Martha has been training horses professionally for over 35 years and has been a certified judge for 30 years, judging at such prestigious shows as the U.S. and Canadian Nationals, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and the Australian National Horse Show, with expertise in judging Arabians, Hackneys, National Show Horses and American Saddlebreds.
Since beginning her riding career at the age of six, Martha has gone on to train and show U.S. and Canadian National Champions in Hunter, Show Hack, Driving, Park, English Pleasure, Side Saddle and Native Costume.
Martha's love of horses came naturally; her mother, Cecile Hetzel Dunn has been a multi-breed horsewoman, judge and steward for over 40 years, and her stepfather, the late Norman K. Dunn, was a past president of AHA, as well as director of Cal Poly University in Pomona CA. Growing up in Florida, Martha rode as often as she could, and by high school was showing for Burr Hill Arabians.
After earning a Bachelors of Science from Northwestern State University in 1979, Martha continued pursuing her love of horses, first by working for Marquis Farms in Scottsdale, then with Mike Nichols and Don Delongpre in Santa Barbara, and finally at Varian Arabians.
After working for LaCroix Ltd. in 1991 and 1992, Martha struck out on her own in 1993 in Kentucky, and her business eventually evolved into what is now Martha Murdock Stables.
Martha has continued to find success throughout the equine industry through judging, training and showing over the past 35 years.
For more information on Martha's history, see below, and take a walk down memory lane with Martha and the many champions that have called Martha Murdock Stables home throughout the years.
Born in Miami, Florida Martha Murdock was riding before she was two years old. Learning to ride on her mother's American Saddlebred Martha was in the show ring for the first time at the South Miami Riding Club in 1964. Soon after that experience she started riding with J.R. Ragsdale. There she rode American Saddlebreds and ponies such as World Champion, Jimmy Joe. When she was ready Ragsdale took her to M.Robert Mannix, a renowned saddle seat instructor of that era. Mannix didn't take beginners and seldom riders that were under the age of ten but Ragsdale insisted that Martha was ready. It didn't take long and Mannix had Martha not only riding saddle seat in winning style but he started her riding side saddle.
Martha moved with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1966. There she was enrolled in private school so that she could travel to horse shows. In Springfield, IL at the U.S. Nationals Martha saw Carolyn Gardner make a victory pass riding Sunny Acres Aneas and from that moment on she decided she wanted to be a horse trainer. Martha rode every horse she could find to ride and soon had the reputation of being able to ride anything. Judy Burrell of Burr Hill Arabians chose Martha as her junior exhibitor for several of her horses. Burr Hill was a source for Crabbet bred Arabians imported from England. From Judy Burrell Martha learned bloodlines and how to appreciate them. Martha's extensive knowledge of pedigrees and her passion for their importance as a horseman started during these early years. With Burr Hill she traveled to many of the major shows in the eastern states and the midwest. Judy Burrell gave an opportunity to another young horseman from Cincinnati by the name of Rick Moser. Soon Rick Moser and Martha Murdock were allies and spending all their weekends at Burr Hill and going to every show she would take them to.
Cecile Dunn, Martha's mother never missed the chance to take her to Lexington Junior League Horse Show or the World's Championship Show in Louisville. Martha showed Hackney Ponies and Saddlebreds throughout the Kentucky and Ohio circuits. Equitation was always paramount in Cecile's mind so Martha learned to always look her best in the show ring and ride with perfection. During these many trips to Kentucky Martha was exposed to Helen Crabtree and her son,Redd along with the Teaters and the Bradshaws. Martha's first memory of Kentucky includes My My ridden by Frank Bradshaw, Bellisima ridden by Tom Moore and Forest Song ridden by Jim B Robertson. All of these American Saddlebreds and trainers are still talked about today.
During the 1960s Martha Murdock never let go of her horse training dreams that started in Illinios. There was never a time that a horse was too difficult. Martha always said yes to a ride. It didn't matter if they were wild or a little untrained she rode them all. Martha remembers showing in classes of 30-35 riders in the Saddle Seat classes. Sometimes those classses lasted for hours but Martha was always ready to go to the next class or the next show. In addition to horse shows Martha Murdock was an active member of the Warren County 4-H club and the Arabian Horse Association of Ohio. She never missed a meeting or an event. In fact Martha Murdock was the youngest delegate to ever vote at the Arabian Horse Association of America's annual convention in Atlanta,Ga. It was in Atlanta that Martha met Norman K. Dunn, Equine Director of Cal Poly University, a person who would become a mentor and guide her throughout his lifetime. School was never difficult for her and with her straight A record and staying an honor student the teachers were happy to let her travel.
