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American Saddlebreds at 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games

Lexington, Kentucky - From the Opening Ceremonies, to daily demonstrations, the American Saddlebred will be present and visible every single day throughout the duration of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), set to take place in Lexington, Kentucky, at the Kentucky Horse Park, from Saturday, September 25, through Sunday, October 10.

These scheduled appearances and breed demonstrations are the culmination of a concerted effort by the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) and ASHA's WEG Committee to have as strong a presence for the American Saddlebred as possible. These efforts began nearly a year prior to the scheduled start date of the Games, with the first meeting of the WEG Committee, held on Friday, October 2, 2009, at the Kentucky Horse Park, during the Kentucky Fall Classic Horse Show.

During this meeting, the Committee met with Kathy Hopkins, a representative of WEG, who explained that ASHA was invited to be a part of the breed demonstrations in the Equine Village at WEG, and that a maximum of eight stalls would be available to ASHA, with two of those being tack and feed/supply stalls.

During the Committee's second meeting, held Wednesday, October 7, 2009, in an effort to maximize the total number of horses able to participate in the demonstrations, the 16 days of exhibitions would be broken down into four separate 4-day blocks. It was also decided that ASHA would man a breed booth on site during the Games, which was made financially feasible by agreeing to share the exhibit space with the United Professional Horseman's Association (UPHA), American Saddlebred Museum, and American Hackney Society. The breed demonstration time and space will also be shared with the American Hackney Society, with two ponies per block, thereby reducing the number of Saddlebreds able to participate, to four per block.

The Committee had also decided at that meeting, to utilize ASHA email communications, Saddlebred publications, and word of mouth, to request Saddlebred volunteers to participate in the WEG breed demonstrations, so that anyone interested would have the opportunity to submit an application to participate. The deadline to respond with a submission was stated as Monday, February 1, 2010. An email communication was drafted and distributed to ASHA's member email and media email distribution lists, on Monday, November 2, 2009, and was also published by ASHA via Facebook and Twitter, as well as on the ASHA website.

By the time the Committee held its next meeting in Simpsonville, Kentucky, on Tuesday, December 29, there were still insufficient applications from Saddlebred volunteers to fill the total number of demonstration slots. The decision was made to distribute WEG Participation Packets at the upcoming UPHA Convention, scheduled for January, 2010. At that time, the WEG Committee had not yet received details regarding the health/veterinary requirements for participating horses.

As planned, WEG participation packets were made available at the UPHA Convention in January 2010, during which Robertson also presented the plans for breed demonstrations at WEG. The deadline for volunteer responses was also extended from Monday, February 1, 2010, to Monday, March 1.

In February, the ASHA WEG Committee received the first set of directives for health/veterinary requirements, which would subsequently be updated on May 18, for non-competition horses. At this time it was learned that such requirements had to have begun on January 15 with the first influenza vaccination having to have been administered between January 15 and February 15.

The Committee's next meeting was held on Thursday, March 11, in Simpsonville, Kentucky, and included the Hackney Pony participants. The list of volunteers up to that point was distributed, and with few exceptions, the applications were accepted. The health/veterinary requirements were sent to all those wishing to participate, with the hopes that influenza vaccinations for all the participating horses had been administered by the required dates.

On Friday, July 9, 2010, the ASHA WEG Committee met at the Kentucky Horse Park, along with participants and WEG officials, for a question and answer session, during which it was learned that a copy of the Equine Infectious Anemia tests performed after November 1, 2009, must be sent to WEG offices, and must also accompany the horses when they enter the grounds.

From March, 2010, to the present, the ASHA WEG Committee has continued to maintain contact with Saddlebred participants, providing reminders regarding such tasks as fulfilling the necessary health/veterinary requirements and documentation on time, and obtaining the necessary credentials through WEG and Homeland Security.

The effort required to organize and coordinate the involvement of the American Saddlebred in WEG has been considerable on the part of the ASHA WEG Committee, and its members are grateful to those who promptly responded to the requests for volunteers. The members of the ASHA WEG Committee have been diligent throughout this process, and are committed to ensuring that the breed will be highly visible and well represented at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Game.

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