The Cat is out of the bag

I am not surprised as I have suspected for a long time; who has the money, time, and zeal to pursue litigation against AMHA? It is Margaret Gardiner, the same one who had a huge spread in the Morgan Magazine last month. Margaret finally admitted to financing the entire lawsuit at Having known Margaret for over 25 years and after reading her letter on the web-site, I can assure you that this litigation will not go away. Her reasons are specific and to the point. Her goal is in saving the original Morgan horse at all costs. Please read her letter; I cannot emphasize how important it is in understanding the lawsuit and the possible reprecussions following the membership voting in Febraury. I felt you need to know with whom you are dealing now and in the future.

15 Responses to The Cat is out of the bag

  1. underdog88 says:

    I just read her letter…

    Some of the things she says in it really makes my blood boil!!!!!

    Her saying that the Morgan Horse magazine “caters exclusively to the small number of members who are interested in show Morgans” is ludicrous!!!!!
    First of all, TMH most definitely does not. And, the SMALL number of people interested in show Morgans????? SERIOUSLY? It’s a HUGE number and to have that group brushed away like “oh it’s just a small group of people who like show Morgans…” is infuriating!!

    And then…

    “The average Morgan owner really does not like the way the Morgan is presented to the public as a show animal”

    !!!! WHAT?? How can this woman make such a sweeping assumption about all of us??? So that means that me and just about all of the Morgan owners I know are just outcasts? Minorities?? All of the hundreds and hundreds of exhibitors who compete and advertise in the Morgan show world and contribute so much to the breed are all just minorities too? And all of the hundreds of Morgan trainers and breeders out there who train and breed show horses are minorities in this too???? SERIOUSLY?? Jeez this woman gets me angry!!

    I am so sick of all this! So what, we’re supposed to go back to the days of bull-necked 14 hand Morgans who trot around choppily with no frame and hollow backs??????? No thank you!! What is the point of that?? All breeds progress, that’s how it is. And I’m going to say this right now, I like the look of 99.9% of our Morgans today. And the .1% that are too fine boned or gawky don’t pin anyway!!!!! These types of people like Ms. Gardiner always tend to think that all of these show Morgans look like Saddlebreds or something and that all the judges pin them….anyone who’s involved in the show industry knows that’t not true!!
    I’ve seen a couple show horses out there that have a bit of that “Saddlebred-y” look…and they never pin well because they don’t look like Morgans!! Judges don’t pin these horses! A lot of them either retire from showing and become lesson horses, or they are shown as equitation horses only.

    I’m telling you right now, if something were to happen with all of this crap and the show Morgan and the show world declined and crumbled and all that was left was these people’s idea of the Morgan Horse…their “traditional Morgan horse”(…which, if you check out most of these horses online or in ads…sure, they might have some historically correct type…but they also have just as many, if not more conformation faults as the “show type Morgans” they condemn…just DIFFERENT faults…and in my opinion, many times more unattractive faults.)……anyway, if that were to happen, I would dejectedly go to a different breed. That thought makes me unbelievably unhappy…but it’s the truth! I adore this breed more than any other!! But I love what they are today, I don’t love what these people have in mind for them. Their idea of the Morgan provides no joy, excitement, or wonder for me. I love introducing people to this wonderful breed. And one of my favorite things is their versatility, don’t get me wrong, I respect all of the disciplines completely and I LOVE that Morgans can literally be anything!! People that I introduce them to are always captivated by their beauty.
    And I’m gonna say it….they always see the show horse with the beautiful head carriage, the gleaming coat, the flowing tail, the fluid motion and the “ooohs and ahhhs” ensue. But NEVER have they pointed at the shabby little trail horse and said GORGEOUS! …it’s the truth! Sounds mean when you say it like that, but it’s true!

    I love every Morgan horse on this planet….but do I want the show horse eradicated and the shabby trail horse to reign????? NOO!!!!!

    And a quick side note about them thinking that modern show Morgans aren’t correct, or pretty, or preferred…or whatever it is they think of them….

    here are some of this year’s World Champions- Grand Cru Beaujolais, Dragonsmeade Icon, SYP High Definition, MEM Bailamos, Merriehill Home Run, Boogie Nights, Treble’s Tanqueray, and BEF Ivan (who is not only a gorgeous western SHOW horse, but also a gorgeous dressage SHOW horse), just to name a few…

    Now, is there anyone here who thinks horses like these are conformationally incorrect, or lack Morgan type? Anyone here who prefers that these types of horses were gone? Anyone who thinks they’re NOT baroque Morgan beauties?
    Who here would NOT like to own one of these horses?
    According to Margaret Gardiner, if you like anyone of the horses I listed above, you are in the “majority”, the people who like the way Morgan show horses look.