There were many Arabian breeders and training barns in Ohio during the 60s. Growing up riding different breeds and going to all types of horse shows was a terrific advantage for Martha Murdock. Those years were a romantic time for the horse business. People turned to what they loved best and tried to close their eyes to the war in Viet Nam and to tune out the race riots. Martha remembers those years with a smile." Living on a farm we were isolated from urban problems. My sister Merri and I used to play horse show behind our barn riding for hours every day. Then we would trail ride on some adjoining property and be gone all day. In the winter we would ride to the pond and carry our skates around our necks. When we got to the pond we would tie the horses up, bulid a fire and skate until dark."
Helen Crabtree once said ' Life on a farm is God's gift to any child". Martha Murdock was fortunate enough to have been given that gift.
In the 1970s Martha Murdock traveled with Burr Hill to more major horse shows and introduced her to an even broader group of trainers and breeders. In 1973 while traveling to the New Jersey All Arabian Martha met and learned from Bob Hart, Sr who had trained many of the Burr Hill horses including a wild one named, Aayar. Aayar was a horse that had injured every trainer who ever touched him. Later in 1973 Aayar was given to Martha by Burr Hill and everyone in the horse world watched as thirteen year old, Martha Murdock rode and showed Aayar. The pair won countless awards and the respect of all who knew them. 1973 was also the year that Martha Murdock showed in her first US National Arabian Horse Show. Riding for Burr Hill on the Bob Hart, Sr trained, Al Marah Laurie++. Al Marah Laurie++ was ridden by Martha earlier in the year and they were the Park Champions in New Jersey winning the Larry Thornhill ,Mar La Dy Challenge trophy. A trophy that was literally taller than she was. At the Nationals in Oklahoma City, OK Martha remembers " Everything to me was bigger than life. All the big trainers were there. I saw Gene La Croix standing by the warm up ring before our Park class and Judy Burrell kept telling me to just breathe. I was really wired but Al Marah Laurie++ was such a great horse that he performed in spite of my nerves. I still remember the feeling that I had riding into the ring in Oklahoma City. I had never felt that way before and I never did again. It was a rush like no other and I loved being a part of the whole experience. I never forgot the horses that I saw there they are still so clear in my mind. Today when reading a pedigree when I see a name the vision of what they looked like is still there. I owe those memories and a lot of my passion to Judy Burrell who took me ,this kid from Ohio and gave me the chance of a lifetime."
The summer of 1974 was when Martha Murdock was hired for her first training job. She went to Reddick, FL to work for Diane Dodge. Diane Dodge was a long time friend of the family and was the person who sold the Arabian stallion, Raffla to Martha's mother, Cecile. Diane Dodge is also a cousin of prominent Arabian breeder, Roxanne Hart of Rohara Arabians. Diane was directly responsible for bringing the Arabian horse into the lives of her friends Liz Langford, Cecile Dunn and Martha Murdock. After Cecile purchased Raffla her parents arranged a lease agreement on the mare, Gemmer. Gemmer became Martha Murdock's first Arabian Horse. Breeding Raffla to Gemmer produced the stallion Diamond Gem, the sire of Rafflingle Mica. Rafflingle Mica was Roxanne Hart's first Arabian horse. Diane Dodge's farm in Reddick, FL was the home of several competitive Arabians and many champion Morgan horses. The head trainer was Jimmy Warden and it was under Jimmy Warden that Martha Murdock learned to teach horses to drive. Early morning hours were a time when they drove the training horses on the sand roads that connected the horse farms in the area together without having to go on paved roads. Driving horses became something that would separate Martha Murdock from other trainers for her entire career.
During the winter months in junior high school Martha Murdock spent time at Red Fox Stables. There Martha got an education riding hunters and jumpers from Jimmy Wood. Jimmy quickly learned that Martha Murdock excelled in collective classes and she was soon his rider of choice for the under saddle classes on many of the top hunters in his barn. This was a new venue for Martha but this experience would serve her well later in life.
In 1974 the Arabian Horse Fair came to Louisville, KY. The fair included clinics, demonstrations and stallion row. *Aramus left a lasting impression on everyone who saw him presented by Bob Hart,Sr. on stallion row. Classes were held each day and the judges gave oral reasons on how they placed each class. During the English Pleasure class Martha Murdock saw James A. Fisher riding Golden Fix. Later Martha met James A. Fisher and was hired to go to his Dixieland Arabian Stud in South Carolina. Martha moved after her last day of high school in 1976.
