For an area mostly known for logging, the Vernonia area has developed quite a reputation for its horse culture. The area features a long time trail riding group, regular seasonal arena play days, a competitive school-based equestrian team and an active 4-H program – even a national Miss Rodeo title holder. It’s obvious that people in this region love their horses.
Marianne Berg also loves her horses and owns a couple of World Champions.
Berg, who lives in Birkenfeld, owns show horses and has been successful in breeding, raising, training and showing two real winners.
Berg shows her horses in Halter Competitions where the horses are led, not ridden, and are judged on their conformation and suitability as breeding stock. Berg says it’s sort of like body building for horses. “They’re really big and muscular, but they also have to be really pretty,” says Berg. “And conformationally they have to be correct – they have to have nice straight legs, they have to have a slender neck. They are judged on how they are put together.”
Berg purchased “No Chance of Reign,” who she calls “Clark,” shortly after he was named World Champion in his class as a young pony. In 2013 Berg, working with a new horse trainer, and Clark took 4th place at the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Show in Fort Worth, Texas. “Our new trainer didn’t have enough time to get him as prepared as he needed to be,” explained Berg.
This year Clark and trainer Matt Henderson of Turner-Henderson Show Horses based in Albany, Oregon traveled once again in November to Fort Worth, where Clark won the Reserve World title in the Amateur 2-year old Halter Geldings class.
To date, Clark has amassed well over 600 APHA halter points. Clark is also the 2014 #1 APHA Honor Roll 2-year old gelding in the nation. “That is very hard to do and he accomplished it this year,” says Berg. “I’m very proud of him. He has won more awards than I can even recall.”
Berg says the horses are bred to be show horses. Breeding stock is chosen for their genetics. “You can tell when they’re babies if they have it or they don’t. And then you can build on it. You can do it yourself, which I have done or send it to a trainer. And then they are put into a fitness program, like a true athlete. They are fed a certain way. They are worked a certain way to help build their muscles. But the horse has to be genetically predispositioned to look this way.”
Clark was what is called an “embryo transfer” foal. His real dam (mother) did not carry him to term because she was a very expensive show horse and the owners did not want to risk her health. Clark’s embryo was implanted into a recipient mare that carried Clark to term. Clark’s full sister was born the same year as Clark for this reason (two different mares carrying an embryo from the same mare and inseminated by the same stallion). The foal’s barn names were Lois and Clark from “Superman.” Lois never made it to the big show pen. She was sold to a 4-H exhibitor.
Berg’s other champion horse is “Kids Night Out,” a two-time Reserve World Champion which she trained and showed herself. Berg still owns “Kid,” who is nine years old now. “He’s very special to me,” says Berg with a smile. “He’s fat and wooly and covered in mud and in my pasture right now. I don’t show him anymore but I do ride him.”
Berg says Kid is “double registered” with the American Paint Horse Association and with American Quarter Horse Association. Kid has a “Superior Title” in both associations, in both the amateur and open classes which, according to Berg, is very difficult to achieve. “It means he’s received a lot of points in his lifetime,” explains Berg.
Berg’s future plans for Clark are to sell him to someone who can attain their goals with him in the show pen. “After his sale, I plan to purchase another horse to campaign, with the end goal of taking it to future APHA World Shows,” says Berg.