Sulky Company donated an $800 gift certificate.

A “Hackney Lover’s Dream” was also donated to the live auction. It consisted of two days in Simpsonville, Ky., which included a half-day each at Frickey Farms, Golden Creek Farm and Majestic Oaks Farm. Experienced drivers would be able to drive at least one world’s champion at each barn and one night’s stay at a local hotel as well as meals for two at a local restaurant were included in the package.

Friday at the convention was a busy and successful day. The UPHA Active Membership Meeting, led by UPHA President Randy Harper, kicked things off with the election of officers. Chuck Herbert, Jimmy Robertson and Larry Bacon comprised the nominating committee. The new officers are President Jim Taylor, First Vice President John T. Jones and Second Vice President James Nichols.

The associate membership had their meeting at the same time and elected officers as well. Nancy Trent was reelected as president, Kathy Snyder was reelected as vice president and Shirley Smith agreed to continue as secretary.

Round Robin” seminars then took up the rest of the morning and were extremely well received. Rather than convention attendees having to pick and choose seminars to attend which in the past have usually overlapped and been held in different rooms, this year everyone was in the same room and could pick and choose which topic they wanted to listen to.

Barry Dickerson presented: “An Entertaining Look At The History Of The Hackney and Grand Drivers Of The Past.” Viewing celluloid film more than 100 years old of Hackney exhibitors such as Louella Long Combs was a fascinating look back into history and the rare footage illustrated the tremendous need to preserve the history of the Hackney.

Patty Milligan and Gary Garone spoke about charging and expensing and with two very different viewpoints gave examples of what they charge and how they bill their customers.

Les Cunningham spoke about the roadster pony to wagon division which has increased in popularity since its appearance at Louisville this past year. Discussion included proper harnessing as well as a video.

Pat Kennedy gave an informative talk about harness: “Why We Use It, How It Has Evolved and How We Use It Today.” Kennedy, a longtime maker of harness, used video to accompany his informative discussion.

John T. Jones and Jim Taylor led a discussion on marketing and sales and with a long list of champion Saddlebreds between them as well as Taylor’s successes in both the Saddlebred and Morgan industries, their discussion provided valuable tips related to selling and promotion.

Nelson Green and Kurt Hufferd discussed “Proper Harnessing and Hooking For The Show Ring.” Green illustrated the discussion by passing out photos from throughout his training career, showing good and bad examples of harnessing for the show ring.

Chris Gantley and Tom Lowry gave a presentation titled: “Training The Young Pony – From Pasture To Show Ring.” Gantley, of Winding Creek Farm, and Lowry, of Golden Creek Farm, have a long list of show ring successes to their credit with both young and aged ponies and they gave valuable insight into their training methods.

Andy and Lynda Freseth discussed “Selecting and Preparing The Amateur Horse.” The list of amateur world’s champion horses that have come through Hollow Haven is a long one and their presentation illustrated that while they have different methods and different points of view, they are very much a united front.

The much anticipated luncheon where UPHA Horse of the Year Awards were presented drew a large crowd. Active members were given a ballot upon entering so they could vote for the 11 Overall Horse of the Year winners to be presented Saturday night. Jim Taylor, Randy Harper and John T. Jones took turns presenting the 41 divisional awards. (See separate news item for the list of winners.)

Several different forums filled the afternoon session including the equitation forum which used the round robin format.

Presentations included Scott Matton and Renee Biggins’s discussion about how to start and run a lesson program. Lynn Harvey McNamara and Dale Arnston spoke about judging and what a judge expects in the show ring. Sarah Byers and Kathy Boggs led a discussion about the team (horse, rider, instructor and parent) and what each member of the team is responsible for.

Lillian Shively, Lynda Freseth and Jane Bennett presented a discussion about the state of equitation: Where it’s going, where it was 40 years ago and where it is today. All gave advice to new instructors about how to maintain your image, keep customers involved and the attributes of a good instructor.

Peter Fenton, Fred Nava and Kent Moeller led a discussion about managing a horse show that was extremely informative regarding the difficulties faced by management in hiring judges, the proper way owners, trainers and exhibitors should approach management and the challenges of planning an equitation final. The question and answer session illustrated the many things that go into managing a horse show and how it must be a team effort to be successful between exhibitors, staff, management, vendors, owners and trainers.

