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Why Having a Comprehensive Support Program for Horse Shows Matters

It was announced last week that the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) formed a Horse Show Task Force to examine and recommend a comprehensive support program for horse shows. In announcing the initiative, ASHA Board President and Executive Director-elect David Mount said, “The purpose of the initiative is straight forward.  It will offer common sense solutions for the problems facing our horse shows including governance, marketing, and financial.”

Why does this matter?  It matters because there are all kinds of needs for various horse shows throughout the country.  There is not a “one size fits all” situation for the challenges facing horse shows where the American Saddlebred may participate.  What is needed for Kentucky is not needed in California.  And what is needed for one type of owner/exhibitor is not necessarily what is needed for another.  So, to truly service the entire breadth of the needs of ASHA members, we need to explore many different alternatives and present them as options.

This week, while we celebrate our breed at the World’s Championship Horse Show, it was impossible to miss the energy and enthusiasm generated by the inaugural Country Hunter Pleasure class.  It just underscores that we need to accommodate all kinds of classes at all kinds of shows with all kinds of possibilities.  One day shows; open shows; rated shows; unrated shows.  All important.

Fortunately, there are some models to study.  The American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) Star rated shows and the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) One Day and Value Shows provide a guidebook for a new class of potential ASHA affiliated shows.  The goal of the AHA One Day and Value shows is stated as, “…provides areas of the country with lower show horse populations, and/or smaller clubs an opportunity to hold AHA qualifying shows that should be financially feasible for their circumstances.”  Here is a link to their guidelines which will be studied by the ASHA Task Force:  The AMHA Star Shows also provides an interesting precedent.

When naming the Task Force, Mount named people from all over the country—professionals and amateurs with broad backgrounds well suited for the task, as well as a consulting group of show managers and show secretaries who run shows of all sizes, rated and unrated all over the country, as well as the Executive Director of the AMHA.

So, why does this matter?  Because we need to increase the number of places for the American Saddlebred to be shown and enjoyed.

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