    Another quick side note on “original Morgan type” and my comment about 14 hand Morgans….I’ve read from several different reliable sources that in his stud book, Justin Morgan’s height at maturity was actually 15.3 hands.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Here is the link directly to the letter.

    In the letter she notes declining numbers of memberships and breedings, comparing 2005 with 2010. Hello! Times are not the same and this is not a static world. People are trying to feed and house their families and horses are a luxury item. All horse related events have taken a hit in the last five years.

    I’m an average Morgan owner and I don’t remember anyone contacting me to ask my opinion.

    The amish are still breeding the old Morgan, well at least the black ones. I guess she doesn’t feel this is a problem.

    The Morgan Horse magazine just did an article on her very own contribution to the history of the breed, now that is biased! Not sure when the last time the The Morgan Horse mag was included in the dues. We’ve been members on and off since 1978 and it has required a subscription.

    Alot can change in 61 years, but should we sue to go back in time?

  3. underdog88 says:

    Second to last paragraph I meant to type…”minority”

  4. Trisha says:

    Well, it’s obvious now that regardless of whether three passes or not, this isn’t the end of it. If three passes, it still won’t get rid of “those show people”.

    And what is the Morgan horse magazine supposed to do? Require equal parts of their advertising to be for show horses and non-show? In my opinion, the magazine makes a GREAT effort to include all types of Morgan coverage in their magazine, but because there are ads for show horses , they are doing a horrible job showcasing all Morgans? If others aren’t willing to advertise, then there is no room to complain because there are “only park horses” in the magazine. The magazine can’t run on dirt.

    As the poster above stated, everything is in a decline. So blaming “show horses” on the decline in registrations and memberships is ridiculous. A (responsible) breeder is NOT going to continue breeding when they can’t sell the ones they already have. And when it comes to choosing between a necesity and a membership, most are probably going to choose the membership… though if I wanted to be argumentative, I could point out that show horses help memberships because most shows have non-member fees that certainly add up.

  5. leslie says:

    Maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I just want to point out that Margaret Gardiner didn’t breed for “shabby little trail horses.” She bred sport horses that were national carriage champions (against all breeds) and competed internationally (Kennebec Count and Kennebec Russell, most notably.) I used to live in Maine and saw a few Kennebec-bred Morgans compete in various disciplines in western and hunter pleasure and they did well. I even catch rode one for the pattern phase of a Youth of the Year contest once and she was a really nice little mare. So, while you may disagree with Ms. Gardiner’s politics when it comes to the AMHA, just keep in mind that she actually has made some major contributions to the breed.

    That said, her views are pretty extreme and I find it upsetting that she felt the need to bankroll a frivolous lawsuit to make her point. However, I don’t know that it’s productive to get riled up about her opinions. If I’m not mistaken, she’s in her 90s. I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s just a fact. After #3 is voted down, do you really think she’s going to be able to back a second lawsuit, financially or otherwise? Yes, there are plenty of others still gunning for a fight, but if we’re singling her out, I really don’t feel that there’s a lot to get worked up about.

  6. khummel says:

    I met the woman Margaret Gardiner many years ago and she pretty much was espousing at that time that she had the Only true Morgan horses and everyone else was “wrong” or a bad breeder or running amuck because they were not perpetuating Her kind-her breeding which she viewed as the only Real Morgans. I found her angry and upset about the direction of the breed as show horses That Morgans should/could only be sport horses to be what she considered a Real Morgan. She very much offended me and I quickly turned her Off and walked away from her very loud speech to whomever would stop to listen to her rhetoric. This was in the eighties .

  7. Carley says:

    guess i’m not part of the majority then….

  8. underdog88 says:


    yes, I was aware that Margaret has been influential in the Morgan world, specifically with sport horses and with Kennebec Count. Many will recall that there was just a big write up about Kennebec Farm in the last issue of The Morgan Horse…the very publication that she said “caters exclusively to the small number of members who are interested in show Morgans”.