James A. Fisher set out from the start to get Martha Murdock to change her mind about training horses for a living. Her family had tried for years and they were hoping that being with a trainer and living that life would cure her and she would start college in the fall and get over the training idea. Working for James A . Fisher was never easy but taking care of horses like Ibn Silver Ghost, Angelo Storm and High Hopes only gave Martha Murdock more of a desire than ever. Showing for James A. Fisher's Dixieland Arabian Stud was the highlight of a sixteen year old girl's dream and Martha Murdock at age sixteen was a handful. James A. soon found out that the more he gave Martha to do the harder she worked. It was during this time that Martha Murdock learned that she wanted to train more than ever. From James A. Fisher she learned a lot about the business and what life with clients was like but more than anything she began to perfect what already came naturally to her and that was thinking like a horse. At Dixieland managing horses and their enviroment were a part of daily chores. It was never acceptable to have horses that paced their stalls or horses that were diggers and never were horses permitted to be bad haulers. The assistants and grooms following James A. Fisher's instructions learned how to keep horses safe and happy then and only then were they ready to train.
Family pressure helped Martha Murdock to enroll at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA after the US National Arabian show in 1976. Leaving Dixieland was difficult but it was Martha Murdock's respect for her grandfather that led her to Louisiana. In Louisiana Martha found that she could train horses and go to school. While doing that she fell in love with the culture. From those years she still has a passion for anything Cajun or "coon ass" including Catahoula dogs. It was pure culture shock for a preppy graduate of the Cincinnati Country Day school to find herself among crawfish eating people who hunted squirrels and racoons. Martha thrived in Louisiana and trained horses for Elmwood Farms in Coushatta and for Louisiana native, Joe Ferguson the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills. After graduation with a Bachelors of Science Degree earned in three years Martha Murdock kept her training business in Louisiana because it was doing well and she loved it there.
The summer of 1980 began with a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for Martha Murdock and her sister, Merri Murdock. They transported one of Martha's training horses to the Lasma Symposium and a broodmare for Judy Burrell who had relocated to Arizona. While they were there Martha received a job offer from Marquis Farms in Scottsdale. The sisters returned to Louisiana and Martha Murdock had a decision to make and it would be one that would change her life. A client and long time friend Marsha Thomas Pendleton who was Martha's first client helped to make that choice an easy one. Marsha Thomas Pendleton and Merri Murdock went to the fall Baton Rouge Horse Show with Martha . While they were there these two people who were Martha's biggest supporters during her early years as a trainer sat her down and told her that they believed in her ability and that she had to take the job with Marquis Farms. They felt that this was a step to becoming what they knew Martha Murdock was destined to be, a famous horse trainer.
Arizona living in 1981 was a huge amount of fun. A lot of money was changing hands in the horse business. Arabian sales were booming and Martha Murdock went on the road showing and judging at horse shows. She judged her first horse show in Salem, Oregon with James A. Fisher and won her first National Top Ten with TC Navodka. Marquis Farms was a large farm and they welcomed other farms to board there during the sales. Don DeLongpre contacted Martha Murdock about Nichols- DeLongpre leasing space for the 1982 season. A good relationship between the two developed into a job offer. Don DeLongpre hired Martha as the stallion manager for Nichols- DeLongpre in Santa Barbara, Califonia.
Martha Murdock's life as stallion manager for Nichols- DeLongpre can be described as unbelievable. The center of her world was Barbary++, *Eter, *Enoss and Don DeLongpre. When Mike Nichols was in residence he was the center of everyone. Mike Nichols could bring out the best in all of the people he came in cotact with. When you were around Mike you wanted to be the best and the many actors who often visited the farm would refer to Mike Nichols as a genius. Martha Murdock considers Mike Nichols to be the most intelligent person she has ever met. One day while riding together Mike told her something she has lived by since that day. He advised that 'if you are lucky enough to have talent for something that you have passion for then you owe it to yourself to work each day as hard as you can so hard you can barely stand up and you will always be successful." Everyone who worked for Nichols- DeLongpre worked hard. There were no hours they just worked until what needed to be done was done even if sometimes that was at ten o'clock at night. The staff included trainers, breeding managers, secretaries and apprentices from all over the world. One apprentice from Australia, Mark Wharton became Martha Murdock's husband in 1983.
