On a crisp, snowy day a number of people interested in the Morgan Horse gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Nichoalds in Englewood, Colorado, for the purposes of organizing what was to become the Circle J Morgan Horse Association.
The date was January 23, 1959. People from ten different states in the Rocky Mountain Region were in attendance. The meeting was also notable because the late Ted Davis, of Massachusetts, Cecil Ferguson of Connecticut and Darwin Morse of Massachusetts were also in attendance, representing The (National) Morgan Horse Club. Mr. Davis, then and later, was famous as the owner of the famous Morgan stallion, Upwey Ben Don. Mr. Ferguson is still the owner of a breeding farm in Connecticut and such notable stallions as Parade have come from his farm. Mr. Morse also operates a Morgan breeding farm at Richmond, Massachusetts and his “Green Meads” prefix is found on Morgan Horses throughout North America. At the time of the organizational meeting, of the Circle J Morgan Horse Association, Mr. Davis was President of The Morgan Horse Club and Mrs. Ferguson and Mr. Morse were Directors of that organization.
The purpose of the Circle J Morgan Horse Association, as originally stated, was:
“To promote the Morgan Horse throughout the Western part of the country through horse shows, meetings, fun-days, and other promotional activities.” At the organizational meeting, plans were made to promote the inclusion of Morgan Horse classes in local All-Breed horse shows and also to sponsor an All-Morgan Horse Show.
The “All Morgan Horse Show” became the Circle J National Morgan Horse Show. The name was subsequently changed to “The Circle J Regional Championship Morgan Horse Show” after a single Grand National Morgan Horse Show was organized by the American Morgan Horse Association. The Circle J Show was held successfully in Estes Park, Colorado, and subsequently became a tradition.
The first Show contained 14 classes and was judged by Roy Brunk, a famous Judge and Morgan Horse Breeder from Illinois. The Show was held in Estes Park, Colorado, except in 1963, when Loveland, Colorado, was selected as the site for that particular year. Circle J was also held in Colorado Springs for three years before moving to its present location at the National Western Events Center in Denver, Colorado. The Show is held in July and has grown to a four-day event, offering over 150 classes.
It was the first Show to offer Cutting Horse Classes for Morgans. Originally, the most popular classes were Western events and the popularity of English riding and showing the Morgan Horse in Harness, have changed the Show. Also today the versatility of the Morgan is shown now in Carriage, Reining, Hunter/Jumper, Dressage and the popular Hunter Pleasure have been added to the show.
Through the suggestion of Mrs. Martin Cockriel, in 1972, Futurity Classes were first offered, and these classes have increased the interest of people in the Rocky Mountain Region in breeding Morgans and showing young Morgan Horses in these classes. Over the years the Circle J Futurity has seen many changes since then. Today the Circle J Futurity, formed by William Keenan, has become one of the most successful Futurities in the country.
The Circle J Morgan Horse Association has evolved into more of a “Regional” organization in recent years. In addition to its sponsorship of the annual horse show, Circle J functions as an organization devoted to the dissemination of information regarding the Morgan Horse to its members and others, and as a promotional entity for the Morgan Horse Breed.
Miss Mary Woolverton of Littleton, Colorado, one of the Charter Members of Circle J Morgan Horse Association, has become nationally known in Morgan circles because of her fine efforts in introducing youngsters and handicapped persons to the Morgan Horse. Mary still serves as a consultant to the American Morgan Horse Association, in Youth Activities and serves on several National committees of that organization.
Mary Woolverton and a former President of Circle J, Don Berlie of Chadron, Nebraska, were largely instrumental in the formation of the Morgan Cutting Horse Association subsequently worked with Circle J in the promotion of the Morgan Horse as a working cutting horse. All of the charter members of the Morgan Cutting Horse Association were members of Circle J.
Also, as a result of one of the activities of the Circle J Morgan Horse Association and its members, Morgan Classes are now found in most of the larger All-Breed Horse Shows held in such areas as Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana.
The largest livestock show in the Rocky Mountain Region, the National Western Stock Show (held in Denver each January) included Morgan Horse classes in their program. Since the inception and organization of the Circle J Morgan Horse Association, we have seen the Morgan Horse reinstated as a popular equine in the Western United States. The organization continues to provide a common ground for further promotion of the Morgan Breed through its interested members.