Martha Duchnowski and her gaited Morgan Blythewood Barre Vermont aka “PeeWee” is this years AMHA open competition trail winner as well as the winner of the General category (where the gaited classes go). congratulation Martha…ride on!
On February 4th, 2014, I received an email from The American Morgan Horse Associating asking me if I could come to the Morgan Horse Convention on February 22nd, 2014 because my morgan “Blythewood Barre Vermont” won 2013 high point trail and high point in the “General Category”.
OMG! Did I read that correctly? High Point Trail and High Point General? My heart just soared! For you see, I’ve had my share of “challenges” with this 8 year old beautiful, well bred horse.
I bought Barre in 2006 from Blythewood Morgans for my son Jimmy. Jimmy’s morgan was getting up in the years and we were thinking about a younger morgan for Jimmy to show in his 4H shows. I got Barre cheap because his gait was kind of pacey. Having done my fair share of rescuing miniature horses, many of the babies were pacey too but grew out of it.
But Barre didn’t outgrow the strange gait. He remained kind of pacey and my son Jimmy lost interest in him because he didn’t like the gait. When we backed him and he went into that strange gait, I fell in love with it. I have Lupus and bruise very easily which makes posting impossible if I don’t want big round bruises on the inside of my knees. So Barre became my horse and I was riding again.
In the beginning, Barre couldn’t hold either the pace nor a trot, so I contacted a well-know international carriage driver of morgans and her suggestion was to get a vet out that specialized in acupuncture and chiropractic procedures. I did that and was quite alarmed when the vet told me that my sweet beautiful spirited morgan had severe neurological problems. After a month of acupuncture, I got my first bill from her and just about died from sticker shock. So I stopped all treatments.
About this time, I learned that there is such a thing as “gaited” morgans. When my regular vet came out to tend to another horse of mine, I had her look at Barre. I put him through his gaits in-hand and she laughed at me and told me that Barre was doing a flat walk and a running walk and that there wasn’t a darn thing wrong with him and “don’t people pay good money for naturally gaited horses”?
I started out training Barre slowly. Although I am an accomplished carriage driver, I had to learn to ride again and Barre had to learn to carry me. Initial training took a few years during which my dressage training came back to me which I slowly applied to Barre. I mostly did trail rides a with him and it wasn’t long before he was responding and yielding to my leg pressure. I eventually taught myself how to neck rein so I could ride western.
When Barre turned seven, I decided that he needed to get off the farm and to start showing. In the beginning he was very naughty. He would whinny the whole time to his buddies tied to the horse trailer as well as refuse to be quiet in the line-up. It took nearly all of 2012 for him to get used to showing and late in the year, we won our first championship in Country Pleasure. He was also beginning to do well in trail classes as nothing really bothers him and he trusts me so much.
The show season in 2013 also started out poorly with the naughty behavior, but it soon stopped and before long we were winning most of the Country Pleasure and Trail classes. We also did well in the all-breed western pleasure walk-trot or walk-gait classes. We tried a few Judged Pleasure rides with trail obstacles and had a great deal of fun. In addition to winning the American Morgan Horse’s open competitions trail and general divisions (where the gaited classes go) we won 3rd place in the equitation division. I knew we had improved somewhat from last year, but i never dreamed we would actually win!
Barre is so much fun to ride. He is very light and responsive in the mouth and smooth to ride. It is obvious he really enjoys all the attention and stimulation that riding gives. His gaiting keeps improving as I read and re-read all the gaited articles that the Gaited Morgan Horse Organization posts to their website. Combined this new-found knowledge with a solid dressage background from my youth, I hope we keep on improving in 2014.