Proposed By-Law Changes

  I just read through the proposed by-law changes from the Plaintiffs in the Hazelwood matter.   

  Just a few comments and then maybe we can get a discussion going. 

1. Length of foot being used to divide Show from non-show horses.  The proposal is that a 4 inch length of toe is the dividing line.    When Cecil Ferguson proposed the same thing a loooong time ago, the contra argument was that Morgans were getting bigger and a 4 inch toe was not practical.  Well, that is probably even more true today.   A 16.1 hunter is a BIG horse and his feets is big, too!  Perhaps a more useful definition is one where the owner/rider “designates” a particular horse as either Show or USE (their term-I kinda like it) for a certain period of time, say starting on Jan. 1 and extending through a year.   Perhaps a bit more flexibility in the hoof length is called for. 

2. Making Junior Riders reach a decision as to declaring themselves to be Show or Use for the prior 3 years.  I can think of so many protests/objections/wrangling that will result from this that my head hurts.   On the other hand, the adults have pretty much settled into a Show vs. Use designation.  I think there should be a means by which one can change your designation however, on a short notice, not a 3 year lead time.     

3. The proposal does not seem to spell out if Show member can vote for Use member or vice-versa.  I assume one can, but I think that needs to be specifically mentioned.   There are Use people that I would like very much to vote for, but I assume I will be a Show member (if this thing passes).  

4. The division between Show and Use Directors on the Board seems to be a recipe for gridlock.  (Sorta like Congress).  However, to be fair to the Plaintiffs and their supporters, they have felt for a long time that they do not have a voice in the affairs of the AMHA.   People who feel ignored/powerless (in America) resort to legal action.  

5. The power shift that is being attempted here seems to run in one direction: in favor of Use rather than Show.   Is it right that a Show person has to labor under rules promulgated by Use members who have never ridden into a showring?  Something to think about…. The makeup of the Board is an attempt to moderate that problem, but I wonder if instead it will just make the Director-at-Large one of the most powerful persons in the organization.  Yes, any proposed rule changes still have to go out to the members and that may moderate things.   

If you are a member, please read the proposal carefully.  It is thought-provoking.   If we do not bring the non-show horse people back into the fold, I predict we will just see more legal filings.   While this proposal has some very problematic ideas, I think it can be a springboard for discussion.   we have a large portion of our Morgan family who feel the Show Morgan and the way it is presented is leading to the destruction of the breed.   I may disagree with that but I need to take their concerns seriously.  They are  so angry only because they care so much about the breed.  You do not find this passion in other breeds and I view it as a very positive force, if we can agree where to direct it.

48 Responses to Proposed By-Law Changes

  1. Janie says:

    Okay, but I’m confused! How do you bring the Use members into the “fold”? How do we get them involved? Should we add classes that show off their horses attributes? A show horse is a horse that “shows”, right? So if a Use member “shows” their horse at a show, is it now a “show” horse? I’m not trying to be a jerk or stupid, but this seems to be moving in a circular direction to me. IMO

  2. jj4osu says:

    First thoughts in reading the proposal:

    1) Wow!! Who came up with some of this stuff??

    2) Why does the agreed to settlement this summer say the proposed change to the board is that “there be proportional representation for amateurs and professionals.” And now the proposal is equal rep between “Show” and “USE”?? Are they assuming that all “Show” members are pros and will be suitably represented by pros? and that all “USE” members are ams who will be represented by ams?

    3) Do I understand the “regional” thing correctly??? Only the nominating process will be done by region…then national voting on all candidates and the top 5 from “Show” and “USE” will be chosen regardless of region?? So we could get 5 pro “Show” directors from the Northeast and 5 “USE” directors from Wyoming and Utah?? How would that represent ME better?

    4) Apparantly we have only 2 types of horses: “Show” & “Sport”. Where the heck do my horses fit in???
    “(b) “Show horse” shall mean Morgan horses with hooves greater than 4 inches whose competition is limited to all show classes that are judged under USEF Morgan breed rules.”
    “(d) “Sport horse” shall mean a Morgan horse with hooves of 4 inches or less, natural mane and tail, natural head carriage, and forearm not over level which either do not compete or who compete outside the Morgan-breed show arena. Some horses may go over level by nature of the breed but it is discouraged in the Sport disciplines.”

    Nope to both. We keep ours naturally trimmed most of the year (probably too short IMO, but thats between my wife and the trimmer) and even when we shoe for shows I doubt they are over 4″ toes. We do show at Morgan breed shows, so they don’t fit in either the “Show Horse” or “USE Horse” category…guess they aren’t horses

    I guess I just don’t see the point of many of the proposed changes. FYI, we are not a part of the Big Show Barn group either…we are very small breeders…show when we can…take our morgans outside the morgan world more than we do to breed shows.


  3. Chris Nerland says:

    jj: You have pointed out exactly the areas that I see problems. I was a bit puzzled also by the statement from AMHA regarding Professionals v. amateurs. I am definitely an amateur, but I want to show my horses at Morgan Class A shows.

  4. snerland says:

    After reading this proposal, I disagree with the hubby as I have been in the Morgans far longer than he. Been there done that. The problem is not the people who show; it is the people who don’t show. What I mean is that the people who don’t show need to get out and do something to promote the breed. They need to advertise what they are doing and how they are doing it. Spend a little money; advertise in the breed magazines; make a web-site that spreads the word; participate in county fairs;educate at 4H meetings; write bits of news for your local paper whether it is accepted or not. Try to promote the breed any way you can!! As a long time Morgan owner/breeder, we had a “crisis” like this in the early 70′s, 90′s, etc. I firmly do not believe this proposal is the answer; the answer lies in a grass roots movement from “non-showing” people who feel strongly enough to financially support their position.

