AMHA’s Champion Title Program

I am wondering how you feel about this new program. You can read about it here: http://www.morganhorse.com/competitions/title_program/
I am not in favor of it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Open competition results are ineligible. That said, maintaining an accessible historical database of any verifiable competition result by any registered Morgan should be sufficient. There is no need or real benefit to the breed to add these designations to registered names in the registry.

Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

 

 

26 Responses to AMHA’s Champion Title Program

  1. Jennifer says:

    I like the concept of the program as I know several horses that would be close to having a CH title that have NOT gone to Nationals. Both the Champion Title program and going to Nationals are status symbols. I am not planning to register my gelding, don’t see the need, but I did sign up for the Pathways program, something for everyone. :)

  2. Montehorse says:

    I think the title CH and GCH should be an “EARNED PRIVILEGE”. I have a horse that has earned several regional and local championship titles. Because of the large costs associated with the small addendum to his papers, I am not planning on adding this title. In addition, he is seventeen years old, and I do not plan on selling him anytime in the future. Why should I have to pay for the privilege? This should be automatically added to his papers for a small fee. I think this is just another way for the registry to bring in $$$.

  3. I think it is a rather clever way of using people’s crying need for public recognition to bring in some dollars to the registry. Dog people and other horse breeds have had it for years and it has some cachet. I agree with Jeff that some way of designating Open Championships would be a plus. I certainly respect someone who does well against other breeds and think they should get extra recognition. Of course, people who show in Open Competition tend to be the sort who do not need their ego propped up.
    Some of the farm prefixes are kinda alphabet soup already, but can you imagine a WC/GC/CH WXYZ Speciale This n’ That? Poor Bill Carrington, having to roll that name off the tongue!

  4. blythewood says:

    Jeff, it would be helpful for people to have a complete and accurate picture of why the AMHA Champion Title Program is rolling out as it is. Your discussions with Harry and Julie provided facts to you that should be disclosed to the folks on the chat lists and blogs when you are seeking their opinions and campaigning against the new program. While it is true that open competition results are not included in the program at this time, it does not mean that horses competing in sport horse classes have been tossed by the side of the road. All classes at the Morgan shows are eligible for the program in this pilot year, including carriage, dressage, reining, working hunter, and jumpers (did I forget any?). I will add here that I made a case for open competition results to be included when the program was being developed, and the possibility was considered and investigated, but for reasons discussed here, it was not considered feasible at this time. Not to say that it could not be added in the future, but only time will tell how staff can work out the issues involved to include open competition results.

    The reason that only Morgan shows are included in the inaugural progarm is that these shows are able to deliver results to AMHA electronically for seamless entry into the registry database, which provides for minimal staff involvement to verify points earned. Results coming in to the office for the Open Competition Program (OCP) have to be processed by hand.

    The accessibility of historic records for open competition that you mention is not as easy as you portray it. Yes, for horses that have been in the AMHA OCP for several years, there are records available to verify; however, since the members submitted these show placings themselves and on hand-generated report forms, individual verification would be required. Considering the number of forms submitted each year, I don’t believe every single entry on every single form has necessarily been verified by staff at the time of submission. I don’t like to think that cheating has occurred by the majority of members, but I believe there could be some results that are of dubious authenticity. Morgan show results and their history are readily available, and most of them are, in fact, already recorded in the horse’s registry record, so if a member wants to pay the higher registration fee to have points from Morgan shows retroactively applied, these can be easily located. Long-time members of the OCP program will have their historic placings available in the office, however, new or recent members of the program will not have results on file in the office to be able to apply their previous championships or high points. Staff would have to solicit results from one or more different organizations to sort through and verify.

    Also, the sport horse disciplines of the OCP have the Sport Horse Award for the ones (horse and owner) with the ability and means to compete in several disciplines. But it is correct that other than a year-end award, horses that compete well in only one discipline may not get the same notice that the Champion Title Program and Sport Horse Award provide. But, we don’t know yet what we might be able to do to provide for these horses to be in the title program.

