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American Saddlebred Horse Association Welcomes New Directors for 2020

The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) is pleased to announce the election of six (6) new members to its Board of Directors, who will join the Board at the UPHA & ASHA Conference in January 2020.

“We are pleased to welcome such a dedicated group of American Saddlebred professionals and enthusiasts that are committed to this breed, and our community will help us continue our momentum in serving the mission of the ASHA,” says Marty Schaffel, ASHA Interim Board President.

The following are the newly elected members for a term of three years. Ali DeGray was elected to the ASHA Board of Directors for a term of three years, starting in 2020. Also re-elected were current ASHA board members Kristen Bagdasarian, Emily Lee, Joan Lurie, Evan Orr and Owen Weaver.

ASHA offered its members the opportunity to vote for new Directors either electronically or by the traditional paper ballot from November 1-30, 2019. The ballot count was certified by Strothman + Co, for accuracy and results reviewed by the ASHA Board. “It is our objective to create an election process that is fair & the nominating committee led by the chair Joan Lurie, did an outstanding job providing candidates with an immense dedication to the American Saddlebred that will be strong contributors to our efforts,” remarked David Mount, Executive Director of ASHA.

Returning members of the 2019 ASHA Board include Candi Aversenti, Allen Bosworth, Kristen Cater, Sandra Currier, Nancy Leigh Fisher, Elisabeth Goth, Emily Lee, Helena Moreno, James Nichols, Clif Paulsen, Tandy Patrick, Martin Schaffel and Jenny Taylor

The Board will elect new officers for 2020 at its January 2020 meeting in Lexington, KY.

Learn a little bit more about our new ASHA leaders for 2020 in their candidate bios provided below.

Kristen Bagdasarian, Versailles, KY

Kristen has been riding, showing and raising American Saddlebreds for more than 37 years. A native of Madison, CT, she grew up with a public training farm right in her backyard. After several years of showing on the Northeast circuit, the Bagdasarian family expanded their industry involvement becoming heavily active in the Southeastern circuit for many years.

Kristen's passion for the breed led her to open her training operation in the early 2000s. Her fulfilled dream, Diamond View Farm, has evolved into a top breeding and foaling operation that has helped bring many new breeders into the industry.

Kristen believes the ASHA’s purpose is to grow, promote and advance our amazing breed. She has an incredibly diverse background with the breed to relate and advocate for members. Kristen is also an active member of the UPHA and dedicates her life to supporting the American Saddlebred and those that love them.

Ali DeGray, Odessa, FL

Ali has been a member of the American Saddlebred community since childhood. For the betterpart of 22 years, she has been competing Saddlebreds, Hackney ponies and Road Horses across the country. Ali brings a unique perspective as a breed enthusiast and saddle seat rider active on social media. She has immense experience with the perceptions facing our breed. Ali devotes much of her spare time to promoting and educating about the American Saddlebred. 

Ali is passionate about the preservation and evolution of the industry and breed that has given her so much. She looks for ways to better the breed by more than just competing herself and making monetary contributions. Volunteering for breed promotion and education initiatives is her favorite way to give back and contribute towards the betterment of our breed. In the past, she has served as a member of the ASB Museum Youth Board, ASHA Young Adult Committee and been a part of versatility programs for the breed. 

Her vision for serving on the board is to bring the perspective of an active young amateur, owner and small breeder to the ASHA Board. She believes the ASHA can lead the way in modern marketing and language to introduce the breed to the public. For Ali, the time for promoting transparency, creating opportunities for more inclusivity and trying new things for our breed is now. She is not afraid to champion change or turning traditions into memories, as long as it serves to benefit the horses and their people. Ali is devoted to contributing to bringing new people to the breed through promotion, education and making our shows fun again. She looks forward to working to create new ways to positively promote the Saddlebred and attract more spectators to our events.

