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Junior ASHAG Club “Southern Saddlers” Working to Promote the Saddlebred Industry

by Jamie Patterson, Jr., ASHAG member

Public awareness and education os the focus of a project being planned by the Southern Saddlers, A Junior American Saddlebred Association of Georgia (ASHAG) club from Dixie, Ga. Horse Shows are part of the Georgia National Fair held in Perry, Ga., early in October. The Saddlebred show will be Sunday, October 5, 2003.

Working in conjunction with ASHAG, Jr. ASHAG, ASHA and show management, the Southern Saddlers hope to sponsor exhibits and other activities to encourage fair visitors to learn about the American Saddlebred.

Fairgoers will be able to visit with Saddlebred owners and trainers who have volunteered to participate in the project in the barn area. There will be friendly horses on hand to serve as greeters. Exhibits will be set up both in the barn and at the entrance of the Saddlebred show at the fair to showcase the American Saddlebred,

The Southern Saddlers are working on photo displays to highlight various aspects of Saddlebreds, as well as the joy these horses bring to the lives of Saddlebred enthusiasts of all ages.

The Southern Saddlers plan other activities at the fair, including a Little Saddler drill team, breed ambassadors available at the show to visit with the audience and answer questions, and a postcard campaign so that fairgoers can request more information about Saddlebred lessons, training and sales barns in their area.

As a service to the ASHAG member barns, the club will distribute comment cards allowing the public to contact them and then use the cards to help put interested people in touch with their local barns. Press releases and other information will also go out to newspapers statewide to attract publicity for the project and the Saddlebred show at the fair.

To help make this project a success, the club is collecting pictures and other items for use as follows:

1. Photos for display about “Fun with Saddlebreds.” The club would like to show both children and adults enjoying their Saddlebreds outside the show ring.

2. Photos of the young and “not so young” owners riding and driving their Saddlebreds. This will interest adults in learning to ride and drive, sending the message that ”You are never to young or old for American Saddlebreds.”

3. Scrapbooks or slideshows of riders progressing from their first lesson through a recent show. These will show fairgoers how people start as a beginner and finish as a champion.

4. Brochures and other literature from ASHAG stables about their programs for distribution at the fair. These brochures will be available near a map of Georgia labeled with stable locations.

5. Photos showing Saddlebreds competing in other disciplines outside of saddleseat. Endurance riding, western pleasure, dressage, etc., for an exhibit on versatility.

Lynn Pace, sponsor of the Southern Saddlers, said, “The purpose of this project is to make the American Saddlebred available to people throughout the state. By educating the public, we hope to increase interest in the breed and attendance at horse shows. If the project is successful at the Georgia National Fair, we plan to do something at the Georgia Horse Fair in January.”

The Southern Saddlers have participated in the Georgia Horse Fair for the past two years by entering an “all Saddlebred” drill team in the state competition held there. Last year, the Southern Saddlers also performed a breed demonstration at the request of the Georgia Horse Council, which sponsors the event.

“You wouldn’t believe the people who love our horses at the Georgia Horse Fair. We always have lots of positive comments from the public (which is mostly western oriented),” Pace continued. “They are amazed that our horses are so versatile and sensible. This is a largely untapped market for Saddlebreds. More and more people are buying horses and keeping them at home, and we should encourage them to think of Saddlebreds when they want smart, athletic horses with lots of personality.”

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