Skip to content

Youth Of The Year Winners To Serve As Morgan Breed Ambassadors


by Diana Davidson

Each year, many young Morgan enthusiasts who have qualified at shows around the country throughout the year gather to compete for the coveted title of AMHA Youth Of The Year. The contestants are skilled Morgan equestrians with vast knowledge. They put in many hours preparing for the contest that is run in four sections. This year 19 contestants were tested in a horsemanship pattern, written exam, horse judging and an oral presentation during the 2006 Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show.

The Youth Of The Year Contest was designed to award talented individuals under the age of 21 for their knowledge and abilities in the Morgan breed. The finalists must qualify at a show in their region in order to compete in the finals in Oklahoma City. Following the completion of the four sections scored at a total of 250 points each, the contestants all took their place in the coliseum during Saturday night’s final world championship performance for the awards ceremony.

"We had a great group of young women this year who are each excellent representatives of the Morgan breed and the AMHA Youth program,” said AMHA Youth Activities Coordinator Joyce Ackerman-Burroughs. “The competition was intense, but each handled it with grace and poise. The number of young, first-time competitors was impressive and bodes well for the future of the program. It is exciting to watch these youths as they go through the program and grow from sometimes nervous, unsure youngsters into well-spoken, self-confident young adults. I am proud to be a part of that process and pleased that AMHA is able to continue to offer such great programs and opportunities to our youth members."

As always, the winner of the contest receives a trip to anywhere in the world to serve as an ambassador of the Morgan breed courtesy of the Cynthia Elaine Epperson Trust Fund. After the points were tallied in the four divisions of the competition, Caralee Conklin of Clearwater, Fla., was named the 2006 AMHA Youth Of The Year Champion. She earned the top score in both the written exam and the horsemanship pattern on the way to the championship finish. Conklin, a student at the University Of Florida, qualified for the finals at the Citrus Cup Regional. Conklin had competed in the contest several times previously and has enjoyed great experiences on her way to the ultimate goal. Conklin is looking forward to spreading the word about the talents of the Morgan horse as she serves as a breed ambassador.

The Reserve Youth Of The Year title was awarded to Christine Harb of Plaistow, N.H. Fifteen-year-old Harb represented the Connecticut Morgan Youth Of The Year Contest. Harb’s score included second place finishes in the written exam, oral presentation and horse judging. She will be rewarded for her efforts with one-week with the trainer of her choice.

Lisa Wermuth of
Colorado Springs, Colo., earned the top score in the oral presentation representing Circle J Regional. Celia Salmon’s keen eye helped her earn the highest score in the horse judging as she represented Michigan All Morgan. The overall top 10 who followed Conklin and Harb featured Lindsay DuBois, Lisa Wermuth, Amie VanDorn, Kelsey Loven, Kara Hose, Angela Savoie, Megan Grunden and Megan Dunkle.

The judges who volunteered their time for this year’s contest were Sarah Miner, Jennie Moore, Nancy Vidler, Mary Jean Irvine, Kerry Shanley, Kass Booth, Chris Cassenti, Tim Morrell, Julie Pickering, Kristen Spann-Cater and Coby Holowacz.

In addition to expressing her deepest appreciation to the judges, Ackerman-Burroughs also applauded the many volunteers, sponsors and horse donors who provided their generous support. The Cynthia Elaine Epperson Trust, Marilyn Esteb of Stone Pine Farm, Bob and Jean Morgan of Morgan Horse Farm, Andrea Chickering Sawyer and Hanna Welch of Meadowair Farm, Alan and Lynn Muir of WSS Prestwick Farms, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Irvine of Morningside Stables, Lorraine Bumb of Silver Creek Stables and The AMHI Cecil R. Brown Memorial Fund were some of this year’s sponsors.

More Stories