It was March Madness Morgan Style at the 22nd Michigan Morgan Horse Breeders’ Futurity (MMHBF) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) two-day Event in Middlebury, Indiana. The events were held on Friday and Saturday, March 10 and 11. This year, we welcomed guests from as far away as Colorado and New York. Attendees discovered multiple high-quality Morgan Horse farms relatively close together, filled with promising high-quality Morgan prospects, and were welcomed with endless amounts of hot coffee, freshly baked cookies and loads of hospitality.

The greater Shipshewana, Middlebury, Goshen, LaGrange, Nappanee and surrounding areas are poster communities for all of the above! Friday morning started early with an hour-long tour of the Grand Design RV Company, located in Middlebury, IN (located in Elkhart County, IN which is the RV Capitol of the world). Guests were welcomed by Darin Beechy, Rose Wood Equine, who is employed in a supervisory position at Grand Designs RV, and were treated to freshly baked doughnuts and coffee. A guided tour of the facility allowed visitors to see firsthand how units are built from the inside out and from the bottom up. At the conclusion of the tours, guests were able to tour three of the Reflections line model units on display. Grand Design RV prides itself in building very high-quality RVs and they are leaders in the industry.

The rest of Friday was dedicated to five Morgan Farm Open Barn Tours, where everyone in attendance had multiple opportunities to see everything from top Morgan stallions—including the 2022 Morgan Grand National World Champion Stallion, RWF Dralion—to mares ready to foal, young and promising prospects, and horses in training for the upcoming show season. The first open barn was Rose Wood Equine, owned by the Darin and Eva Beechy Family. Upon arrival, guests were provided with a professionally printed program, which included everything that was taking place over the course of the two days. The programs included information on each of the Open Barn Tour stops, horses being presented, and it included information on the stallions in Saturday’s stallion service auction. Event sponsors, donors and advertisers were also included and thanked in the program. Once again this year, we had narrators Joe Zehr and Lyle Miller who provided color commentaries at each farm and helped keep our day on schedule. At Rose Wood Equine, Darin’s focus is on mares, foals and breeding top quality show horse prospects. One of the featured yearlings was Marshmeadow Joan (Standing Alone X DDF Just Awesome), who placed in the top group of weanlings at the 2022 Superior Weanling Sweepstakes Class. She is flashy and exudes attitude! After viewing his impressive line-up of mares and young prospects all sired by prominent stallions including Ingate’s Eye Of The Tiger, NS After Six, and RWF Dralion GCH, to name just a few, the guests were invited inside for a delicious hot lunch, including beverages, desserts, and conversation.

Next stop, Orchard View Stables, Al and Loraine Lehman and family. Al and his son, Isiah (who showed CLS Esquire Axios to 2nd place for $41,800 at the Superior Weanling Sweepstakes class) presented a very promising three year old stallion, CLS American Prince (SDMF American Icon X FRVA Princess Pretty Girl), owned
by Ervin Bontrager. He deservedly commanded a great deal of attention from the guests in attendance! Some of the promising prospects we watched work in long lines were by top stallions who were in our MMHBF SSA, including SDMF American Icon, CBMF Over The Moon and Caffeinated. The Lehman family had an impressive lineup of broodmares that enjoyed strutting their stuff for all to see.

Next on the Open Barn Tour were Oak Ridge Morgans, Lyle and Jolene Miller and Glen and Marlene Miller. While at Oak Ridge, we had an opportunity to see a nice group of select horses that were being prepped for the upcoming Buckeye Morgan Sale in Ashland, OH. Once again, several of the prospects were by stallions in the MMHBF SSA, including RWF Dralion GCH, WVS Extreme Demander, NS Fame & Fortune, and MEM Intoxicated. Lyle’s list of impressive broodmares included mares by Astronomicallee, Burkland High Octane, Caffeinated and the now deceased top Morgan stallion Mizrahi (all of whom were in our SSA). Lyle also just welcomed to his farm Boxford Machiavelli, sire of Valley Acres Scarlet, the dam of WC sire, King-E Otto B. I’m sure everyone will be hearing more about this stallion in the near future!

The group then moved on to Earl and Laura Yoder’s Sand Ridge Stables where guests were welcomed and had more opportunities to see some top-quality young
prospects, as well as several broodmares just about ready to foal. Earl had some prospects that had those in attendance in amazement! Earl’s show included a presentation of several youngsters sired by Mizrahi, RWF Dralion GCH, Sand Ridge Pazazz, CBMF Over The Moon and Astronomicallee. His presentation included the promising Morgan stallion Sand Ridge Pazazz, owned by David Raber.

Our Friday Open Barn tour adventure concluded at Joe and Elaine Zehr’s Stardust Morgan Farm, where Joe and his team treated the guests to a parade of stallions that included MEM Intoxicated, RRG Mesmerize, Burkland High Octane, HWDY High Velocity, JDS Spectacular Flaire, SDMF American Icon, and Newmont’s Get Real. Joe and his team also presented and worked several young horses in harness, long lines and let some run freestyle in his indoor arena. Joe’s list of well bred broodmares numbers over 20 and he has mares in foal to some top stallions, including those he stands and others. Our day ended in a heated area with a delicious pulled pork dinner, potato salad, homemade desserts, ice cream, and coffee. And with that, our first round of March Madness was in the history books.

Saturday was another full day and the American Legion Post 210 in Middlebury once again hosted our 22nd MMHBF Stallion Service and Silent Auction. We were very fortunate to have a professional auctioneer, Dewayne Miller, who did an excellent job keeping things moving along. This year, MMHBF was very pleased to provide bidders with the opportunity to bid on 74 donated stallion services and three name-your-mare spots. Once again, Merriehill After Hours GCH topped the sale at $3,500, followed by Astronomicallee at $2,800. Rounding out the top five were Cool Whip, CBMF Over The Moon and Roberto Cavalli. MMHBF received an anonymous donation of $4,000 for the 2024 MMHBF Weanling Sweepstakes Class. Of this added money, $3,000 will be awarded to the owner/donor of the stallion of the sweepstakes champion weanling, and $1,000 will be awarded to the owner/donor of stallion of the sweepstakes reserve champion weanling.

To date, over 75% of the stallion services and name your mare opportunities donated have been sold. Unsold stallion services are available through April 15, 2023 here on our website. Stallions are all priced as “Buy It Now” for $600 and it’s first come, first served, allowing the winning bidder to complete payment securely online. Additionally, our silent auction raised more than $11,000, making the day’s take just under $75,000. Our guest speaker was Jan Martin, who spoke
about the history of the Michigan Morgan Horse Breeders’ Futurity. Jan is a long-time board member and officer who knows the long and colored history of the MMHBF dating back to 1955. Jan also spoke briefly about the World Morgan Futurity and encouraged breeders to participate. Our afternoon concluded with everyone enjoying a delicious grilled pork chop dinner. Once again, this year, we had the privilege of having some wonderful and very generous sponsors and for that we are very grateful. Net proceeds from the MMHBF Stallion Service Auction will be paid out in the 2024 Lexicon LLC and Appointments USA Weanling Spectacular Class. This year’s MMHBF Horse Show is September 8-10, 2023 at the Michigan State University Pavilion. John Warner will have the responsibility of marking the cards and the 2023 weanling class will have $50,000 available to eligible weanlings with $1,000 being awarded to the owner of this year’s winning weanling’s sire. We are so grateful to the stallion owners who generously donated their stallions, the bidders who stepped up and made this another near record year, the silent auction donors who gave generously, and the buyers who stepped up and purchased the unique offerings.