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USET Selects Morgans For World Singles Championship In France

Following a series of qualifying events that concluded with the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions at Gladstone, NJ, the United States Equestrian Team (USET) has announced on June 28, 2002 the following drivers will compete in the team competition at the FEI 2002 World Singles Horse Championship in Conty, France, August 28 through September 1: Eleanor Gallagher of Southern Pines, NC and Kashmier; Nancy Johnson of Lincoln, MA, and Canequin's Look Out; Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT, and Gaitwood Lightwing. The first alternate horse/driver combination is Scott Monroe of Sharon, CT with Bethesda After Dark. Second alternate is Kim Stover of Warwick, MD with True Grit, owned by Doug and Cookie Kliever.

We congratulate all the drivers and horses for being selected to the Singles Team or as alternates; however, we are especially proud that two of the three horses selected to the team are Morgans! As well, one of the two alternates is a Morgan. This is quite an achievement and a tremendous honor for these superb athletes and their dedicated owners and drivers!

Let me first introduce these great drivers and their Morgans: Nancy Johnson is a computer programmer from Massachusetts. Nancy has owned “Robo” (a nickname given to her bay gelding, Canequin’s Look Out, by his breeders who watched him being born after they returned from watching Robo Cop at the movies), for most of his life. They train with Larry Poulin and have competed in ridden dressage at Second Level, evented to preliminary level, and completed 500 competitive trail ride miles. She took up driving when it was a choice between that and endurance riding to win the Morgan Sport Horse Award. "He always seemed to catch on faster than I did," Nancy said about all the disciplines she and Robo have pursued.

Fred Merriam, 50, trains the driving horses at Winchester Stables in Newfane, Vermont. The 7-year-old dark bay gelding, Gaitwood Lightwing (TOFR Blackwing x Gaitwood LeFlame) is owned by Nicholas Mercede, the stable's owner. Peggy Dil, stable manager who also navigates for Merriam, says, "Fred's ultimate goal is the connection with his horse who is very bright and loves to work. He's not afraid to let Fred know what he thinks on occasion." This is Merriam's third year of Combined Driving, and they entered their first Advanced Division event only late last year. Like most other top drivers, he has had help from Lisa Singer and Larry Poulin along the way. But much of Merriam's success is due to his diligence and bonding with his willing companion, Gaitwood Lightwing.

Scott Monroe of Sharon, CT works as an arborist. He considers his black Morgan, Bethesda After Dark, a member of the family. When once asked if he'd ever sell “Shadow”, Scott answered without hesitation, "They can't print enough money in the world for that." Scott gives the credit for his success to his coach, Margaret Barney, who runs a stable in Connecticut, where he lives. Since he started to drive five years ago at the age of 45, Scott has taken a bead on the World Singles Championships and now his dream may be coming true as he’s been selected as the first alternate for the team.

As you can see, these horses and drivers have worked very hard to come this far, and now we need to give them our blessings and support to help them get to Conty, France to represent the U.S.A. As you might imagine, it is very expensive to transport a horse, carriages, supplies, and at least two people across the Atlantic by plane. There are also additional costs of sending over a farrier, veterinarian, chef d'equipe, and a coach, not to mention expenses for food and lodging. The USET is providing a portion of the support for the Singles Team (but not for the alternates, who must provide their own funding) and the American Driving Society is soliciting contributions for all members of the team as well. Even with these other sources of donations, our Morgans need your help! A fund has been established through the American Morgan Horse Institute (which makes your donation tax-deductible) to raise money to help defray some of the individual expenses they will encounter. If you can help, please send donations payable to “Morgans to World Singles Championships 2002” to the AMHI, P.O. Box 519, Shelburne, VT 05482.

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