Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 2, 2004

Grooming for success

By Ryan Gueningsman

It's not every day that a man is seen riding horseback in downtown Winsted.

Recently, local folks may have noticed a man riding on the back of a black Shire stallion along Main Avenue.

Morgan Dale, who lives in the Twin Cities and boards two horses at Living Legends Stables west of Winsted, has been bringing his stallion Brigadier into town to desensitize him to traffic.

Eight-year-old Brigadier, along with two-year-old Magnum, are both Shire stallions that are owned by Dale.

Horses are typically measured in hands, and each hand is four inches. The horse is measured from the top of its shoulder to the ground. Brigadier weighs 2,100 pounds and stands 18 hands, Dale said.

Dale has been working with Billie Allor, the owner of Living Legends Stables, for many years.

"Billie's been training for many, many years, and I endorse her explicitly," Dale said. Right now, Dale and Allor are working on getting their stallions to step on pedestals, bow, and the basic "walk, trot, and cantor stuff," Dale said.

The two are also collaborating on something Dale calls "The Spirit of America."

When Dale purchased Brigadier, he had a vision of an exhibition horse, one that isn't a competition horse, that he could use to lead parades and sing the National Anthem on horseback.

"I'm also a vocalist," Dale said. "I did a show called the Dixie Stampede in Branson, which was a 30- horse dinner show."

Since then, Dale had wanted a unique horse that he could ride proudly and sing the National Anthem on horseback, and eventually do a routine where he can ride and sing at the same time.

"Brigadier has the mind and the talent to do it," Dale said. The stallion had been basically "fed and bred," until Dale bought him

"I trained him to ride first," Dale said. "We did the Winsted parade last summer, and I am hoping to lead the parade this summer. When I had the chance to first see him, I thought he was so incredibly majestic, so he was the perfect horse for this."

Dale and Brigadier will also be leading the parade in Rochester, which is Dale's hometown, for the community's 150th anniversary celebration June 25. Allor will also be attending the parade, riding Magnum.

In addition, Dale and Allor will also be attending the Minnesota Horse Expo, which takes place the last weekend of April at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

There are close to 500 horses that will be at the expo, Dale said. A major speaker both Dale and Allor are both excited to see is Monty Roberts, who is known worldwide as "the man who listens to horses."

Roberts has been involved with horses since his childhood, and has developed a violence-free method of training horses called "Join Up."

Many other breeds of horses and techniques for horse owners will be showcased at the expo, including a display on Clydesdale horses.

"The Clydesdale is the rarest of the draft breeds, but because of Budweiser, we know more about the Clydesdale," Dale said. "The Shire is a sister breed to the Clydesdale. A Shire is from England, and a Clydesdale is from Scotland. If you put one next to the other, you really can't tell them apart."

Most of the horses at Allor's stables are Morgans, which is Dale's foundation breed. Dale moved on to Friesians, and thought he "would never find a horse he loves more than a Friesian."

Another client at Living Legends has several Friesians, which is the royal horse for Holland, Dale said. There is a team at Living Legends that is purebred, and there are also several cross-bred Friesian sport horses.

"It seems like the bigger they are, the more I like them," Dale said with a smile. "I don't think they get a whole lot bigger though, so we're probably going to stop here."

Dale purchased Brigadier from Jim Vannurden of Litchfield, who owns ShannaShawn Shires. Vannurden also agreed to put Magnum into training with Brigadier.

"Since meeting him a year ago, my life has been changed," Dale said. "It has given me my dream horses to work with."

Dale and Allor are currently looking for a corporate sponsor that they can team up with, similar to what Budweiser has done with the Clydesdales, Dale said.

Rodeos and fairs are also in the plan, for exhibition purposes only, Dale noted. Allor and Dale will also continue to offer riding lessons and boarding, and they both encourage people to come to the stables and see Brigadier and Magnum.

"We love visitors," Dale said. "Usually someone is here, but people should call first on the colder days."

Persons interested in visiting Living Legends may call (320) 485-5292.

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