Like the morning round robin presentations, the equitation forum drew a large group who could rotate through the room and pick and choose topics they wanted to hear.

The AHHS Foundation forum included discussion about the building that is being constructed at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. Carl Nichols led that discussion. The preliminary budget for the building is $1.5 million and funds have already been committed to do the design. Other breed organizations will share the building as tenants to help defray the costs.

The foundation has also agreed to pay for the Hackney Youth Medallion luncheon again in 2007 at the UPHA American Royal as it has for the last three years. The foundation also funds the AHHS scholarships and the Shamrock Road Pony Camp. Michelle Herron won the 2006 scholarship and in 2006, five junior exhibitors were sponsored for the camp at Shamrock Farm which was the largest number of children ever sent.

Friday night began with dinner then went into the presentation of the many awards annually given out.

This year’s Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award was presented to two physicians who have been an invaluable help to many members of the industry. Jane Bennett presented the first award to Dr. George Raque and Marilyn Macfarlane presented the second award to Dr. Margaret McNeese.

Cindy Boel and Christy O’Donnell presented Randy Harper with a plaque in recognition of 10 years of support of World Cup by the UPHA.

Midwest Charity was again named National Honor Show for the Saddlebred industry and is managed by Judy Kjellander. Fred Nava, manager of the New England Morgan Regional Horse Show, accepted the UPHA Morgan National Honor Show for the second year in a row.

William G. Whitley III presented the Herman J. Miles Horse Show Manager of The Year Award to Peter Fenton. Nancy Trent took the podium to present the UPHA Associate of the Year Award to Shirley Smith.

Wanda Westbrook was named UPHA Caretaker of the Year. Her daughter Tammy DeVore presented her award.

Jimmy and Helen Robertson were called up front to be recognized for Jimmy’s service to the UPHA. Robertson leaves the board for the first time in 18 years after serving in numerous capacities including president, immediate past president, chapter chairman and several different executive board positions.

Brent Jacobs received the Shirley Parkinson Professional Achievement Award. With official convention photographers Jane and Brooke Jacobs on hand, it was a family affair as Shirley Parkinson presented the award to Brent.

One of the finest presentations given for an award recipient closed out the evening and by the end of it there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. As the video presentation began on the big screen, a hush fell over the audience as they realized that Randy Tabor was being posthumously inducted into the UPHA Tom Moore Hall of Fame. Footage of Tabor with his parents, wife, children, friends and the horses he loved as well as congratulations from several of his closest friends including Steve Crabtree, Todd Miles and John Conatser showcased how popular and vital Tabor was in the Saddlebred industry. The final frame showed Tabor smoking a cigar and giving his trademark laugh, as if he was going to step out of the screen bigger than life.

Following the video, Jimmy Robertson read a speech and called Tabor’s wife, Paige, and their children, Elliot and Will Henry, to accept the award on Tabor’s behalf.

Despite the fact that the hall of fame induction for Randy Tabor was so bittersweet, it concluded a great evening in style.

The UPHA Live Auction was also extremely successful and those in attendance Friday evening opened their pockets to bid on the large number of items including a package with stalls, box seats, hotel stay at the Sheraton, Sullivan’s Steak House $100 gift certificate and ticket for the All American Cup Auction. The package was donated by the All American Horse Classic and the All American Cup. Freedman Harness donated luggage, Terry Bennett Tack and World Champion Horse Equipment donated a basket filled with horse related items and cash and Lexington Junior League and Jim LaHood donated 12 30-second spots on the jumbo-tron during the show. Radon donated a tack room, Walsh Harness donated a fine harness and John and Renee Biggins donated a week at the Banyon Bay Villas in Belize, Central America. The Executive West and World’s Championship Horse Show donated a room at the hotel for the week, two lower level box seats and an “Official” parking pass.

Janet Crawford Hicks donated a 16 x 20 oil painting of the purchaser’s choice. Don Moore donated a fly spray system and Dabora, Inc. donated a complete set of the Year In Review including the 2006 book which will be released later this year.

Kennedy Harness Company donated a jogging harness and Douwe Blumberg donated a custom sculpture of the purchaser’s horse of choice.

