Riding Program Council Reorganizes and Reinvigorates Programs
Published Date: Mar 17, 2021
Photo courtesy of Eryn Eaton Photography
The American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association (ASHBA) Riding Program Council is leading the way to a host of new and improved initiatives and programs to strengthen the American Saddlebred industry. The Riding Program Council has started 2021 with a reorganized structure, energetic leadership team, expanded population and revitalized purpose to serve key membership groups and strategic initiatives.
Riding programs are the door into our breed community and are a vital component in creating and maintaining a “need’ for the American Saddlebred. Many American Saddlebred owners and rider’s first introduction to our breed was through a riding lesson program. Initially, people just want to ride a horse not knowing about breeds. The American Saddlebred Riding Programs are the key element to attracting new owners and members to ASHBA, and its Charter Clubs. The importance of this area of our industry makes the strength of the Riding Program Council paramount to the ASHBA successfully serving its mission.
“We are excited that the riding program council has finally come together and have representation from every ASHBA region. I am thrilled to work with this group of hard-working, enthusiastic instructors that represent a cross-section of ASHBA riding programs,” said Betsy Boone, Council Co-Chair, “Our lesson programs and instructors are incredibly valuable to ASHBA. They are the first introduction to our wonderful breed and without them we wouldn’t have demand for the supply of horses. We look forward to working to create initiatives and promote programs that provide resources and support to lesson programs to increase participation with the American Saddlebred and saddle seat discipline.”
Long led by Betsy Boone and Stacey Kipper Perrelli as a working group to help other committees, it was recently identified that this council could serve a much bigger role for our association and community. Towards the end of 2020, board members began engaging in conversations around growing our sport and looking at our grassroots efforts. This led to Boone and Perrelli starting the process of re-envisioning what the Riding Program Council could be for members and the American Saddlebred.
“Our riding instructors are doing a phenomenal job across the country of getting beginners into our industry. What I see at my local shows and the Academy National Championship Horse Show’s several years of entries near 1000 is inspiring,” said Jenny Taylor, ASHBA Director, “I saw the huge potential we had as an association to do our part in supporting these programs and finding ways to get these beginners more involved in the breed.”
Within a month a group of passionate and ready-to-work instructors and trainers came to the table to become part of the new Riding Program Council. This group expanded the council leadership to include Christy Parker and Georgia McCune Morrison. It also afforded the council the ability to increase its geographical representation and refine its mission to serve a bigger purpose of supporting our breed’s riding programs.
“I am most excited about the new expanded geographical and instructor network-focused format of the Council. I see it offering a more effective way of creating programs that we know have a greater chance of success with our local riding programs implementing them. Our local riding programs are the front line of breed promotion and its important to get them involved from the beginning,” said Stacey Kipper-Perrelli, Council Co-Chair, “I was head of the Charter Club Council when the Riding Program Council was originally formed and am proud to see how it has transformed in this re-organization.”
The mission of the Riding Program Council is to increase the number of and maintain healthy American Saddlebred riding programs across the United States. The Riding Program Council also seeks to grow the American Saddlebred industry by creating opportunities via lessons, leasing, showing, and horse ownership.
The Riding Program Council has been created to bridge the gap between ASHBA and local Saddlebred Lesson Programs. The goal of the council is outlined in the mission statement above. Riding Program Council Members will serve as liaisons between ASHBA and individual riding lesson programs by gathering information as needed for ASHBA, creating aids for running current lesson programs, mentoring new instructors across the country, and developing new opportunities for industry growth.
“As a member of the ASHBA Riding Instructors Council I’m very excited about the projects we have completed so far in 2021. We have an amazing group of hard working instructors who work daily to promote our breed and the sport of riding,” shares Christy Parker, Council Co-Chair, “In a recent survey our instructors are reaching over 45,000 individual students every week! The future looks bright for our industry!”
The Riding Program Council is currently working to develop and implement programs that strengthen the pathway from academy to performance divisions, develop future AOTs, promote grassroots efforts and showing at All Breed Shows, and a “Riding Program Council Network” that helps all of our affiliated riding programs best serve the previously mentioned goals and our members.
“We are incredibly proud of the Riding Programs Council’s work and accomplishments to date, our members will be seeing the results of their collaborative and innovative efforts throughout the year at both a national and local level” shares ASHBA Executive Director David Mount.
The first project to be rolled out is the new Academy Guidelines. These updated guidelines provide standardization of this growing and important division for show organizers, judges, officials, instructors, and trainers to refer to help maintain a level playing field, consistent judging, and encourage more riding programs at our breed stables. The Academy Guidelines infographic is also available to review here.
“The growth of the Academy division across the country is so exciting for the Saddlebred industry. It has been my pleasure to help discuss and re-organize guidelines for riders and horses to help further grow the industry,” said Georgia Morrison, Council Co-Chair, “I encourage everyone to reach out to their local shows to incorporate the necessary beginner classes to help their programs be successful and advance riders into the performance division.”
The Riding Program Council will also be hosting a webinar in May to present the new Academy Guidelines to members. It will be a great opportunity for show officials, instructors, parents and all other interested members to have a dialog about the guidelines and the other developing programs of the Council. More information on this webinar and others will be shared in the near future.