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Saddle Horse Report Honors Two of Its Own

By Melissa R. Stevens

This year The Saddle Horse Report proudly honors two very special individuals for 20 years of service and dedication. Bob Funkhouser and Diana Davidson have spent the last 20 years of their lives serving the Saddlebred and Morgan communities. They have seen the best of times and have successfully made it through the worst of times all the while striving diligently to give readers a true look at both.

Bob Funkhouser grew up in the barns around the Danville, Ky., area. Because of his background and his love for horses he always imagined that he would become a horse trainer. But instead, he went went off to college to study journalism. Before he could even finish his finals he found his place at The Saddle Horse Report and has been an integral part of the paper ever since. What better place to combine his love of horses with his talent for writing?

“I interviewed Bob Funkhouser near the end of his senior year of college and he covered a horse show the same weekend as his finals,” said David Howard, president of The Report. “We have been through everything together, personally and professionally. He cares so much about Saddle Horse Report and he has always poured his heart and soul into it. I am very proud of the job he does day in and day out at Saddle Horse Report.”

Funkhouser worked his way up through the ranks. He started out by traveling from his new home in Shelbyville, Tenn., to cover horse shows. He was eventually promoted to editor and then finally to executive editor, a position he continues today from his current home in Franklin, Mass.

He has earned a reputation amongst his colleagues and customers for his professionalism, his direct approach to covering the many issues related to the Saddle Horse industry, his tremendous talent for story telling and his knowledge of the horse industry in general.

“I wish I could write half as well as he does. I think he is absolutely one of the best if not the best,” said Don Harris of Don Harris Stables in Simpsonville, Ky. “He can tell a story about something that happened 20 years ago and make you feel like you were there.”

Funkhouser has a special way of relating to his customers. Kim Cowart of West Wind Stables, a long-time friend and customer, said, “One of the best things about Bob is that he is a horseman first. He has spent time in the trenches working and training horses, so he understands his customers. Everyone loves working with him and his writing is wonderful.”

Funkhouser is also known for his loyalty and kind hearted attitude. "He is about as loyal a friend as I could ask for," said Pat McConnell of McConnell Stables in Versailles, Ky. "Bob has always treated everyone the same whether they advertise or not. I think more people in this business should follow in his footsteps."

In addition to his work in the Saddlebred industry, Funkhouser has built strong ties to the Morgan industry as well. In fact, he married a Morgan exhibitor, Raye Lynn Mercer. They continue to show both Morgans and Saddlebreds from their Franklin, Mass., residence. Funkhouser also spent time learning about the Morgan people and their horses by working with Diana Davidson as they covered all of the top Morgan shows.

Diana Davidson began her career at The Saddle Horse Report as a correspondent. She was only asked to cover one show, but she did such an incredible job that David Howard asked her to continue covering shows across the country.

“Diana Davidson started as a correspondent for Saddle Horse Report about that same time [as Bob Funkhouser]. With her passion for the Morgan breed and her commitment to excellence, she quickly became the voice of the Morgan people within Dabora. She has done an outstanding job of representing us and representing the Morgan horse,” Howard said.

After serving several years as a correspondent, Davidson took on the role of Morgan editor. Now she spends most of her time on the road covering shows and making sure the needs of the Morgan customers are met.

Davidson is a true advocate for the Morgan breed and for her customers. “The best word to describe Diana is loyal,” said David Rand of York, Maine. “She is loyal to her job, to the Morgan breed and to her family. Her knowledge of the horses is immense. What Diana brings to the table is knowledge, personality and an ear to listen. She is always willing to help with anything that she can and is always there to lend a hand usually with her pen and by word of mouth.”

Davidson is well-known in the Morgan world for her attention to detail, her incredible knowledge of horses and pedigrees and her dedication and commitment to her job and her family.

“There is no person with a greater knowledge of horses and the people who show and own them. When it comes to knowing what’s going on in the horse world, Diana is truly on top of it all. It is definitely her passion,” Tony Lee of Shingle Branch Farm in Jasper, Ala., said. “I have always admired her knowledge and love for the business. It comes second only to her strong devotion to her family. Throughout the many years I have been involved in horses, I have always valued our friendship.”

Davidson is also known for her honesty in covering the issues. “If there was ever a comment to be said about Diana it would be her sometimes painfully honest approach to covering the issues. She cannot be swayed. She covers everything as factually and directly as she can. She is truly an asset to everyone who knows her,” Rand said.

Davidson’s customers value her enthusiasm and her fun-loving spirit. Most of those who started out as her customers have now become her friends as well. “We love Diana’s honesty and enthusiasm for the horses and exhibitors. There is never a dull moment when she is at ringside. She has become a great friend to us,” said Tim and Jean Arcuri of Arcuri Stables in Springfield, Ore.

The Saddle Horse Report could not ask for two better people to work with every day. Their strong love and commitment to the Saddlebred and Morgan industries shine through in everything they do. The friendship and encouragement they offer to those inside and outside of the office are invaluable.

“I have worked with Bob and Diana since I was a kid answering the phones some summers - working in production others. Bob worked in the office back then and he was always making all of us laugh. Diana was just a kid herself working up in Connecticut. This is the only “real” job both of them have ever had,” said Christy Parsons, Report publisher.

Many at The Report learned the ropes from Bob and Diana. “Bob and Diana taught me how to cover horse shows. They taught me the importance of customer service and what our customers were really looking for in their ads,” Parsons continued. “Their professionalism and incredible knowledge base are still an inspiration to me. Besides the fact that I couldn’t ask for two better friends. They are very special to me.”

Bob Funkhouser and Diana Davidson are very special to us all here at The Saddle Horse Report. Thank you both for everything you do for us and for your customers every day. We couldn’t do it without you and we certainly wouldn’t want to try.

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