The best of the best in the Morgan breed was celebrated in Oklahoma City for the 2016 edition of the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show, October 8-15. Since 1973, this show has represented the pinnacle of achievement in the Morgan horse world. Nearly 1,000 of the world's finest Morgan horses from across the United States, Canada, and Europe met in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to compete in over 300 classes for $400,000-plus in prize money.
Matt Kwapich of Bernalillo, New Mexico, was the show's manager for the third year in a row, and Cindy Mugnier of Belchertown, Massachusetts, served in the capacity of show chairman.
"The 2016 Grand National was such a wonderful event," said Mugnier. "It made me so proud to be a member of the Morgan family. The level of competition, the displays of horsemanship and sportsmanship, the pride in our country and our service men and women that our exhibitors demonstrated, the attendance of 13 members of the Swedish Morgan Horse Association and the participation of the Wishes4OurHeroes and Oklahoma City Thunder organizations all contributed to a memory filled week.
"I am so grateful to the exhibitors, owners, trainers, show officials, staff, and the Grand National show committee for all their efforts in making a week of fabulous competition and camaraderie," Mugnier concluded.
Kwapich, along with a dedicated and hard-working show committee and staff, joined an impressive list of sponsors, officials, and volunteers to make this year's show the best ever.
The Youth of the Year Contest had 15 competitors this year and Aileen Bodine of Avon, Ohio, was crowned the winner of this prestigious contest. Bodine, 16, will receive a unique custom-designed prize package valuing $3,500. This award is generously sponsored by the Cynthia Elaine Epperson Trust. Earning reserve honors in the contest was Kellie Saccocia, 17, of Halifax, Massachusetts, who also earned a custom-designed prize.
Mastroianni, owned by Brenda Varney and shown by Richard Boule, earned top honors for the second year in a row as World Champion Gelding. The two-year-old Saralin In Touch, shown by Tim Roesink for John and Cathy Tosto, was the World Champion Junior Gelding. For the mares, the two-year-old filly Miss Velvet Brown was the World Champion Junior Mare with John Hufferd showing for Millstone Morgans. Treble's She's Mizbehavin GCH was shown to the World Champion Senior Mare and World Champion Mare titles by Tim Roesink for Mountain Hawk Farm Ltd. for the second year in a row. For the stallions, the two-year-old colt, Ledyard Oberon, led by Lynn Peeples for Ledyard Farm, left the ring as the World Champion Junior Stallion. Following in the footsteps of his sire, Mizrahi, Merriehill After Hours took top honors and earned World Champion Senior Stallion and World Champion Stallion titles for Theodore and Elaine Olsen, honors he also earned in 2014. The six-year-old stallion was lead to victory by trainer, Eric Antman.
In the performance divisions, Antman returned to the ring to earn top honors in the World English Pleasure Championship with Merriehill After Hours. Sarah Gove rode Bri-B Crystalpiece to top honors as the World Hunter Pleasure Champion for Sara Pizzuto LLC. Tomeri Symphony, with Robert Hughes in the buggy for Tomeri Morgans, switched gears and won the World Park Harness Championship after winning the ladies mare qualifier. Kelly Kraegel rode SLR Executive Privilege to the World Western Pleasure Championship for Mark and Laurie Revard. Phil Fountain took DRF Charlemagne to top honors as the World Pleasure Driving Champion for Tadgy and Doug Stacy. Nikki Rae Woodworth rode As Predicted GCH to win the very competitive World Park Saddle Championship for Deborah Hamilton for the second year in a row. Peggy Alderman returned to the ring to win the World Roadster to Bike Championship with Flairetation for a record sixth year in a row. Alderman continues to be the most winning roadster driver in Morgan history, driving to the world championship 12 times.
The Grand National joined forces with Richfield Video and several sponsors to bring the show to online viewers for free. The video feed had an incredible viewership response.
Plans already are underway for next year's show, which will take place October 7-14 in, of course, Oklahoma City. Sally Plumley of Monmouth, Oregon, will be the show chairman.
Founded in 1909, the American Morgan Horse Association is a non-profit organization serving more than 50,000 Morgan horse owners, breeders, exhibitors, and enthusiasts throughout the United States. AMHA serves as a parent organization to more than 90 recognized Morgan horse clubs and national service organizations. It also provides an important link to foreign Morgan horse registries and clubs.
The Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show is owned by the American Morgan Horse Association and is licensed to the American Morgan Horse Educational Trust, a not-for-profit organization committed to education and scholarship. For more information and updates on the Morgan Grand National, go to www.morgangrandnational.com.