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ARABIAN HORSE WORLD PRESENTS:

WHERE WHEREHAVE HAVE ALLTHE THEARABIANS ARABIANS ALL

I

n the August 2012 issue (beginning on page 9) Arabian Horse World presented a look at the number of Arabian horse registrations and other breed statistics, with commentary by Bruce M. Johnson (a member of the AHA Registration Commission, a Trustee of the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation,

and past Director-at-Large of the Purebred Arabian Trust). As previously detailed in our report on the WAHO conference (March 2012 issue, page 8) the number of Arabians in the U.S. continues to decline. Of course this is alarming to breeders and Arabian horse lovers in the U.S., who wonder if the trend

A child’s desire for a horse is often

can be reversed. We invited our readers to share their ideas for

the gateway to a family becoming

arresting this slide, and bringing the Arabian horse back

horse owners. A fictional account

to the level of prominence he deserves.

of a girl achieving a Tevis dream could be as popular as “National

D e n i s e

H e a r s t

GONE?YOUR YOURTURN TURN GONE? Glenn Petty, Executive V.P., Arabian Horse Association, Aurora, Colorado: Overall, Bruce’s article was very good, and he’s correct that all breeds pretty much proportionately are experiencing the same decline. What we all face are the changing social draws for leisure time — soccer and other sports that are cheap, Xbox and other media, lack of TV heroes on horses, etc. Regional show entries are down for several reasons — the economy, necessary changes to the Sweepstakes Program that reversed a trend of paying out more than interest on the principal generated, awarding of full Top 5 regardless of entries, and qualifying points restructuring over the years. Currently shows contribute 34.7 percent of AHA’s bottom

line compared with registration and related work, 14.4 percent; membership, 22.7 percent; awards programs, 16.3 percent; racing, 0.2 percent; and marketing, 11.7 percent. (In 2008, shows contributed 37.7 percent of AHA’s bottom line compared with registration and related work, 17.7 percent; membership, 24.3 percent; awards programs, 14.2 percent; racing, 0.1 percent; and marketing, 6.0 percent.) Since 1991, the decline in transfers has been flatter than for registrations, with some ups and downs. (See bar graphs below.) Shows are important overall because they drive the market for the importance of registration of Arabian, Half-Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian horses. Without shows there would be virtually no market for Arabian horses. And while Arabian horses lead the

We are grateful to Glenn Petty, Executive V.P. of AHA, who shared AHA’s perspective. We lead off with him,

Number of purebred registratioNs by year, 1991-2011. Data provided by Arabian Horse Association.

and follow with trainers — performance and halter — breeders, and wrap up with four women: a breeder, an

Velvet”! — Anna Wolfe

b y

endurance rider whose mother was an AHW Foundation Breeder, one of our regular columnists who is a breeder

and holistic trainer, and a main ring trainer who asks us simply to think back about what drew us to

13,000

n Purebred Registrations

9,750 6,500

the Arabian breed to begin with. We think you’ll agree that there’s plenty of food for thought here from passionate individuals

3,250

across the spectrum of breed disciplines and we are grateful to those who took the time to contribute.

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Agree or disagree with anything you read on these pages — your opinions are most welcome. Let’s keep the conversation going … for the good of the breed.

Purebred Registrations

Number of purebred traNsfers by year, 1991-2011.

As long as we continue to talk instead

“At Registration” means the ownership transfer was processed together with the initial registration. “Certificate” reflects all other transfers. Data provided by Arabian Horse Association.

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of act on what’s wrong with the Arabian

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horse industry we will be stuck with what

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we’ve got. — Frank Hennessey

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130 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012

131 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b SEptEmBER 2012

Certificate

At Registration


ARABIAN HORSE WORLD PRESENTS:

WHERE HAVE ALL THE ARABIANS

I

n the August 2012 issue (beginning on page 9) Arabian Horse World presented a look at the number of Arabian horse registrations and other breed statistics, with commentary by Bruce M. Johnson (a member of the AHA Registration Commission, a Trustee of the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation,

and past Director-at-Large of the Purebred Arabian Trust). As previously detailed in our report on the WAHO conference (March 2012 issue, page 8) the number of Arabians in the U.S. continues to decline. Of course this is alarming to breeders and Arabian horse lovers in the U.S., who wonder if the trend

A child’s desire for a horse is often

can be reversed. We invited our readers to share their ideas for

the gateway to a family becoming

arresting this slide, and bringing the Arabian horse back

horse owners. A fictional account

to the level of prominence he deserves.

