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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Morgan Medallion Regional Championship Horse Show enjoyed one of its largest and deepest shows ever. The Medallion celebrated its 41st annual production with a show whose theme of patriotism and unity shone brightly. Over 350 of the west coast's finest battled for superiority on August 14-17 at the scenic Earl Warren Showgrounds. This AMHA Region 7 Championship show was once again presented by the Morgan Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s show again benefited the worthwhile charity M.A.R.E. (Mastering Abilities Riding Equines) to whom a special presentation was made on Thursday night.

The competition at this year’s Medallion was first rate with many past and present World Champions taking part in the competition. Some fantastic young horses and new combinations also took to the ring that will surely be vying for future World Championship honors. In all the over 350 horses vied for top honors in nearly 200 classes and championships.

The Saturday evening finale was perhaps the most competitive and exciting complete session of the year. From the elegance of the Ladies Pleasure Driving Championship to begin straight through to the crowd pleasing six horse Park Saddle Championship to finish, Saturday evening at the Morgan Medallion was an exclamation point on the west coast 2002 show season.

Most of the west coast’s top stables were in attendance with quality at a premium at this show. Stables who brought their finest to the Medallion included: Arcuri Stables, Baccarat Farms, Boston Morgan Farm, Cathy Grimes Training Stable, Chowning Training Stables, Destrier, Dragonfire Farm, Figure Horse Farm, Fire Run Farm, Gerry Rushton Stables, Garn Walker Stable, Glyn-Rae Stables, Greyrock, Illahee, Keith Nelsen Stable, Miller Training, Missy Rushton Stables, Rancho Del Mar, Rickford Stables, Rock Walker Stables, Royal Griffith Farm, Sterling Hill Training, Susan’s Stable, The River’s Edge, Tornatore Show Horses, Vegas Valley Morgans, Wolf Creek Ranch, Young Equestrian Services and many more.

Exhibitors thoroughly enjoyed their stay in Santa Barbara again this year. Despite the marine layer hanging on until mid-afternoon most days, the few hours of California sunshine warmed things up for a few hours prior to some downright chilly evenings. Although there are three sessions a day, exhibitors always find some time to enjoy the scenic area beaches, fine restaurants, and shopping that Santa Barbara is famous for.

This year’s show gave exhibitors numerous chances to get together and interact. In addition to several scheduled parties, there were numerous barn aisle parties that gave everyone a chance to mingle. Exhibitors were treated to a “Welcome to Santa Barbara” barbecue on Wednesday evening and "horsie" d'oeuvres and wine on Thursday evening sponsored by MHBEA. Intrepid Farms and White River Morgans were the hosts once again of an ice cream social on Thursday evening.

Thursday evening's festivities also included a celebration in honor of the Hall Of Fame induction of Precious Moment (see separate article). The clients of Rock Walker Stables invited everyone to Friday evening's third annual party event. The celebration continued on until the wee hours with everyone socializing, dancing and enjoying the buffet and bar. MHBEA President Bob Johnson thanked everyone for their attendance with a dessert buffet at the show's conclusion on Saturday night.

Numerous special awards were presented during the show. Bob and Alice Johnson were the recipients of a special appreciation award from the Morgan Medallion for their dedication and commitment. Rock Walker and Bob Hughes returned to the ring to collect their award for being recognized as Region 7 Trainers Of The Year. The junior exhibitor riders celebrated the culmination of a great week of competition with Saturday night’s High Point Awards. The champions this year were; Ariana Corrigan and Jacqueline Beck - Saddle Seat, Julie Brempelis and Lucy Kagan - Western Seat, and Sarah Lee and Shannon Ward - Hunt Seat.

Heading the list of officials at this year’s Medallion were show chair Penny Lakatos, co-chair Alice Day Johnson, show manager Harriet Landrum, and show secretary Leonora Bedolla. Matt Hinton and Hal Lockey served again as announcers along with paddock steward Jeff Gilbert. Colorful organist Shay Torrent was playing the tunes including the famous "turkey call". Adele Maurer did her usual fine job serving as ringmaster, while Ronald Rhodes kept order as USAE Steward. Casey McBride did a great job as official show photographer delivering award-winning proofs to eager exhibitors.

The assignments for selecting this year’s champions went to Sandy Sessink (Mares and Stallions In Hand, Park Saddle, Park Harness, English Pleasure, Pleasure Driving, Classic Pleasure Driving, Saddle Seat Equitation and Miscellaneous); Karen Homer-Brown (Geldings In Hand, Western Pleasure, Classic Pleasure Saddle, Hunter Pleasure, Carriage Driving, Reining, Stock Seat and Hunt Seat Equitation and Miscellaneous); Larry Mayfield (Trail and Hunters Over Fences); and Loris Henry (Dressage).

The 2002 Morgan Medallion was an all star gathering of the west coast titans of the Morgan breed. Each and every medallion was hard earned; and many of these fine champions will next vie for a pass under the Oklahoma spotlight.

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