Highlights From the ASHA Annual Meeting and Convention
Published Date: Jan 25, 2019
The 2019 ASHA Annual Meeting and Convention held January 15-18, in conjunction with the UPHA National Conference, ended with a renewed spirit of cooperation and collaboration among the organizations in attendance. The ASHA, along with the American Hackney Horse Society, American Morgan Horse Society, American Road Horse and Pony Association and the United Professional Horseman’s Association left the week united in their goal of bettering the horse industry as a whole. Many informative forums and meetings took place during the week that allowed members to give important input on the future of our breed. “I was encouraged by the willingness of all of the organizations in attendance to work together on common goals. This week in conjunction with the work we did the previous week at the USEF convention leaves me very optimistic about our direction and future.”, said David Mount, President of the American Saddlebred Horse Association.
Annual Meeting of Membership Recap
During the ASHA Annual Meeting of Membership an overview of 2018 was presented by Executive Director, Terri Dolan and David Mount. Mount explained that 2018 was a challenging year for the ASHA, which started the first seven months of 2018 without an executive director and had to deal with other issues including the USEF and Safe Sport. Even with the challenges the ASHA was able to put together an important Strategic Plan, that was formed through surveys, interviews and a workshop with members from all levels of competition and disciplines. The Strategic Plan is not only a roadmap for the future of the ASHA but for the entire American Saddlebred industry. It includes 19 workgroups all in different stages of progress. Mount ended his recap asking everyone to continue to work together for the greater good.
Next up was Terri Dolan, who detailed how she was bringing a business perspective to the ASHA. Going into her sixth month on the job, Dolan was able to present major improvements in organizational efficiencies, media coverage, communication improvements, sponsorships and data collection and efforts to provide more benefits to members. Highlights included expanded media coverage of the World’s Championship Horse Show and involvement in other events such as Breyerfest, Agland and Hats Off. Dolan also presented the statistics of registrations from various breeds and highlighted this as our “burning platform”. We must ensure we work together to create programs that will benefit barns in outer markets, provide tools to help them create marketing and promotional opportunities, and support the horse shows in these areas. We have to help these barns become successful, we cannot be a breed that offers our services in one state. Supporting riding programs and generating interest from new customers is a priority. We have to help the breeders in ensuring we are creating programs for all disciplines and ways that people can enjoy our horse. The American Saddlebred Horse is a very versatile athletic animal. Our members enjoy our horse as a backyard horse, Sport Horse and ones that compete in the traditional Show Horse classes at shows around the country. We must be inclusive and meet the needs of our members” said Dolan.
USEF Affiliate Workshop & Joint Leadership Council
It was announced at the convention that the ASHA is leading an effort to organize a workshop with all of the USEF Affiliates in March that will bring together the leadership from the 11 breed affiliates and 18 discipline affiliates recognized by the USEF. The Workshop will be an opportunity for the affiliate leadership to further discuss their concerns and work towards alignment on major issues with the USEF. The USEF Affiliate Workshop was one of the many positive developments to come out of the Affiliate Roundtable discussion at the USEF Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach on January 11, which included support around eight key areas of improvement. As Carrie Mortensen, the executive director of the American Morgan Horse Association stated, “It was the most productive USEF meeting that I can remember. Terri introduced our concerns to the USEF leadership with a unified voice which was met with a positive reception and response.”
Building off of the work accomplished at the Affiliate Roundtable, the leadership from the ASHA along with the American Hackney Horse Society, American Road Horse and Pony Association and the United Professional Horseman’s Association have agreed to band together to address concerns regarding the USEF that are specific to the trotting breeds. The newly formed Joint Leadership Council will address concerns that include the minimal promotion of these breeds, what content they need from us to promote our breed, better communication between all parties and unresolved policy issues. The American Morgan Horse Association has been invited to participate pending their board approval. This group will work in conjunction with the larger USEF Affiliate Workshop.
An open forum on Safe Sport was held at the convention where representatives from the USEF (Bill Moroney, CEO and Sonja Keating, General Counsel) and the US Center for Safe Sport (Eric Barreras) were available to answer questions from the audience. The majority of questions focused on both the training and the investigation processes and supported the need to continue to press for more clarification and clearer directives. The USEF is in the process of transcribing the questions from the forum so they can provide more detailed responses. The responses should be available to our membership soon.
In a separate effort, the ASHA will be petitioning the US Center for Safe Sport for a better process on response and resolution. A petition will be filed requesting a hearing process before an accused individual is put on the temporary suspension list. Also, the ASHA will request that the burden of proof standards be consistent with new Federal guidelines. The ASHA encourages other affiliates and partners to join in this important effort.