of a girl achieving a Tevis dream could be as popular as “National

We are grateful to Glenn Petty, Executive V.P. of AHA, who shared AHA’s perspective. We lead off with him, and follow with trainers — performance and halter — breeders, and wrap up with four women: a breeder, an

Velvet”! — Anna Wolfe

endurance rider whose mother was an AHW Foundation Breeder, one of our regular columnists who is a breeder

and holistic trainer, and a main ring trainer who asks us simply to think back about what drew us to the Arabian breed to begin with. We think you’ll agree that there’s plenty of food for thought here from passionate individuals across the spectrum of breed disciplines and we are grateful to those who took the time to contribute. Agree or disagree with anything you read on these pages — your opinions are most welcome. Let’s keep the conversation going … for the good of the breed.

As long as we continue to talk instead of act on what’s wrong with the Arabian horse industry we will be stuck with what we’ve got. — Frank Hennessey

130 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012


b y

D e n i s e

H e a r s t

GONE? YOUR TURN Glenn Petty, Executive V.P., Arabian Horse Association, Aurora, Colorado: Overall, Bruce’s article was very good, and he’s correct that all breeds pretty much proportionately are experiencing the same decline. What we all face are the changing social draws for leisure time — soccer and other sports that are cheap, Xbox and other media, lack of TV heroes on horses, etc. Regional show entries are down for several reasons — the economy, necessary changes to the Sweepstakes Program that reversed a trend of paying out more than interest on the principal generated, awarding of full Top 5 regardless of entries, and qualifying points restructuring over the years. Currently shows contribute 34.7 percent of AHA’s bottom

line compared with registration and related work, 14.4 percent; membership, 22.7 percent; awards programs, 16.3 percent; racing, 0.2 percent; and marketing, 11.7 percent. (In 2008, shows contributed 37.7 percent of AHA’s bottom line compared with registration and related work, 17.7 percent; membership, 24.3 percent; awards programs, 14.2 percent; racing, 0.1 percent; and marketing, 6.0 percent.) Since 1991, the decline in transfers has been flatter than for registrations, with some ups and downs. (See bar graphs below.) Shows are important overall because they drive the market for the importance of registration of Arabian, Half-Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian horses. Without shows there would be virtually no market for Arabian horses. And while Arabian horses lead the

Number of purebred registratioNs by year, 1991-2011. Data provided by Arabian Horse Association.

13,000

n Purebred Registrations

9,750 6,500 3,250 0

11 20 10 20 09 20 08 20 07 20 06 20 05 20 04 20 03 20 02 20 01 20 00 20 99 19 98 19 97 19 96 19 95 19 94 19 93 19 92 19 91

19

Purebred Registrations

Number of purebred traNsfers by year, 1991-2011.

“At Registration” means the ownership transfer was processed together with the initial registration. “Certificate” reflects all other transfers. Data provided by Arabian Horse Association.

40000 n At Registration

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131 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b SEptEmBER 2012

Certificate

At Registration


them with merit badges. The same could be said for 4-H or world in endurance, the volume of sales just isn’t there. Shows pony clubs. give us our volume drive for registration of our horses. Outside What AHA has to do currently is focus on ways to promote of AHA-sanctioned distance rides, there is no requirement for our breed cost effectively and locally. Locally is where it happens “papers” for distance horses. initially. AHA can’t do it all, but we can feed tools to local clubs, This also brings up another fight we face: the growing breeders, and trainers to promote locally. dominance of disciplines in the show world and those AHA has steadily worked to get our financial ship in order disciplines’ lack of requirements that horses showing in as well as other departments. Our focus now is on what we can disciplines be registered — i.e., reining, dressage, cutting, etc. do in marketing, spending our marketing dollars in the most Breeders breed for the top but must have a market for the efficient and effective way possible plus utilizing social media as horses that don’t make it to the top. All breeds are struggling a new tool. to generate a better market for those horses. The Arabian Stan Morey and I are working on ideas, looking backward Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association (APAHA) to see what’s working, what’s not, and what just needs a little “Learn to Ride” Program is a prime new example of working tweaking. It’s a work in progress, but not quite ready to present to create a market from the bottom. Just ahead of that is the to the public. But certainly we welcome everyone to come and long-standing AHA Discovery Farms Program where horse talk to us at any of our National events. enthusiasts can go to have a simple contact and exposure to Arabian horses. AHA has to do a better job of promoting fun Howard W. Pike, Englewood, Florida: and pleasurable activities for the noncompetitive enthusiast Over the years I have been an owner, a breeder, and an or prospect. exhibitor of Arabian horses, and have served as IAHA Regional I also have a long-standing belief that both breeders and Director, Officer, and Executive Committee member; on the trainers are important in our world. Trainers help generate Board of Arabian Jockey Club; AHA Executive Committee; the market for the breeders’ foal crops. It is also interesting member of WAHO (World Arabian Horse Organization) to note that trainers are now evolving into a huge part of the executive committee; Trustee of The Arabian Horse Trust; breeder community. Trustee of the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation; on the The American Horse Council is kicking off a generic horse Board of Arabian Horse Registry; co-chair of the Arabian Horse promotion focusing on the mother as the primary decision Galleries at the Kentucky Horse Park; and a trustee of the maker in children’s sports choices. In addition, I believe Purebred Arabian Trust. grandparents are important. The reality is that we need to focus In my opinion, if our national organization continues to on children under 10 and primarily girls for our marketing. place the primary focus on Maybe one thing showing, we are not doing to do is as simple Perhaps we continue to evolve as a much justice to this incredible Arabian as inviting a Girl more urban society and the number breed. As stewards of the breed, Scout or Brownie in the last 35 years we have troop out to our of potential new owners continues to moved from the “family horse” farms or helping