At the Pacific Slopes Horse Show Mark and Martha Wharton were approached by Shiela Varian who had seen the young couple working at Nichols- DeLongpre. Shiela Varian offered them the golden opportunity to train at Varian Arabians. They both agreed it was a chance they had to take. Mark and Martha Wharton moved to Arroyo Grande, California and became the trainers for Varian Arabians. In the show ring they were quickly recognized as the new kids who would be hard to beat. Mark showed Keepsake V, Sweet Inspiration V, and Huckleberry Bey while Martha showed Marigold V, Bey Aperitif V, Bittersweet V, and Huckster. Martha remebers riding Bay El Bey++ , Comment and Huckleberry Bey++ who had just been syndicated as horses that if they were here today they would win just as much. Mark and Martha both knew they were around great horses but at the time they had no idea how great. In 1984 the US Nationals were in Louisville and while laying over in Missouri Comment was not feeling quite right . Martha was referred to veterinarian Dr. Ron Blackwell who came out and helped with Comment. Later at the US National show Dr Blackwell continued to help them and a friendship developed that would last through his lifetime. After that Nationals, Ron Blackwell became the kind of friend who always appeared when you needed them the most and the kind of friend who always knew just the right thing to say to help you get through the hard times.
In 1985 Mark and Martha Wharton moved to Heritage Farms in Magnolia, Texas to work for one of the Huckleberry Bey++ syndicate members. The farm was located near Houston and was the home of Radar Dan+ and Bask Elect+/. It is interesting to note that Radar Dan+ was trained by Carolyn Gardner who made that long ago victory pass that left such a lasting impression on a six year old Martha. Bask Elect+/ was out of the mare Ima Electric, who was champion at many of the shows that Burr Hill competed in with Martha as a junior rider.On March 3, 1985 tragedy struck when Bask Elect+/ had an accident while being shod that left him blind. He later recovered enough to be shown. The show string that Mark and Martha managed had great success and included six regional champions and a Canadian Top Ten in English Pleasure with the Half Arabian, Gypsy Magic Man.The economy in Houston was changing in the mid -eighties it was no longer a boom town. An average of eleven families a day were moving away as compared to an average of nine families a day moving to Houston early in the decade. Mark traveled to Brazil to train horses for competition and sales. After returning to Houston he was offered a permanent job in Brazil that he decided to take. Martha took over Heritage Farms from the owners and remained in Magnolia, TX. They were divorced in 1986. Unlike many couples in the horse business they have been the best of friends for years in fact today they both live near Lexington, KY.
While at Heritage training on her own Martha Murdock began to win and win big. After being in the top ten for the first time at a US Nationals in 1986 she came home with three US National Champions in 1987. Her performance in the 1987 Ladies Side Saddle class is still talked about today. Riding Khann dressed in formal hunt attire Martha Murdock rode carrying a Jack Russell Terrier in a pouch attatched to the saddle. The audience went wild for the effort and the judges rewarded it with a unanimous win for Martha. Khann was also Hunter Pleasure National Champion and Heritage Summer was National Champion Show Hack. In 1988 Crystal Palace joined the show string. Martha purchased the Barbary++ son from Mike Nichols. Crystal Palace was Canadian National Champion in 1988 and 1989. He was US National Top Ten in Half Arabian Hunter Pleasure in 1988 and US National Top Ten in Half Arabian Show Hack in 1989. RR Bint Lazona was National Champion Purebred Show Hack in 1988. Purchasing Bask Elect+/ during his rehabilitation would begin a partnership that would define her life for twenty years and win Martha Murdock the first of three National titles in 1989. The blind stallion Bask Elect+/ was the U.S. Reserve National Champion in Ladies Side Saddle. The purchase of Crystal Palace was a milestone in Martha Murdock's career for more reasons than his outstanding performances as a hunter pleasure horse. Before his first Canadian Nationals Crystal Palace developed several severe lameness issues. Martha called in Dr Ron Blackwell and Dr Brad Root to diagnose and treat the horse. Meeting Dr Brad Root changed the way Martha did everything in her barn. From Dr Brad Root she learned simple things like wrapping legs in a different way and she learned to work horses differently trying to develop the perfect amount of conditioning vrs. training. Dr. Brad Root had a huge influence on the way Martha Murdock thought about horses and their care. Sports Medicine at that time was just reaching the show horse world and Martha Murdock learned about it and her success with Crystal Palace and Bask Elect+/ are proof she learned her lessons well. Dr Ron Blackwell and Dr Brad Root both worked diligently to guide Martha and her show string to the highest level of the game. In 1988 prior to the Louisville U.S. National show Dr. Root had arranged for Martha Murdock, her staff and horses to stay at a layover barn near Simpsonville, KY. The barn was close to Equine Services Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Ron Blackwell. During this time plans were made for everyone to return to Louisville in May of 1989 for the Kentucky Derby. Dr Ron Blackwell had a passion for all things Kentucky and Derby Day was no exception. Martha Murdock and her sister, Merri Murdock met Dr. Brad Root, Dr Ron Blackwell, Liz O'Keefe, who rode with Martha at that time, Norm Dunn, who had married Martha's mother in 1988, and Cecile Dunn in Louisville, KY for Derby week. Norman Dunn was an avid racing fan and matched both Dr.Brad Root and Dr Ron Blackwell for enthusiasm about the sport of racing. It didn't take long for Martha to catch their excitement.The 1989 Derby started a tradition with Martha Murdock that would influence her life in every way.
