Mason Training Stables in Lehighton took home a number of awards from the Western New York Morgan Horse Show over Memorial Day weekend.

The show took place from May 23 to 25 at the Show-plex at Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, New York.

There were about 250 horses present at the show, belonging to stables from Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, including Massachusetts, Ohio and New York.

To prepare for the show, owner Mark Mason begins each horse with a standard type of training.

"I start everybody pretty much the same, and then they develop what they're going to be," Mason said.

He then trains each horse according to the discipline in which they will be presented, such as pleasure, park, jumping, reining, carriage and driving.

"I treat them like athletes, so I develop their muscles, their minds and their ability to perform in the class that they're going to be in," Mason said.

To keep them healthy, the horses are fed hay, such as timothy, alfalfa or orchard grass, as well as corn oats mixed with molasses, vitamins and supplements.

When the time comes to travel to shows, some across the country, Mason ensures that his horses arrive healthy by keeping them hydrated and taking rest stops when necessary.

Mason's preparation paid off.

Seven horses from Mason Training Stables received awards.

HVK Vibrance, owned by Phil and Gloria Blevins, received Best Performance in Show and was the Open Park Saddle Champion.

Mykonos, owned by Pam Wirth and Erika Webster, was the Amateur Pleasure Driving Grand Champion and the Reserve Grand Champion Stallion.

Grand Champion Mare, Senior Champion Mare, and 3- and 4-year-old Mare Champion was awarded to Elianna, owned by Gail Catlow.

Four horses were also named reserve champions for a number of titles.

ML's American Soldier, owned by Thomas and Elizabeth Molin, claimed Park Saddle Reserve Grand Champion and Amateur/Junior Exhibitor Park Saddle Reserve Champion.

NBN Excalibur, owned by Jacqueline Palumbo, was awarded Open Hunter Pleasure Reserve Grand Champion and Amateur Hunter Pleasure Reserve Champion.

Coal Miner's Wildfire, owned by Pam Wirth and Erika Webster, claimed the Amateur English Pleasure Reserve Grand Champion.

Lastly, CBMF Full Throttle, owned by Alexis Nunan, was named Classic Pleasure Driving Reserve Grand Champion and Junior/Limit Classic Pleasure Driving Champion.

The Morgan Horse Show was a regional show where Mason qualified for the Grand National World Championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City in October.

Before then, Mason and his horses will head to Asheville, North Carolina, on July 20.

"The horses are a great experience for people in so many ways," said Stacey Catlow, assistant trainer at Mason Training Stables. "Our customers are from many different states, but they all take great pride in what we do and what their horses have become."

Mason has world champion titles from years of experience, including 18 years as a stable owner.

The stables, at 1321 Mahoning Drive East in Lehighton, were previously operated by Norman and Natalie Berger. Mason was a trainer for them before he purchased the property to continue the business.

He specializes in starting young horses and treating problem horses, which he says is all about knowing them personally.

"Each horse is an individual. They're just like people. Each horse has their own personality, their own abilities, their own capability of comprehending what you're trying to teach them," he said.

Mason Training Stables is always accepting new horses to begin training, and also offers broodmare management and breeding, which is done in the early spring.

When it comes to riding instruction, Mason offers introductory lessons for new riders, as well as lessons for anyone looking to improve his or her horsemanship.

Instructions are given for all disciplines, including saddle seat, hunter seat, western pleasure and driving.

Riding lessons are $30 an hour for all ages, which includes a private lesson with a professional instructor.

After years of experience with horses, Mason says he received a simple but significant piece of advice from a dear friend on how to treat them.

"Basically, just be kind to them. Horses respond to kindness."