A package for the American Royal including three stalls, three parking passes and three programs as well as a glass suite for 14 people Saturday night with 14 programs, two VIP parking passes and two badges and a $200 gift certificate to the Savoy Grill restaurant was put up for auction.

Sydney and Garland Middendorf donated a week long vacation in Mexico at the Mayan Manor located south of Cancun, Mexico. Southern Venture donated a trip to Kansas City for the American Royal and Dale Becker donated a $2,000 gift certificate to Carl Meyers Riding Apparel. World Cup wine from South Africa depicting the 2006 Five-Gaited World’s Grand Champion He’s The Man and Smith Lilly was donated just prior to the start of the auction, as was a NASCAR package.

The live auction raised more than $31,000 for the UPHA due to the hard work by Karen Frickey who stepped in to take over after the death of Ed Frickey at Kansas City this year. The UPHA, including Karen Richardson, was also invaluable for their help in making the auction an even bigger success than last year.

Saturday morning began with the UPHA general membership meeting. Carrie Mortensen from USEF, Fran Crumpler, Cindy Boel and Sam Brannon headed the panel to discuss proposed USEF rule changes to be presented at the upcoming USEF Convention. For a complete list of proposed rule changes visit the USEF Web site at

One of the biggest topics of discussion in the rule change forum was regarding penalizing entries for crooked tails or severely crooked tails. Many members addressed the audience from both sides of the issue because one of the proposed rule changes will address how crooked tails are penalized in the show ring.

Tandy Patrick, chairman of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and a member of the Kentucky State Fair Advisory Board, spoke about the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games that she was instrumental in bringing to the Kentucky Horse Park. The games have never been held outside of Europe and the 16-day event is expected to host 1,000 horses and bring more than $150 million to the Kentucky economy.

The Hackney General Membership meeting was held Saturday morning and one of the most debated topics by the group was concerning publication of a new stud book. A straw poll showed that the majority of those in attendance want a hardbound book to be published rather than just an online book on the Web site.

The Hackney luncheon showcased the formal handing of the gavel from AHHS President and now Treasurer Junior Schut to new President Judy Lowry. The other new officers were introduced as well: Vice President Sandra Surber and Secretary Kristen Gallagher.

The luncheon included the 50/50 raffle which sold tickets for $100 for the chance to win the choice of either a Freedman pony harness, Grand National horse harness or a Freedman Saddle. One hundred tickets were sold with numbers 25, 50 and 75 receiving their $100 back. Bob Phillips, Elsa Mikkelson and Terry Griesinger each received $100. Stacey Wright held ticket number 100 to win the grand prize.

Walt Robertson served as auctioneer for the 11th annual Limited Breeders’ Stallion Service Auction. An impressive list of 50 stallions was offered including Dun Haven Phenomenal. His fee is $5,000 and at the auction his service was purchased for $5,000. Heartland High Tech was the second highest service sold. Heartland Hackney Farm-owned stallion has a fee of $5,000 and his service sold for $4,500. The auction after the first run through raised nearly $30,000. Services that did not sell the first time were offered again to raise additional money so the total amount raised will be confirmed at a later date.

While the Hackney luncheon was being held, the Morgan contingent at the convention gathered for their Morgan Membership annual luncheon to discuss various topics as a group. Approximately 35 people attended and several topics were discussed including the USEF Morgan rule changes going before their upcoming convention.

The group also discussed the UPHA/AHHS Convention and how to make it work for what's best for AMHA. Ballots were collected by those in attendance, and many took blank ballots home to give to their clients.

Fred Nava spoke to the group about the Morgan Grand National Horse Show in an effort to open the lines of communication between show management and the professionals. 

There was also discussion about promotion projects for AMHA that are in the works. A brochure is being worked on to go out to people that call in to the Morgan Association. Involvement with the presentations to be made at the FEI Games in 2010 is also on the agenda for AMHA. Organizing a better show horse representation at trade shows around the country and how to get more people involved in UPHA were two additional topics of conversation amongst the group.

The group also decided to hold a Classics Incentive Program Gala event at the Grand National to raise funds to beef up the prize money given away by the UPHA Classics on the years that a sale is not held. There will be a gala at this year's Grand National, where large specialty items will be auctioned off for this important cause. 