    And as for “shabby little trail horses”…that was not specifically a reference to the type of horses she bred. It was essentially just hyperbole to describe the type of Morgan that her and her group prefer to perpetuate over show horses. Horses like Kennebec Count are very important to the breed and are fantastic ambassadors for the Morgan Horse…BUT what I was saying is that I think it is outrageous for someone to think that that type of Morgan is preferable over ALL others to every person, or even to the majority (which I think is false). Even though horses like him are fantastic and vital to the breed…they STILL are not generally the ones that make people drool and draw them into the industry like some of the ones I mentioned- Beaujolais, Bailamos, High Definition, Tanqueray…etc.
    And despite her age, I do not think it is pointless to be upset about this. She has clearly made an enormous impact on our industry with this, and has spread her views to others who will likely carry them on long after her. So I will absolutely not rest easy with the fact that she is older. To me, that’s kind of apathetic.

    Very, very interesting, yet not surprising information after reading her letter. Just makes this more frustrating. It is very upsetting that a single person with these long-held extreme and destructive views can have SO MUCH influence; scary.

  9. leslie says:

    I only mentioned her age because the original post said this is who we’re dealing with now and in the future, and I just wanted to make the point that, to be perfectly frank, we’re probably not dealing with her too far in the future. I hate to sound so crass, but I don’t really know how else to say that.

    As for whether it’s pointless to be upset or not, think about it this way. She’s been in the business for decades and has always actively and vocally held this view, but has it caused the demise of show Morgans? Hardly. If anything they’ve gotten more popular and showier in that time.

    I do understand why her letter makes people angry, but I just don’t think it’s helpful to dwell on it. Most of the people who post on this blog seem pretty decided about where they stand on this issue. I just feel like if we’re going to keep discussing the lawsuit and resulting proposal, we need to be rational about it and come up with some positive ideas, not just stew in our own rage make derogatory comments about Morgans that differ from our preferred type. If GoMorgans wants to do that, that’s their problem. We don’t have to be like that here.

  10. Vintage_Rider says:

    I just found the letter sad, and khummel’s post even brings it even more home. After reading her letter, and, for God’s sake, look at her signature…. she may have been taken advantage of by a small group who used her deep pockets to further their aims.

    It just reminds me of my great grandfather, who to his dying day SWORE the walk on the moon was on a movie sound stage.

    She was able to make a life long rant a last gasp for attention… In my humble opinion.

  11. None of you should underestimate Mrs. Gardiner. Her hand may shake and her eyesight be dim, but she is from tough Yankee stock, just like her Kennebec horses!

    I am glad she owned up to funding the lawsuits. While I hate how the suits have bled the association, there has never been any question where she stands on shoeing, showing and breeding.

    I regard this as far more admirable than sneaking around and slipping outside blood into the breed by midnight breedings, or concealing lead weights inside shoe pads or some of the other practices.

    I just think she, and the other plaintiffs, cannot un-ring the bell. The Morgan is not the D.C. Linsley ideal anymore (not that it ever was-look at the Ethan Allen 2nd print-I would take that horse into a modern in-hand class in a minute!) There are gorgeous typey Morgans out there (Mint Jacob comes to mind) but the high-percentage breeding that produced horses like him is a genetic dead-end, long term. They will get smaller, and smaller, and have more and more genetic faults cropping up if the breeders persist in only judging horses by their percentage blood. Like it or not, the Morgan has been a “bastard” breed from the beginning. With only one progenitor, what else could it be? Our gene pool got a very necessary boost with the importation of outside blood (legitimate or otherwise). Now that the registry is double locked and guarded, long term we will migrate to the norm, which is the distinct neck, head, expression, carriage and body of the Morgan horse. We could get there quicker if we would use some of the high-percentage bloodlines. I see the Lippitts and others as the fountain head that the rest of the breed can go back to draw from when we want to stamp “Unmistakably Morgan” on our foals.

    We have all the ingredients to produce a talented All-American baroque beauty that could appeal to a wide range of owners if we would just quit fighting among ourselves.

  12. leslie says:

    “We have all the ingredients to produce a talented All-American baroque beauty that could appeal to a wide range of owners if we would just quit fighting among ourselves.”

    Very, very well-said.

  13. dressagemorganrider says:

    I think the whole situation is sad, and complicated, and neither part of the Morgan world is superior.

    I should say that, if I had a choice, I’d go with a Kennebec Morgans in an instant. They are fine, fine horses and while most don’t fit the show mode, you’re not going to mistake them for any breed but a Morgan.

    I keep seeing references to bad conformation in the Foundation lines… and yes it’s there… but the show lines? Low backs and too-level croups so they park out better, but it’s not attractive and not fun to ride if you’re trying to get a horse to use its back end. And club feet, weak stifles, poor canters, lots and lots of things that get ignored in the quest for a “high stepper.”

