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A Unifying Force Befitting The Morgan Horse

by Diana Davidson
Posted February 26, 2002
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The members of the diverse Morgan community may have come to Florida for "sun, fun and the time of their lives" as the AMHA Annual Convention was billed. However, their stay from February 6-9, 2002 earned them much more than that. It was a week in which true Morgan spirit triumphed with cooperation and the promotion of this great breed coming to its deserved place in the forefront.

Conky Price said it best as her poignant words closed the 2002 AMHA Annual Awards Banquet. "We could learn a lot from crayons - Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names. All are different colors, but they all have to learn to live in the same box!"

This sentiment carried through the weekend as most of the members of the industry involved with this versatile and wonderful breed came together to support and promote the breed of horse that brought them all together. The convention contained some informative presentations, group meetings and seminars that appealed to all parts of the diverse group.

The AMHA Board Members were first to tackle the business at hand with their full schedule of meetings which were open to all beginning on Tuesday and Wednesday and concluding on Sunday. The convention kicked off in earnest on Wednesday with the welcome reception and dinner graciously sponsored by Dale Farabee and held at his Arboria Morgans in Port St. Lucie. A large and festive group of conventioneers enjoyed a grand buffet as well a presentation of 13 outstanding members of the Arboria Morgans show and breeding program including; Arboria Noble Victor, Tedwin Tango, Bourbon Street, Arboria Silhouette, Arboria Satori and Stony Hollow Ice Man. Trainer Tom Johnson had the horses and the barn in tiptop shape with help of Arboria's new breeding manager Scott Ferrell as well visiting trainers Jim and Fay Lowry, Andy Marlett, Sheree Elliott and Kathy Minder.

Attendees had the chance to enjoy the many wonderful Morgans residing in the Sunshine State again on Thursday. There was a choice of two bus tours. The Ocala Farm Tour headed north and included stops at Cheri Barber Stables, Treble's Morgan Manor, SpiceOLife Morgans, Summerfields and the Austin Carriage Museum. The Tampa Bay/Clearwater Farm Tour headed west with stops at Rick Davis Stables and Valarie Siemer Training Center as well as Clearwater Beach. The day also gave people time to enjoy all of the entertainment that the greater Orlando area offers. Thursday's indoor activities included the National Museum of the Morgan Horse Council meeting and a reception, prior to the AMHI Auction, held in the Morgan Marketplace where many vendors showed their wares.

Friday's schedule began with a day long meeting of the AMHI Board of Directors under the leadership of President Darwin Olson. The list of officers also includes new Vice President Ellen DiBella, Treasurer Kim Hildreth, and Secretary Sally Plumley. Dane Bettes, new Director Emeritus, and Meredith Sloan, New AMHI Trustee, were added to the list of 15 other remaining trustees. The AMHI serves as the fundraising arm of the Morgan breed. The youth of the AMHA were also involved with a full schedule of events of their own. AMHAY President Dallas McLarney presided over the board meetings.

The seminars of the day focused on three topics. The first was a well attended guide to Morgan judging. Cindy Mugnier, Harry Sebring and Karen Homer-Brown guided attendees through the Morgan Judging Standards Manual and the USAE Rule Book and also used a video presentation of guidelines for judging in most of the show ring disciplines. The second seminar focused on building a local club as Florida Morgan Horse Association past presidents Claudia Parkhurst and Glenn Winograd shared their insights. The energetic and enthusiastic personality of these two people and their club as a whole are great role models for building a successful club. A seminar on how the Morgan breed evolved and on preserving old type Morgans was given by Mary Jean Vasiloff, a Morgan breeder since 1945.

The Media Steering Committee, Regional Shows Committee, Discipline Council Committee, USA Equestrian Morgan Rules Committee and Morgan Professional Committee also held meetings on Friday.

Saturday's final day featured eight diverse and well attended seminars. The morning began with a trio of presentations geared toward sport horse enthusiasts. Cathy Echternach discussed strategies for balance and harmony that she uses in Dressage which can be used to cross over into other disciplines. Lori Shoemake presented an informative look at making an impression when you compete. Her discussion was focused on the dressage and working hunter arenas, but would translate into any competitive field. World renowned combined driving expert Lisa Singer gave a lively explanation of the combined driving field and her many experiences.

Lora Dunlap combined her legal and equine expertise for the seminar titled Protecting Your Assets. She was joined by fellow attorney Jon Marshall as well as insurance agent Dori Morgan to discuss the myths and facts about limited liability for both the individual horse owner as well as the farm owner.

Dr. Marcia Eggleston discussed the limitations of microsatellite-based DNA parentage testing. She also explained how U. C. Davis's parentage analysts set up parentage cases and give examples of the various types of parentage cases they encounter. This was a very timely discussion given AMHA's conversion to DNA parentage testing.

The afternoon's seminars began with an all important presentation on Morgans in the Marketplace. Ivan Beattie of East of Equinox Farm discussed where the Morgan horse fits into the general equine market, and how we may be able to influence that position.

M. Phyllis Lose, V.M.D., author of Blessed Are The Broodmares, discussed the three stages of labor. Her seminar was geared to breeders who were eager to gain insight from Lose's vast expertise in equine pediatrics.

Philip DuBois, Margaret Gardiner and Doris Norton shared their perspective from a historical perspective as they discussed their perceptions of the future of the Morgan breed in the final seminar of the convention.

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