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What Matters? Progress Matters.

At the turn of the 20th century, an American philosopher, John Dewey, noted, “we do not learn by doing. We learn by reflecting on what we’ve done.” Reflection is essential to learning. Learning is vital to progress. Progress is critical to change. As we come to the close of 2019, many will already have their sights set on 2020, and the ASHA is right there with you, but first, it is paramount that we reflect on this significant year of progress and what we have learned to make an even better 2020.

The past year has seen the ASHA engaging, communicating and supporting members at an unprecedented level. You spoke, leadership listened and we acted. From the surveys, forums and one on one communication, we have been able to identify the areas of paramount concern for ASHA members and take action on working towards viable solutions. Members repeatedly voiced their concerns on ASHA’s role in educating the public on the American Saddlebred, expanding the representation of barns, supporting underrepresented markets and local shows and engaging the broader equine community.

At the 2019 UPHA National Convention, the leadership and new staff spoke to the goals they had for this year based on the needs they identified and the concern of membership. The focus areas for a better ASHA in 2019 was to cultivate a culture of transparency and integrity for our community, improve our relationships with our fellow affiliates and USEF governance, improve benefits to members and engage, educate and appeal to more of the general public. We are happy to reflect that what we promised, we delivered and are well on the road to destination “progress”!

In the past year, we saw new staff members and leaders take their responsibilities and pull the ASHA to another level. Leadership has created and revitalized ASHA committees to make significant gains in tackling the objectives of our Strategic Plan with great strides made in the work of the Horse Show Task Force, Communications, Code of Conduct Task Force, Professional Development Grants and more.

The executive director position split between Terri Dolan and David Mount this past year led the ASHA to vast improvements in our industry relationships working with the UPHA and the trotting breeds to form the Joint Leadership Council to work on behalf of our members to improve areas such as medication guidelines, governance, Safe Sport and the Past Act. They spearheaded the coalition of USEF Affiliates to organize the Affiliate Workshops and made significant progress towards all of the associations’ individual goals collectively. In addition, they brought increased opportunities managing new initiatives like our improved Affinity Benefits Program, Licensed Officials Education and ASHA Alpha Classes.

Jessica Cushing and Alexandra Harper teamed up along with their committees this year to do great work at ASHA Youth Conference, Fill The Stands Playbook, social media tips,  Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, Devon Country Fair and Horse Show, BreyerFest, World’s Championship Horse Show, BuildFire Feature, Eastern Nationals 4-H Round-Up, new promotional material, ASB Dreams Fund and much more!

If you follow the links above, you can see 2019 was a momentous year for this organization, laying a strong foundation for our continued progress. We saw new talent, concepts, opportunities and partnerships thrive at the ASHA. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but Rome was being built every day. Brick by brick, there was continued progress. Already new programs and benefits are coming to members in this last quarter of 2019 and even more in the New Year. When you have the time, we encourage every member to review the new infographic here and on the back of your 2020 ASHA Membership Renewal form. It highlights the benefits our staff and dedicated group of volunteers work to provide the American Saddlebred community. With the limited resources of dues and donation-based budget, a team of five solely working on ASHA programs/services it somedays feels miraculous that we have achieved what we have this past year. Our programs, direction and focus, are a direct reflection of the feedback and support of the membership.

If you are as passionate as we are about working towards a better future for the American Saddlebred, please continue to share your thoughts or offer to volunteer in a message to or considering supporting one of our ASB Dreams Fund initiatives.

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