    One other thing that needs to be called out about the inclusion of horses in the AMHA OCP is that if you are going to include the obvious sport horse divisions (i.e., carriage, combined driving, western working, dressage), what about the ones competing in classes in open shows (e.g. working hunter, western pleasure, English pleasure, jumper)? Working hunter and jumper classes are generally considered sport horse classes at the Morgan shows, but are “show” classes in the OCP. So if you dip into the Open Shows category of the OCP for some classes, you probably need to take them all. No easy solutions!

    –Kathy

  5. jmorse says:

    Thanks, Kathy for some of the details. I don’t believe I withheld any facts I learned while speaking with both Harry and Julie. Sorry if anyone got that impression. I did provide links to the guidelines of the program where anyone can learn for themselves who is and who is not included. I did not feel it necessary to repeat that information that is readily available.

    Before getting into the mechanics of this CTP, it just seems conceptually unfair and unbalanced to have this form of recognition in the registry for our entire breed if it can not be applied to all Morgans who achieve the highest level of achievement in any competitive discipline. We are acknowledging the Morgans who beat other Morgans but not our horses who go out into the World and beat, not only all the other Morgans they come up against, but the best competitors that any other breeds send to try to beat them.

    As one Director put it to me, they look at it the same way we use similar letters after our own names for certain kinds of achievements, like PHD. Well, using that analogy, what we are doing here is awarding PHD’s from several departments (disciplines) of one School (The School of Morgans) at one University (U. of USEF). What about the U of ADS? U of NRHA? U of ECTRA? U of USEA? What about the other Schools of U of USEF, like Carriage Pleasure, Combined Driving, Dressage, etc?

    And what does adding these letters really accomplish? It brings in some $$ for AMHA. Granted $$ is needed but it should not be the guiding principle here. This program doesn’t provide any useful information as to what the horse had to do to actually earn them. It doesn’t provide any genetically inheritable information really. Ask any breeder about the chances of producing a champion from breeding two champions together. The odds are low on a good day. There’s SO much more information that goes into these decisions. Discussions with breeders I know say these letters are redundant and irrelevant. They already KNOW these horses. They know their accomplishments and indeed anyone trying to sell these horses or breedings to them will be using their list of achievements anyway. I don’t see that the letters add anything useful. So, IMO, it’s not really a valuable breeding or marketing tool. So what’s the real purpose? Earn some $$ and make certain owners who can afford it feel good?

    The mechanics:

    I have some issues with the technical application of this ‘one size fits all’ program to carriage classes at Morgan shows in particular but I’ll save that for another discussion. I have to get by the larger conceptual picture first.

    So, Kathy, the problem is not that open results are unverifiable, but that verification has to be done manually. IOW the problem is that open competitions do not submit their results to AMHA in a way that can be a ” seamless entry into the registry database”. What format does it have to be in for that to happen? What would need to change?

    Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
    Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

  6. blythewood says:

    Jeff,
    I guess I missed the part in your message about the sport horse classes at Morgan shows being eligible for the program. Sorry if I missed that. Also, I must have missed the part where it was divulged that we did consider the competitors in the Open Competition Program for inclusion, but that we found several logistical and mechanical issues would prevent initiating the program this year while we determined whether or how that could be accomplished. I’m sure that you recognize my dedication to the sport horse programs of AMHA, and that you know that I did what was necessary to have the inclusion of horses in the OCP considered for the program this year. However, understanding how many issues would have to be resolved for that to happen, I was pleased to know that there are opportunities for many of the horses completing in sport horse disciplines to earn these new titles. Also, I feel that our medallion and sport horse awards do provide recognition of our horses competing in open competition (which is not restricted to sport horse disciplines).

    As I mentioned in my earlier message, we would have to work out several issues if we were to include the OCP horses, and these questions are not so easy to answer or resolve. Do we pick and choose or include all the divisions? If we include all divisions, it leads to several other issues/questions for the program. Do we include only rated shows? Rated by whom? Would there be a separate award division for open competition horses that show in traditional “show ring” classes? What about disciplines or shows that actually exclude championships or high points or have only year-end champions? Do we have the manpower (womanpower!) in the office to verify the results and record them by hand? How can we get these results into the registry database…by hand?

