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Letter to the Editor

There was, as you know a great horse show a couple weeks ago. This World’s Championship had many fantastic young horses and a Five-Gaited Championship to rival many from the past. As a result we should all feel revived, ready to breed, train, own or show the next great American Saddlebred Horse.

A sickening feeling, however, crept into my heart and remained throughout the week. This feeling and persistent thought had to do with what is happening to the ASHA within the confines of the litigation with the CSM's.

It is not just the ongoing fight; it is not just the damage it is doing to our industry, or the money and efforts being spent on the litigation. The sickening feeling is for what is happening to our breed and it’s people during all this nastiness.

What I feel is disappointment, for a general membership made up of more important and larger owner breeders than myself who seemingly have chosen to remain silent and have consequently left Board members out to dry. Those Board members "hung out to dry", have been degraded and are having their reputations tarnished, after not only years but also decades of leadership and dedication to our industry.

I have not written before on this subject. I never dreamed I might be the only one to step in and give a voice to those Board members whose lives have been so desecrated. I thought more prominent people than myself would step up in this industry I love so much. Apparently this is not going to happen. I hope with all my heart I am wrong. Maybe this letter will nudge a few to express their opinions.

There are reasons I am sure. It is hard to get involved and put yourself out there on the line. You may suffer some ridicule and possibly some of the same harassment the Board of Directors have experienced. Could be you are worried in this economy and how this might affect future horse sales. You might worry about how you will be judged at horse shows. There is that "bottom line". I understand where you are coming from, but I keep thinking of another bottom line. Mine is watching friends suffer and knowing I couldn't and wouldn't want to continue in this business I love so much if some kind of order and human kindness is not restored. What is your bottom line?

I am also dismayed with the CSM's for the manner in which they have conducted themselves. Do they not understand they are doing far more damage than they could ever hope to repair? The way some have conducted themselves leaves me with a desire to "get out of Dodge" while the getting is good. It's possible when this fight is over and if the CSM’s have achieved what they have set out to accomplish there may well be such a divide that nothing will be able to restore it. I doubt if they understand the possible repercussions or they would have negotiated an agreement resulting in decisions of what is best for the horses before now.

That does not mean to give up what they hope to achieve but perhaps to change or even soften their methods and put a stop to the present mode of attack. Yes, I am aware the ASHA started the litigation, but where did these type of attacks I’m speaking of get started, and why is this war of words taking the rest of us "down with the ship"? I don't know about you, but I did not buy a boarding pass for this voyage!

I am deeply saddened to find people whom I have loved and admired for such a long time to be involved in this issue and now calling themselves CSM's. There are right ways to make changes and there are wrong ways to make those changes. This has certainly turned out to be the wrong way. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. Accountability and change are good, but one doesn't need to do that in a manner that precludes decency and class.

My feelings are that we can expect a decline in registrations and transfers due to this ongoing discord, from not only myself; trust me there could well be many leaving this breed if the climate doesn't improve.

So why am I writing? The answer is I care, and I'm hoping that some of you will not want me as well as others to leave this business.... a business I have loved for many years. If necessary, I will have to do just that in order to live with myself. After nearly thirty-nine years owning American Saddlebreds, I have to do what I can now and that is to express my heartfelt feelings. I don't want to leave any regrets on the table. I know there must be other members, concerned members, who are feeling some of the same emotions. Here's the question...What can we do to help end this terrible situation? Can we end it with a satisfactory result that leaves us whole and does not tear us apart?

To the general membership, please write your support to the Board of Directors. Ask what you can do to help. If you ever wanted to take a stand for a cause, NOW is the time.

To the CSM’s I know you started down this path to try to help all, but now, this is hurting all. Please come back to the table with a new compromising plan.

To the Board of Directors, I apologize for waiting so long to come out from behind your skirts and let my voice be heard.

To our American Saddlebred, hang in there; I’m praying we survive this.

Thank you for listening.

Susan M. McFadden

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