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ASHA Annual Meeting Honoring Their Own

by Christy Howard Parsons
The American Saddlebred Horse Association held their annual meeting February 21-23 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, Ky. It was a weekend of meeting on issues for the members, Board of Directors, and ASHA committees, as well as for the members and board of the American Saddlebred Horse Museum. But the highlights of the weekend were the evening awards banquets which honored many of the individuals who have devoted so much of their time, effort and energy to the ASHA and the American Saddlebred Horse.

Saturday evening's dinner and awards presentation featured the most prominent of the awards given by the ASHA. Within this issue we have reprinted the actual presentations for these prestigious awards.

The World's Championship Horse Show also made a special presentation on Saturday night to the ASHA. Scarlett Matson presented Tom Pettry with a check for $100,000, which brings the total amount given to the ASHA by the World's Championship Show up to some $670,000.

Friday evening's dinner and awards presentation began with Shirley Hoffman making a presentation to the Dutchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for their efforts in saving the 22 American Saddlebreds rescued from Mary Helen Richardson's barn. In addition the ASHA recognized the Sport Horse Awards, the Pleasure Horse Awards and the Breeders' Reward winners, all of whom are included in the sidebars accompanying this story. The ASHA elected new officers for the year 2002. The newly elected president is Fred Sarver. Tom Pettry will step down from the presidency and serve as first vice president. Tom Ferrebee will serve as second vice president. Bruce Hanson was elected secretary and David L. Howard was elected to serve as treasurer.

The newly elected board members for ASHA are Vicki Gillenwater, Kris Price and Misdee Wrigley. Elected to return to the board were Tom Ferrebee, Carolyn Groves and Fred Sarver. Retiring from service to the ASHA board are Glenn Werry, Don Spear and Joan Hamilton. Joan Hamilton was recognized at the banquet on Saturday evening for her many years of service to the board with a token of the ASHA's appreciation.

Tom Pettry began the ASHA annual membership meeting with a statement proclaiming the improved state of the association. Pettry has spent much of his presidency "studying the numbers." He has gathered and studied the numbers associated with registrations, memberships and transfers looking for trends and way to improve the association.

Pettry presented many of these statistics at the membership meeting including a ranking of the states in terms of registrations, memberships and transfers with the ASHA. Kentucky obviously led that listing followed by a tie between Missouri and Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, a tie between Iowa and Pennsylvania and finally California.

Pettry presented the numbers of mares bred in each of the last three years with 5068 being bred in 2001 compared to 5579 in 2000 and 5561 in 1999. Obviously due to the impact of MRLS (Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome) which hit Kentucky last year, the total mares bred and foals registered were down. Pettry estimated that there would be a 5 - 6 % drop in foal registrations from the 2001 season once all the registrations came in. Pettry also stressed that the ASHA is typically registering 55% of the foals over a three year period, but that by continuing to work on improving registration, he felt that it was possible to raise that percentage to 63%.

The total foals registered in 2001 were 3055. With a 70% conception rate, it appears that 8 to 10% of healthy foals are not being registered. Anecdotal evidence suggests that is because some breeders are "waiting to see if they turn out."

Pettry also addressed the rate of embryo transfer. 78 embryo foals were recorded in 2001 compared to 83 in 2000 and 88 in 1999. Approximately 1.4% of the foals registered are embryo foals. In 2001, no mares produced the limit of four foals, while in 2000 there were 3 mares producing four foals and in 1999 there were 2 mares producing four foals.

Bobette Wilson, the advocate for saving Art Simmons old barn, addressed the ASHA membership to ask for support in her restoration project. The Simmons Stable Preservation Project is soliciting contributions for the purpose of acquiring the land and restoring Simmons' Stable in Mexico, Missouri. The stable is reported to be the oldest continuously used stable of its kind in the United States. The purchase of the land and initial restoration effort has been estimated at $350,000. The American Saddlebred Horse Association Foundation is collecting funds for the restoration effort.

An open forum for discussion of items before the board was well attended. Three items were brought up for discussion with Bruce Hanson moderating the issues.

First, the idea of giving a break on the registering of older horses was discussed. There was considerable confusion about how old an older horse was, and many breeders questioned whether people would then just wait longer to register their horses. While the point of the break on registration was to provide a temporary, brief amnesty period to register horses which currently are past the typical ages for registration; that point was missed by most in the crowd and the discussion died down without much support.

The next issue generated a lot of comments. The question was put forth, "Who owns the papers, you or the horse?" The intended humor was quickly dispensed with as it was pointed out that horses could not own anything.