decrease as recreational time is more

favorably spent doing “contemporary” things. — Curt Westley

132 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012


we have shifted from a bottom-up to the “show horse.” We are widely AHA has not promoted the structure to a top-down structure largely perceived as a single-purpose breed, amateur halter classes funded by competitions. The result because we have failed to promote within today is that we have a national show the Arabian horse community and the to any degree with prize organization (that we need to continue), broader market, the other qualities of this money. All the current halter but no national breed organization. We wonderful breed. We need to develop prize money classes are need to unite and strengthen our support and make available in the marketplace of all the unique traits of the Arabian a wide range of activities that can be non-AHA programs and horse. As a first step we need to join enjoyed by owners of Arabian horses. shows. These programs have together in a plan designed to capitalize I recall a comment made at on all the wonderful traits of the breed. the end of a lengthy discussion at a become the most popular in We must broaden the Arabian market, Registry board meeting (pre-merger), the halter show circuit and reflecting the versatility of our breed, concerning declines within the Arabian so that Arabian owners may participate breed. As the meeting drew to a close, are the main reasons a few in activities with their horse as their an experienced senior representative of people are still breeding. personal interest dictate. another breed organization was asked — Robert North What we are doing is not working! for his opinion after listening to the two Continuing to do the same things, using days of discussion. He was able to distill the same decision structure, will most likely result in continuing all that he had heard to this comment: “The problem is not the decline for our breed. AQHA has sought professional advice Arabian horse.” and is investing to broaden the base for the Quarter Horse This continues to be true today. We are failing as a result breed. We need a new plan for the Arabian breed in North of the collective actions or inaction of all of us. The horse America, different from the past (“you can never go back”), and is remarkable in all respects, not the best at everything, but responsive to todays’ economics and marketplace. between “very good” and “outstanding” at most things people wish to do with their horse. Tommy Garland, Powhatan, Virginia: My participation with horses began at an early age. The When I became involved in the Road to the Horse Colt Arabian horse experience came later and was the result of Starting Competition, I found it surprising that the sold-out recognizing the unique qualities of the Arabian horse, my crowd of 6,000 at each venue were shocked to discover that not family’s enjoyment and their bond with the Arabian horses, the all Arabians are little, crazy grey horses. After the presentations, diversity of Arabian activities in the local area, and sharing all of about 100 people came up to me and said they’d purchased this with wonderful people with a love for the Arabian horse. Arabians. The horses were not the most expensive but they Over the years we (lovers of the Arabian horse) have diluted went to owners who are now showing them and having the our effectiveness as we each focus on our own special areas of time of their lives. Through my involvement with RFD-TV, I’ve interest within the Arabian breed and neglect the unique shared increased the number of visitors to my facility, some of whom traits of the breed. As a result of social and economic changes,

