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American Horse Council Annual Convention

The American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold, the makers of Adequan, was held on June 24 in Washington, DC and featured panels from across the horse industry on “Where Have All the Horses Gone.”  While this topic has been addressed at various organizations’ meetings, this is the first time it has been discussed so broadly with representatives from breed registries, racing, showing, trainers, disciplines, veterinarians, and other stakeholders addressing the situation as it affects them.  “We believe that anyone in the horse community is interested in this topic,” said Hickey. 

“With the precipitous fall-off in the number of registered horses over the last 10 years, we thought it would be important to get the perspectives of various organizations, breeds, disciplines, and stakeholders on why this is happening and what the ramifications will be,” said AHC president Jay Hickey.  “It may affect various parts of the horse industry differently, but it will affect us all.  Indeed, since we first announced the forum, we have been surprised at how many thought the downturn was only affecting their breed or activity.  Not so.  It affects the entire horse community.”  
Tim Capps, Director of the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville, was the keynote speaker and tried to put the situation in context.  Have we been here before?  What does it mean?  Does the industry even have the data to make such determinations and plan for the future?  Mr. Capps has been involved with various sectors of the horse industry throughout his professional life and brings his experience and academic background to the issue. 

The Forum included three panels featuring a cross-section of leaders of breed registries, trainers and other stakeholders offering their thoughts on the drop.  “We lined up top-notch panels of racing leaders, showing leaders, breed registries and other sectors that support the industry and rely on a healthy industry for growth,” said Hickey.

Scheduled to speak were:  Jeff Blea, DVM, president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; Debbie Fuentes, Registrar/Sr. Director of Registry and Member Services, Arabian Horse Association: Jim Gagliano, President & COO, The Jockey Club; Jim McGarvey, Chairman, Back Country Horsemen of America; Josh Pons, Maryland Horse Breeders Association; Lori Rawls, Executive Director, U.S. Equestrian Federation; Robin Richards, President, National HBPA; Cynthia Richardson, President, Arabian Horse Association; Don Treadway, Executive Vice President, American Quarter Horse Association; Rick Violette, President, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; and Scott Wells, President & General Manager, Remington Park Racing Casino.

This year’s National Issues Forum was held on Tuesday, June 24, in Washington, DC during the AHC’s annual convention.  The annual meeting ran from June 22 to 25 at the Washington Court Hotel.

Attendees received an update on Time to Ride, an initiative of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, by Patti Colbert, of PCE Enterprises.  Time to Ride has launched an ambitious national campaign and contest with a goal of introducing 100,000 new people to a horse experience between May 31 and September 7, 2014.  Nationwide, 1,000 members of the horse community will have the opportunity to compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes in three different categories based upon size.  Up to 1,000 “hosts” may enter Time to Ride’s “100 Day Horse Challenge.”  “This is an exciting and unprecedented effort to grow the industry,” noted Hickey, “and fits right in with the main topic of the Issues Forum.”  

Also, there was an update on the industry’s National Equine Health Plan and the Equine Disease Communication Center by Dr. Nat White, past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.  Dr. White has been spearheading efforts to draft a National Equine Health Plan.  Central to that plan is an Equine Disease Communication Center to coordinate and disseminate timely and accurate information about diseases in general and outbreaks when they occur.  Plans have moved forward for such a communications center and Dr. White spoke to attendees on those efforts.

In addition, the AHC’s convention includes the AHC’s Congressional Reception, the Congressional Ride-In, and meetings of all AHC committees and the Unwanted Horse Coalition.  “As always, the AHC’s annual meeting brought together the horse industry’s leaders, stakeholders, service providers and rank-and-file to discuss common issues of importance,” said Hickey.  

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