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Record turnout, high energy, serious debate mark 2006 ASHA Saddlebred Summit


From the ASHA…


Lexington, Kentucky ­– The American Saddlebred Horse Association’s 2006 Saddlebred Summit and Annual Meeting concluded Saturday evening, February 18, with its rousing, sold-out Saddlebred Ball at the Keeneland Race Course Entertainment Center in Lexington, Kentucky.


The Summit began Thursday, February 16 with a full day of well-attended, open committee meetings and the final meeting of the Association’s outgoing board of directors, followed by the Charter Club Workshop, where the members of the newly formed ASHA Charter Club Council representing regions across North America and the world met with other Charter Club leaders and discussed ideas for club growth, marketing and more.  The directors reviewed financial statements indicating the Association and Registry have posted their second consecutive year of all-time high operating earnings and investment holdings, despite troubling statistics of a continuing gradual decline in Saddlebred breeding and transfers of registered horses. 


Looking to the future, an all-time record 300-plus attendee Youth Conference on Friday and Saturday energized a packed vendors' promenade.  Youth attendees enjoyed a luncheon at Spindletop Hall, and a field trip to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and the Saddlebred Museum.  Due to icy road conditions, planned outings to Rob and Jackie Tanner’s King’s Row Acres and Bret and Susi Day’s Grey Ridge Farm had to be cancelled. 


Friday’s meetings were highlighted by a standing-room-only forum on Competition Standards attended by hundreds of members.  In the time reserved for discussion of the ASHA leadership’s October proposals following its retreat in Indiana, and taking steps toward developing a plan for growth, many members questioned and debated the Association’s officers on splitting the Kentucky State Fair’s two-year-old three-gaited class to have horses with set tails compete against each other, and those with unset tails compete in their own section. 


Association President Fred Sarver and United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA) President Randy Harper began the discussion by announcing that both organizations had agreed the previous evening, following a joint Executive Committee meeting, on several matters regarding unset tails.  The ASHA board agreed to join UPHA in developing proposed rule changes to (1) strengthen the wording on the existing rule calling for crooked tails to be penalized, and (2) add language to the existing rule stating that horses may be shown in any class with an unset tail, to confirm that any horse showing with an unset tail may not be penalized.  The exact wording is to be developed jointly by ASHA and UPHA and submitted together to the United States Equestrian Federation’s Saddlebred Committee for consideration and action.  In addition, the ASHA agreed that no rule change would be proposed to be effective for the 2008 competition year concerning unset tails for all two-year-old competitions.


Scarlett Mattson, horse show manager of the World’s Championship Horse Show, was in attendance and stated its two-year-old three-gaited class would be held on the split basis endorsed by ASHA in 2006 and 2007.  She said exact specifications for the entry process and class conduct were nearly complete and would be announced shortly.  Entries for the Kentucky State Fair will close in early July, and horses entered in the two-year-old three-gaited class will be required to specify their section (set tail or unset tail) at the closing date.


Along with a variety of educational forums both Friday and Saturday, and an inspirational presentation by Tandy Patrick and Jim Host about the coming 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park, members again filled the largest meeting room for the open members forum on Saturday morning and the Association’s formal Annual Meeting on Saturday afternoon.


Association leadership and staff reported on the detailed statistics of the breed since 1990, as well as financial performance.  President Sarver announced that another open membership forum this year would be held in conjunction with the Lexington Junior League Horse Show in July, where input from all members on the future direction of the breed would be encouraged.


The Summit was capped on a frigid Kentucky evening with warm honors for the ASHA’s individual award winners at Keeneland:  Jim Aikman from Indiana (Lifetime Achievement), Stonecroft Farm of Kentucky (Breeders), Sarah Rowland from Missouri (Meritorious Service), Jeanette Durant of Illinois and Carson Kressley from New York (Sportsmanship), Charles and Carol Court of British Columbia (International), Will Harris from Tennessee (Youth), and the McNeese Family from Texas, inaugural winner of the new Paul and Dorothy Gillenwater Family Award for family commitment to the Saddlebred.  Over 470 members and guests adopted Tennessee’s “Rocky Top” as their anthem, and the dance floor was packed until the evening drew to an end after 11 p.m.    


The Association would like to thank all of the attendees, participants, speakers, vendors, volunteers and its sponsors, which included The McNeese Family of Sandy Creek Farms, John and Dorothy Lenore of Lenore Farms, Victoria Gillenwater of Scenic View Farm, Misdee Wrigley of Hillcroft Farm, the American Saddlebred Association of the Carolinas, Kay Richardson and Jennifer Del Bosque, the United States Equestrian Federation, Carroll R. Ray, Mary Sally Aylward, Tom Erffmeyer and Elisabeth Le Bris, Rob and Julianne Wilson of Shamrock Farm, Jim and Sally Nottage, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Pleasant Valley Trotters, ASHB Futurity of Wisconsin, Roy and Judy Werner of Redwing Farm, TSE/Tattersalls, American Saddlebred Horse Association of Virginia, American Saddlebred Sport Horse Association, Boone’s Farm, ModJods, Kentucky Equine Education Project and the Kentucky Horse Park and the 2010 World Equestrian Games. 


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