  5. Jan says:

    snerland…I couldn’t have said it better..AMEN !


  6. Jennifer says:

    I read the proposal and, other than dividing the membership, it does not offer any solutions for unity. I also agree that the DOL will, in all likelihood, have all the power. As the above post states the USE people need to get out and get involved. We have approached these people to help work the gates at shows and have been rebuffed.
    As an aside the Amateur Hunter Pleasure Champion at the 2010 Michigan All Morgan was high point dressage champion first and qualified for the championship in the AOTS class. So here is a USE beating a SHOW horses, but would have to be classified as a SHOW horse if the Bylaws are changed. Way to confusing and limiting to the entire breed.

  7. Chris Nerland says:

    Heh. As you all can see, we have interesting “pillow talk” at our home. :-) I think it is a rather imaginative way to finally establish a power base for the non-show Morgan owners in the Board of Directors. Using a plurality vote lets people put their vote where it does the most good and has the most effect. Each of the Regions will name at least one Show and one Use candidate. The assumption is that the Use director from Utah will address the concerns of the Use owners in FL or CA. If your horse does not have the 4 inch+ foot, you can still show at a Morgan show, but you have to show in the “Sport” classes. If you go over to a “Show” class (even one?) you have blown your USE designation for the next 3 years. I really don’t like that proposal as it discourages people from showing instead of encouraging them.
    This is essentially an admission that the Breed is split. Have we come to that pass? If so, what happens to jj and others who fall in between?

  8. jessica says:

    What happens to the person who, say, has a carriage horse, and decides to show that horse at a Morgan breed show so that people in the breed can see the horse? That person, because of one show, is now a “show” member? Regardless of what he/she does otherwise? What about the person who enjoys showing western in the breed ring, but volunteers time and money to support other disciplines like dressage, or endurance riding?

    Why must there be “declarations” which will only further divide the breed and association?

    I also find it disturbing that the proposal does away with regional representation. I do not believe that a person from one part of the country (in any discipline or category) can fairly and accurately represent people in other parts of the country. The needs/issues of Wyoming members are going to be considerably different than the needs/issues of Maryland members. I believe regional representation was put in place for that exact reason – to make sure that each geographic region’s needs/issues were represented to the association.

  9. Trisha says:

    This proposal doesn’t take into consideration the people who BOTH show and also have their horse solely for a pleasure/family horse. There are plenty of show horses who off-season can be seen on trail rides, exhibitions, and whatnot. Also, putting the sport SHOW horses in the USE catagory shows, in my opinion, the condescending attitude whomever wrote the proposal has of the “traditional” show horses. It also says that a sport horse CAN show at a Morgan show and still be considered “USE”.

    And members under certain circumstances must present AMHA with a written statement stating whether they are “USE” or “Show” in the past three years and can be charged with perjury if the statement was found to be false? That is ridiculous.

    Making one size for the hoof is a also ridiculous. A four inch foot on different horses is very different. A 14 hand horse and 16hand horse with a four inch foot looks very different. It should be more along the lines of what is “natural” for the horse. I know full well my horse couldn’t work with a four inch foot. At 16 hands and BIG feet, he can just stand 4 1/2″ to go classic and not much under.

  10. luvmymorgan says:

    Demanding that an entire breed (take your pick) have a hoof length maximum is like telling all women they can only wear size 7 shoes.

  11. leslie says:

    Is there a link to this somewhere? I checked the members only section of and could only find a letter mentioning the proposal, but not the proposal itself.

    It sounds like this is promoting the idea of a two party system for the Morgan breed. Fabulous. That works SO well in the U.S. government.

    Weird that they want hoof length to be the defining feature. Can you have a show horse with less than a 4″ hoof? Why wouldn’t they use shoe weight as the litmus test? What if you do both open shows and breed shows? And why the specification for a “natural mane” for sport horses? Does that mean you can’t pull your horse’s mane to show him at a hunter or dressage show?

    Again, I haven’t read it, but based on what I’m gleaning from this discussion, it sounds like a proposal to put huge hurdles in the way of anyone who wants to do anything with their Morgan without pigeonholing it into a category. So much for the all-purpose horse.

  12. leslie says:

    Never mind, found it on the bottom of the litigation page. I just read the membership section and I find the whole thing ludicrous. I don’t understand how this benefits anyone. They’ve left out the massive segment of the Morgan world that crosses over from “use” to show.

    I don’t get it.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Okay, I measured both the Sport horse (USE) and the Show horse (SHOW). The Sport horse is a solid 15.3 with tons of bone and perfect feet. He was just trimmed last week and is at 4″. The Show horse, also trimmed last week, is lighter in bone and body but an honest 15.2. He is long in the back, but still clips himself so he wears a pad and shoe and came in at 4.25″ Neither horse comes close to breaking level.
    I think the 4″ limit is meant to facilitate the change to a smaller featured horse that will stay within the 14.2-15.2 height range. At 4″ this also limits the Sport breeders as they are also looking for size. I’ve seen government bred Morgans at 16.3 hands with solid bones and well sprung ribs, no way they can stay at 4″.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Maybe we should start breeding for tiny feet the QH’s have done. That has worked out well for them, NOT.