    I am not firmly in favor of the registation certificate modification, but I reserve any discussion of that particular part of the program until I know what the majority of the membership feels about it…in particular, those who are, will be, or could be eligible for participation in the program.

    The mechanics issue would involve the elimination of non-Morgans from the results BEFORE it is transmitted to AMHA. As far as the specific software requirement, I don’t know the answer to that, but resolving the first part is probably the show stopper (no pun intended).

    –Kathy

  7. jmorse says:

    Kathy, I know you are dedicated to the sport Morgans and to Open competition. That was never in question.

    The Medallion and Sport Horse Awards are wonderful programs but they are distinctly different from the CTP because they do not change any registry data.

    Yes, there are mechanical problems with inclusion of open achievement results. Overcoming them may not be possible. So, instead, we settle for a program that is unfair and unbalanced, produces an inaccurate picture of a breed, does not provide any meaningful breeding or marketing benefits, does nothing to promote our breed outside of our closed network of USEF Morgan Shows and ignores the horses that succeed in challenging horses on The World stage? I think that does a disservice to our breed.

    You wrote: “I am not firmly in favor of the registation certificate modification, but I reserve any discussion of that particular part of the program until I know what the majority of the membership feels about it…in particular, those who are, will be, or could be eligible for participation in the program.” Why didn’t we know how the majority of the membership feels about this program *before* it became a “done deal”??? We have, for the first time, added performance data to our registry. And done it, IMO, in an imbalanced way. That’s a significant change from a lineage based registry. Significant enough to ask the membership how they feel about that.

    As to the mechanical problem of Open competition results, non-Morgan entries could be eliminated *after* transmittal to AMHA especially since it is unlikely that any non-Morgan organization would volunteer to do it ahead of time. Any name in their results that does not match a registered Morgan name could be ejected from the data, leaving only registered Morgans for inclusion in AMHA database results. This is tough to comment on because I don’t know the software involved but generally computer power is good at this kind of task. In any event, I am willing to forgo that part of the discussion until I am convinced this program is the best we can offer.

  8. leslie says:

    It’s not something that would interest me, even if I had a horse I was actively showing on the breed circuit, but I don’t see the harm in it. Arabian horses’ legions of honor, etc., are based on points from AHA sanctioned competitions only. Saddlebreds who only compete on the open circuit don’t get prefixes. I’m not saying that we should follow suit just because that’s how everyone else does it, but it does mean it’s not unprecedented.

    Basically, it seems like a nice perk for the people who are interested, and I don’t think it will devalue the horses who can’t or don’t earn the titles.

  9. GraceMorgn says:

    I may be in the minority, but I really like this program. I am not a breeder and I don’t advertise my show horse. I don’t think this program was intended to inform breeders, as papers really only give a breeder basic facts anyways. Whether or not a horse has a CH in front of its name won’t, or shouldn’t, really affect a breeding decision.

    I may be wrong, but I understood this to be a tool to recognize horses that compete at local level Morgan shows and do it well, but may never go to Nationals and be recognized at World or National Champions. One of the Morgan show world’s concerns is that local shows are dying and people are often so concerned with chasing WC and GN championships that we fail to recognize horses at a lower level. We don’t recognize Top Tens the way Arabs do and up until this point, the Saddlebreds had the CH titile program. This recognizes those Morgans who compete at smaller shows and keep those shows alive.

    While this may feed into “people’s crying need for public recognition,” who cares?! Isn’t that what showing or competing is about?! People don’t spend time and money to do poorly or to not get recognized. That is whey there are ribbons, scores, awards and high points. People like to feel like they have accomplished something after it is all said and done. It would be great if we were all in it for the “ride or drive” or to just have fun, but that isn’t reality. The open competition people get it with the Pathways Program and now there is a program for Morgan competition.

    I agree that the fees seem like solely a revenue generator for AMHA, especially becuase the entrant has to do all of the work. Not to mention, when I called last week with a question, the women in the office were COMPLETELY unknowledgeable. If I am going to pay $275, I at least expect someone to be able to answer my questions.