Howard W. Pike

Tommy Garland 133 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b SEptEmBER 2012


are now clients. One wife was having so much fun, her husband joined in. His first show was a train wreck, but he was hooked. I also started having cookouts each evening at the shows because the owners enjoy sharing the day’s experiences and swapping stories about their Arabians. Unfortunately, the industry responded with jealousy rather than congratulations for thinking outside the box. They prefer to reinvent the wheel over and over again. The TV shows were relatively inexpensive, $150,000-$200,000 per year for the CPR for the Horse and Rider series I put together, which ran three times a week for a year, yet none of the farms I contacted to be featured in an episode was interested. By sponsoring one of the six to eight spots on RFD-TV, their farm would have reached 30 million horse-loving viewers, and it’s these people Has anyone figured who will help our industry grow. We need to come off out that we don’t our high horses and interact have enough horses with more than just the few high-end clients with the instant payout or we’ll die. being shown any One idea that initially seemed to be a great way to longer to justify involve beginning amateurs 18 regions here in was the Select Rider classes. Unfortunately, with the North America? ever-shrinking size of classes at the class A and regional — Greg Knowles levels, a rider who’s not ready to compete at the National level can be named champion at his first regional show and then be unable to compete again at the regional level. Suddenly your grass-roots rider is being punished instead of encouraged. Another major factor in the breed’s decline is transported

Greg Knowles 134 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012

semen. It used to be that if you wanted to breed your mare to a top stallion, you would look locally for a son or a stallion with similar breeding. This would benefit the small breeder by bringing in a little money from stud fees that they could then spend showing a few of their own foals. Instead we now have people breeding for the flavor of the month and wondering who’s next, instead of doing some research to find suitable stallions for their particular mares. As a result, the gene pool diminishes. The industry can be saved. We need to be truthful with ourselves and start working for the good of the industry as a whole, not just the individual and the short-term payout. Greg Knowles, Arabian Expressions, Scottsdale, Arizona: Where do we go from here? How do we fix a problem overnight that has taken us years to create? First, even though we all constantly complain about the problems of this industry, we never seem to take action and come up with a plan that could help. There is no one glaring problem that has created this downward slide in the Arabian horse industry, but many, almost like a perfect storm. I am not going to dwell on the problems, I am going to suggest some positive ideas to help stop the downslide of registrations and maybe some of these ideas will promote growth. Naturally if I talk about fixes, it will be pretty obvious what the problems are. JUDGING I probably hear more complaints about judging than any other aspect of this industry. Sometimes those complaints are justified, sometimes not. The most logical fix would be to create a pool of professional judges that are qualified, educated, and who do nothing else in this industry but judge. No ownership, no breeding, no exhibiting. There are plenty of talented horsemen and women who would do a great job. If we create


true accountability of the judges and educate them to do their job and take away some of the pressures of playing and judging in the same arena, we would create a level playing field. Also, we need to try to define a world standard of excellence, a consistent model of what we as the world Arabian community truly want our halter horses to be. We also need to decide what judging system would work for the whole world and work for that consensus. Since the new scoring system came into being there has been a great deal of divisiveness. If we decide on a concise, intelligent system that works all over the world, we are on our way in a more positive direction. ShowS Shows should be celebrations, competitions of the best against the best. They should be to promote the Arabian horse. We need energy and excitement in these shows. Events at fabulous destination locations where people want to go and enjoy their horses and each other. Location, location, location, this is economics 101. The good news is that this has already happened; look at the Vegas Show and the new Breeder Finals in October in Scottsdale. Another thing, has anyone figured out that we don’t have enough horses being shown any longer to justify 18 regions here in North America? Have you been to a Regional show lately? Three or four in a class. That doesn’t benefit anyone, certainly not this breed. How about AHA creating a big-time regional show with more prize money, and many more top horses? For example, let’s put Regions 1, 2, and 7 together and call it “The Southwest Super Regional,” and rotate the location every three years. Another consideration for the It is a super time to shows would be to make become involved them “user friendly” with Arabian horses! for the spectators and exhibitors. Since the game The top-quality plan here, at least for this

horses are still

discussion, is growth for the industry, let’s try and have these shows at locations and times that make sense. I have a friend who said that here in North America we have as many potential wealthy clients as in the Middle East; we are just not getting the message out. So that being said, let’s get the folks to the horse. That means shows that start at maybe ten in the morning or later, and the most important classes, if not all classes, need to be held on Saturday and Sunday. Successful businesspeople are not available on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m. Move Nationals for God’s sake. I don’t think I have ever heard a positive statement about the town, the time of year, or the weather. It is time to bring Nationals back to a time of year that is more enjoyable for the exhibitors and spectators. If we move our National horse show to maybe mid- or late September, it is a perfect time for horses, haulers, exhibitors, and spectators to enjoy a beautiful fall event. Since we are on the subject, moving to Tulsa created a serious unforeseen consequence. Since we moved our National Show to Tulsa, we have divided the industry. The facility and the new halter system have made it so that we no longer have the opportunity to watch each other’s disciplines. It is important that everyone be involved in all our disciplines. Halter and performance need to grow as one, not as separate entities. It is time for us to decide what we want to accomplish in the show arena. I believe that we should present our horses in the most positive, exciting light possible. The shows should be fair and exciting, with a schedule that won’t kill the average person. Also, the shows need more prize money. Let’s put our heads together and create a task force that can create a plan, and then put it into action to create the biggest jackpots in the equine world. Breeding This industry needs to honor and protect its breeders and acknowledge them at our national venues. After all, they create the horse — and the energy. It is important to try and maintain

bringing a good price, but a new breeder can get quality stock and that is essential to a newcomer’s success. — Shawn Crews

