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ASHA/AMHA Trainers' Equitation Update From ASHA President Bob Funkhouser

I am pleased to report that the ASHA/AMHA Trainers’ Equitation Cup continues to gain momentum and be a major source of FUN at the horse shows that have already held the event. This year, UPHA Chapter 14, UPHA Chapter 5, Rock Creek, and Midwest have all had extremely successful Trainers’ Equitation Cups with approximately 20 riders in each of the four classes. It has been so much fun watching the pre-show hype that went into those three classes and then the classes living up to the hype.

It has also been refreshing to have so many people excited about being at the horse shows and participating, whether as a rider, coach, donor, or spectator. Since we have moved from a ‘trainer industry’ to an ‘amateur/junior exhibitor industry’ it has been a long time since we’ve seen so many of our heroes in the ring at the same time, competing head to head. Even though many of these professionals were not former equitation stars, they have all gone the extra mile to be equitation ready and they have brought that same intensity to this series of classes as they would a championship performance class at Louisville.          

In addition to the life this class has pumped into horse shows it has also done well as a fundraiser. People have generously supported the professionals by donating to this program and the upcoming class at Midwest Charity already has more pledged than the any of the three previous classes, which were all very successful. Who knows where it will go from here?          

As a reminder, 50 percent of the proceeds raised by Saddlebred riders go to the host horse show and 50 percent goes to the ASHA, which is using their 50 percent to greatly support the upcoming Super Convention and the Association’s Marketing Committee. I am very proud of the work Michelle Partridge and Bill Whitley have done to create and implement this program.

When Tandy Patrick, Bret Day and I first joined the Board some five years ago the Association had a $200 budget for Marketing and this did not support the Mission Statement which reads: “The mission of the American Saddlebred Horse Association is to promote, improve and protect the grace, intelligence and versatility of the American Saddlebred, and to provide programs and services supporting our members, while fostering public awareness.” Two hundred dollars would not begin to get the job done!  

Starting with immediate past President Tandy Patrick, Marketing turned into a focus of the Association and we have continued down that path. Thanks to Executive Director Bill Whitley and the entire staff for all of their hard work, we now have $55,000 budgeted for Marketing this year and we were able to do that because of the Trainers’ Equitation Cup. A PR program with specialist Ray Drasnin is already underway so these funds will see immediate usage for promoting the American Saddlebred in a number of different uses across the nation.

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