There was another Crystal showing with Martha Murdock in the 1980s only this was not a horse but the pint sized child, Crystal McNutt. Crystal McNutt showed Murdock trained Emkay Barius to Championship wins in Saddle Seat Equitation in Region 9 in 1987, 1988 and 1989. Crystal McNutt was U.S. Top Ten with Emkay Barius in Saddle Seat Equitation in 1989. What Martha remembers most is teaching Crystal to drive and that she was so small they had to put sacks of feed in the basket of the buggy to keep it from turning over in the turns. One day the sack ripped open during a lesson and there was grain spilling out all over the arena. Martha Murdock saw Crystal McNutt's talent and will tell anyone that Crystal is far and away the best student she ever had the priveledge to train.
While laying over at Maddox Way in Albquerque, NM in route to the Scottsdale Show in 1989 Martha Murdock accepted a job offer. This was a job that would result in more opportunities to work with Dr. Brad Root and the staff at Albuquerque Equine to explore Sports Medicine in the early stages. Martha Murdock worked closely with post surgery patients that Albuquerque Equine refered to Colorado State University and those that were done at the clinic in Albuquerque. The horses from Maddox Way excelled under Martha Murdock they included; Imperatore, U.S. and Canadian Top Ten Hunter Pleasure Open, Prosperity MW a Canadian Top Ten Futurity Colt and Minuet MW a Champion Mare at halter that would later produce a National Champion trained by Martha Murdock.
The 1980s were a wild ride for the horse industry. They began in the hey days of champagne and caviar during the many sale previews and ended with foreclosure and repossession after the tax laws changed. Martha Murdock went along on that wild ride learning about life and it's consequences. She was there at the height of the opulence during the sales in Arizona and California. Her loses included the much too early death of her first client Marsha Thomas Pendleton and her marriage ending in divorce. At the end of the decade Martha Murdock emerged at the top of her game and she was just beginning.
The 1990's began with a trip to Arizona for early arrival at the Scottsdale Show. Martha Murdock arrived at Karho, Inc to help trainer Gordon Potts prepare for the show. Martha had her show string and staff with her. Two weeks after her arrival Paul Harvey made arrangements to interview Martha Murdock and to meet Bask Elect+/. Paul Harvey had seen a story on the pair that aired on CNN Headline News. During Scottsdale Show week the Bask Elect+/ story was on Paul Harvey page three Valentine's Day 1990. The Scottsdale show was a huge success for Martha Murdock and her horses. Imperatore was Hunter Pleasure Open Champion, Bask Elect+/ was Top Ten Pleasure Driving AOTD with Merri Murdock, The Maverick was Reserve Champion Native Costume and Top Ten Country Pleasure Open. Prior to the show lifelong friend Rick Moser of Colonial Wood Farm had invited Martha Murdock to Arlington,TX in order to interview for the job as performance trainer. After the Scottsdale Show Martha moved to Arlington TX and began training for Colonial Wood.
In Arlington, Rick Moser trained the halter horses and Martha Murdock trained the performance horses. Life at Colonial Wood was very much like it had been when they were kids in Ohio only they were playing for higher stakes. They showed together as well as going to separate shows on the same weekend often times across the country from each other. They were both extremely successful winning countless Regional and National awards. The stars of the year were Alada Baskin, Mi Tiffany, Bask Elect+/, Crystal Palace, Emerald Fire, and Ambiance. It was Ambiance winning the Snaffle Bit English Pleasure Futurity that caught the eye of Raymond LaCroix. He offered Martha Murdock a job with LaCroix Ltd in the outgate after that class. It had been a long time since Martha had to soul search about making a decision to move but being the first female hired to train at LaCroix's was too much of an opportunity to turn down. Martha Murdock moved from Arlington to Brenham, TX to take her final step on the ladder of employment in the Arabian world.