135 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b SEptEmBER 2012


individuals that win at the highest levels in the show arena. This is not enough to grow an industry or even sustain an industry. Good, honest auctions of high quality Arabians would help take the pressure off the showring to establish value for the Arabian horse. These auctions would be a platform for breeders to define and market their production. A good honest auction market would be an important component to bringing our industry back to health. ALL OF US Everyone one of us, breeders and trainers and AHA, has made some mistakes. These mistakes have brought us to where we are today. We have lost, since 1985, almost ninety percent of our registrations. That pains me to even think about, but that is why we are here now. None of us paid enough attention to the problems that were lurking around the corner. Now it’s time to pay the piper. AHA This organization must get smaller and more nimble so that it can react to the many issues that come its way. The board of directors needs to be able to act. The delegate and convention system is too slow and fragmented to lead. Take a lesson from some of the other successful shows, and from clubs. They are run like businesses, with the board of directors leading the way and held accountable for results. BREEDERS Times are tough, the economy is in the Dumpster, but breeders have to take some responsibility. Get educated, learn your breed, and learn how to choose stallions that fit your mares. Decide in what direction you want to go, and commit to your success. Please don’t just breed because the new horse is the flavor of the month, or your best friend said they like this or that We have seen little if any real change or new ideas horse. Go to seminars, read articles, from the Arabian Horse Association. The only good become knowledgeable enough to make intelligent breeding decisions.

the value of the Arabian horse so that the breeders will continue to sell and show their offspring. There is no doubt that the advent of transported semen has really hurt this breed. Today, young colts can barely get started as breeding stallions. Great young stallions are just advertisements for their sire. Breeders see beautiful young colts in the arena and order semen from their sire. Our gene pool has become depleted. We probably have only ten stallions in the entire country that breed more than twentyfive mares a year. Unless a young colt is absolutely amazing, colts have zero value. I remember in the old days when we lived in Seattle, we would send our best mare to *Bask in Arizona to be bred, then we would bring her home and foal her out and never send her back to Arizona. The foal was too valuable, so we would search in our area for a top son of *Bask to breed to. Those days there were three good young sons in the Northwest: Tornado, Negatraz, and Gdansk. These young colts got a chance to evolve into breeding horses. Today that would never happen. Also another result of just shipping our semen in a drum is that we rarely visit the great breeding farms and meet the great breeders and sit at their feet and learn from them. To spend a weekend at Kale’s or Lasma, and walk through the barns with Dr. LaCroix and Dr. Kale was an amazing experience. Today we don’t have those mentors to teach us. We need more seminars and education for our breeders so they can produce better foals to sell and show. AUCTIONS Today, as we are constantly looking for ways to market our horses, the high-end auction mechanism is another positive way to sell, promote, and establish value for our horses. Currently it appears that the only horses that have value are those few

idea was the development of the Sweepstakes

program, which was abused and then depreciated. — Mike Weinstein

Curt Westley and Allison 136 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012