  15. Flmorgan says:

    The whole idea is ludicrous. If we really want to divide the breed this would be the way to go. There is enough disention in our ranks now. We don’t need any more. We have to agree to disagree on some issues and realize that we have different bloodlines for different disaplines just as other breeds such as the AQHA does. They have Cutting lines, Pleasure lines, Halter lines, Racing, and Appendix. They are still promoted as Quarter Horses.
    There will always be a need for family and working horses USE not a good term. As I like both types,but as a breeder of USE I would feel that term designated my horses as inferior when in the scheme of things they will outlast our show horses in durability and soundness. We have a great breed, we just need to get togther as 1 Team. Definatly not 2. Lets wake up and smell the coffee. This is not the way to go.

  16. Jan says:

    ….and now more than ever, at election time, we need to vote NO on this divisive and ridiculous proposal!


  17. snerland says:

    Email your present director and tell them this is ridiculous!!! Let’s all get together and place an ad in the breed magazines. I bet there are a lot of people out there in the boonies who do not even know about this web-site and do not use the internet. Remember, the pen is mighter than the sword! However, I truly believe that this proposal is the result of a $90,000 law suit. You all get my drift?

  18. RaeOfLight says:

    Ok, I was out of commission yesterday so I’m just now catching up on all this. Honestly, I tried to read the full proposal, but I can barely get through the first half. I have to say that I think both the “means” and the “ends” proposed here (in the changes) are ludicrous. Creating a defined chasm within the breed is not the answer.

    I don’t have the benefit of having seen the evolution of the breed community over the years. But perhaps I can put my finger on the motivation behind these proposed changes.

    It was mentioned in another thread that the breed as a whole has seemed to become very breed-centric. Folks who participate in open competition or as great ambassadors on a local level perhaps feel under appreciated and under represented. On top of that they often don’t have the name recognition, or often the time or money to invest in breed politics to make themselves more represented. On the other hand, folks who are professionals within the breed, because of the nature of their jobs are more likely to be involved politically (not saying they have all kinds of time and money on their hands, but it fits in better with what they do professionally). So how do we give the lay-horseman a stronger voice?

    I don’t know that that’s their motivation, I’m trying to get to the root of their beef, see both sides of the issue here and maybe point us toward a more reasonable solution. I suspect there has been a fair amount of hurt feelings and a feeling on both sides of “we’ve tried to reach out and reconcile but it never works.” But can we take a step back and try again to see things from the other person’s perspective? We need to find the solution that’s best for everybody.

  19. Chris Nerland says:

    As a mediator, I know that reaching agreement between two parties means reaching a solution that is kinda sorta o.k., reluctantly acceptable, not one that is Best for Everybody. If you look for that ideal type of solution, you will never get there. (I am not criticizing your post, Rae, it is just that most people do not realize that is the key to a successful mediation).
    So, what should the breed do? This lack of representation and resentment is not going away, and I predict there will be another suit filed in the near future if there is a perception that the non-show people are being blown off.
    How about some commentary from the other side? I know some non-show people visit this blog. I hope everyone will listen politely if a non-show person (maybe one of the Plaintiffs?) will post their point of view.
    We need to come up with a solution to this. These suits are bleeding the AMHA slowly to death.

  20. alwaysmorgans says:

    I think the propsed rules would only cause more of a rift, I do think more than just “show people” should be on the board–guess what they need to run and be elected. Isn’t that they way things are supposed to work?

  21. RaeOfLight says:

    Chris, I don’t take your response as criticism. I knew my “best for everyone” statement might get taken that way. I didn’t mean to imply that there would be some solution that would make everyone 100% happy. I meant it in a “the best we can do in order to come as close as we can to pleasing everybody” way.

    I know AMHA has an Open Competition Program, Open Competition High Point Awards and the Pathways Program. I honestly don’t know a lot about these programs, but the Pathways Program in particular I believe is meant to cater to the lay horse person. Is anyone more familiar with these programs, or participated in them? Perhaps they could be expanded or better promoted?

  22. dressagemorganrider says:

    Ugh. I don’t like this proposal at ALL and I am on the sport side of things.


    Someone up above criticized the non-”show” people for not promoting the Morgan breed — yet WHO is taking their horses to open shows, 4-H judging (a friend who is a sport breeder supplied 4 Morgan mares on very short notice for a 4-H competition recently), doing parades, trail riding and telling everyone they meet, oh yes, my horse is a Morgan! When people meet my horse for the first time, even if it’s just a hiker on a trail, that is the first thing I say “This is and she is a Morgan horse. Do you know about the breed?” While the “show” people promote the breed to each other….

    I take my Morgan to USDF dressage shows rather than Morgan dressage shows because the former is likely to be a better experience. Dressage people are VERY fussy about footing, warm-up areas etc. and I will be treated equally because we are all showing dressage. At a Morgan show, I would be taking my chances on footing, stabling, appropriate warm-up for horses that should not be “lit on fire” before their classes, etc. Except for an “awards presentation” the dressage horses are ignored, their class placings are not announced, no one really cares what they are doing on their back lot.

    I will expose more non-Morgan people to the Morgan horse going to a USDF show. There are a lot of dressage riders who are looking for an alternative to a gigantic warmblood, especially older women, and an approachable, friendly 15 hand horse can be a great choice.

