Skip to content

What Matters? Focused Unity Matters.

At the end of his speech to open the ASHA Annual Member Meeting in Lexington this past week, president Marty Schaffel paraphrased a passage from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We are standing together, arm in arm, looking outward in the same direction.” As it relates to the American Saddlebred industry, this is an important thought. Let’s examine the thought in its parts:

•“We are standing together…”: At the convention, we saw members from many organizations come together to discuss, debate, resolve, and strategize many of the issues and challenges and opportunities facing our industry. Some of these issues are global—rising costs, more recreational options, less agriculture are among those problems. Some of these issues are specific—distribution to new parts of the country, fewer and fewer shows, fewer instructors. And some of these issues are of our own making. Regardless, at this time we need to “stand together” to address the challenges and opportunities.

•“…arm in arm…”: This phrase implies not just that we stand together, but there is an inherent need for a closeness. This past week a metaphor was offered when discussing some of these issues together, “Like our horse, we are better off in a herd.” This sentiment implies a closeness that is beyond just standing together. We must be “arm in arm”. In other words, we must stand linked—ASHA, UPHA, AHHS, ASR, ASB Museum, AMHA, and American Road Horse & Pony Association. Each groups interests are linked and made better “in the herd.”

•“…looking outward…”: We must look to the future. We have to look at how to build the market in more places for more disciplines. But the important part of this passage is that it says we don’t need to look “inward”. Issues that do not work to advance the breeds and disciplines are just noise and distraction from the pressing and important needs of the industry and the breed.

•“…in the same direction.”: What direction should that be? Marty outlined very important thoughts in his address. In his talks with members of the ASHA, he identified three important things that customers/exhibitors/owners want from this activity, their hobby: Safety, Fairness (especially as it relates to judging and transactions), and Fun. He also identified three important things he heard from people who make their living in this industry: Financial Viability, Fairness (especially as it pertains to things like Safe Sport), and a Broader Market. It seems that we should focus on these imperatives: broadening the market; promoting fairness and transparency in all ways, maintaining and creating a safe activity that is also fun. This should be the directions in which we look. Anything else is a distraction.

Marty wrote in his President’s message following the convention, referencing the ASHA Board meetings, “While we all did not agree with each other on every topic, we had very collaborative discussions, and we found our way to unanimous consensus on every issue as we deliberated on them. This is a huge accomplishment over the past two years.” In other words, “Standing together, arm in arm, looking outward in the same direction.”

In his session on Friday night at the convention, famed Hall of Fame thoroughbred and quarter horse trainer, D. Wayne Lucas, hit on many of the same themes. He talked about trust and customer service. He talked about giving and teaching. He talked about many of the completely selfless acts that it takes to succeed in life, with customers, with horses. He spoke at length about his love for his customer Bill Young. It was touching. But in the end, it demonstrated that none of us stand alone. We must stand arm in arm.

This weekly column is called What Matters. “We are standing together, arm in arm, looking outward in the same direction.” This Matters A Lot.

More Stories

  • **Updated Event Cancellations

    Saddle Horse Report will provide daily updates to the list of cancelled and postponed horse events. Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Pin Oak Charity

    Looking back, ten years ago at Pin Oak Charity…While the tradition of Pin Oak Charity was on hiatus in 2020, let’s take a trip back to the 2010 Pin Oak Charity… Read More
  • Ten Years Ago - Raleigh Spring Premier

    Looking back, ten years ago at Raleigh Spring Premier…While we missed being at Raleigh Spring Premier last week, let’s reminisce about some great memories from 2010… Read More
  • ASAW Celebrates their Wisconsin History

    The American Saddlebred Association of Wisconsin (ASAW) held their awards banquet on March 7, 2020 at the Delafield Inn Hotel in Delafield, Wisconsin where they celebrated their high point winners for the 2019 show season. Read More
  • Latest Issue YIR 2019

    Read More
  • Joint Leadership Council Presidents Partner for Horsemen's Relief Fund

    I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. We are experiencing threats to our health and economy that have not been experienced in this country for more than 100 years. It is a scary time for all of us and a threat to the horse industry we all love... Read More
  • USEF Update on COVID-19: Suspension Extended

    We are all anxious for equestrian sport to start up again and for our families and friends to return to their normal lives pre-COVID-19 Pandemic. We also understand the financial pain that this is having on so many in our industry. We, too, at USEF are feeling that pain. However, we are not through this yet. The pandemic continues to cause unprecedented impact throughout the world.... Read More
  • 2019 Year In Review Completed

    The 2019 Year In Review, our 26th edition, is at the printer and soon it will be in your homes and offices. Devoted to preserving the history of the show horse industry, the Year In Review is once again filled with beautiful pages that present the highlights of last year’s shows... Read More
  • Joint Leadership Council Works Together to Support Barns During COVID-19

    The Joint Leadership Council (JLC) is coming together to unite our efforts to support our memberships and professionals in the show horse community from the impacts of COVID-19. The JLC is a group comprised of individuals appointed by AHHS, AMHA, ASHA, ARHPA and UPHA, who work together towards the concerns of the trotting breeds. Read More
  • NEMHS Cover Contest

    Heads up for an exciting opportunity to be the “face” of the 81st New England Regional Morgan Horse Show.  NEMHS is the oldest Morgan Show in the world and we invite ALL youth 21 and under to submit art work that will become eligible to be showcased on the cover of the 2020 NEMHS Horse Show Program. The theme of your work should focus on the special relationship between Youth and Morgan horses. Read More