    In the end, I am really just excited to be able to recognize my old show gelding, even if it is just for my and my family’s sake. He was my sisters and my first horse. We each showed him to great local success in everything from walk trot to driving to english pleasure to equitation. He never went to Nationals and only went to one Regional, but he still accomplished a lot and I like the idea of honoring him. He will never understand what it means or really care if he did, but I feel like that little bit of recognition is the least I could do for everything he did for us for so many years. If that means I need public recognition, then so be it.

    *ASHLEY*

  10. I could support this if it results in some horses getting recognition who labor in the trenches of the small show circuit year after year, putting in great performances but never getting that big moment at a regional or national. However, I think it is just an new twist on the old “trailering award” (year-end high point). The people with the time and money to accumulate points will get their GCH or CH and due to the point system, these are most likely to come from Regional or National competitions. Anyone who is serious about showing and reads the magazine knows who is what anyway.
    Ashley: I am sorry I ruffled you a bit about “need for recognition”. What motivates me to show is to ride the horse each time a bit better than I did last time. My best memory is riding Carasu at Morab Nationals-I lost the class but I rode a very difficult horse and won the approval of the toughest judge possible, my riding instructor. When she grinned and gave me two thumbs up on my last pass, any other award became completely irrelevant. I admit, when I was younger, it was “all about the ribbons”. It was not fair to impose my different outlook now on someone else’s motivation.

  11. jmorse says:

    Grace wrote: “The open competition people get it {recognition} with the Pathways Program and now there is a program for Morgan competition.” However, the Pathways Program does not change or affect anything in the Registry. This program, for the 1st time, adds some kind of performance data to the actual Registry….only for the horses whose owners pay for it…and only for achievement within a “Morgans Only” sandbox….. and without any indication as to *what* the achievement actually was.

    The unintended consequence is that it creates the illusion that those horses with no designations are somehow inferior to those that have them. It creates the illusion that this information should be an important part of the breeding calculus. Neither of which is true.

    I am all for recognizing USEF Morgan Show achievement. I am not saying that the horses that can earn these designations have not achieved something worth recognizing. But, IMO, this data does not belong in our registry. Adding it in the manner we have does a disservice to those Morgans, in Open competition especially, who not only rise above all the Morgans who played that game but all the other breeds that tried to beat them and failed, and a disservice to all those Morgans who are superior in non-competitive pursuits as well, by implying that only those who play the USEF game are worthy of *perpetual* recognition in our registry.

  12. GraceMorgn says:

    Chris-

    I think if you look at the point system, you might not realize how little a WC or RWC really nets you. You get 3 points for a WC title, 2 points for a RWC or any other championship at any Morgan show. That means that a Junior Ex English Please Championship at Morgan Masterpiece in Oshkosh, WI is just as valuable in the point system as a Jr Ex English Please Reserve World Championship. The vast majority of horses only show is one division at Nationals, so for most of them, Nationals as a show, only has a max of 3 points available. Regionals are treated just like every other local show. This system is really set up to reward horses at shows other than Nationals.

    As for it being a trailer race, it might be for some people. They may go to more shows or show in more championships to try to attain an title. I don’t think that that is all bad. More horses at shows is a good thing as is more horses in more classes. Horses aren’t competing against one another, so if someone does it faster than someone else, I don’t think that will matter much. There is also no time limit, so if it takes a horse many years to achieve, it also doesn’t matter. Everyone has the same opportunity and qualifies in the same way, no matter how much money. My horse will have points from 7 show seasons, 4 shows (none Nationals or Regionals) and 3 riders. (Reserves don’t count towards retroactive titles.)

    While this program isn’t perfect, I just don’t think that it has the negative aspects of a year end award or a high point. Each horse has the same opportunities as another and is rewarded for success at all levels of Morgan competition.

    *ASHLEY*

  13. jmorse says:

    Ashley wrote:
    “Each horse has the same opportunities as another and is rewarded for success at all levels of Morgan competition.” I would like this program a LOT better if: ‘Each horse has the same opportunities as another and is rewarded for success at all levels of Morgan competition.’

