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UPHA Chapter 12 Carolinas Horsemen’s Hall of Fame

Editor’s note: The following presentations were made during the recent North Carolina State Championship Horse Show.




Marge Lovell (red jacket) is joined by her family.
(photo by Doug Shiflet)


Read by Parker Lovell


Tonight, we induct a woman into the UPHA Chapter 12 Hall of Fame whose impact on the sport of show horses spans generations. Through her husband, her children and grandchildren, and her world famous bits, she has changed the face of our sport. And she's brought laughs to the faces of nearly everyone in this sport who's had the pleasure of knowing her -- Please help us welcome as our 2007 inductee, Ms. Marge Lovell.


Marge's beloved husband, Cash, was a legendary trainer. Son Cash Jr., my husband, also is a trainer. Son Tommy is a renowned equine artist, whose rocking horses are displayed in homes and museums throughout the world. Daughter Penni was raised in the horse business, and instilled her love of horses to her daughter, who also rides and shows. Daughter-in-law, Jeanine, is a well-known riding instructor. And son Rodney is her partner in Lovell Bit Company - makers of the most sought-after horse bits in our industry. In recent years, literally thousands of horses, and hundreds of World Grand Champions, have worn Lovell bits.

In one recent World's Championship Saturday night alone, 10 out of the 12 winners pranced out of Freedom Hall wearing wreaths of flowers -- and a Lovell Bit.

At age 83, Marge Lovell still oversees the production of every handmade bit. With the loving care of a grandmother's hands, she helps to craft bits every day in the old bit shop behind her log cabin. As she has done since Cash Lovell Bit Company was founded in the early 60s by her husband, Marge Lovell handwrites all of the orders, and she handwrites all of the shipping labels, and she still handwrites every single invoice for every bit that is mailed around the world.

She knows everybody in the show horse business -- and she's nurtured or fed bowls of her famous pinto beans to more people than we can count. She nurtured and helped to raise such successful horsemen as Dick Kearney, Wayne Lovell, Ivan Tester, Steve Allred, Jon Walker and Gib Marcussi -- and in more recent years, Christy Absher Johnson and Mary and Evan Orr. She'll see any of these trainers, even now, and tell them, "If you don't straighten up, I'll whoop you."

The greatest thing about Marge Lovell is that every single day of her life, she laughs. Named "Mamoo" by granddaughter, Jenna, many years ago, now nearly everybody in the horse world knows Marge Lovell as Mamoo.  And anybody who's ever had the pleasure of meeting her knows her goodness, her kind heart, and her knee-slapping laugh. And they know that she's brutally honest -- sometimes to the point of embarrassment to her family. In an age of political correctness, there is nothing about Mamoo that is politically correct. If a thought crosses her mind, it shoots out her lips -- no matter who's listening. The stories are legendary.

Once when her son, Cash, was presenting a horse to potential buyers who were visiting the barn, Mamoo happened to walk in. "Huh," she said to the visitors, "It's a shame that horse never looks that good in the show ring."  Shortly afterward, her son bought a horse for a longtime friend and customer, Jeoff Bodenhorst. Mamoo took one look at the horse, turned up her nose, and said, "What did he do to you? I thought he liked you. That's the ugliest horse I ever saw."


Another time, right here in this very arena, Jane Bennett was judging. Mamoo was sitting in the stands. The Lovell barn hadn't had a show to brag about, anyway. Things didn't get any better after Mamoo stopped the judge to talk as she walked past on her way to a break. Ignoring all the rules of protocol, Mamoo said, "Jane, sit down here and talk to me for a minute. You know, you've really made something of yourself. And it surprises the heck out of me, because you were the meanest kid I ever saw!"


Yet another time, she watched one of her granddaughters win a class. As a matter of fact, it was right here in this arena, too. Her granddaughter, Candace Lovell, came out with the blue ribbon on a horse she had trained herself in her backyard. Cash and I had a rider in the same class. "Huh, that will show you," Mamoo said, sitting amid a big bunch of our customers as Candace made her victory pass. "You don't need all those high-priced horse trainers, now do you?"


Funny -- and very true -- stories of Marge "Mamoo" Lovell could be told all night long. When her husband, better known in these circles as "Big Cash" decided to make his first horse bit all those many decades ago, she scoffed at him. She said, "You won't sell four horse bits in a lifetime!" When her son Cash, and I, decided to start a riding lesson program many years ago, she told others, "That's the craziest thing I ever heard. Nobody's going to pay them to learn how to ride a horse!"


But while Mamoo may have miscalculated the beginnings of both businesses, she's been instrumental in their success. In the world of the Lovells, nothing happens without her. She is the beloved and wise matriarch from whom a horse-loving dynasty has come. I tell people all the time that I married Cash so that I could get Mamoo! She's the wisest, kindest, most selfless person I've ever known.


Speaking for her entire family, we are so heartened, tonight, that the members of UPHA Chapter 12 have chosen Marge Lovell as a member of our chapter's Hall of Fame. She's spent her life behind the scenes, making good things happen for others. She deserves the spotlight.





Lewis Eckard (far right) is joined by Ray Cloninger,
John Whalen, and his mother Pauline Eckard
(photo by Doug Shiflet)


Our honoree tonight is a multi-faceted horseman who has achieved great acclaim not only as a trainer, but also a breeder and horse show judge. Indeed his keen eye for a good horse has served him well in all three disciplines. He has made his mark in the Saddlebred and Hackney breeds, and roadsters as well.


A self-made horseman, he began his successful career on his parents' Drowning Creek Farm when he and his sisters started showing in their youth. He attended his first horse show at the age of nine or ten, invited by Dr. Clark Jennings who had Arabians. That started an involvement in the local 4-H horse club, open multi-breed shows, and reading every horse book he could get his hands on, including Louis Taylor’s The Horse America Made. In fact, he reports that he learned to rack from a book!


