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UPHA Tom Moore Hall Of Fame - Gib Marcucci

Gib Marcucci gave granddaughter Tabitha Galloway

a kiss after she finished reading the speech for his

induction into the UPHA Hall Of Fame.

Photo by Jane Jacobs.


(Editor’s Note: The following speech was read by Tabitha Ireland Galloway Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008, at the UPHA/AHHS Convention in Roanoke, Va.)

Illinois native, Gib Marcucci, has been around Hackney ponies all his life. When a child, he and his father bought and sold problem ponies, often straightening them out and selling them profitably. They operated on a shoestring budget, showing at shows such as Illinois State Fair, where they would rent one stall, divide it in half, tie two ponies in front and hang all the tack and equipment on the back wall. He would follow everyone around and ask millions of questions. Today, if you ever walk down Gib’s aisle at a show, he will stop you and still ask millions of questions. In 1947, he even won an equitation class on his pony, Buster.

In 1955, he married Betty Nairn. Because of his crush on Doris Day, he tried to get Betty to dye her hair blonde, but thankfully, she refused. In 1960, after military service, which included two years in Germany, he and Betty returned to Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. Gib paid his tuition expenses by training ponies.


After graduating with a degree in business and mathematics, he taught school for a short time before deciding to become a full-time pony trainer. In 1960, Gib and Betty moved onto the property along Highway 64 in Monmouth, Iowa and Gib Marcucci Stables became a reality. This public stable has been in operation for 48 years.

Gib has actually trained a few horses during his career, notably Albelarm Supremacy, for Isabel Robson. But, he says he was just getting him ready for Tom Ferrebee so Tom could go on to win with him. But the Hackney has always been special to Gib Marcucci.

His knowledge and recognition have stretched across the United States to other countries, including Canada, Bermuda, Great Britain, Holland and Australia. He is a founding member of the UPHA, a past member of the Mid-West Hackney Association Board of Directors and a recognized USEF judge, having judged the World’s Championship Horse Show four times.

Gib has had world’s champions in every Hackney Pony division. His cobtail world’s champions include Apollo Sand, Heartland Triumphant King, Terry Jean’s Souvenir, Mr. Hawkeye, Fashionation, Blue Rain, Dutch Director, Royal Canadian, Atta Boy, Nabucco and Honky Tonk Man who now shows as Lord Ovation.

His world’s champion harness ponies include the great Revelation, Impress My Daddy, Dun Haven Desiree, King’s Squire, El Toro, Sambucco, Flamethrower, Second Souvenir, Pride’s Starmaster and Man On The Town, who later was just as successful in the cobtail division.

Gib has been equally successful in the road pony division. Those world’s champions include Hazard County, Holly Hocks, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Triumphant, Heartland Memory, Yeah Boy and My Party Manners.

And, in the pleasure pony division, Gib has had two great world’s champions, I’m a Big Leaguer and Early Edition.

Now, I have mentioned only Gib’s world’s champions. But there are other ponies of note he was successful with. King’s Gaiety, Holiday’s Debonaire, Last Edition, Top Hat, King’s Fanfare, Sweet Dreams, Northern Reflection, Cover Girl, Holiday’s Swinger, Expensive Hobby, Frisky Fire, Hot Ticket, American Flyer and Late Nite’s Grand Event. The latter pony was special because he was mine.

Hackney ponies have always been a family affair at Marcucci Stables. The late Glenn Bown, Gib’s first customer to buy some good ponies, gave ponies to Gib’s daughters, Cindy and Lorri, and they became accomplished drivers in their own right. I have continued the family tradition in the show ring with my parents, Cindy and Kevin Ireland, behind me. Lorri and Tim Terrell and their son, Andy, and daughter Kalli have always been enthusiastic supporters of all of us.

Gib is the first one to credit his family and his loyal customers with their valuable roles in his success. Most of his customers have been associated with Gib for years and turnover is rare. He has always encouraged his owners to show their own ponies, never really wanting any limelight for himself.

Respected by owners, exhibitors, breeders and fellow horsemen alike, Gib was honored in 2001 as the first recipient of the Bill Robinson Memorial Hackney Trainer of the Year Award. In 2003 he was also inducted into the American Road Horse and Pony Association Hall of Fame.

He is not blessed with tact and he does things the old-fashioned way. You are not going to change him, but he is proof of the philosophy that the old ways are the best ways.
He is gifted with unlimited talent, an amazing work ethic, perseverance, the insistence on perfection, stubbornness and a strong sense of loyalty. His willingness to help friends in need is not well known, but is a large part of his character. His is a true “rags to riches” story and he feels blessed to have been able to do successfully what he does all these years.

Before I close, I would like to read a poem I wrote for my grandfather when I was 10 years old. It expresses how much he has always meant to me.

He Whom Hath A Large Heart 

For Grampy

He whom hath a large heart,

Is generous to others.

Takes joy in his simple things,

Like love and apple butter.

He whom hath a large heart,

Knows what really matters.

Gives and takes with simple words,

Why call a plate a platter?

He whom hath a large heart,

Plays fair in the game of life.

Knows it's not always easy,

But knows it's worth the fight.

He whom hath a large heart,

Takes pride in what he has.

Land, a home, a family,

Part of God's great plans.

He whom hath a large heart,

Is loved by more than one.

He means much to many people,

Starting with me and Spuds.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for induction into the UPHA Tom Moore Hall of Fame, my grandfather, Gilbert Marcucci.

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