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Open Meetings Highlight Day One of Convention

Lexington, Kentucky -­ A full day of committee meetings highlighted the opening day of the 2005 American Saddlebred Horse Association Convention at Embassy Suites Hotel of Lexington Thursday, February 17.

For the first time in ASHA history, all committee meetings were open to members for auditing and participation at the invitation of the committees.  The morning included sessions for Finance, Breeders, Futurities, Sweepstakes and Grand National.

Members attending the Finance Committee meeting received a full briefing on the sound financial condition of the organization, as well as detailed materials documenting the investment portfolios and the 2005 budgets. It was standing room only for the Breeders' Committee, and members participated in several spirited debates, including discussions of various requirements in the rules ­ including the requirement for signed Breeders' Certificates as a prerequisite for foal registration, a new idea discussed (and voted down) for special late-foal annual registrations and a very lengthy debate that continued into the Futurity meeting on class conduct for the in-hand Kentucky Futurities.

A wide-ranging discussion included several ideas for improvements in class conduct for large in-hand events.  Finally, the committee voted to maintain the existing discretion of the judges in how they conduct the events, but to include a strong recommendation (but not a requirement) that in large classes the top colts should get a second lead.

In the Grand National and Sweepstakes committee meetings, several ideas were advanced about marketing these programs better.  Chair Bill Wise and All-American Cup founder Jim Aikman offered valuable insights as to the history of such programs, and the need for personal commitment and aggressive marketing to wider audiences in order to help them reach their full potential. Aikman chaired the State Futurities Committee, and will lead a special forum Friday on the importance of Futurity involvement in increased breeding of the Saddlebred.

Strong attendance continued in the afternoon for meetings of committees for Pleasure Horses, Standards and Rules, and the Registry. Attention in all three meetings centered on rules and rule making, with committees and members updated on the Registry¹s own internal rulemaking, as well as the United States Equestrian Federation rules.  In the Registry Committee meeting, several possible updates in the rules were opened for discussion, including some which had been rendered obsolete over the years.  A major issue was discussion on the possibility of adopting new rules for naming Saddlebreds, to permit re-use of names after a 40-year time period, much as is done for Thoroughbreds, excepting names of horses whose accomplishments merited inclusion in the ASHA Reference Directory.  No formal action was taken, but staff was directed to further research the ideas presented and prepared new rule language for consideration.

The convention continues Friday and Saturday.  Social highlights include the Saddlebred Museum Reception at the Kentucky Horse Park Friday evening, and the Saddlebred Ball at Keeneland's Entertainment Center, Saturday evening.  For tickets and information, call (859) 259-2742.

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