Mehta-Westley


Perhaps we continue to Trainers The horse is remarkable in evolve as a much more urban Trainers need to service their all respects, not the best at society and the number of clients, to be honest and listen to their potential new owners continues needs. Please don’t take horses just to everything, but between “very to decrease as recreational time take horses. Don’t tell your clients you good” and “outstanding” at most is more favorably spent doing can win or sell their horses unless you things people wish to do with “contemporary” things. really think you can. Somewhere along Perhaps it is just too the line we taught our clients to be their horse. — Howard W. Pike expensive a hobby. flippers instead of breeders. Looking Perhaps too many owners back, that was a huge mistake. Today were victims of politics and/or we should tell new people that this is a rigged judging. wonderful world and if you have the passion to live with, breed, Perhaps too many owners were victims of deceit, unethical and enjoy the Arabian horse, by all means come on in. practices, and/or otherwise taken advantage of, by trainers or A client of mine said to me the other day that it is time to “reintroduce the Arabian horse to the public once again.” I think other owners or breeders. And now they’re gone. he is right. We have to do everything we can to get the message Alan Kirshner, CEO, Markel Corp., and owner of out. Seminars for new people, fairs all around the country, news Cre Run, Doswell, Virginia: stories, TV shows — it’s a daunting task. After all, it took us The current economy is negatively affecting all business. over twenty-five years to get here. However, I know we can do it. I hope you do me a favor when you get done reading this article: That, plus the threat of taxes in the 50- to 60-percent neighborhood looming for some and an increase for all no get up and tell two new people about the Arabian horse, and tell matter their income, there will be little left for most persons them to tell two new people who will tell two new people and after necessities are paid. we will be on our way. Hopefully we won’t screw it up this time. With this said, the economy will right itself in the long run, but will the Arabian horse industry? Curt Westley, Talaria Farms, Atlanta, Georgia: Remember, this industry was facing big problems before Could it be that the inflated numbers of the previous 2008. Only the influx of South American and Middle Eastern decade(s) were representative of a larger number of Arabian money kept it going. owners as opposed to Arabian lovers? How many horses were The horse business forever has been inhabited by a small purchased and/or bred due to vanity, or ego-drunken logic, or a fringe of dishonest persons. Call them what you want, they “solid” business plan? practice bribery, lies, Ponzi-like schemes, conflict of interest, Perhaps the current numbers represent a purer Arabian and a variety of other unethical behavior. (Sound like the stock owner or breeder, truly driven by the pleasure of owning and/or market?) The Arabian industry leaders stuck their head in the breeding? sand and fought the wrong battles. Perhaps the current numbers indicate a soon-to-be We hoped the consolidation of the Registry with IAHA recognized quality-beats-quantity reality?

Unfortunately, the industry responded with jealousy rather than congratulations for thinking outside the box. — Tommy Garland Deb Mihaloff and Alan Kirshner 137 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b SEptEmBER 2012


would have the right effect. Instead, we merely invited the fox into the henhouse. Bottom line, the best and quickest way to solve the problem is to create a group of no more than five persons to hire a CEO (a czar if you like). Those five persons would pay their own way, getting minimum expenses. The CEO would be well paid and answerable for specific results. If the results, such as increase in owners, breeding, etc., are not reached, that person goes. The five person group should serve staggered terms and can serve only one term. Several years ago I wrote a similar letter to the World emphasizing the same things. Nothing happened; no one listens. In closing, let me say I see or hear literally every day about a daughter of an employee or an acquaintance getting their first horse. The people are there, but the Arabian is not foremost … Walter Farley, where are you?

shows going and gets people interested. Look at the money programs that have been set up by independent clubs like the Scottsdale Signature program, the Region 12 Spotlight, Iowa Gold Star, Minnesota Medallion Stallion. Now, why isn’t AHA setting those money programs up? The only money programs AHA has are the National Futurity and the Performance Futurity, but those programs are pretty tiny. Halter guys are now guiding their clientele toward five shows that really have nothing to do with AHA. And that’s a shame for AHA —they should have been involved in leading the way. They should be trying to get in the doors at those shows and instead they’re running the other way. Our breed organization should be supportive of anyone trying to promote the Arabian horse. AHA was originally designed to promote the Arabian horse — that’s what its mission statement says. They spend a lot of energy policing trainers and writing new rules, and doing things so that their four National horse shows make money. But a lot of the decisions they make to help the horse shows don’t help

Rob Bick, RBC Show Horses, LLC, Smithfield, North Carolina: Regarding declining memberships in AHA, it seems Arabian owners are only Bottom line, the best and quickest way to getting memberships if they’re showing, and the people who have Arabians but solve the problem is to create a group of no who are not showing don’t think they more than five persons to hire a CEO (a czar need a membership anymore. AHA could borrow AQHA’s idea: if you like). The CEO would be well paid and members can get 10 percent off at Ford or John Deere because they are sponsors answerable for specific results. If the results, of AQHA. If AHA promoted discounts with their sponsors, that would be a big such as increase in owners, breeding, etc., are thing. I get an AQHA membership so that I can get 10 percent off when I buy a not reached, that person goes. tractor. It pays for itself just like that. — Alan Kirshner The other thing is, money programs for the horse shows are what keeps the