At LaCroix Ltd. Martha Murdock worked for Raymond LaCroix training some of the best stock in the country. She also spent time with his family ; Dr. Eugene LaCroix his father and Gene LaCroix his brother considered by many as the finest horseman in the Arabian breed. During her years there Martha also worked with Rob Bick and Jim Bowman. Martha Murdock's show ring appearances for LaCroix included some of the best horses to show in the 1990's. The horses shown by Martha were Kharben, Music In The Air, Gdann, Khaffire, Judges Cognac, HA Penny Eclipse, Matamint and CB Shining Star. It was CB Shining Star that led Martha Murdock to going out on her own again. Martha was the agent for Irwin Schimmel when he purchased CB Shining Star and Irwin Schimmel wanted Martha's help in showing and training the mare. So in 1992 Martha Murdock began her own business and not only trained and coached for Irwin Schimmell and his family but for other clients as well. Martha Murdock did a lot of traveling between Texas and Oregon over the next two show seasons. Looking back on her time at LaCroix it is hard for Martha to choose the best part of those times because they were all profound. Dr LaCroix was so knowledgable about pedigrees and breeding and shared many hours of his time with Martha. Martha Murdock spent all of the holidays with the whole family. If you trained and showed with Raymond LaCroix you learned how to do it under pressure and you learned how to peak a horse. Raymond LaCroix is the master at peaking a horse to the best they can be at the moment it counts the most. The results were National Championship titles earned by performances people never forgot. The final result from Martha Murdock's time at LaCroix was the time she spent working with Jim Bowman. Martha Murdock's thoughts on Jim Bowman are that he is the best horse trainer of any breed that she has ever known. Learning from Jim Bowman changed the way she thought about training horses and opened a whole new window that has never closed. Martha is quoted as saying, "I would not be training horses today if I had not met Jim Bowman. I owe him a great deal."
The 1992 US Nationals in Louisville were incredible for the Martha Murdock trained horses. Firetok+/ was US National Champion English Pleasure AOTR with Theresa Schimmel, CB Shining Star was US Reserve National Champion Pleasure Driving AOTD with Irwin Schimmel, Adonis WA was US Top Ten Country Pleasure Open and Khemar+ was US Reserve National Champion Informal Combination.
In 1993 Scarlet Fever + was US Reserve National Champion Ladies Side Saddle and Adonis WA was US Top Ten in Country Pleasure Open. The Nationals was in Albuquerque in 1993 and during that show Martha Murdock spent time with Dr Ron Blackwell. They discussed Martha's future at great length and it was Dr Ron Blackwell that gave Martha Murdock the courage to make a move to Kentucky and open a public stable there. Before Martha could make that move she was hired to go to Brazil and work for Haifati to prepare horses for the Brazilian Nationals and to teach their young trainer. Brazil proved to be very rewarding for Martha Murdock and the delay in moving to Kentucky resulted in having horses from Haifati exported and put in training with Martha Murdock Stables. In December of 1993 Martha Murdock moved to Shelby County Kentucky. In her first year she would loose two people that were her mentors and her greatest supporters. They were her step father Norm Dunn and Dr Ron Blackwell. For Martha it was difficult knowing how to handle life without them but being in Kentucky, a place they both loved helped tremendously. Martha Murdock found solace on the backside of Churchill Downs.
