AMHA Hosts Inaugural Distance Championship

October 31st, 2018

Submitted by Carrie Mortensen, photo by Kristen Warning

AMHA was honored to be invited to host its inaugural Distance Championship alongside the expert team of organizers from the Arabian Horse Association and other affiliated breed organizations on Friday, October 26 in Henryville, Indiana. The AMHA 50-mile championship was just one of many events held during the competition that ran October 26-28. Other options for riders included both Open 50-mile and 100-mile championships, a limited distance challenge, and a competitive trail tide.

I’ve always had respect for competitors in different disciplines, but this weekend showed me that the sport of endurance requires WARRIORS! This discipline is not for the faint of heart (whether competing or volunteering). I stepped off the plane to warm, beautiful weather and an amazingly beautiful display of changing leaves. You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to host the ride. However, we could’ve asked for better weather. Friday and much of the rest of the weekend consisted of rain, windy cold breezes, and oh yes, MORE RAIN! Continual rain. Never-ending rain. And mud. Lots of mud. This is where you see what these people are made of and it is some sturdy, tough stuff! Lights on helmets, rain gear, boots, and horses both willing and wanting to head out were the sights that kicked things off.

It was a crash course on everything “endurance” and I got to meet and work with the wonderful team of volunteers who put on this high-caliber event. It truly takes a village to do so including the riders, horses, pit crews, timers, vets, competition staff, crossing guards, management services, and let’s not forget the people feeding this crew! It was quite impressive to see it all come together and we look forward to expanding our Morgan presence in the years to come.

Representing the Morgan breed in this first 50-mile AMHA championship was Mary Coleman of Cassville, Pennsylvania, riding her 14-year-old gelding Westwind Eldorado (W A R Justin x Sweet’s Dixie Daisy), bred by Bryan Blatt of Montana. Mary and "Romeo" proved to be great ambassadors for the Morgan breed placing 15th overall in the Open All Breed 50-mile Championship and first in the AMHA 50-mile Championship. Romeo also took home the Best Conditioned Award for Morgans. We look forward to seeing Mary and Romeo in future competitions and we appreciate the long ten-hour drive they took in order participate and showcase our beloved Morgan breed.

Some Morgan blood showed up to compete in Sunday’s American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) Open Endurance Ride too. I was at the volunteer timing table when I overheard someone ask, “What kind of horse is that?” The owner stated, “A Morgan.” I popped up out of my seat to see Ginny Grulke of Lexington, Kentucky, holding her nine-year-old, buckskin gelding UDM Cozumel (Finally’s Mr Amos Frick x Elmhurst Donlee), bred by Michael & Karen Burridge of Florida. Many know Ginny from her longtime service as the previous executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council. It was a great example of how Morgans can quickly turn people’s heads!

Congratulations to all participating, well done! We hope to see an even bigger Morgan turnout at next year’s Distance National Championship, which is scheduled to be held in Vinita, Oklahoma, October 25-27. More information will be posted on the AMHA website as it becomes available. Start planning your qualification for this exciting event now. Ride on Warriors!

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