Over the years various people have asked me “What`s your favorite breed”, no doubt expecting me to say thoroughbreds or Irish crosses, or something pertaining to eventing. Rationally, I`m a thoroughbred fan. I`ve ridden hundreds of them, competed them for fifty years, stood numerous thoroughbred stallions, been a follower of racing, and know something about thoroughbred pedigrees.
But you know that old saying about never forgetting your first love. In 1950, when I was nine, my family moved to Greenfield, MA, which happened to be 23 miles from Northampton, MA. My grandmother lived in Northampton, as did my Uncle John, and his sister, Aunt Miriam. They were convenient places to stay when I discovered the primary allure of that small western Massachusetts town, that it was the site of the National Morgan Horse Show! Starting in 1952, 60 years ago this coming summer, I`d get dropped off at the Three County Fairgrounds on the first day of the show, usually with Jack Baker, or some other friend, and get picked up several days later when the show ended.
For those days we`d wander up and down the lines and lines of stalls, checking out the horses, hoping some of the riders would talk to us. We`d browse the tack shops, and from dawn to after dark, we`d sit in the covered bleachers entranced by the action, whether as exciting as the half mile race in harnes, or as static as the model two year old stallions, it was all the same to us, totally intoxicating. Only horse crazy kids, current or former, know that feeling.
Some of the famous Morgans of that era—Upwey Ben Don, Waseeka`s Nocturne, Parade, Black Sambo, US Menmar, Ulendon, Cornwallis, Orcland Vigildon, Orcland Leader, US Panez, Bay State Wardissa, Townshend Panabell, —–
The farm names, as vivid today as then, Windcrest, Green Mountain Stock Farm, Waseeka, Townshend, Broadwall, Orcland, High Pastures, Bar-T, Ashland, Green Meads. The breeders, owners, riders, Johnny Lydon, Dr. Bob Orcutt, Nancy Ela, Anna Ela, J. Cecil Ferguson, Lyman Orcutt, Robert Lippitt Knight, Ted Davis, Susie Robinson, Jeannine Krause, Art Titus,Steve Tompkins, Kenneth Knapp, Stanley Crafts, Lawson Glidden, and on and on.
A few years later, in 1956, when I rode a grade Quarter Horse in my first GMHA 100 Mile Trail Ride, I rode with lots of Morgan owners, further fueling the Morgan flame. Later that fall, I (my parents, to be accurate) bought Lippitt Sandy as my first Morgan. I showed him at the National in Northampton in 1957, 58, and 59, and did the GMHA 100 in 1957 and 1958. Then, in 1959, I worked for Robert Lippitt Knight, owner of the Green Mountain Stock Farm, in Randolph, VT. This was before my freshman year at Dartmouth, and I rode Lippitt Rebecca for Mr. Knight in the `59 GMHA 100. The next two summers I worked for the “Lippitt Farm” as most people thought of it.
Some other Morgans I rode, in addition to all the ones I rode regularly at the Green Mt Stock Farm, were Lippitt Raymond, my first stallion, who I stood for $50.00, Lippitt Tweedle Dee, who I showed for Deane Davis (later to be Gov. of VT), and Miller`s Commander, my father`s driving horse, who I rode in the 1962 GMHA 100 Mile.
Then, in 1961, Allen Leslie and I drove down to So Hamilton, MA to watch the Wofford Cup, my first time seeing a Three Day Event. I got hooked, and for the next 50 years, didn`t own a Morgan. But it was only on a (long) temporary hold, and this past fall I bought High Brook Rockstar, a five year old Morgan mare, from Laura Spittle, in South Woodstock, VT. Roxie`s pedigree includes Lippitt Sandy`s full sister, Miller`s Commander`s dam, and Lippitt Raymond`s and Lippitt Rebecca`s sire, so it`s Old Home Week for me.
With any luck Roxie will be a distance star, but whether that happens or not, it`s nice to be back!