  23. Chris Nerland says:

    Sue and I have been kicking this around over lunch. Sue came up with what I think is a good idea, and maybe a different way of looking at this whole problem. Rae touches upon it in her response above.
    We as a breed are still looking at ourselves as being made up of regions of the country. This organizational model dates back to the 40′s when it was sheer hard work to travel between regions. What we need is a different organizational and representational model. We have western working Morgans, Lippitt Club Morgans, open competition Morgans(which covers many disciplines) competitive trail morgans, Carriage driving Morgans, “Formal”show Morgans , Dressage morgans, Hunter/Jumper Morgans, Pathways Morgans(I participate), and a few more. Why do we not do away with Regions and instead set up 10 or 12 Disciplines in which AMHA members can have membership to accomodate the various ways in which they enjoy their horses and they will get one vote per discipline. To keep it honest, you have to pay an overall AMHA fee and then a smaller fee to belong to and vote in a Discipline. I, for example, would have a pathways horse membership but would also have a Show/Hunter horse membership. There would be a Director voted onto the board from each discipline. There would also be a Director who would represent the Trainers directly. If enough disciplines felt strongly about an issue, they could get an issue on the ballot. The ballot would still go out to the general membership, even though it only affected a particular discipline. The reason for that is that we are all Morgan owners who care about how the Morgan is presented to the public and this would keep a particular discipline from going overboard w/a particular rule. However, if a discipline director recommended a rule change and explained the reasoning behind it, the general membership would, I think, normally approve.
    This would provide a voice on the BOD for those persons other than “show” people. I realize that some of the comments above stated that the issues in their region could not be addressed by someone from another region. I agree, but I think if your director was familiar with your particular discipline you would get far greater satisfaction than the present situation where if your Regional Director is a Saddle Seat trainer and you are a Competitive Trail ride person.
    Let us all think outside the box on this. It will not be helpful of the BOD to simply recommend rejecting the By-Law Proposals. I think instead they need to put forth an alternative plan. Maybe there is a seed here of such a plan.

  24. jj4osu says:

    I don’t think anybody intended “non-show” to include anybody who is taking their morgans to open shows, dressage shows, jumping shows, etc. People like youself are great ambassadors of our breed!! It is the designation of “show” and “USE” and the division that is ridiculous. I simply cannot believe that this would be proposed by anyone who actually takes their horses anywhere…it really looks to be an attempt to get the sport horse portion of the Morgan community on the side of the truly non-show owners, making it seem they are “left out” as well.

    Personally we are much more skewed towards the sport side of showing, however if we to make a choice between an open dressage show or a Morgan breed show, the breed show wins out for us. If it offers dressage, great, but we’ll show him Hunter as well. We have plenty of other opportunities for bringing our Morgans out in the “open” world…we’ve taken a horse to double digit multi-day dressage clinics in the last couple years, and always get wonderful comments from the clinicians and other participants on our horse…my wife loves to fox hunt and takes her morgan out with all the 16-17h hunters the other folks bring. We have many friends locally who go take their morgans to local “fun” or “schooling” shows and are great ambassadors of Morgans, but also just love to show their horse and go to breed shows too.

    We’d love to see dressage (heck might as well bring jumping in as well) as a bigger part of more Morgan breed shows, but its tough when a regional only has 5 horses showing dressage….and if those folks want to do multiple tests they end up having to do them with very little time in between. I simply don’t know the #s of people that choose to avoid the breed shows and go only to open shows, but maybe if we got more of them at our breed shows, it WOULD become a bigger part of the show. BUT, everybody has to make choices that work for them. The relegation to a back ring or a day early and appearance of little concern about the results is a pain…but I do know that when my wife won high point at Wheat State and came out during the in hand for her award ceremony, they did make a pretty big deal of it, talking about the scores, what it means, etc., but really think that had a LOT to do with the announcer who is a great guy who goes out of his way to make sure he knows everyone and goes out of his way to include them. One question about awards, though…haven’t been to enough open dressage shows to know, but do they have announced placings?? or just winners, posted scores, etc. Tough to ask everyone to dress back up and come back in the ring for a ribbon ceremony after all the scores have been tabulated.

    Either way people making it to open shows, 4h shows, sport horse shows, endurance competitions, etc, and getting their Morgans “out there” are great ambassadors and are a huge part of our breed…but I don’t believe these are truly the people who would be supportive of the proposed changes either. They are too divisive!! I don’t believe people who compete in dressage or endurance want to segregated, they want to be included.

    Hopefully there is someone who is involved or at least understands the point of view being put forth by this proposal and can explain what they are trying to achieve and how they think this proposal will accomplish it. Perhaps just the open discussion is all that they are trying to acheive and sometimes the only way to get there is with radical ideas…but I don’t get that impression. It truly seems that there are serious ulterior motives behind the proposal.

    One question I have is if a person were to choose to not breed, show, sell, compete somewhere…but ONLY had a horse for personal enjoyment, why would they ever have cause to feel disenfranchised by their horses breed association? I mean, I have a dog that is registered…I chose his breed specifically…If I were to replace him, I’d get another just like him. But, we have him for a purpose. We are not going to breed him. We are not showing him. He is just for us…consequently I couldn’t care less what the breed association does…just doesn’t impact me. Maybe with horses its different for some people, but until we decided to show and then breed (and hopefully sell our babies someday!!!) I was barely aware of the AMHA. Only a member to get a registration transfer. So I just don’t get it…this isn’t about Pro vs. Am (as the settlement stated)…it isn’t about Big operations vs. little guys. Just don’t understand at all where these ideas are coming from or what they expect to achieve unless its to eventually lead us to seperate breeds.