Rob Bick 138 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ SEPTEMBER 2012


the breed. They don’t promote the breed at a local level. For instance, if you eliminate the qualifications for yearlings and they can just come to Nationals, you’ve damaged every class A and Regional show for yearling halter classes. If they don’t have to qualify — they’re not going to go. By removing the qualifications, we’ve done a disservice to the local shows. Regional shows are struggling to make money as well. We probably do have too many regionals. The Eastern half of the country hasn’t been as hard hit as the West yet, but I think Region 6 is suffering to the point that they’d love to join with Region 8. Regional restructuring may make more sense. At the class A level there are three- and four-day horse shows with three sessions of classes, morning, noon, and night with a bunch of one- and two- and three-horse classes. It’s a waste of time. If you don’t have the horses to fill those classes, you should cut the number of classes. Cut the number of days and make it more affordable so that people aren’t missing so much work. I think there is a healthy number of horses born every year and I don’t think it’s 30,000. I don’t think it’s 3,000. I think it’s somewhere in between. I think 8,000 or 10,000 a year would be a healthy number of horses. We’ve got to help the breeders in order to get the horses on the ground, and that’s where the money programs come in. Breeders Sweepstakes was originally set up to help breeders, it wasn’t “Amateurs” Sweepstakes. If we want to set something up for the amateurs, let’s create a different program for them. Instead we diluted the program we had to the point where it’s now worthless. There was a time when if I went to sell a horse, the buyer would ask, “Is it in the Sweepstakes?” and if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t buy it. They don’t ask anymore. When there’s not enough money to even pay for your show bill if you win — well, that’s not a very good program. John Wheeler started that program so that breeders would get a kickback for every winning foal they produced. Their stallion would get a kickback, too.

That’s the kind of incentive that puts horses on the ground. I think it’s important to get those academy programs going, too, so people have an inexpensive opportunity to compete in a relaxed atmosphere at the local level. They can still be competitive and learn and if they want to go further, they can buy more expensive horses that are more competitive at a higher level. It’s good for breeders, too, as a place to market local-level horses. It helps the local trainers fill their barns. That’s where we’re drying up — at the roots. We need to get some life down there. There are two things that the Arabian horse is famous for right now: they’re expensive and they’re crazy. AHA needs to change that. We’ve got to show that these horses are not all expensive and they are every bit as much a family horse as any Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Foxtrotter, or Welsh pony. Bruce Johnson’s graphs that showed how the other breeds grew compared with our breed over the last couple of decades were fascinating. You can blame it on the economy if you want to, but the economy has not always been bad and we have continued to shrink in comparison with other breeds, whether the economy has been good or bad. So that means we have a problem with promotion. I don’t think that AHA has made one good decision in the last 25 years to grow this breed. And the reason I can say that is that the breed hasn’t grown. Tell me one thing that has been done to grow the breed. There’s nothing. As for the structure of AHA, we may do well to look at AQHA. They have an executive making decisions — things move faster that way. Somehow, some way, we have to get our focus on promotion. The U.S. I believe that people’s Nationals is a great place to perceptions of promote the

Arabians are at odds with what they want to do with their horse in the back field on weekends — and that is chasing away potential new owners. — Leslie Hammel-Turk

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Arabian horse and I don’t care where that horse show is held, but it needs to be an event that showcases the Arabian. The promotional committee showcased the Arabian very well at the last show in Louisville; attendance was high and there was lots of activity. You could do the same thing in Tulsa or Waterloo — I don’t care where the show is, it needs to be promoted as a special event that will attract people. U.S. Nationals has never been promoted to attract international visitors. Scottsdale gets international traffic. Las Vegas gets international traffic. The Egyptian Event gets international traffic! Why can’t U.S. Nationals be an event that draws international traffic? I would not add more classes. I would try to shorten those days. I would put in more presentations of past winners. Maybe put in presentations of special things that have happened in the breed. Outstanding horses of all our disciplines. Let people come and enjoy the horse show without feeling like they’re in a marathon. We run people into the ground from morning to night. It’s not fun. Maybe the show is too big. Maybe there need to be tougher qualifications so that only the very, very, very best show up and there’s only one cut because nobody else qualified. Maybe trainers would regret taking fewer horses, but if you’re not going for as many days and you’re able to go to a couple of other shows that make up for it, you’re going to make the same amount of money. Actually at a show I attended, the guys were kind of making fun of a halter horse that showed up. It wasn’t competitive. It was a little backyard horse with a backyard lady. They said, “There’s a reason right there why half the class shouldn’t be awarded a prize for showing up.” But that’s not the problem. Sometimes there’s only three in a class and they’re all National Champions. What are you going to do, knock a National Champion out for showing up? The issue is in qualification: How did that lady qualify? It wasn’t tough enough for her to