    Our Registry is for ALL Morgan horses not just for the ones that play in the USEF Morgan sandbox.

  14. mbk says:

    Ashley,
    I agree with your take on this award program…I feel like there are many horse throughout the country that “could” if the conditions were different go to OKC and be very competitive “if” the owners could make the trip. Instead they show and support local shows and many of these horses throughout their careers beat many titled horses and never get recognized for that, I think the weight of many wins over a career should be more than those that on any given DAY to one set of judges win.
    I think this is a great idea and will more than likely put my favorite long time ride in.

    I do agree with Jeff that others need to be considered for recognition as well…I’m under the impression that AMHA is at least looking into that…I believe could be the start to other programs. As has been stated these other venues have a program in place currently and have had them since the 80′s at least with no program for the Breed ring. Seems to me to be about time in some regard.

    Mike

    Ashley said:
    “I may be wrong, but I understood this to be a tool to recognize horses that compete at local level Morgan shows and do it well, but may never go to Nationals and be recognized at World or National Champions. One of the Morgan show world’s concerns is that local shows are dying and people are often so concerned with chasing WC and GN championships that we fail to recognize horses at a lower level.”

  15. While an easy way to collectively show off a show horse’s record or their foal’s records it excludes those horses shown on the Open circuit. It also takes away from what the horse has really accomplished because people can’t see past points and prefixes. People get greedy.

    After winning titles in OKC with my sport horses I feel like it is just not the place I would take them again. Sometimes I feel like I would rather face stiffcompetition in Saugerties for 1/2 the price of going to OKC, and show that off. Or go down to the tough driving competitions in Florida, and put that on my horse’s advertisement. The Open awards and Pathways are great programs and are impressive achievements.

    I second the thought on WC WRX Fancy Pants Dancer LLC being announced on the loudspeaker! Yikes! Plus, if the horse has won some serious awards they usually announce that and include it in the write up anyways.

  16. mbk says:

    As to the comments about the names being announced this program DOES NOT change the horses registered name it will simply be a note on the papers/website.

    Mike

  17. StacyGRS says:

    Discussions with breeders I know say these letters are redundant and irrelevant. They already KNOW these horses.

    Jeff,
    We discussed this elsewhere and this was my comment…I know these horses and their records. However, I will say, many of my clients don’t and will likely use the notations to gather info. Not just to choose a stallion to breed to, but to take note if *many* that get a Ch are bred a certain way, or such info. It will provide the person that hasn’t been in this for years and years some background on horses they’ve never seen…at least horses whose owners choose to pay;) That, IMO, is one of the unfortunate parts ( yet I completely understand why there is a cost) of this. It’s a very incomplete record based solely on who cares enough to spend the $$.
    As for including open competitions, that becomes a whole can of worms, I would guess. We had a horse last year win an open English Pleasure Class against 14 orhers…Saddlebreds & Friesians. USEF show. Should he get points for this? If you’re going to count open classes, I would guess he’d have to. But I see where the paperwork is going to get taxing and the cost get even higher. Seems like a group of problem solvers, with a knowledgeable rep from each facet of the Morgan world, need to work at a solution. There’s got to be one.
    When this idea was brought up I thought it was something people would like and it might breath some new life into our shows/show world…not a miracle, but a boost. I now hope that this didn’t get put into place prematurely…before the many questions it brings up can be answered and wrinkles ironed out.
    Stacy

  18. StacyGRS says:

    Ask any breeder about the chances of producing a champion from breeding two champions together. The odds are low on a good day.