Emily Lee, Versailles, KY 

Emily Lee was first introduced to the American Saddlebreds 23 years ago. She, her husband, Tre’, and son Chase own and operate Prospect Lane, a successful breeding, training and show operation in Versailles KY. Emily trains and shows horses, runs the breeding part of the operation as well as handles the billing and bookkeeping of the business. 

In addition to currently serving on both the ASHA and ASR boards, Emily serves as Treasurer on the board of her church and has been past Chapter Chair for the UPHA Chapter 9. Her time on the ASHA and ASR boards has taught her a lot about the industry that has given so much to her. 

In her next term, Emily will continue to work hard to bridge the gap between the ASHA, USEF, UPHA, as well as other breed affiliates. She will continue to be a voice for the membership. She believes that we are stronger when we work together. Emily is optimistic about the future of the American Saddlebred and wants to give back to the industry that is so much a part of her life.

Joan Lurie, Simpsonville, KY

Horses have been Joan Lurie’s life since she was a teenager growing up in Montana and Arizona. She has been involved with Saddlebreds for more than 50 years. As the owner of Willowbank Farm, Joan takes an active role in all aspects of the various activities on the Farm, including training, showing and breeding. Joan currently serves on the American Saddlebred Registry Breeder’s Committee as well as the Futurities Committee. 

She has served on numerous panel discussions at ASHA and UPHA Conventions, and she frequently contributes to Q & A sessions in various Saddlebred publications. She was one of the founders of the innovative Breeder’s Jackpot program and has been an active supporter of the UPHA Classics Jackpot Sale. Joan is a member of the ASHA Breeder’s Hall of Fame, and has been awarded the USEF Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Award, the USEF Equestrian of Honor Norman Dunn Award, and the National Horseman’s Castleman Award, and the Farm has been the recipient of the ASHA Breeder of the Year Award.

In this next term, Joan would like to continue to develop and expand breeding programs, as well as futurity participation, in an effort to increase foal registrations and ensure a positive future for the American Saddlebred.

Evan Orr, Greensboro, NC

Evan Orr has been involved with Saddlebreds since he was a boy in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated from William Woods University in 2001, where he received a strong foundation under the tutelage of Ms. Gayle Lampe. He apprenticed for a number of training/breeding/instruction facilities, including Bob Brison, Martin Teater, Peter and Kim Cowart, Tom Bombolis, and Cash Lovell. In 2008, Evan and his wife Mary started High Caliber Stables with about 50 horses in training, 25 school horses and hundreds of riding lessons each week.

Evan is one of the founders of the Mid-Atlantic Saddlebred event held for the past three years at High Caliber Stables to showcase the breed for prospective buyers, and to kick off the show season in the Carolinas. He takes pride in his ability to communicate effectively with customers, colleagues, veterinary professionals, farriers, and employees.

In his next term on the ASHA Board, Evan wants to increase the number of horses and participants and help the ASHA evolve to meet the challenges facing our breed and the equine industry. He feels that he is uniquely equipped to help in light of his business background, his strong passion for the breed, and his practical way of dealing with people to produce the best possible outcomes.

Owen Weaver, Roanoke, VA

Owen and her family own and operate Fox Grape Farm, where they breed, raise and show Saddlebreds at a high level. They stand two stallions and breed about 10 of their own mares each year. The farm has been a consistent participant in Futurity and Sweepstakes programs.

Owen has served on the Horse Show Committees for both the Dallas and Roanoke Valley horse shows. She has served as President of the UPHA Associate Membership, as well as Vice President of the Saddlebred Museum Board. Owen traveled to Maryland in early September of this year to participate as part of the delegation from the ASHA/UPHA/AHHS to make remarks to the USDA regarding the proposed changes in the Horse Protection Act. She has participated in a variety of breeds and disciplines and is passionate about her horses and causes.

In her next term on the ASHA Board, Owen would like to continue to grow the grassroots of the breed and educate the equine world and the general public about the Saddlebred. She feels that education and positive exposure is key to our growth and success. Owen believes that we need to unite ourselves from within, as well as with other disciplines to bring understanding and validation to our business.

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