|By CECIL E. DARNELL
EAST LANSING, Mich. — After meeting Michigan’s gubernatorial candidates at the Michigan Ag Expo earlier this summer and attending horse shows in the area, Aaron Rice is now finishing the final details of the show he directs.
Rice is the director of the 2006 Michigan Great Lakes International Draft Horse Show (MGLI), Oct. 19-22 in East Lansing, Mich. Rice is especially sensitive to the political energies that run throughout governments and associations as they go about their business.
His industry involvement and Percheron breeding both began at the same time, when he met Bob and Marilyn Robinson more than a quarter century ago.
“I have been breeding, showing and hitching Percherons ever since that first nudge from the Robinsons,” Rice explained.
The 2006 MGLI marks the fourth year that Rice has lead the show. When asked if he spent more time with Rice Well Service, breeding horses or running the MGLI, he just smiles and swings his arms and hands open and empty and said, “Who knows?”
“My original herd stock came from Bob and Marilyn Robinson,” he said. “The Robinsons always got along with John Welti of Minnesota.”
Joanna’s Noble is a point of pride for Rice. The horse is one of the last Percheron stallions ever bred by Welti.
Some of the projects Rice is working on include a future horse park in Michigan, upcoming MGLI programs to be aired on RFD-TV and the Michigan Equine Partnership, a new nonprofit, all-breed organization designed to concentrate on horse interests.
“People in places of leadership are becoming more aware of the overall economic influence of horses on our economy than they once had,” Rice commented. “That is a good development that enables us to keep growing in economic influence.”
He believes that those within the equine business need to reach out and bring in new people who are not currently involved in the horse industry. The business is filling motels and hotels, restaurants, gas stations and all things retail for shows across the country, this power needs to be cultivated and encouraged, Rice said.
Rice doesn’t attempt to separate the friendships that are woven into horse breeding and showing and serving on committees and boards that serve the needs of equine enthusiasts. Early breeders like the Robinsons and Welti knew that shows were needed to get their message heard.
Marilyn Robinson was among her favorite breeders, Rice said.
“She would spend the winter months naming the foals expected in the spring,” he recalled. “Her method was almost physic in the way the names she selected fit the particular animal. Sometimes the sex would require some tweaking, but so often her advance work fit the animals.”
The 2006 MGLI will be at the MSU Pavilion in East Lansing, Mich., Oct. 19-22. Rice can be reached by phone at 269-371-9745.
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.