Key Issues discussed as AQHA readies for Convention

Press Release


February 6, 2003 - More than 50 representatives from AQHA's 14 standing committees, the executive committee and various task forces and councils met at AQHA headquarters last week to prepare for what is anticipated to be one of the busiest conventions for the Association in recent years. For many, the meetings began Saturday, January 24 and wrapped up late Thursday, January 29.

COMMITTEE CHAIRS MEET

On Monday, January 26, the chairs from AQHA's Committees met to review each agenda and attend a training workshop designed to help them conduct effective meetings. During the annual workshop, committee chairs reviewed Robert's Rules of Order, were schooled on managing communication and on ways to maximize committee member participation.

"Our goal is to conduct committee meetings that allow for member input and are productive in the way they are structured," said AQHA President Steve Stevens. "This workshop is an extremely important step in helping our committee chairs meet the demands that are placed on them during AQHA's Convention."

AQHA SHOW COUNCIL CONVENES

AQHA's newly formed Show Council also met on Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25. The council, which comprises members from the show, amateur, judges and youth committees, and professional horsemen discussed ways AQHA could implement regional championship shows to provide easier access on a local and regional level to those who want to experience a championship show. Following extensive discussions among members of the show council and upcoming talks with AQHA's Affiliate Council, staff will refine the proposal and have it ready for the full show committee to discuss during the annual convention. AQHA's Show Committee will meet Saturday, March 6 - Monday, March 8.

In addition to regional championship shows, the council also discussed ways to expand AQHA's Limited Rider Program into the youth and open divisions. The goal of the limited rider program is to give exhibitors another level of competition in classes, which they have not earned a predetermined number of points.

Lastly, the show council discussed ways to restructure the novice youth and novice amateur programs in a way that will expand novice exhibitors' showing experience while encouraging them to try new classes. "When developed, these regional shows will increase the AQHA show experience by providing more opportunities for exhibitors and their American Quarter Horses," said AQHA Show Council Chair Clark Bradley. "Additionally, the focus on limited rider and novice programs underscores our desire to encourage more people to try new or additional events at an AQHA show."

AQHA RACING COUNCIL

Also meeting last Sunday was AQHA's Racing Council. Members appointed a task force to investigate establishing a new graded stakes system that will include factors not addressed when the current system was established. The council also recommended moving forward with a three-year project with TVG to televise American Quarter Horse racing. Members of the American Quarter Horse racing community have been strong supporters of the horse racing and wagering network. Lastly, the council appointed another task force to review the selection process for American Quarter Horse Racing World Champions.

HALTER DISCUSSED BY INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

A group appointed by AQHA's Executive Committee also met last week to continue discussions that have taken place concerning the discipline of halter and develop the halter presentation for the 2004/2005 Judge's Workshops. Those appointed by the executive committee were:

Joe Carter - AQHA Judges Committee
Wayne Halvorson - AQHA Judges Committee
Carol Harris - AQHA 40-year cumulative breeder
Jim Heird - AQHA Judge, member AQHA Show Committee
Walter Hughes - Vice Chair, AQHA Judges Committee, Professional Horseman
Jeff Pait - AQHA Judge and Professional Horsemen's Committee
Carol Rose - AQHA Professional Horsewoman, Stud Book and Registration Committee member and 30-year cumulative breeder
Jodi Sullivan - AQHA Amateur Exhibitor
Don Topliff - AQHA Judge, Equine Research Committee member

Those individuals met with the executive committee and appointed two subcommittees to continue working on ways to improve halter procedures. The first subcommittee of Don Topliff, Jeff Pait and Jim Heird will begin working on updating AQHA's Halter Casebook for the next series of judge's workshops. The second subcommittee of Joe Carter, Walter Hughes and Wayne Halvorson will study and make recommendations on procedures for halter classes at AQHA's World Shows.

"Halter is a most important discipline to AQHA and as with all our classes, we want it to continue to improve," said AQHA Executive Director of Judges Alex Ross. "This is an extremely talented group of people who met to share their expertise in order to see halter competition grow."

PUBLIC POLICY COMMITTEE

The newest committee established by AQHA, the public policy committee, also met in Amarillo last week to address several key issues on its agenda.

"The committee is recommending to the executive committee that AQHA establish a political action committee," said Public Policy Chair Paul Lindsey. "Our intent is that it will be seeded by members of the public policy committee."

The public policy committee also approved earmarking funds to support a new horse industry economic impact study and recommended that the Association conduct its second congressional trail ride in the fall of 2004.

FINANCES, INVESTMENTS REVIEWED, DISCUSSED

Periodically throughout the year, AQHA's Investment Oversight Committee meets to review the Association's current investment performance and make any necessary modifications to the investment portfolio. Members of the investment oversight committee, AQHA Past Presidents Marten Clark, Jim Barton, Ginger Hyland, J.D. Blondin and Jim Shoemake, and AQHA member Lou Waters, received updates from the Association's five investment managers and recommended that AQHA's current investment policy statement be amended to provide 60% equities and 40% fixed income in the asset allocations of the Association, Foundation and Pension Plan. Additional research also was requested on hedge funds and/or real estate as alternative investments. That study will be presented to the committee during the convention in Reno. The investment oversight committee also recommended that all Bessemer Trust Company fixed income funds be divided between Private Capital Management and NWQ in order to meet the 60% rebalancing requirements. Lastly, the committee approved designating investment income for operations for the final budget of 2004 in the amount of $2 million for the Association and $797,700 for the American Quarter Horse Foundation.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ACTION

During their January meeting, AQHA's Executive Committee was presented with the 2003 fiscal year's audited financial statements for the Association and Foundation. AQHA, AQHF and related entities showed net assets as of September 30, 2003 at slightly more than $45 million. Both organizations received clean reports from the auditing firm of Clifton Gunderson LLP, a copy of which will soon be available in "AQHA's Annual Report" and online at aqha.com.

During their meeting, the committee also approved $450,000 in funding for equine research projects for fiscal year 2005. The second of three installments of $100,000 each also was approved by the executive committee for a racing medication and drug testing consortium. That study also is expected to positively impact the show segment of AQHA.

Members of the executive committee were updated on an exciting project that will influence nearly every part of AQHA. In December, the Association hired Inventiva, a marketing and research firm specializing in the Hispanic market. Staff from Inventiva have visited AQHA's headquarters, dozens of events and made phone calls to numerous Spanish-speaking customers. The project is designed to help AQHA better service its existing Spanish-speaking customers and reach out to new Hispanic owners of American Quarter Horses.
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