  25. RaeOfLight says:

    I love that idea Chris! Is it the “best” solution? I don’t know. But I would say it certainly deserves some serious consideration. Even more though, it’s exactly the kind of thinking we need more of. “How (and why) did we get where we are? Is that model still appropriate for today (how does it fit or not fit with our current reality)? How is it maybe not working for some people? How can we make it better?” And this is exactly what I was (unsuccessfully) trying to steer us toward with my “Breed Direction” thread. Love it.

    I would love to see this idea explored. How are the “participation types” defined? How many “disciplines” could you be active in at any given time? How would you handle representatives who are active in more than one discipline? Would there be any other benefits from registering in more than one discipline, or just voting?

    This might also be helpful information when looking through the Farm Finder or Members Directory if you’re looking for other Morgan Dressage or Lippitt or Carriage members in a specific region. Hmm… There would be a lot of details to iron out, but this has some cool possibilities.

  26. jj4osu says:


    The idea of Directors based on discipline is interesting. However maybe it could/should just be additional to our region reps. Honestly I think a saddleseat trainer in Texas is more in tune with my needs/issues/point of views/challenges in Oklahoma (even though we focus on dressage) than a dressage rider or trainer in Ohio or California.

  27. Chris Nerland says:

    I think just paying the membership fee for the particular discipline (or multiple disciplines-no limit, depending upon your interests) would keep people pretty honest. If someone tried to game the system to stack the board, it would be pretty difficult, because of the variety of disciplines. The persons running for directorship positions would publish a Curriculum Vitae (just as they do now) but would include details about why they would be a good representative for, let us say, Dressage. I think directors could run for several different disciplines in descending order. As far as defining the disciplines, I think that would take some thought but is certainly attainable.
    jj raises a valid objection and I really don’t know how to work around it unless we have the country split into a smaller number of regions (say, 4) and then have a discipline slate for each region. I kinda don’t like that because it makes the board so big as to be unwieldy. (48 directors-good lord!)
    The nice thing about having Directors who have several different disciplines in their background is that even though they are ostensibly a Dressage director, they can also vote intelligently on Carriage Driving issues, if they have that in their CV as well. I think, jj, that if your particular director (and it looks like you would probably vote for several different ones under this system, was from your area of the country, they would be able to address your issues. You would have several different directors to talk to, rather than just the regional one you have now.

  28. RaeOfLight says:

    I think the first step would be to define the disciplines (although I suspect that’s not what we’d want to call them. Maybe “areas of interest” or something). From there maybe require at least one director from each region to have been a member of that “discipline” for at least x number of years. Or, better yet, require at least 1 director for every x number of members in each region who participate in that discipline.

    I don’t know how the number of directors per region is currently determined. But, for example, if there’s 1 director in each region for every 100 members of that discipline. If “Western Working” is a discipline, and region 1 has 50 WW members, region 5 has 125 and region 6 has 200. Then no directors for region 1 would need to be active WW members, at least 1 director in region 5 would have to be an active WW member and region 6 would require 2. Or it could be based on some sort of membership percentage/ratio.

    That might be more complicated than it needs to be, but it’s a starting point for keeping the regions intact, but also allowing expansion to define and provide representation for “areas of interest”.

  29. leslie says:

    I’m not plugged in to the administrative side of the organization, so I’m a little confused. What’s the issue that we’re trying to solve? Is it that all of the directors are primarily involved in the Morgan show circuit, and those who don’t show, or only show open, have no representation? If that is the case, is that because there aren’t many non-show people running for these positions? Or are there just fewer non-show AMHA members, so they get out voted?

  30. Chris Nerland says:

    The perception, mistaken or not, is that the board is skewed toward the Park Horse/English Pleasure Show horse owners/trainers and that the voices of other Morgan owners are ignored. The pool from which the board of directors tend to be drawn, in the belief of some people, is one of a select clique of persons who see one another on the show circuit, buy and sell horses to one another and who share the same trainers. In this view of the Board, the Judges are part of the problem because when they are not judging, they are training or buying or selling horses among this clique.
    I do not share this view but it has strong currency among a large number of Morgan owners and has been viewed as a problem for as long as I have been in the breed (and before).
    As we all know, Park and English Pleasure are only two of the varied disciplines Morgans are doing today. So, I think the question is, how do we break apart this perception and reconstitute so people can feel they have representation on the board in sufficient numbers so that they have a voice which cannot be ignored? The By-Law proposal would do so by forcing people to either be “Show” or “USE”, essentially breaking us into two warring camps, just so they can get 1/2 of the Board to be “USE” Directors. I think we can do better by bringing all of the disciplines into the Board. Dressage/Carriage/Hunter may have similar interests with regard to presentation, bits, head position and they could vote together. They might share similar views on shoeing and weights with the reining, cutting and competitive trail directors. As it stands now, it is an admitted fact that proposed rule changes come from the “Show” people on the board, and as they all show, their perception of what is acceptable in the show ring may differ widely from what other Morgan people want. I show myself, and I am a bit reluctant to let other disciplines decide what rules I should show under, but at the end of the day, the Morgan should be presented to the public in a way acceptable to members of the Morgan Horse Association, not just a particular group.

  31. leslie says:

    My feeling is that a 50/50 split of the board only makes sense if there’s a 50/50 split of the membership. Likewise, if the breed happens to be made up of 80% show people, then it makes sense that the board would have the same make up. I mean, there may be cliques and whatnot, but our BOD is democratically elected (right? I’m a member this year but it was a long hiatus since the previous time I paid my dues, so I’m not up on everything.)

