Colonel Joseph Battell probably never imagined in the late 1870’s that the future of his Weybridge, VT, farm would include a pasture of award-winning UVM bred Morgan horses, student apprentices, and visitors from all over the world. Yet, almost 150 years after he launched his passion for preserving and promoting America’s first breed of horse, the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm is stronger than ever, and launching its own plans for the future.
A short drive down a country road about 40 minutes from the UVM campus, lined with pastures on each side, you will find the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. The barns, which are designated on the National Register of Historic Places, are centered by the majestic statue of “Figure” the foundation sire of the Morgan breed. The facility is headquarters for the coveted genetic lineage of the Battell/US Government Morgans, which played a key role in Vermont history and the development of the Morgan breed. The University of Vermont has been the steward of this important site and herd since the mid-1950’s, and now UVM Morgans help represent the official Vermont state animal.
For the past three decades, the farm has been directed by Stephen Davis, of Weybridge, who bred, trained, and showed UVM Morgans throughout New England. Steve retired from his position this year, but his knowledge of Morgans, shared with countless numbers of Morgan enthusiasts, horse owners and student apprentices, will continue to be a thread in the fabric of the Vermont horse industry for many years to come.
The UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is proud to announce the new leadership team at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. Together, this team, with the support from the college and University, will provide new learning opportunities for students, and increase engagement with horse owners, visitors, and the local community.
Kimberly Demars, Farm Manager, will oversee the facility, animal care, breeding & training, and farm operations. Kim is a Bridport, VT native, a graduate of Colby Sawyer, and worked with Steve for many years at the farm as the equine specialist. “Horses have always been an integral part of my life. I am so honored to be part of the agricultural community within Addison County, and to have the opportunity to represent the Morgan breed,” says Demars. “The Farm is such an important piece of Vermont history and to be a part of the story is truly amazing. I am very excited to see what the future may hold.”
Sarah Fauver, Equine Specialist, will oversee the day-to-day management and assist with training of the UVM Morgans in partnership with students and apprentices. She served as a former apprentice intern on the farm and is a graduate of the UVM Animal & Veterinary Sciences program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Margot Smithson, Operations Coordinator, will coordinate communication and outreach, oversee tourism and business management. An amateur horse enthusiast, Margot is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and comes to this position with an administrative and management background in the human services field.
The team is administered by interim faculty coordinator, David Townson, Chair of the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, and Stephanie Dion, Assistant Dean of Business Operations, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
New Opportunities for Engagement
Visitors from all over New England ventured to the farm last week for the annual Vermont Day Open House. The record crowd of Morgan enthusiasts set up lawn chairs, picnicked, and enjoyed demonstrations of the versatility and beauty of the Morgan breed, watched a Cavalry reenactment by a Vermont group Vermont 1st Cavalry Company and enjoyed the farm and all its beauty. Plans for additional events to engage students, Vermont youth organizations, and the local community are underway. “Today’s activities highlight only a small portion of what we hope will showcase the outstanding qualities of the Morgan breed and UVM Morgans in particular, and a new direction for our leadership team to educate and engage future generations interested in the equine industry,” said David Townson. “I’m excited to be working alongside Kim, Sarah, and Margot to integrate with the ongoing equine teaching, research, and service/outreach activities on the UVM campus.”
If you are interested in supporting the UVM Morgan Horse Farm, stop by or contact Margot Smithson at 802-388-2011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.