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What Matters: A Weekly Communication from the ASHA

Published Date: Aug 01, 2019

Editors note: With so much going on in our industry, and so much information swirling around, ASHA is initiating a weekly communication called “What Matters.” Look for this every week in your email, on the ASHA website, and in social media channels.

This weekly communication will highlight ASHA’s activities that really matter to our breed and to you, our members – which, really, is what it’s all about. This could focus on issues of most importance to amateur members; or another week, it could highlight subjects affecting our members who are trainers; or another week, developments in the welfare and promotion of our breed. This highlights our large and diverse membership base, all who passionately care about many things – and the initiatives that the ASHA is undertaking that are meant to make a difference. 

August 1, 2019
The first thing is to pay attention to what’s going on in Congress. Last week, by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 333-96, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 693, better known as the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2019, or the PAST Act. What matters about this isn’t what was in this bill, but what was not.

What was not in this bill was a simple little phrase “and related breeds.” If included, this phrase could have caused problems for the American Saddlebred, especially those involved in the saddle seat discipline. So, how did this phrase get removed from the language?  It was the direct effort of every key organization coming together to lobby the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was ASHA, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA), the American Hackney Horse Society (AHHA), and the American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) working with the USEF and American Horse Council to exclude this overly broad language. 

The main arguments for removal of the broad language was that our breeds have no history of soring and that we are all USEF-affiliated breeds, and already are well- regulated by the USEF at recognized competitions. The Tennessee Walker industry, which is at the crux of the soring issue, is independent. Here’s the link to the bill information:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/693.  Both the ASHA and the UPHA issued press releases praising this vote. We are well-regulated, and have the backing of an independent, nationally recognized and chartered governing body for equine sports, which protects us all. United, we made a difference.

It’s also important to note the significant progress made by our Joint Leadership Council, which includes members of the ASHA, UPHA, AHHS, American Road Horse & Pony Society, and AMHA.  In existence only six months, the JLC has applied pressure to increase representation from the trotting breeds on the USEF’s National Breeds and Disciplines Council, and we now have three more seats. We worked together to get more representation for the trotting breeds on the Licensed Officials committee and that was also achieved.  We all worked in partnership with professional trainers Bret Day, Nelson Green, and Larry Hodge and prominent veterinarian Dr. Hugh Behling to get needed changes to the USEF guidelines for Drugs & Medication timing for shipping and clipping.
Here’s a link describing even more positive changes: https://asha.net/newsItem?id=48837
Here’s a link describing the Drugs & Medications progress: https://asha.net/newsItem?id=48446

Amazing what we can do when we are united!

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