    Is any “show” breeder out there actually using Lippitt horses or other Foundation horses? A lot of sport breeders do use some of the modern show lines.

  14. Trisha says:

    I agree that neither side is superior. At then end of the day, I’m a “morgan person”. I’m not a show person. Yes, I do show. But I could be a “show person” regardless of what breed I chose. Even when I am at little 4h shows, I can’t even count how many times I’ve said to someone, “that horse is pretty, it has a Morgan head (or some other body part)”. I don’t care if I am looking at a Morgan who’s neck is so short it has to lay down to graze, a ski-slope rump, and legs that go all directions; I will still find that horse prettier than any Quarter horse, Saddlebred, or Arabian it’s standing next to.

  15. showjumper says:

    I can say strongly that Ms Gardiner’s intentions were never meant to be a negative effect, and sometimes clubs can get going down the wrong path… When I’m at a Morgan show, should I question if I’m at a morgan show or a saddlebred???

    Part of the lawsuit came out differently then intended, I sat in her kitchen looking at the proposal and commented that some of the stuff would come off wrong and that it was intended wrong, but it was out of her hands. She told them what she wanted but there were multiple sources coming up with it and other factors. all her intentions were for the best.
    The real concern here is for the lack of representation from the OLD TYPE that is what the FOUNDATION was created on…. There is a lack of representation of the sport morgan… I really “enjoyed” the Novemeber Sport issue that was shoved in the MIDDLE of the December one.. bad enough the did the flop issues before, and then to shove the November, lost in the mix of ads of the highsteppers… To ad to that, the paper quality was no where to par of the Decemebr issue pages, and the November sports horses section were of definite lesser quality… explain that?

    I no longer show at Morgan shows, only open, there are NO CLASSES for us anymore at the Morgan shows, a few have sports classes, and if so they are often felt as being shunned or set aside. I LOVED MORGAN SHOWS, beyond the difference between olt type and new, we were all there for the love of our horses, it was a great time, now it has a different atmosphere, and we feel as if we arent to be part of it.

    I’ve hundreds of other horses and have been overseas and across the US, and scene multiple organisations and disciplines and breeds. I truly am in love with the Morgan though and realise how special they are, and it pains me to see the way the club is so separated and truly lost in the ideas of the morgan horse.

    AND PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me what happened to the Hunter classes… There was no problem before, we had the parky type morgans the western pleasure and the hunter… HUNTER IS NOW PARK WITH HUNTER GEAR!!! what one of those horses could go out on a hunt field? I read the qualifications again today for the hunter type morgan horse.. the horses that are showing and placing are no where NEAR that standard…. that is not a hunter horse, i have no problem with the park and the pleasure but what has turned into this flashy freightened hyped version of the morgan horse. Where is the family horse, the one that can do it all, the strong not hollow backs?

    There is not a bad bred horse at the Kennebec farm. Margaret Gardiner and her Stallion Kennebec Count (lived to be 36) and his son Russel were the first morgans to compete in Combined driving in the worlds (England and Germany), and lead the pathway for other morgans competing open against warmbloods. (this is a huge feet) All her horses have strong feet great brains and big hearts and amazing conformation. She is a brilliant women, and beyond opinions and views, you have to recognise what she has done for the breed. Her horses can pull logs out of the woods, hook to a carriage, jump 4 feet compete 4th level dressage, show road hack, event, working western, have a young child ride and learn to ride, vault, gallop bareback and be the best family horse in the world.. (that is just one of her horses accomplishments, let alone combing what some of the others can do)

    My View is that we should be able to love and appreciate our horses but not lose our traditions values and what built and made us fall in love with the breed, its not a beauty pageant, its about the horse that choses you, that’s hardy and can do it all. They can be flashy, but safe, and the type of horse that IF THERE WAS NO MORE SHOWING, you would still be content just riding through the trails…

    This lawsuit wasnt to single out the other morgans but to bring attention to some of the crooked inner working of the club and bring back together the organisation and to not allow it down the wrong path and corruption
    I truly believe if you can not see some fault in what is happening to the breed, go by a saddlebred or Tennessee walker, leave the sweet happy morgans alone and stop the corruption within. Appreciate the Morgan characteristics and dont let them disappear. It was well stated above, that we have all the ingredients for an amazing breed to bring interest to the club. People have no idea what the morgans can do and be, they often say to me, oh wow i didnt know morgans could do that. We are the underdog breed, let our little fighters fight and represent this horse that competes among itself but also goes against the big guys and competes as an equal.

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