Frank James, portfolio manager for James Investment Research, gave a well received and informative forum about financial planning for 2007 and beyond. James, along with his wife, Iris James, has been a longtime owner and exhibitor in the Saddlebred industry. The presentation was arranged by Nancy Trent and the associate membership.

After the meetings concluded it was time for the UPHA Awards Gala and dinner. A dinner of steak and shrimp was served and following dinner the presentations began.

New UPHA President Jim Taylor took the stage to thank all those in attendance and also those who were instrumental in making the convention a success. Taylor thanked Karen Richardson, Shirley Parkinson, Nancy Troutman, Stacey Wright, Karen Frickey, Susi Day, new AHHS President Judy Lowry, Barbara Bacon with assistance from Amanda Ward, Tracy Marshall, Kathy Snyder, Walt Robertson, Peter Fenton, Jackie and James Hale, Peter Doubleday, Douwe Blumberg and Jane and Brooke Jacobs.

The 11 Overall Horse Of The Year Awards were presented next. This year’s format was a big change from years past. Friday’s luncheon awarded the divisional winners and votes from the active members at that luncheon were counted to determine the overall winners. An emotional Karen Frickey and Denessa and Randy Harper took the podium when Classical Dancer was named the overall Hackney Pony of the Year. They also received the next award: the Overall Harness Pony of the Year for Heartland Expectation. Dr. Jerry and Georgia Blevins accepted the award for Overall Roadster Pony of the Year for Free Willy. Early Edition was the overall Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony of the Year and Jane Mueller took the stage to accept her award.

Big Red was named the Overall Road Horse of the Year and JW That Special Flaire was named the overall Morgan Park Horse of the Year. Paradigm Hot Chocolate grabbed the other Morgan overall award and Tim Roesink headed up front to accept the Overall Morgan Pleasure Horse of the Year.

Candle Dan topped the pleasure divisions to be named the overall Saddlebred Pleasure Horse of the Year and Carl Nichols, along with Bill and Lisa Waller, accepted that award.

Callaway’s Copyright was named the Overall Fine Harness Horse of the Year. CH Blackberry Delight earned the title of Overall Three-Gaited Horse of the Year and According To Lynn was the Overall Five-Gaited Horse of the Year.

Each winning owner and each winning trainer of the overall champions received a beautiful bronze created by Douwe Blumberg specifically for the awards.

Trainers, instructors and riders of the 2006 Challenge Cup Champions and Reserve Champions were called up front to be recognized as were the UPHA Classics Grand Champion trainers.

Chad Graham gave an off-the-cuff speech to start the awards ceremony for UPHA Young Trainer Of The Year Tre Lee. As Tre Lee and his wife, Emily, were about to take the stage to accept his award, John T. Jones took the stage and read a speech about Tre.

When the big screen lit up with another video presentation, a completely surprised Nelson Green realized he was due to be honored this night. Green was named the UPHA Richard E. Lavery Professional Horseman Of The Year and following a speech by presenter Jimmy Robertson, a nearly speechless Green took the stage to accept his award.

Mike McIntosh made the first of two presentations for the UPHA Tom Moore Hall Of Fame. McIntosh read a speech saluting Ross Drake to induct him into the hall of fame and presented him with the Hall Of Fame blue blazer.

Barbara Friedman made the presentation for the final award of the evening. Richard and Jeanette Durant were also inducted into the UPHA Hall Of Fame and presented with their blazers.

The entire evening was set to music by the band Johnny Clueless who rocked the house and kept everyone dancing at the conclusion of the awards presentations. A nice sized crowd stayed to dance the night away.

This year’s convention was definitely a step in the right direction. The new format, new awards format, over the top banquets, etc., showed that the UPHA is striving to involve the membership and keep them coming to the convention.

Incoming UPHA President Jim Taylor had this to say about the 2007 convention, "I thought it was the best convention we've had in several years. The new format for both the general membership and equitation forums helped create a more 'user friendly' convention and I think the membership came away having learned something. It was always our goal for everyone to go home feeling like it was educational and informative and wanting to come back next year.

“I also felt like the new format for the horse of the year program was a success. The luncheon was well attended and Saturday night's banquet was also. The success of this year's convention was a great start and hopefully it will lead to even bigger and better things."

More Stories