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Open Letter to the Membership of ASHA



Dear Friends,

 
As members of the Board of Directors of the American Saddlebred Horse Association, we would like to address various concerns that have been raised by some members of the Association and also to make you aware of some exciting initiatives currently underway.
 
The ASHA’s recent lawsuit  to obtain clarity from the Court about what records a 501(c)(3) entity operating in Kentucky must make available to the membership upon request has resulted in a holding at the Circuit Court level that it must make available all books and records for which a proper purpose has established for review. Clarifying the terminology of what should be made available to the membership has been the root of the dispute. During this litigation, members of the Board were asked not to discuss the case, while some of the Concerned Members were very vocal on all sorts of social media, clearly putting the ASHA at a public relations disadvantage.
 
To try and answer the complicated question of, “What was all this about?”, it began with a few members requesting materials beyond records of finance, minutes and membership lists, which materials the ASHA felt would have a privacy concern in any business setting. The reasons given for requesting this wide range of documents have ranged from a decline in registrations to a decline in spectator attendance at the World’s Championship Horse Show to wanting to know how the Association spends its annual budget.
 
Filing the declaratory judgment suit was an attempt to get the question of what was appropriate for viewing out of the office of the Association and into the court for interpretation. The court ruled that the language in the Kentucky law went beyond financial records, minutes and membership lists. The Association has appealed this decision, and the appeal is still pending.  The Board did, however, vote not to pursue its request to stay the enforcement of the judgment pending this appeal, believing that it was in the best interests of the Association to allow review of the documents that had been requested in the litigation.
 
There have been passionate feelings on both sides of this dispute, but it’s time to end the tearing down and move forward with registering and promoting the American Saddlebred. At many times during this process the focus of the dispute has turned far away from the issues at hand and became personal attacks on those who have volunteered their time and resources to serve this breed. Differences of opinion are healthy and welcomed; however, the vicious attacks of character have been disheartening.
 
The Board is hopeful that the Concerned Members can review relevant books and records of the Association and satisfy any concerns they may have. The Board trusts the Concerned Members to be sensitive with respect to any personal and/or private matters that are not appropriate for public display, such as posting on web sites. The Board believes in transparency and supports disclosure to all our members of whatever books and records of the Association are appropriate for disclosure.
 
The Board is also hopeful that all members of the Association will be willing to channel their collective knowledge, experience, time and financial resources in a positive direction. The Board invites those willing to be a part of the solution to contact the Chair of our new Planning Committee, Tandy Patrick, or any Board member to consider volunteering to assist on special projects, committees, etc. As you know, the Association’s resources are limited, and we solicit and welcome the positive and enthusiastic involvement of all our members.
 
It is the desire of the Board that as a collective group we get back to the core of this Association, the Mission Statement:
 
The Association shall have the purposes of safeguarding the integrity, and expanding the knowledge of the American Saddlebred; educating the general public in the exhibiting, use, and history of American Saddlebred horses and the improvement of the breed; promoting the humane treatment of American Saddlebred horses; stimulating and promoting interest in all matters pertaining to the history, breeding, exhibiting, and improvement of the breed; encouraging safe equestrian activities; educating youth with respect to safe and proper horsemanship and the showing of horses by promoting the formation of youth associations and the dissemination of educational materials; and awarding scholarships to participants in youth horse programs.
 
In furtherance of our Mission Statement, we would like our members to be aware of several exciting new initiatives: 

The ASHA is working with UPHA and the AHHS on a project with Equestrian Life that will make its appearance in late summer and early fall. This is a first for all three organizations to work together and promote our wonderful animals to a market completely outside our breeds. The emphasis will be on getting people interested in the breeds for a multitude of purposes from showing to trail riding to competing in various disciplines in which both the American Saddlebred and Hackney Horse and Pony are growing in popularity. An approved network of barns from coast to coast will provide a free riding or driving lesson to those who download the coupon from the Equestrian Life website. This program will get new riders and drivers into our barns with hands on exposure. Shooting for the various three-minute “How To” spots and the 23-minute film promoting the American Saddlebred and Hackney Pony and Horse will take place at various locations around Lexington during the Junior League Horse Show. 

The ASHA is proud to announce that there are now more than 50 Youth Clubs scattered all over the country, giving the American Saddlebred a greater base of future owners in this ever changing society which moves further away from agriculture interests. These Youth Clubs raised over $30,000 for charity last year with money from all type of projects including bake sales, car washes and selling carrots at horse shows. 

In addition to honoring the youth of our Association with numerous year-end awards, the ASHA gives out (4) $5,000 scholarships each year to selected junior members. Over $200,000 has thus far been given throughout the years and we are working on increasing the amount that can be awarded.

ASHALive.net continues to receive hits on the 2010 Kentucky State Fair. The Video On Demand (VOD) has been viewed continuously since last August with no let-up in activity. Additionally, the Association will partner with USEF Network by delivering the video of the Saturday night performance of the World’s Championship Horse Show to a worldwide audience. 

These are just a few of the positive things going on within the Association that have been overshadowed in light of the litigation. We hope you will join us in taking these and several other projects to new levels.
 
Each of us is honored to serve as Directors of the American Saddlebred Horse Association, and we support and thank the leadership and staff of our Association.  We hope to have your continuing support and input.

 
Sincerely,
 
ASHA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
 
Betsy Boone
Bret Day
Lisa Duncan
Bob Funkhouser
Louise Gilliland
Nelson Green
Minna Hankin
Chuck Herbert
Carl Holden
Germaine Johnson
Margaret McNeese
William Marple
Scott Matton
Tandy Patrick
Jim Ruwoldt
Lisa Siderman
Judy Werner
William Whitley

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