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Give Change A Chance



by ASHA President, Bob Funkhouser

Borrowing from the John Lennon anthem, “Give Peace A Chance,” all we are saying is give change a chance.
       
I’m asking for patience and foresight from the members of the ASHA when dealing with the new website now that the soft launch has been rolled out. I would like to emphasize “soft launch” in that we know there are still kinks that have to be worked out and there will be a phase two with more elements and options added. The most requested item so far has been a better search component for searching names and that will be available in the very near future.
       
We greatly appreciate the many positive comments on the new site and we are listening to those who aren’t as positive. We have several different members testing the many aspects of the site now that it is launched. They have come back with some glitches that have already been fixed. Other members have also responded with questions and those have been addressed as well.
       
Navigating our new system is going to be a shock to everyone’s system as we’ve all been going on the old site and navigating the same way for a long time. That’s what we’re used to. It’s what we’re comfortable with. Please give yourselves some time to get familiar with it and learn the many functions it now offers.
       
Others have responded that particular areas of the site are not like they were and they don’t understand why. Again, the whole revamping process was done to improve the overall function of our entire database and the many different programs administered by the ASHA and ASR. Our entire association was on an (AS 400), which is a dinosaur at best. You can’t find parts for it or people to work on it. And we could not add any new elements to it as you can’t find the people to write the programs.
       
For years many ASHA members have voiced that we don’t promote enough outside of ourselves and one of the best parts about this new system is that now our website can be an marketing tool as well as a tool for our members to conduct business and research. When people are searching for information on the American Saddlebred and visiting our site for the first time they are now met with beautiful pictures of our horses performing many different jobs. Two buttons are right there so they can “Learn More About The American Saddlebred” or “Find A Barn Near You.” After many discussions in Board and Marketing Committee meetings it was decided those images are the first thing we wanted visitors to the site to see, not buttons for Pedigrees, Prize Money Programs and Personnel.
       
This has been a good year for the American Saddlebred community so far. We are up strong in memberships and up slightly in foal registrations for the first time in a number of years. There has been great support and fanfare for the Trainers’ Equitation Cup. The launch of the new website is just another of the initiatives that the ASHA staff and volunteer Board has invested many hours in.
       
Investing the most hours has been ASHA’s Cynthia Lowell who has been on this day and night for months. She has worked hand in hand with USEF on the development of the site and merging of the database.
       
“The new website and brand refresh are closely aligned with the association’s strategic marketing vision to continue to grow and expand over the next decade and beyond,” said Lowell. “Last October, the association migrated from an old technology (AS 400) and we transferred 311,493 records of horses and 135,426 records of entities. Today, we have transformed our face to the world with modern design, state of the art technology, easy to navigate functionality and content rich with valuable and important data.
       
“Some of the new features that this website offers are real-time membership renewals and application, responsive design, integration of social media and much more.
       
“We are so excited and proud of the new website as it is a product of collected input, suggestions and ideas from our members and Board. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and members for their support and patience. I also would like to recognize the developers at Select Web Ventures who kept our old website vital and USEF for taking on a huge task bringing us current in technology in order for us to serve our members in new and innovative ways.”
       
Phase Two is expected to be completed by the year’s end. Some of the items to be added in that phase include online registrations and transfers (including Half-Saddlebreds), applying multimedia features (photos and videos) on a horse’s record, ordering DNA, searching horses by all registration types (including Half-Saddlebreds), online enrollment for Futurity/Sweepstakes and CH/CH-EQ programs, youth convention registrations and much more.
       
Executive Director Bill Whitley concluded with, “Our staff at the American Saddlebred Horse Association is most interested in providing up to date information to our breeders and members on our newly launched website, www.ASHA.net, which is a work in progress. Some will remember the days when we were the American Saddle Horse Breeders Association, Inc. at 929 South 4th Street in Louisville, KY. Those were the days when our entire Registry was contained on 3 x 5 index cards. By the way, we have retained those cards in our vault. This method was very effective at the time with Monte Cristo, Jr. being issued our very first registration as Number 1 Stallion in the Registry. Today we issued registration numbers 127144 for a stallion and 152542 for a mare.
       
“Obviously we could not keep the registry on index cards as we have so many more programs to maintain than ever before. We migrated to the AS 400 system to house the American Saddlebred Registry, however, it didn’t take long until we outgrew that system and as newer technology became available that system became obsolete, as no one was available to write the programs in the required language. So, we were forced to migrate to a new database system.
       
“I am reminded of a quote my grandmother used frequently. ‘Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.’ Change never comes easy but with your help and getting involved I am sure the best is yet to be.”

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