MWHS History

Nelson Bilyea, riding Navaho Joe

Strathroy, Ontario, 1977

Gisela Cording and Go Socks Bailey

Strathroy, Ontraio, 1977

        The Mid-Western Ontario Horseman's Society was formed in 1977 to provide a standardized rule book for Open Shows in south-western Ontario within a 60 mile radius of Elginfield, Ontario, offer a Year End Awards Program and a newsletter to keep the membership informed of shows and other events.
      The original Board of Directors included Tom Baker, President; Nelson Bilyea, Vice-President; Beryl Spearman and Jean Johnston, Secretaries; Karen Pringle, Newsletter Editor; Eric Vanneste, Treasurer and Directors, Ian Bssson, Gisela Cording, Wayne Dobinson, Wayne Longfield, Jack Malone, Doug McCallum, Ken McLellan and Phil Vinet.


      A Special 35th Anniversary Reunion Awards Banquet was  held on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at Amy's Restaurant and Banquet Hall in Strathroy.  Past members were invited to submit photos from the past 35 years and bring trophies and awards from the past to the banquet.  MWHS continues to offer both Performance and Speed Events with Senior (Open), Jr. A (Youth 18 & Under with horses and Jr. B (Youth 12 & under with ponies). 


      The first MWHS Point Award Show was hosted by the Red Valley Saddle Club in Strathroy on Sunday, May 8, 1976, judged by Don Thomas of Embro who stepped in when Ron Berg, the scheduled judge did not show up as a horse had fallen on him and injured him the previous day.   Due to heavy rains and winds, the performance and speed events were postponed until Sunday, May 29 and judged by Bill Sterling of Vinemount.  There were a total of 279 entries including 40 Halter entries.  A Versatility Riding Class had 14 entries with English Pleasure, Western Pleasure and Barrel Racing and a purse of $120.00.  Gisela Cording and Go Sock Bailey were the winners.


      That first year, MWHS Point Award Shows were also hosted by Parkhill Saddle Club, Huron Trail Riders, St. Marys Fair, Gold 'N Ribbons, Donnybrook Roughriders, Thorndale Fair, Thames Valley Riders, Mitchell Fair, Melbourne Fair and Exeter Saddle Club among others.
High Point Winners the first show season were Jim Kersey & Treena Reed, SR. GAMES; Gisela Cording & GoSock Bailey, SR. PERFORMANCE; Robert Vanneste & Lolipop, JR. B GAMES and Diane (Vanneste) Ewing & King, JR. B PERFORMANCE.


      For more than 25 years, MWHS hosted Futurama, one of the largest All Breed Futurities in Canada with both a Sired Stakes and Open Division.  Futurama encouraged stallion owners to participate with the Sire of Excellence Awards.  The Futurama Stallion Service Auction was well supported by both stallion and mare owners for many years.


      MWHS hosted a number of bus tours to the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, visiting a number of top facilities as well as attractions between Ontario and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.  Stops have included the International Livestock Rodeo, Graceland, Country Music Hall of Fame, Wild Horse Saloon, Budweiser Stables, Branson, AQHA Museum and others too numerous to mention.


    T  he MWHS Annual Filly Draw was the foundation for the MWHS Scholarship Program.  Each year at the annual Awards Banquet 2 to 3 - $500 Scholarships are presented to Youth members and non-members to assist in continuing their post secondary education.  The scholarships are awarded based on an essay "How Horse Have Effected My Life", academic achievement, extra curricular activities, community service and association participation.


     MWHS continues to offer at least 10 MWHS approved shows per year,  These are held from Brigden in the west to Clinton in the north, Dorchester in the east and Rodney in the south.  Up to 100 horses and more show at each show with many of the members also competing at Quarter Horse, Paint, Appaloosa & OBRA, NBHA,  and other breeds as well as disciplines.


    The MWHS Shows are eligible events for Ontario Quarter Horse Racing Industry Development Program Post Racing Bonus Application.  For 2012, MWHS  introduced an optional 3-D Format Barrels and Pole Bending which  allowed competitors  compete with their time from their respective classes allowing SR., JR. A & JR. B competitors to compete against each other.   


    MWHS is also pleased to have hosted one of the largest Open Horse Shows in Ontario, the Western Fair Horse Show in the Agriplex at Western Fair District in London in September.  This show draws contestants from across Ontario to compete in both performance and speed events and the unique “Purina” Elimination Race, a drag race between horses.


    MWHS has hosted numerous clinics and seminars over the years.  In 1978, Jim Babcock presented a clinic on Halter, Showmanship, Western Pleasure and English Pleasure.  In 1979, Glen Morehouse and Windjamer were featured in a Barrel Clinic and Joe and Pat Carter were the Trail and Western Pleasure clinicians.  Many Ontario trainers have offered their knowledge and support to help educate MWHS members and other local horse enthusiasts. In 2015 our Clinic moved to the beautiful facility at REACH in Clinton, On.