    BTW…the odds may not be high, but they’re generally alot higher than if you breed 2 horses, neither of whom ever won a class:)
    Stacy

  19. MBK: I know it doesn’t change the registered name, but you gotta figure people will figure out some way to get that GCH or CH included in the name. What would be the point otherwise? ;-) I agree with Stacy that the basic idea is OK, but there are some problems to iron out. I still think a special designation should go to horses who win in open competition. They won because they were exceptional against other breeds, not because of an advertising blitz, or who was holding the reins, or who the horse was bought from. Not to knock down Morgans who win at Morgan shows, but a breed show is a world unto itself, and operates on a different set of rules. Those of us who enjoy breed shows go into that knowing that the horse who wins isn’t necessarily the best horse. That is part of the fun, in seeing who plays the game best. Open competition removes a lot of the “games aspect” . If a Morgan wins Open Hunter, or Dressage, or Reining, you can be pretty sure it was an exceptional performance because they had to beat horses who specialize in that discipline.

  20. mikado12 says:

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think it can only help and not hurt anybody. Like a trophy or a ribbon, its another honor some horses/riders deserve. All horses at a certain level, whether they’re champions in Oklahoma, endurance rides, carriage driving–thus regardless of their disciplines–should be honored by it.

  21. jmorse says:

    mikado12 …exactly my point: “ All horses at a certain level, whether they’re champions in Oklahoma, endurance rides, carriage driving–thus regardless of their disciplines–should be honored by it.” One of the problems with the current rules is that all horse are NOT so honored. Only those Morgans that play in the USEF Morgan sandbox are. How does this program “help” those that compete outside it…for instance, the 3 time US National Singles Pony Driving Champion, who is a Morgan?

    Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
    Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

  22. mbk says:

    Chris,

    Your comment:
    “I still think a special designation should go to horses who win in open competition. They won because they were exceptional against other breeds, not because of an advertising blitz, or who was holding the reins, or who the horse was bought from.”

    Raises another question…I’ve been to many all-breed shows and many have no real competition of quality…so the question is how do you verify “what” all-breed events are consistent with others? Also as has been pointed out above…how do you verify any of it?

    Your other comment:

    “Those of us who enjoy breed shows go into that knowing that the horse who wins isn’t necessarily the best horse. That is part of the fun, in seeing who plays the game best.”

    Is strictly your opinion or take on things…pretty wide brush.

    Mike

  23. Mike: A horse with objective flaws can, with a good handler/rider/driver beat a “better” horse. We see it all the time. It is called “showmanship”. UVM Promise had a looong back, and he was little. But when he was in the ring with Bob Whitney, you didn’t care about that because he dominated by sheer personality and brilliance. This is what people who dislike show horses don’t understand. We go to watch a performance, a presentation, and to be caught up in the excitement.
    If we wanted to be sure the “best” horse alway won, we would just submit 4 photos of the horse and have them compared to an AMHA approved template, submit a video of the horse walking, trotting and cantering and the horse with the highest score would win. Sorta like a keuring.
    Yes, it is a game. Sometimes it is just a silly chase of a piece of ribbon. Sometimes it lifts your soul into a different place, when you and another species work in perfect harmony for just a brief moment. I admit I get tears in my eyes when I see a beautiful pass by a Hunter, or a brilliant performance by a perfectly balanced park harness horse. All of the gushing write-ups or the cookie-cutter ads cannot distract from the moments of sheer beauty we see with this wonderful horse breed.

  24. jmorse says:

    I don’t think we should be messing with the registry data in the first place BUT, if we are going to do it, why should achievements like this not earn distinctive acknowledgement in the registry? It’s a *Morgan Horse* registry, not a Morgan *show horse* registry.
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-therapy-horse-20120129,0,5457863.story

    Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
    Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

  25. Great story, Jeff. That little article about the therapy Morgan probably did more to spark interest in owning a Morgan than a dozen full-color show horse ads! I am just frustrated that we don’t seem, as a breed, to be getting that sort of story out in front of the public. As I have said before, the Morgan should be the most sought-after horse in America. They are a special breed-all of us who have them know this-as Georgie said, “they come to the front of the stall”.

  26. jmorse says:

    So…..it has been changed:
    http://www.morganhorse.com/news_events/latest_news/ch_title_conv_meet/

    Thanks to Harry, Julie and the BOD for listening and responding to the membership.

    Jeff Morse | Green Meads Farm |Richmond, MA
    Carriage Driving & Morgan Horses

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