The MSU Equestrian Team and the Department of Agricultural Sciences hosted the first ever Morehead State Appalachian Horse Revival May 23-25, at the Derrickson Agricultural Complex. The event brought together equine enthusiasts from across the nation to show horses that are native to Kentucky and Appalachia, including Kentucky Mountain Saddle, Paso Fino, Smokey Valley, Tennessee Walking, Rocky Mountain and Spotted Saddle horses, among others.
“We’ve had horse shows at Morehead State University since 1966, but we’ve never had anything quite like this before,” said MSU Farm Manager Joe Fraley (94). “We wanted to host an event to draw some interest back to the horse industry in Eastern Kentucky. Horse shows used to be a popular family event and we want people who don’t normally go to a horse show on a Saturday night to come out and spend the day with us to see what these breeds are all about.”
The show is unique as top winners from the different breed classes competed against each other for Best of Show awards.
“We wanted to end the show with a bang,” Fraley said. “No show has really thrown out the idea of competing against different breeds.” He said the idea has been well received and so far, competitors from as far away as Missouri and Florida have expressed interest in the event.
Winners in the King of the Moutain competition were:
- Maker’s Mark ridden by Greg Brewer for owner Gary Taylor
- Elite’s Rockstar ridden and owned by Jessica Shannon
- He Owns the Night ridden and owned by Debbie Smothers
- Classic’s Zorro ridden by Jason Stefanie for owner Tanner DeWeese
- Fairwinds Call Me Chicago ridden by Derick Tipton for owner Justin Anderson
- Bella Blue ridden by Jonathan Bowman for owner Circle Sid Farms
Best in Show winners were:
Class 95 Youth Trail 11 and under:
- He’s Armed and Charmed and Rylee Eilerman
- She Strikes Me Fancy and Chase Gordon
- Kentucky Blue and Kendall Gay
Class 96 Youth Trail 12-17:
- Southern Charm and Hannah Stefanie
- Fairwinds Heisman Warning and Kynzi Slone
- Smokey Valley Chance and April Willoughby
- Wipeout and Molly Boyd
- Maggie May’s Spirit and Kaleb Alden
Class 97 Lite Shod:
- She’s Top Knock and Larry Wood
- Smokey Valley Tequila and Brittany Rust
- Vodo Child and Paul Morrell
- Smokey Valley Stetson and Brandi Meek
Class 98 Amateur Trail:
- Delta Queen and Justin Anderson
- Paroled at the Ritz and Larry Wood
- Shakedown and Richard Riddle
Class 99 Country Pleasure
- John’s Little Red Lady and Sara Misura
Fraley said he was approached by Smokey Valley Farms in Olive Hill about the event. Max Hammond (85), who works at Smokey Valley Farms, said he thinks MSU is the ideal location for an event highlighting Appalachian horse breeds.
“Generations of knowledgeable horsemen have come to Eastern Kentucky for gaited horses,” he said. “Morehead is pretty much the cultural and geographical epicenter of Appalachian horses. Many of the gaited breeds were developed within an hour’s drive of Morehead, so MSU is a very fitting place to have an event to revitalize the Appalachian horse industry.” Hammond added he believes the show could become a signature event for MSU.
The show had affiliations with:
- Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association
- Mountain Pleasure Horse Association
- Rocky Mountain Horse Association
- Spotted Saddle Horse Association of Kentucky
- Walking Horse Owners Association
- Kentucky Mule and Donkey Association
- Bluegrass Pleasure and Walking Horse Association
Cash prizes were awarded to winners in first, second, third and fourth place in breed class, breed championship class, best in show class and king of the mountain class.
The event also featured a concert by The Wooks, a vendor fair and concessions provided by the MSU Equestrian Team as a fundraiser.
Fraley said the show had 407 entries over three days and added he was pleased with the comments he received from presenters.
One of the presenters, Charity Burton (97) said she decided to show her Rocky Mountain horse at the show because it was close to her home in Olive Hill, but added it provided her an opportunity beyond giving her a chance to show her horse.
“You can come to this show and see so many different breeds,” Burton said.
Another presenter at the show, Kelsi Tackett (19), was also impressed by the diversity of the show.
“I’ve been showing horses for probably 10 years and I’ve never seen a show with so many breeds,” she said.
Those who came to the horse show as spectators said they were interested in seeing some breeds they’d never seen before. Mary Morris (17) attended the show with her parents.
“We are horse owners and we heard about the show through the community and thought we’d come out to support the farm,” Morris said, adding she was interested in seeing the gaited mules at the show.
“We had really strong participation from presenters and it was good to see everyone come together to show their horses,” Fraley said. He also praised members of the equestrian team for their work on the horse show.