Leasing a barn from Don Harris the legendary American Saddlebred trainer and working there everyday was another chance of a lifetime for Martha Murdock, Don Harris has passion for training horses like no one else. His everlasting enthusiasm motivates anyone who has ever been lucky enough to be around him. Martha Murdock expanded her business to include Saddlebreds and Hackney Ponies as well as obtaining a judges card from the USEF in Saddle Seat, Saddlebred and Hackney. Working side by side every day with a legend was powerful motivation for Martha. Her business thrived and National Championships in multi breeds earned Martha Murdock much National as well as local attention. Early in 1995 Martha Murdock purchased the Half Arabian gelding O What A Night from Clarke and Karen Vesty for Emily Ellison. That purchase resulted in a long and lasting friendship. O What A Night earned National titles in performance and halter classes. Martha Murdock was US Reserve National Champion Half Arabian Gelding in 1996 with O What A Night. The purebred Arabian mare CL Bay Love trained by Martha Murdock earned many English Pleasure titles for Martha Murdock Stables and was sold to three different owners in the barn before becoming a great broodmare in 1999. Fierro+// joined the roster of champions in 1998 and was campaigned by Martha Murdock winning National Titles in halter, country pleasure driving, country pleasure, show hack and side saddle. The Saddlebred mare, High Time's Society came on board as a two year old in 1998. This lovely mare became a super three gaited horse on the Kentucky scene. Saddlebred Cameron Mills was raised by Martha Murdock from weanling until her junior horse debut at the Shelbyville Horse Show in 1998. The mare was then sold to Colorado where she has been shown by her owner/ trainer for over ten years. If there were a horse of the decade it would be Youth National Champion Les Fire++//. Ridden by Kellie Wendling Les Fire++// won the National titles in English Pleasure JOTR and JTR in 1996. The pair repeated those wins at National Show Horse Finals. The result of those efforts came when Les Fire++// was invited to show at the National Horse Show held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. Martha Murdock and Kellie Wendling owe that memory to Les Fire++// and to his owner her grandfather Joe Judge of Westfield, Indiana . Mariah was a National Champion National Show Horse mare trained and shown by Martha Murdock for her entire career beginning as a weanling. Mariah won in Halter, Fine Harness and Pleasure Driving. The mare was 1999 USEF Horse Of The Year in Fine Harness. Mariah is now a broodmare and her first foal was a National Champion for Rohara Arabians.
The 1990's were the best of times for Martha Murdock. In this decade Martha Murdock judged the Scottsdale All Arabian Show, the Canadian Arabian Nationals, the U.S. Arabian Nationals and her first of many Saddlebred shows. Her business in Kentucky was just what she wanted it to be. Her name was not only well known in the United States but with training and showing in Brazil and judging and giving clinics in Australia Martha Murdock became an internationally known horsewoman.
The new millennium brought many changes to the life and times at Martha Murdock Stables. Bask Elect+/ had been standing at stud in Arkasas with Sally Cameron a close friend to Martha. In late 1999 Bask Elect+/ made the move to Kentucky. The decision had been made for Sally Cameron to stand Bask Elect+/ in Arkansas while Martha established herself in Kentucky. After arriving in Kentucky Martha Murdock set out to promote Bask Elect+/ in his new Kentucky home. She produced a video that created so much interest that Martha was asked to ride Bask Elect+/ in the opening ceremonies at the US Nationals and carry the American Flag. The pair had done this for the first time at the 1987 US Nationals in Albuquerque before the stallion had returned to the show ring for competition. In preparing to present the flag Bask Elect+/ was ridden for the first time in nine years. The US Nationals in Louisville were always special to Martha Murdock but the event in 2000 would prove to be the most remarkable. People were really excited to meet Bask Elect+/ many of them had read about him but never actually seen him. A section of his twenty five minute video was played on the jumbo tron in Freedom Hall before Bask Elect+/ enetered the ring on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. When they cleared the outgate on Saturday night Martha Murdock knew that she would never leave Freedom Hall again without thinking of that momment when she was riding Bask Elect+/ for a cheering audience. Bask Elect+/ had a very powerful effect on people even people who never saw him. The reaction of the public was overwhelming and the horse community responded by breeding to him. Several months after his appearance in Freedom Hall Bask Elect+/ had trouble walking but showed no sign of laminitis. He struggled with everyday life but never went off his grain. Many of the veterinarians from Shelby County were baffled by what was happening to the stallion. Finally Martha Murdock decided to take Bask Elect+/ to Dr Ric Redden in Versailles, KY. It was with Dr Ric Redden's treatment and Martha Murdock's relentless care that Bask Elect+/ lived five more years. During that time he produced what are now known as the miracle babies. According to Martha these were the best times with Bask Elect+/ she says " most people would think that the best part of