Although he ended up working a few Arabs for Dr. Jennings, he liked the challenge of Saddlebreds better. He has had clients since the age of 14 and turned Drowning Creek into a public training, showing and sales establishment in 1970, specializing in top quality amateur, juvenile and stake horses. Except for a three-year period (we’ll get to that shortly), he’s never worked anywhere else.


Some of his earliest clients include four that are still with him today: the C.W. Myers family – now represented by Louise Myers Allen and Stephanie & Allie Wellington; WRG Farm – the late Ross Gardner and son Bill; Karl and Phyllis Bridgeman; and Joe Cook, the last two who returned after a long break from owning horses.


In 1981 he became the manager/trainer of the newly formed Flying V Farms owned by the Art Viles family of Lincolnton, North Carolina. He had introduced the Viles to the Saddle Horse industry in 1978 when they began showing their horses under the Drowning Creek banner. Through his wise selections he gathered a string of horses literally second-to-none for this fast-rising establishment. He and Art Viles designed and built a showing, training, sales and breeding operation that was as impressive in its beauty as it was in its convenience. Under his astute direction Flying V quickly became a major name in the industry. Such horses and ponies as CH Easter Present, CH Northern Mystic, So Lovely, CH My Lovely, CH Bandstand!, The Auctioneer, Vision's Diana, Seldom Seen, The Mean Machine, Second Souvenir, Easter Street and more won World and major titles from the Carolinas to Kentucky, Louisiana to Georgia. Flying V purchased the entire Drowning Creek breeding operation and stood such stallions as: State Street, Wing Again, Rare Sensation, Wing Shot and Native Promise.


He returned to Drowning Creek in 1983 to re-establish it as one of the South's most prominent Saddle Horse stables. He has produced or trained World’s and Reserve World’s Champions in virtually every division, including Bo Diddley, Batman, HiYa Pat, Another Trouble, Puff 'N' Stuff, CH The Wind Song, King Of The Hill, All American Girl, Sea Voyage, The Entertainer, Charmed Circle, Saturday Night Fever, CH Bandstand!, Centerfold, Last Edition, Glorious, CH My Lovely, So Lovely, Seldom Seen, CH Northern Mystic, CH Wing's Casablanca, Silkwood, Superior Star, Crew Chief, I've Arrived, CH Madame Machine, Second Souvenir, New Estate Am-A-Gem, Cherry's Dream Time, Texas Tommy, Kassandrakalu, Starheart’s Secret Romance, Catch My Drift, CH Like A Fox, Ike Native Princess, CH Bi Mi Southern Pacific, Dun-Haven Crystal King, The Auctioneer, CH Lady Of York, Northern Dancer, CH Special Two, Vision's Diana, Easter Present, CH Playing With Fire, Dream N Blue, CH Calle Lily, I’ve Arrived, CH The Crimson Flame, Free Agent, CH CaroLouise, CH Ninety-Eight Degrees, CH Assets And Attitude, CH Belleavanti, Allie Wellington (eq.), Boot Scootin’ Boogie, CH Royalty In Black, Seize The Moment, and just this year - Razz-Ma-Tazz (for the second year in a row) and equitation rider Cagle James. I’m sure there are some we’ve left out, but this is a pretty impressive list as-is.



A scholar of Saddlebred and Hackney lineages, he started Drowning Creek’s breeding program in 1972 and has run it with great success standing some of history's best stallions, such as Anacacho's Captain Denmark, State Street, Rare Sensation, Wing Again, The King's Version, Marine's Golden Promise, Native Promise, The Mean Machine, Anacacho Dancer, Brandywine’s Denmark Ace, Holiday's Candyman, Poinsettia's Creation, Sultan's Affair, Wind Storm, and The Sundrifter, The Showboat. Sons of the last two, Drifter and Show Piece, are now carrying on the legacy of his selective breeding program. Countless show ring champions have been born or bred at Drowning Creek to go on to show ring honors under others’ banners.


He is one of the most sought-after judges in the industry. Currently holding a USEF “R” card in Saddlebred, Hackney, Roadster, Morgan and Saddle Seat Equitation, he previously has held cards in numerous other divisions including Parade, Arabians and Tennessee Walking Horses. He has judged the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship Horse Show a record-tying 5 times, the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Horse Show 9 times, Lexington Jr. League 4 or 5 times, and - by his own admission - has lost track of how many times he’s judged the American Royal. His judging is not confined to the U.S… he’s also judged the [Canadian] Royal Winter Fair and the World Cup Saddle Seat Equitation Finals in South Africa. Earlier this year, he returned to South Africa to serve on the panel at the South African National Championships. But don’t think he reserves all his judging time for the biggest shows. He keeps in touch with the grassroots of the industry, having judged a small non-rated show in West Virginia last month.


He is a member of the UPHA, ASHA, USEF and ASAC, which named him Trainer of the Year. He has served on the board of the Carolinas Futurity; as past president of UPHA Chapter 12, which nominated him as 1991 UPHA Horseman of the Year; the American Horse Council; as a board member of ASHA; and is currently serving on the USEF Licensed Officials Committee.


His achievements and service to the Saddlebred and Hackney industry locally, regionally and nationally have naturally led to this well-deserved Carolinas Horsemen’s Hall of Fame induction.

At this time, please join his many friends and family members gathered tonight, and give a hand for our newest inductee as he joins his parents, Landen and Pauline Eckard, in the Carolinas Horsemen’s Hall of Fame… Lewis P. Eckard.


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