    If the democratically elected BOD for whatever reason does not represent the correct percentage of non-show folks, it seems like that’s gotta be because the non-show folks aren’t running for BOD, or they aren’t voting at all, or they are voting but not for non-show candidates. And in any of those cases, I kind of feel like we have to say, “put up or shut up.” Unless I’m missing something, like BOD members being nominated, in which case my whole premise is gone.

    In any case, I don’t like the idea of dividing the breed by discipline. I enjoy horses of many different disciplines and currently own one that is ready to compete at the FEI levels of grass eating. If we have to divide by faction, I want to pay my dues to the group that shoes its horses only according to what the vet and farrier think is best to ensure long term soundness.

  32. Flmorgan says:

    There are many people who wnat to join the AMHA being new owners. they want to belong to something big, fun and interesting. they want to show but being first time owners they pick smaller shows. It is as much fun for them as our biggest shows. That being said we can’t just leave them out. Who will join and why? I will be talking to my Director about this ridculous proposal. If the so called non show people want to be heard then show up, speak up, and get involved. Maybe the non show members don’t feel they have any say, but if enough of them speak they will be heard. Splitting our breed in 2 is not a solution. Better solution would be to propose a amendment stating that if you run for office you do so because you wish to and you will not sue AMHA or any of its officers for any reason dealing with the election of officers and directors. Make people sign it before they run for office. At least the people running would have to acknowledge the fact they read and signed an agreement with the club even if they didn’t adhere to the written agreement. There should not be self serving members on the BOD. BODs are elected to represent the members regardless of whether the members are Trainers, Show members or Pleasure riders. If they are performing their jobs correctly they should make the members wishes known even if they themselves don’t feel the same as the majority of the folks in their region. We have strayed away from what is good for the club and the Morgan Horse and have become too self serving. Like I said we as a farm like it all. The beginner first time buyer, the sport horse and the Park Horse and we have them all. We show Open Hunter, Barrel Racing, FFA shows, Youth events and clinic and Regional and Nationals and everywhere we go people are amazed at our beautiful horses. To my point yes 1 Training barn can do it all so we don’t want to be divided into 2 groups. I can’t begin to tell you the problems that would cause in just 1 stable. I liked the other thread Put up or shut up. If people are unhappy they need to get involved. I know a breeder of foundation morgans who feels the judges and show people wouldn’t like her horses. They have been breeding these horses for over 50 years. They are very pretty horses and would be great in the Sport Horse disaplines. She is a member but not active because of her belief.
    Maybe every disapline needs a steering committee with member from each region or now with Internet conferencing one from each state. The Committees would be assigned a Director to report to. This way nothing is missed. Trail riding,
    Open shows, Dressage, etc would also be included and have a their own committee.
    Just an idea that could promote unity.

  33. ago8281 says:

    I see no reason to classify ourselves as members, nor should we be limited to only doing one thing with our Morgans. If I have 10 Morgans I use at home and 1 at a trainer I become a show member and have to vote accordingly. If I buy a Morgan from a USE member and show it they become a show member. Very divided. The biased thing is if I buy a Morgan from a show member and just trail ride it I do not go back to being a USE members. The judge said all members can voice opinions. We have tried to have this changed but the plaintiffs will only allow this proposal to be voted on in a block with no changes. It is unfortunate as I would like to see everyone feel included. Would like to see a whole new board of fresh minds. I truly think we as members are capable of voting for the best representation based on skills rahter than what they did with their Morgans
    Please vote as this is going to further divide the breed

  34. underdog88 says:

    I know I’m kind of late in posting since so many have already expressed their distaste for the proposed rule change. I just wanted to get my voice out there too, though.

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous, like everyone has said. Whoever thought that this would bring us all closer together is CRAZY. It will only drive us apart further. We are all MORGAN PEOPLE. We all love Morgan Horses. Who cares if you are a “show” person, or a “use” person?? I’m a show person, but I’m friends with people who never show their Morgans! That’s fine! Dividing us by name will divide us in life.

    I agree that there is under-representation of the sport horse Morgans- the ones who show in dressage, jumping, reining, etc. But I don’t know why. These are really fun, exciting disciplines just like Park and Pleasure. I don’t compete in those sport disciplines, but I am a huge fan of all of them. I’ve got many DVD’s of high level dressage, jumping, and reining- like the WEG & World Cup videos. So it’s not as if this stuff is not as entertaining as the main ring events at Morgan shows.

    I think the problem is that it is not as popular at the Morgan shows. I show on the East Coast and most of the shows do not have jumping or reining. The only sport division they have is dressage. And it is always out in a back field with no where for spectators to sit. There is no place to watch!! How are we all supposed to support that when there’s no place for us to go! They don’t make room for anyone to watch! And how are the disciplines like reining and jumping supposed to grow when half the shows don’t even have them??!! We need to get every discipline at every show! And NOT in a back field with no place to spectate.

    The park and pleasure divisions improve and grow and get perfected over time because there is a market for it, there are tons of classes for those divisions. How can the competition grow, improve, and be perfected for dressage, jumping, and reining when there is no market?? Notice that Morgan show barns usually have a focus. Maybe they specialize in Western, or Saddle Seat horses, or maybe Hunters. But when do you see a Morgan REINING show barn?? Pretty much never. It’s because there is no market, and we need to create a market. We say our horses can do everything, and they CAN. So why don’t we have every type of competition at our Morgan shows?