my experience with Bask Elect+/ would have been when we were in the limelight or when we were making victory passes in the show ring. But the days when he was an aged horse and we were going to Dr. Ric Redden's clinic every five to six weeks and I spent so much time alone with him were the times I cherish the most. I realized that all those years ago in Texas that I didn't choose him he chose me. One night when I was leaving the clinic Dr. Redden told me that in all his years of practice that he had never seen anything like it and that " it's you girl, this old horse is staying alive because of you." I can only hope that I can face aging and death with the kind of courage and dignity that Bask Elect+/ did." Bask Elect+/ died at the Rood and Riddle Veterinary Clinic while breeding a mare. Martha Murdock made a promise to him the night he injured himself in Texas. She promised that if he would just live she would make sure that he was not forgotten. Martha Murdock is still keeping that promise by first having him burried at the Kentucky Horse Park and donating items such as his major trophies and ribbons, shoes, halter, and photographs to the International Museum of the Horse and by training and showing his miracle babies. Showing his foals has been the highlight of her entire career. Gran D Strados was the headliner at the US Nationals in 2001 when he was US Reserve National Champion in Ladies Side Sadlle. Other National awards went to Khala Magic and Fierro+/. Gran D Strados was honored at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration as the Arabian Breed exhibit. There Gran D Strados and Martha Murdock performed in front of a crowd of 35,000 people. In 2002, Martha Murdock showed at the Saddlebred World's Grand Championships in Louisville's Freedom Hall. High Time's Society was stunning as a three gaited mare getting top honors for her effort both with Martha in the open division and with juvenille rider Kaitlin Klucas in the 13 & under class. The Hackney Pony Pocket Money was Reserve World Champion Road Pony making the 2002 World's Championships another milestone for Martha Murdock. In 2007 another star from Martha Murdock was introduced to the Saddlebred world. The lovely mare, Pennies From Heaven had a following right from the start with her debut at the Spring Premier in Junior Fine Harness. Winning her first time out and wins at Shelbyville and Rock Creek she finished the season in the ribbons at the World' Championships. Macarena DWF earned a US National Championship in Ladies Side Saddle in 2003. This came after two US Top Ten titles in Show Hack and Hunter Futurity in 2000 and 2002. Macarena DWF was the first of the horses trained by Martha Murdock to win a National Championship that were produced from horses trained by her. Martha trained the dam of Macarena DWF, Minuet MW when she worked for Maddox Way in 1989. Vallejo Lovebug++++// earned a Top Ten at the 2003 US Nationals and returned to Kentucky to be bred to Bask Elect+/. The resulting foal was a filly named Last Goodbye++++//. Barbara Henson the owner of Vallejo Lovebug++++// was generous and leased Martha Murdock this great mare to breed to Bask Elect+/. They hoped to breed the perfect baby and they did.
In 2004, a mare named Afire Burning Love + became part of Martha Murdock Stables. Every now and then a horse comes along that really makes a difference in a trainer's life. Afire Burning Love+ was just such a horse for Martha Murdock. Matha says that " this mare always seems to know when you need her the most and she has never let me down. I owe her a lot and will always remember her with gratitude." In 2005 Afire Burning Love was National Champion Native Costume. The mare also earned two US Top Tens in Show Hack AOTR with Natacha Lesburgueres and an additional US Top Ten in costume in 2007.
In May of 2005, Don Harris sold his barn and moved to Bardstown, KY. Martha Murdock Stables relocated to Versailles, Ky at the former Castle Hill Farm. It was on this farm that the miracle babies began their training. Indepen+/ a purebred stallion started showing in 2006 and has won his Legion of Supreme Honor, US Top Ten in 2007 and US National Champion Ladies Side Saddle in 2008. Martha Murdock feels that Indepen+/ will be an excellent sire and carry on for Bask Elect+/. Her goal is to breed the best Anglo Arabians in the country. Kirby+ a Half Arabian by Bask Elect+ has been a three time US National Top Ten winner and a National Reserve Champion National Show Horse twice. His wins are in English, Park, Driving, Side Saddle and Native Costume. Never Enuff is a Half Arabian by Bask Elect+ that started his career in 2009. He finished that seasom with a Championship win in Tampa in Country Pleasure Junior Horse. Last Goodbye++++// did turn out to be the perfect baby. Born in September she was a very late foal that soon caught up with the rest of her foal crop and passed them all. Her wins include over 100 blue ribbons, 35 Regional Titles and four US Top Tens. Last Goodbye++++// won the Legion of Masters before she turned the age of five and was the USEF Horse Of The Year Half Arabian Reserve Champion Sport Horse in 2009. This mare has won more than any horse ever shown by Martha Murdock Stables.
In 2009 Martha Murdock became a Thoroughbred owner when she purchased the filly I Love NOLA. There are currently two thoroughbreds in training with Martha and they will soon leave for the race track. With any luck they will have the same success as the many show horses have over the last four decades.