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What Matters? The Power of “And” Matters.

A few years ago, there was conference held in Houston, sponsored by the charity group Points of Light. At the conference, a number of very important topics were discussed. At the center of every topic was one very small word: “and”. As in, how to bring credibility and sustainability to a company’s purpose, or how to connect strategies, concepts and people behind a mission.

Why does this matter for the American Saddlebred Horse Association?  Because our mission is “and”.  We often talk of the American Saddlebred as the “ultimate show horse”; “the peacock of the show ring”.  And, indeed it is.  What is more exhilarating than being in Louisville, on the green shavings with the cool air in your face, on a hard-charging five-gaited American Saddlebred?  Or, on the back of a regal, high-stepping Walk-Trot horse?  Or, in the buggy behind the power of a gorgeous, resplendent Fine Harness Saddlebred?  But, we don’t have to choose because all of these are the American Saddlebred.  So, it’s not “or”; it’s “and”.

To illustrate this point, what do these numbers have in common:  15, 20, 10, 16, 17, 12, 20, 12?  The answer?  They are the number of entries on for the following classes on just the first day of the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show:
Open Working Western Pleasure                                  15
ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Prospect Horse             20
ASB Three Gaited Western Country Pleasure Open    10
English Pleasure Saddle Seat                                       16
ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Open                             17
Saddle & Bridle Shatner Western Country Pleasure     12
ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Adult Amateur                20
ASB Five Gaited Show Pleasure Adult                          12
All kinds of classes. All kinds of riders. Two things in common—they were all at one show and the classes were large.

The point here being that the American Saddlebred can and should be many things to many people:  the ultimate show horse and a wonderful backyard companion; a horse trained by professional trainers andone that an AOT can be successful with; saddle seat and sport horse; youth horse and adult horse.  We don’t have to choose. 

So, over the past few months and into 2020, you’ll continue to see the ASHA push to make the American Saddlebred more accessible to more people throughout the country. One of the main purposes of the new ASHA Horse Show Task Force is to find ways to make big shows and smaller shows successful.  Shows in the markets where we have many Saddlebreds like central Kentucky and shows in the markets where we need more help.  Academy and Performance.  All important and all necessary.

Leadership for the past year have been pushing each ASHA committee to work towards the betterment and vitality of our breed's future. Revitalizing and creating partnerships that promote and benefit the breed. Inclusion of more divisions that invite newcomers and encourage retention.  Expansion of geographical distribution of Amateurs and Professionals. Increased recognition, resources and education opportunities for members.The result of their labor towards these objectives has brought programs such as ASHA Alpha Classes at Academy National Championship Horse Show, National Select Series, Revamped ASHA Youth Conference, ASHA Business Development Grants, Promotional Resource Guides, ASR Hunter Sweepstakes and Distance Horse National Championship to name a few to fruition. 

A lead initiative of Affiliate Workshops this year was to improve both our partnership with US Equestrian and our fellow affiliates. These improved relationships have allowed us to increase our support of American Saddlebreds and Half-American Saddlebreds across more disciplines and equestrian communities. Promoting our breed through other affiliates and US Equestrian breed features in both digital and print promotion from Devon, Lexington Junior League, World’s Championship Horse Show and St. Louis National Charity Horse Show.

So, the next time someone tries to characterize the American Saddlebred or the American Saddlebred industry as one thing at the exclusion of others, remember the Power of “And”.

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