    Now I don’t want this to ruffle feathers but this is the truth-
    I have seen Morgans that are FANTASTIC at dressage, jumping, reining, etc. But that number is FAR fewer than the number of fantastic Morgan park and pleasure horses I have seen. This is NOT because Morgans cannot excel at the sport disciplines. They can do just as well as any other breed- I truly believe that. It is because there is no market. Like I said before. No market, No growth.
    I could name hundreds of amazing park and pleasure horses that I think are perfect ambassadors of the breed, but that is NOT because I have a bias for the “show” Morgans. It is simply because we do not have as many great ambassadors for the other divisions. That needs to change. To me, the perfect Morgan world would be one where we have stars in EVERY discipline, sport and show, that people from both “show” and “use” get excited about. You know the way people get excited about Special Flaire or High Definition?? I would LOVE it, if there was a Morgan reining horse out there that got people as excited as the 2 park horses I named. Wouldn’t that be so amazing? I want to live in a world where a Morgan who competes successfully in high level, like gran prix level dressage is not a rare thing. I want to live in a world where there is an abundance of Morgan reiners whose spins and stops can stand strong against the Quarter Horses. I want to live in a world where there are as many hunter jumpers competing as hunter pleasure horses. And in this world, the “show” people the “use” people, wouldn’t be in categories. We would all just be Morgan people, and we would watch and enjoy and celebrate ALL Morgan disciplines. “Show” people would watch and cheer on their favorite jumpers, and “Sport” people would watch and cheer on their favorite Park horses.

    That world is what the breed needs. THAT is what will bring more people into the breed. But we cannot achieve that world if we don’t create a market for the sport disciplines the way we have one for park & pleasure. Jumping, dressage, reining, etc Morgans cannot get better at what they do if we don’t have the dedication put into them that goes into park & pleasure horses. And so we need to make the sport disciplines as big a deal at Morgan shows as the “main ring” classes. And at first competition still won’t be as big as in park and pleasure, but it will happen over time. We just need to give it a chance.

    Look at the Arabian/Half Arabian industry. Those horses are very versatile, like Morgans, and they have deep competition in ALL of their disciplines. That isn’t the result of sticking some of their classes in a back field and the rest in a main ring. They have fantastic horses in park, pleasure, jumping, reining, dressage, etc etc. It’s all pretty equal, I think. They have equal quality in all of their disciplines. I don’t think the level of quality is equal in all Morgan disciplines. Right now park and pleasure horses are a more attractive option to people looking at Morgans, but not everyone looking to get into Morgans want to do that. Maybe they want to do jumping or dressage, but the competition isn’t always looking so hot so they look for a different breed. That’s a problem. We need to get quality like we see in park and pleasure at the Morgan shows into the sport disciplines. We need to really live up to the Morgan horse’s heritage of versatility. And that can’t just mean that we can do everything. We need Morgans to be able to do everything at a high level of quality, the level they are already at in park and pleasure. We need to get that quality equal across the board.

    Sorry that was way longer than I thought it would be!!

  35. RaeOfLight says:

    Ok, I think we’ve established that the proposed changes are not popular with visitors to this site. You all have a lot of the same reasons and are saying things that have all been said before. Good, opinions are out there, we know what you think. But those are just opinions, not practical solutions.

    I urge you to read Chris Nerland’s post from yesterday starting with “Sue and I have been kicking this around over lunch…” That’s as close as we’ve come to identifying a potential alternative that might appease all sides. Let’s explore that idea further, or kick around other potential solutions.

  36. somedaysue says:

    Lots of good food for thought here.

    For my part, I just have a statement and then a question. The statement: if it is true as ago8281 on September 24, 2010 at 7:56 am states that this proposal must be voted on as it stands without any revision, then I think this proposal needs to be voted down, as it can only cause further splintering among the membership.

    I wish I had the time to read everything that is out on the AMHA site under the litigation tab, but I definitely do not. But I have read a bit from time to time. My question is this: how did we go from a lawsuit over disclosure of financial records and confidentiality of information to this proposal to restructure the board??? If anyone can explain that progression, I would really appreciate it.

  37. Vintage_Rider says:

    You know, I swore I wasn’t going to get involved in the politics ever again of “clubs”… but, can’t help but say just a couple of things… In a prior life I owned, showed, and bred AQHA… quite a split going on at the time. The “Halter” or what we call “in hand” people bred just for that, with horrible consequences in the small feet department as mentioned earlier. There were rifts and arguments not unlike what we are seeing… I firmly believe nothing is ever new, just regurgitated.

    Many things changed for AQHA, not quick enough for me, I left, but they changed certain highly prestigious titles so that a horse could not possess one only as a halter horse, had to have actual functionality and points in performance, etc. What I have noticed happen, is there was a secondary group that formed, still under the auspices of AQHA for the in hand people. In fact, I posted one of their roll outs that is intended to be more inclusive of the less than millionaire owner.

    There is a web site that deals with all kinds of things going on in the industry, and if we read enough, maybe we wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

    And finally, unfortunately, for now, the only option is to vote up or down on this proposal. My personal vote will be down for all the reasons mentioned above. I too find it divisive, and personally, I am way beyond annoyed.

