With more than 1,000 horses attending over five days, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd at Equifest (8-12 August, East of England showground).
But one duo who certainly made a lasting impression — on judges and spectators alike — was Angela Conner and her new mount, the Morgan stallion Optimus Prime.
The magnificent 12-year-old, a multi-garlanded American Morgan horse world champion, and Angela were crowned supreme foreign breeds champion of the show, clinching the sash under the famous Equifest spotlight in the evening performance.
The pair outshone 16 other competitors, including an array of breed representatives such as Andalusians, Friesians, Nordics, Icelandics, Saddlebreds, Arabs and assortment of crossbreeds.
Optimus Prime looked every inch the champion and carefully looked after his rider, 84-year-old Angela, who by her own admission had forgotten her exact age on the day. Her reply: “I’ve lost count, I think it’s somewhere between 80 and 90 years.”
Angela, who is lives and works as an international sculptress in Herefordshire and London, co-founded the British Morgan Horse Society some 40 years ago with her husband John.
Since his arrival in the UK in April, Optimus Prime has been training with Trudy Connolly, head horsewoman at Angela and John’s Monnington stud, Herefordshire.
Monnington Morgans is the breed’s foundation stud and was set up by the couple in 1975.
“I got into Morgans completely by accident,” said Angela. “I acquired a horse from America who was in bad way when she arrived. I wasn’t even sure if she was a Morgan but I was told by a judge she definitely was. That’s how it all began. They are naturally uphill and look impressive, but they are very safe — they are brilliant nanny horses.
“I had seen Optiums Prime in America and as soon the opportunity came about I bought him. At Equifest he just switched on and did his stuff — I just happened to be sat on top. He is like an Audi car, very smooth to ride.”
Rider came second in her first show after 50 years out of the saddle
Elizabeth Breton, 78, proved age is no object by winning the novice class at the South Essex Insurance Brokers/British Horse
'They say everyone has a horse of a lifetime and I think he’s it; he’s absolutely amazing'
Angela will continue to show the stallion and intends to compete him at the Foreign Breeds Society championship show in September.
Doug Wade, editor of the Morgan Horse Society magazine and friend of Angela said: “It seems that the UK Morgan is generating interest once again, making headway and standing their ground against all breeds. This is the future for the Morgan Breed, exhibiting to all within the equestrian world and spreading the Morgan word.”
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