Dr. Alan Raun clarified the issue for everyone by explaining that in his opinion, papers were not a birth certificate for a horse. That the horse was property and that the papers were property. Thus horses could be sold with or without papers, such as in instances, when a breeder wants to sell "bad" horses which he does not want representing his breeding program or the American Saddlebred at a "community" type sale.

Some members of the crowd disagreed saying that registration papers were in fact a type of birth certificate and that they should accompany the horse with any sale to maintain the lineage of that horse.

Susan Vestal suggested an alternative that is used in the thoroughbred industry of retiring the papers of horses who were injured or poor performing broodmares or for some other reason should not race or breed any longer.

Judy Werner also said the Morgans and Arabians had a process whereby a registration could be canceled, and suggested that that might be the answer in this situation.

Moderator Bruce Hanson did point out that whatever the board decided on this issue, that the ASHA did have to honor court orders on issuing new papers, and suggested this might be an alternative for some unique situations where new papers were needed.

Gaynor Shane clarified at the very end of the meeting that currently ASHA doesn't permit the cancellation of papers but does permit the sale of a horse without papers. Although the issue remains as to whether the ASHA should tie ownership of the horse and ownership of the papers more closely together.

The final issue on the agenda was whether ASHA membership should be required to show American Saddlebreds. Carter Cox made an adamant presentation, albeit "preaching to the choir." "I can't understand why someone who loved American Saddlebreds wouldn't be a member of the ASHA... I feel we should go forward with this proposal and I am proud to stand behind it," said Cox to the applause of the crowd.

Cox suggested that we start with administering the program at Louisville.

Show manager Scarlett Matson explained that show secretaries were "up to their eyeballs in work. Mattson suggested that they include the ASHA number on the entry forms and then that information would go to the Association, who would in turn bill anyone who did not currently have a membership.

Bill Munford addressed the crowd stating that he felt the ASHA should decide on the issue of whether they wanted to require the membership or not, and then if they did want to require the membership, to work with Scarlett and other horse show managers to find the most practical way to implement it.

He also suggested that it should be at every recognized show - not just Louisville. And that ASHA should be actively encouraging more recognized shows. Munford restated his comments in the form of a motion to support requiring membership in ASHA to show American Saddlebreds and the resulting membership vote was issued as a unanimous voice vote.

Additional comments from the floor covered a variety of topics. Also the membership voted Don Spear and Bret Day to be the nominating committee for 2003 ASHA Board of Directors. The American Saddlebred Museum also held their meeting during the weekend. President Mary Ann Pardieck presided over the meeting. The new trustees were unanimously elected with a voice vote. The new trustees are Marie Rudder, Kenny Wheeler and Sally Jo Jackson. The retiring trustees were Nancy Leigh Fisher, Fred Sarver and Lynn Via. The 2002 nominating committee was made up of Elizabeth Deknatel, Fred Sarver and Keith Bartz. The membership voted for their one member of the 2003 nominating committee to be Bill Munford, who was unanimously elected. The remaining members of the nominating committee will be comprised of one member elected by the trustees and one member who is appointed.

Pardieck gave a glowing President's report with an impressive list of accomplishments for the Museum. She explained the joint ticketing arrangement with the Kentucky Horse Park which increased the attendance in the Museum by 27%. She thanked Ed and Ada Perwein and Elisabeth Goth for their matching funds membership drive which garnered 182 new members for the museum. She announced the Roz Harris Walk of Honor had already generated over $33,000 in revenue. She thanked the World's Championship Horse Show for their support of the Victory Pass Raffle, which brought in over $12,000 last year, at no cost to the Museum. She announced a $24,500 donation from the Dr. Helen J. Neave estate for the endowment fund and a perpetual endowment for the Museum by Jackie Stred as part of her estate plan. She also thanked the Lexington Junior League for their donation of a television/vcr and computer for the Museum's library as well as their planned help with the cataloging of everything in the library.

The meeting adjourned and a preview of the new video "High Stepping Through History - The Story of the American Saddlebred Museum and the Horse It Celebrates" was well received by the membership.

The Charter Club luncheon also featured a new video, one of two new Saddlebred videos, produced by the ASHA for presentations on Cable networks and PBS stations across the country. Both videos were well received and followed by applause.

In addition at the Charter Club luncheon, Alice Lear accepted the Charter Club of the Year award for the Minnesota Saddlebred Horse Association.

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