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UPHA Herman Miles Horse Show Manager Of The Year - Peter Fenton



 

Larry Bacon presented the Herman Miles

Horse Show Manager Of The Year Award to Peter Fenton.

(photo by Jane Jacobs)

 

(Editor’s Note: The following speech was read by William G. Whitley III on Friday, Jan. 5, 2007 at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.)

Our next recipient was born into the horse show world. He is a third generation horseman, a tradition that he carries with pride. His grandparents, Irish horseman, immigrated to this country in the early 19th century. His grandfather managed the Dedham Hunt and Polo Club and founded the Dedham Hunt.

His mother and father were both very successful and well-respected horse trainers from different backgrounds. His mother, Helen, trained and showed hunters and jumpers while his father, Whitey, trained American Saddlebreds and Morgan horses. They owned and operated a successful stable in New England in the 1950s and 60s.

The middle child of a family of five, four boys and one girl, he watched and learned the basics of the show horse business from the ground up, understanding at a young age the importance of hard work, commitment and dedication are essential in running a successful show horse operation. It was under his mother’s tutelage that our recipient began showing in pony club events as well as live fox hunting on his three-year-old Saddlebred/Welsh cross pony named Wedgwood. He became a good rider, admitting that it was a “get better or get killed situation.” Surviving many a wild ride while fox hunting, our recipient learned a valuable lesson that he still uses today. His mom gave him this advice “you can continue to fight with this pony or you can find a way to get along with her, the choice is yours.” That advice proved to be a lesson well learned.

As our recipient grew up he always kept a hand and a watchful eye on horses. He says “When you are lucky enough to be raised in this business, it always remains a big part of who you are.” Life may have taken him in different directions at times, but the horses will always be his foundation. It is where he is most comfortable and they are a major part of who he is.

Throughout his high school years, sports played a role in his leadership skills, continuing to develop him as someone that could be counted on in any situation. He captained his high school football and baseball teams and was selected honorable mention all-state in football. A knee injury prevented him from playing college football while attending the University of New Hampshire. During that time he held many jobs as he continued to fund his college education. One of his favorite jobs was as a summer camp counselor at an exclusive day camp in North Andover, Mass. It was here that his leadership skills continued to grow, combining his interest in sports and the outdoors along with his love of children thus broadening his mentoring and communication skills.

During this time he also managed a student union building at the Brooks School. He did everything from managing day-to-day operations to consulting and occasionally flipping hamburgers. He even filled in for the school’s chef for a period of time.

He learned the importance of having a plan and most importantly following directions. He was certainly not qualified to be a chef at an exclusive private school but somehow he pulled it off. It was also around this time that he met a young Saddle Seat equitation rider-turned horse trainer that would have a positive affect on his life for the next 30 years. He started to go to horse shows with her, he mingled with the customers and appointed himself as the head groom, providing much needed help and support but most of all a great source of entertainment. He also attended shows with his mother, Helen, who was a judge, steward and show manager, he began to appreciate the importance of the rules and regulations in dealing with the many situations that occur at shows. It was at one of these shows he was thrust into the position of horse show announcer; a position he says was paralyzingly painful at the time but would turn out to be the beginning of a successful career. He is considered one of the best announcers in the country, working at such prestigious shows as Devon, Louisville, the Morgan Grand National and the American Royal to name just a few.

He can evaluate and work a horse with the best of them, or coach a nervous amateur rider with words of encouragement, a very sharp wit or a wonderful sense of humor. He is a horseman in every sense of the word; he has a true love and concern for the horses, a respect for those that have gone before him and a deep concern regarding the direction that our business is heading. He has a great understanding of every facet of the horse industry. As a manager you may see him chatting with a groom, trainer or owner. He understands the importance of having everyone involved in making our business thrive.

Having worked in every aspect of the horse business as an owner, breeder, announcer and a manager, he understands the importance of a well-run show while taking into consideration the needs of everyone involved.

Never one to walk away from responsibility he can handle the irate owner or trainer with compassion and an open mind. He will look you straight in the eye and tell you, “I understand and this is what we are going to do to try and fix the problem.” His protocol is always the same. He will listen, try to be fair and make a decision he believes is best for all parties. He does this in a friendly and professional manner.

His enthusiasm and innovative ideas have breathed new life into struggling horse shows. He has started new shows from the ground up, formulating the idea and helping raise the money needed to move forward. These new shows have received the UPHA Honor Show award in their first year, proving that it can be done if we all work together.

He is the first to take responsibility, yet he always passes the praise for a job well done onto those who work with him.

Our recipient tonight is a winner, proving that good guys do succeed. He possesses qualities that we all strive for; he is kind and caring, a man of integrity, good moral character, a true love and respect of horses and the horse business. He is a horseman managing horse shows, a novel idea.

Ladies and gentleman please welcome the UPHA Herman Miles Horse Show Manager of the Year award winner, Peter T. Fenton.


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