ASHA: Building a Blue Ribbon Brand
Next up was the Marketing Committee “Building a Blue Ribbon Brand” presentation lead by ASHA Marketing and Communications Manager Jessica Cushing and Marketing Committee Chair Allen Bosworth. As an organization without a marketing staff representative for almost a year, they detailed all of the catch-up work they had been executing since Cushing took on the position in mid-September. They had much progress to report on regarding efforts on updating our brand, social media strategies, the profile of the ASHA member from a study by the University of Louisville Business School Research Department plus various communication improvements. In addition, they presented their plan and current progress towards increased promotional activities in 2019. These initiatives will expand the reach to a broader audience of potential American Saddlebred enthusiasts. A webinar version of the presentation will be made available to the membership via the ASHA website soon. “We are finally getting momentum on specific marketing strategies that are being implemented by Jessica. We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber on the staff” said Allen.
Strategic Plan Update
Overview Marty Schaffel, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, gave an overview of the Strategic Plan which included a timeline and areas of progress. It was identified by the ASHA board of directors that the ASHA needed a direction and an outline to base one, three and six year progress.
Member Code of Ethics In the continued spirit of transparency the Code of Ethics was an area of the Strategic Plan that earned a spot in the committee reports during the convention. Schaffel delivered the presentation and highlighted some of the various areas the ASHA and the industry can benefit from having a Code of Ethics that members and potential customers can depend on when conducting business. Schaffel shared a great personal story of a friend whose preconceived notion of how the process of buying a horse for a first timer typically went and how by adopting a Code of Ethics we can bring validity to our industry dealings. “We need to attract people to our breed and ensure the customer experience is professional and of the highest integrity, treat people as we would want to be treated in any business interaction” said Schaffel.
Growth of the Middle Market Everyone was excited to hear from David Rudder about the Growth of the Middle Market. The Middle Market was approached from both the perspective of the middle market horse and customer. This committee has given considerable thought to creating classes and programs that allow more opportunity to show amongst your peers. Two concepts that rose to the top were the idea of expanding the “Select Series” that we currently see organized regionally to a national program. Rudder presented that this would allow more trainers to offer more options to customers for price points that will still allow them to compete at the same shows. The second concept that invigorated the audience conversation was the idea of starting a claiming class. While this idea needs much more vetting and process development it brings the potential improvement in the classification and pricing of horses. The Middle Market committee will continue to work on both of these ideas and look to bring more innovative ways to encourage new customers and places for the American Saddlebred. “We have horses at all price points that can be very competitive in different classes and disciplines. We need an avenue to create a more level playing field and one that takes some of the mystery out of buying a horse. It does not take six figures to buy a horse that can be competitive and one that someone can enjoy.” Says Rudder.
Lisa Duncan of the American Saddlebred Registry closed out the Committee Reports with the Registry Report. Duncan shared the statistics on transfers, registration and mares bred. This report allowed clarification to be made on the areas of Foal Crop and that Mares Bred is not always equivalent to a conception rate or the number of foals born in that calendar year. The Registry has been looking to support a form for “A Live Foal Report” they hope will provide better data to determine the conception rate of mares bred in the future. Also, Duncan informed that the Registry would once again be offering an amnesty program this upcoming March. “We are looking at ways to elevate our members’ experience by providing on line registration and ways to improve the transfer process” said Sandra Courier, President of the ASR Registry.
Annual ASHA and ASR Awards
There were various award presentations that showcased top horses and individuals that have contributed so much to our breed. The following is a list of these awards and the 2018 winners:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Scott Bennett, DVM
Breeders Hall of Fame Award: Fred Sarver
Breeder of the Year Award: Larry Hartsock
C. J. Cronan Sportsmanship Award: David Rudder
Lurline Roth Sportsmanship Award: Renee Biggins
Frank Ogletree Youth Award: Alex Rudder
Gordon Jenkins International Award: Lionel & Georgia Ferreira
Meritorious Service Award: Bob Funkhouser Jr.
Paul and Dorothy Gillenwater Family Award: Angela & Charles Herrin Family
Wing Commander Medal: Carson Kressley
Wing Tempo Award: New York City Slicker (116330G)
ASHA Horse of the Year: CH The Daily Lottery (115553G)
For more information on the awards, visit the ASHA Major Awards page.
The ASHA would like to extend its deepest gratitude to everyone that contributed to making this convention such an enjoyable and productive experience. We thank our Board of Directors, Staff, Volunteers, and Membership for the time and dedication they commit to making the American Saddlebred and the ASHA better. A huge thank you for the generosity of the individuals such as Carson Kressley and those that made guest speaker Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith possible. Carson Kressley’s cocktail reception and Mike Smith will make a lasting impression on all who could attend. Last but not least a tremendous thank you to the UPHA, their planning committee and volunteers for all they did and continue to do to put on this terrific event that brings our industry together!