  38. Chris Nerland says:

    Somedaysue: If you read my posts on the history of this conflict in the Morgan Horse, you will have some understanding of what brought us to this point. As far as I am concerned, the thrust behind both of the recent suits was to find a way to break up the board of directors as presently constituted. The suits have been based on challenging the decisions of the board and attacking their legitimacy. Once the legitimacy and competence of the board was attacked, then the next step was a proposal to completely change the method of voting. I do not say that this was done with malice, but there are people who strongly feel the board as constituted does NOT fairly represent the majority of Morgan horse owners. This is the way by which they intend to reform the AMHA.
    I think their proposed reform is needlessly destructive and forces people to choose between two artificial classifications. I, and I believe most other Morgan owners, cannot be pigeonholed into Show or Use. This is an “If yuh ain’t fer us, yer agin us” attitude and ironically, the same attitude is poisoning our national politics. We can do much better than this.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I feel the need to address the being “stuck out in the backfield” comments for the sport breed. In addition to the SHOW divisions, I have shown dressage and carriage driving, and footing can be a BIG issue for these disciplines and, in some cases, is only available in certain areas of a venue. Also, I don’t know of many venues in the Midwest that can accommodate having 4 rings going on at the same time, 2 rings is pushing it for most. I know of one venue used by Arabians, and the dressage arena is far from the show arena, but does have stabling near by. Also, dressage and jumping are labor intensive requiring extra volunteers to set up and special equipment. I have a difficult enough time finding two volunteers to do gates or anyone to help at the show, how are show managers supposed to make something out of nothing?

  40. Vintage_Rider says:

    That is the other point well taken Jennifer. Volunteers at these shows are very limited. Most people interested in helping are also showing.

    Also note the lower turn outs mentioned above for some of the sport disciplines. It is very, very hard to add rings to be worked, let alone the expense of jumping and dressage and carriage judges, or have we forgotten that thread?

    All that being said, I am still trying to understand the rift? Is it an effort to control breeding standards? Seems to be. What with “foot length” and “over level” and the LOL “fer us or agin us” attitude this smacks of. Is it big breeders/owners (re: BIG $$) vs average Joes? Not sure the last one is it with the obvious line of delineation of Show vs Use since the vast majority of us showing do NOT have big $$, just big heart. What ruling brought them to this?

    No matter the intent, this is not the way to go about it.

  41. Chris Nerland says:

    No particular ruling but I think the abandonment of the toe length and shoe weight restrictions for Park/EP angered many people. The restrictions were unworkable, and justly dropped. The balance was to be the introduction of Classic Pleasure (which has worked out sort-of o.k.) The other major source of anger has been the breeding (and in-hand domination) of the “extreme” type morgan. The Chantilly Lace scandal only confirmed what many people thought was happening for years. I admit that I greatly dislike the trend to pick the snakiest neck and the flattest croup as long as it is “hot”. When only 1 (One!) senior stallion shows up for the in-hand class at New England, it is a very disturbing trend. However, I think the worst extremes will moderate with the passage of time. If they don’t, we will find ourselves in as ridiculous a position as the QH Halter people.

  42. leslie says:

    When do we vote?

  43. RaeOfLight says:

    I don’t know if I’d say it’s an explicitly an effort to control breeding standards. But I think (ok, I don’t think, I know) there are people still upset about the dishonest breeding that happened back in the 80s (+/-). There are many folks out there who feel AMHA did not push back hard enough on improperly registered horses. Maybe this is an unfair characterization, but from what I understand these people are also the ones who tend to be very vocal about shows catering to big $$ owners and trainers.

    I think both “sides” blame the other for being divisive. The lawsuit group would say corruption within the board and the “old boys club” (the “select clique” Chris talked about) is what sparked this whole thing 20 years ago. Those who are standing behind the AMHA feel attacked by the lawsuit group.

    So, is the perception that the board is skewed legitimate? Maybe, maybe not (I honestly don’t know enough to have much of an opinion). Is the existence of that perception a problem? I would say resoundingly “yes”. Therefore, something has to be done. I agree that I think these by-law changes are not the answer. They are totally useless if they just lead to more division and alienation. But I hope we can use them constructively to get to the root of the problem and springboard us to a solution.

    Voting on this particular change will happen on the 2011 ballot. Of course only AMHA members can vote. So, I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the breed but is not currently a member to get your 2010 membership.

  44. jj4osu says:

    The letter (see link below) that went out with the daily AMHA breifing indicates the proposed changes will be on the 2011 ballot. I’m assuming this is the annual directors voting at the convention. Don’t know what it would do to the results of the planned elections if this proposal were to pass…guess they would either disband the BOD immediately and schedule a revote for a new BOD or allow the current BOD to be in place until a new system could be set up for 2012 voting.

  45. Vintage_Rider says:

    I know it is a full membership vote, not just BOD. And I would bet that if it did pass (God forbid) it would be a formidable change that would not be fully in effect in one year.

  46. jj4osu says:

    Right, I meant on the regular ballot where we vote for BOD…not that the BOD would be voting.


  47. IED says:

    This is actually the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

    Things like this are going to drive the existing membership apart, not to mention NEW people to Morgans who read about stuff like this and wonder what kind of crack Morgan people are smoking. Especially this business about PERJURING oneself if the declaration of “use” vs “show” is found to be “incorrect” by someone’s subjective standards. Uh, what?

    I don’t know what the solution should be – or if there should even needs to BE a solution – but this is surely not it.

  48. cnovoto says:

    Absolutely ridiculous to make Junior riders decide if they are “use” or “show”, I actually didn’t even know there was legislation out there wanting us to make that differentiation. We hardly even know what we are going to do with our lives yet, let us just have fun with our horses, whether it is showing or trail riding! Sheesh.

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