By Jennifer Maack-Condren

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. - Heart of America Walking Horse Association held its annual high point awards banquet Feb. 14 at the Inn of the Grand Glaize overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Valentine’s Day made the perfect setting for the gathering of couples and families to receive the honors that have been worked for all season long.

A general membership was held during the afternoon with the main agenda being the election of new officers for 2004. The new slate of offices is the mirror reflection of the 2003 offices, recognizing what a great job each performed. The officers are as follows: president - Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid, vice president - Ed Swaringim, secretary/treasurer - Darlene Swaringim, board of directors - Don Bills, Anne Hardin, Harold Heiney, Jim Huffman and Eldon Jenkins.

A discussion was held regarding changing last year’s show line up and scheduling. It was decided by the membership that the HAWHA Spring Classic will continue to be a three-day show and the Fall Show will return to its original three-day line up. Volunteers were accepted for show managers to begin the hard job of planning for the shows.

Following the general membership meeting, the HAWHA Futurity held a meeting for any interested member to attend, also with the main focus being the election of officers. Patty Ayers will replace out-going president Dennis Hills. Karen McKinnis will continue as secretary/treasurer.

With the necessary meetings adjourned, it was banquet time. President DeGraffenreid welcomed new members and attendees to the banquet. Mike Maack, president of the Midwest Walking Horse Trainer’s Association, presented an award to My Horse Showtime, Marvelene Kusewitt and Rosalee Jones for earning 10 blue ribbons and the status of Supreme Champion. This award was previously not recognized during the MWHTA banquet.

Jennifer Condren recognized HAWHA member horses receiving a “top 10” standing in the Walking Horse Report High Point standings-13 in all, including three Number One rankings. All members were proud of the Missouri showing in this new program.

Karen McKinnis announced the HAWHA Futurity High Point awards for each division. Sire of the Year honors went to Thorncrest Farms for Etee’s Mr. Wonderful. This year a saddle was awarded to the owner of horses shown in the futurity earning the most overall points. This too was a repeat for Thorncrest Farms as Ron Boyer and Karen McKinnis accepted the saddle.

Shirley Lotridge has volunteered for the last few years to tabulate the points accumulated during the year for all classes, horses and owners. This is not a small job. High point awards were given out in 83 divisions as well as ribbons for second through fifth placings.

For the second year in a row, the stable receiving the highest number of high point awards was Huffman Family Stables of Ozark, Mo., under the direction of Jim Huffman with 16 awards. The young horses owned and presented by the Huffman family took home seven top place finishes including an Overall High Point Performance Horse award for Hydro Generator. Victory Colors played his part in the blue ribbon tally with a total of five championship titles. Also contributing to the collection of awards under Huffman’s direction was Thorncrest’s Cat-Man-Do, shown by Karen McKinnis in Ladies Specialty and Amateur Specialty classes, Talk of Texas for Bill Maack Stables in the Three and Under Park Pleasure classes, and Lite Jazz in Two-Year-Old classes for Richard and Sarah Mitch. Diamond’s and Cash claimed honors in the Aged Mare and Gelding class for the Mitches. Victory Colors was recognized for his number one ranking in the Three-Year-Old division of the Walking Horse Report High Point system.

Horses shown under the direction of Ted and Glenda Nichols were also awarded their share of the crystal and blue presentations with a total of 13. These included the juvenile teams of Coin’s Smooth Operator and Bradley Nichols, amateur teams of Dixie Jubilee and Glenda Nichols, and Eclectic and Brian Nichols. A top contender in the Park Pleasure ranks, Caretaker’s Image received seven first place finishes for owner Roger Campbell of Campbell Ford. Caretaker was recognized for his number one ranking in the Walking Horse Report High Point standings in the Park Pleasure division along with Eclectic, who received a number one ranking in the Open Amateur division.

Mike Maack had reason to celebrate as well with horses under his guidance in 2003. The winners under this banner included Shaker’s Mr. Threat and Georgia Swicegood, earning five championship titles. Barbara and Alisa Zbornik owned horses, Another Great One and Dark Spirit’s Supreme, earned three blues, and Pusher’s Lady on the Loose earned a spot in the record books for Carol Middleton.

Horses under the training of Curt Caldwell received six honors. Jubilee’s Image and On the Rise each received three for owners Matt and Lisa McWilliams. On the Rise dominated the Amateur Specialty division while Jubilee’s Image added more titles to his lengthy resume in the Open and Championship divisions.

Don Bills Stables was represented by Mark the Time, an Overall High Point Champion for Ed and Darlene Swaringim as well as two other wins in the Show Pleasure division. Sam Henson was certainly excited for his top award in the Juvenile 11 & Under division with Extracy. Dr. Glenn and Beverly DeGraffenreid received the top award in the 15.2 and Under Amateur Specialty division with Magic Impression.

The northern portion of the show circuit was well represented by horses shown and trained by Sue Halvorson and Bruce Bowers. Market’s Hot Rod B, Fashion’s Magic Princess and Magic Fashion’s Shadow took home a total of six awards in various flat-shod classes.

Jerry Manes Stables earned a total of five top titles. Dazzling Dixie, Tunica and Dixie to Motown made their presence known for owners Al and Pattie Forgey, Sarah Manes, and Larry and Jerra Williams respectfully. It certainly was nice to see Jewell Manes back in attendance following her recent surgery.

Anne Hardin claimed four top honors. Stride’s Secret Finale was responsible for two of these in Three and Under Lite-Shod classes for Mr. and Mrs. Paul Schroer. The Pencil Pusher and The Sky King claimed two awards under Hardin’s direction both in Amateur classes for Harold and Sherry Roberts.

Many barns earn a duo of high point awards. Stephen and Patty Ayers received awards for Gambit in the HAWHA Two-Year-Old Park Pleasure class. Granddaughter Cheyenne Jones took no time in coming forward to receive the Trail Pleasure honors for Long Boogie Nights. Another excited juvenile to earn top honors was Travis Wieberg and Memory of Shadow in the Lite-Shod Three-Gait division. Eldonna Wieberg received the award for Open Yearling with That’ll Dume.

Generating Cash took home a pair of honors as well in the Park Pleasure for owners Bill and Norma Branham. McCall Clamp Stables was represented by a pair of fine young ladies. Lindsey Mott accepted the award in the Lead Line class for John Deere while sister Leslie Ann accepted the award in the Walking Pony class for Show Me Jubilantly.

Steve Skopec and Toppin High Cotton were recognized for their efforts in the Model division. JJ’s American Buck and Jay Teaford earned a top spot in the Western Park Pleasure Two-Gait classes. Ken and Josh Taylor were represented with a high point award for Jubilee’s Awesome Dream in the Two-Year-Old Stallion division for Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Sapp.

As the good times of 2003 were recapped with the year end awards, trainers, owners and exhibitors left the meeting with feelings of hope and optimism for the coming show season only a few weeks away.