qualify so here she We need to come off is at Nationals. our high horses and To make the U.S. interact with more than Nationals special, it should be tougher just the few high-end to qualify. Because clients with the instant once you get there payout or we’ll die. you should be — Tommy Garland rewarded. It should mean something to be there. And that’s a step in the direction of making our Nationals more exciting … and better promotion for the breed. Mike Weinstein, Morgan Hill, California: There are no easy answers to the problematic decline of Arabian horse breeding in the U.S. My family started a breeding farm in 1974, and we were there to witness the rise the Arabian horse business in the 1980s. Unfortunately, at that time American breeders had an opportunity to build a strong and enduring base, and they failed to do so. After many of our top breeders and leaders in the industry began leaving the business, people such as the LaCroixs, the Kales, the Pattersons, and Imperial Egyptian Stud, there was a kind of vacuum where the understanding of how to breed great Arabian horse bloodstock once existed. And this lack of knowledge has really never been repaired. The La Croix family almost singlehandedly brought the Arabian horse to levels only dreamt about by those in other breeds. We have seen little if any real change or new ideas from the Arabian Horse Association. The only good idea was the development of the Sweepstakes program, which was abused and then depreciated. We really need to evaluate the Arabian Horse Association and decide if we want to continue to watch our breed deteriorate, or start a new, smaller entity of

Our focus now is on what we can do in marketing, spending our marketing dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible plus utilizing social media as a new tool. — Glenn Petty

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Another area where we might reinvigorate the breed is breeders, owners, and professionals who have the energy and through the reinvention of the Arabian Horse Fair. Perhaps understanding of what needs to be done to improve the breed. we could combine fairs with our regional shows as a place to I believe we can turn things around, but it will take new showcase horses. Every regional show has the opportunity leadership and new ideas. And it won’t happen overnight. to provide outreach, education, and to be a place where new We might begin by evaluating other breeds that have enthusiasts can go to learn more about our horses. The regional successfully sparked new interest; take the best ideas and use shows should also be strategically located to provide maximum these to develop a plan for the Arabian. There is no need to exposure of the Arabian horse to the public. re-create the wheel. Lastly, we need to improve the quality of judging. With the I believe we should reduce the number of our regional movement in the last thirty years of real specialization in the shows to a number that can draw 400-plus horses. This may be training of Arabian horses, we have few remaining trainers who eight to 10 shows. I was at a few regional shows this year and show breeding horses as well as performance horses. I have never some of the classes had only one or two entries. We can always seen such poor decisions being made in the judging arena of add more shows in the future as needed. breeding horses as I have seen in the last few years. We need to We need to improve the quality of our shows and make recruit more breeders to get judges cards and do a better job of them friendly and educational for potential new Arabian preparing them to judge breeding horses. I still like the idea of enthusiasts. First, the judging system needs to be more having professional judges so that a professional horseman could understandable and user-friendly. If owners don’t comprehend make a fair living judging horses. We have lots of professionals the current judging system, how can we expect visiting guests out there who may not be able to make a living training horses, to understand and enjoy the show experience? Next, the shows but are very well equipped to judge. We also need to develop are not any fun for the audience. We need to find a way to draw people in and to make the experience something they really want better oversight of our judging system. Judges need to know that if they don’t do a good job, they can be removed. Our exhibitors to be a part of. I visited the Arabian Finals in Scottsdale last and trainers need to feel confident that they are getting a fair year, and it really felt like the Scottsdale show from years gone and professional review from judges, and that judges at the by. It was not overwhelming, the hours were reasonable, the regional and national level have a deep and visitors were not cordoned off by ropes, knowledgeable background of the classes and guests were free to move around and It’s time to put the that they are being asked to judge. meet with other guests and exhibitors in the ring. After the show was over, there “social” back into the Deb Mihaloff-Kirshner, Cre was a great party where everyone enjoyed clubs … move some Run, Doswell, Virginia: music and dancing. What a novel idea, Any intelligent businessman would a great town, a beautiful venue, and a club meetings out of have to have serious doubts about being chance for breeders, trainers, exhibitors, restaurants and back in today’s Arabian horse show business. and guests to mingle and talk about Why? To begin with, many of our show our wonderful horses. We may be on to to farms and invite horse trainers are also bloodstock agents. something here.

enthusiasts to attend. — Bruce Johnson

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This is a conflict of interest. We all know that the majority of the judges actively adjudicating within our industry, also breed, own, or train Arabian horses. This is also a conflict of interest. Having admitted that we have more than a few political and ethical problems, counterproductive to the growth of our breed, the Arabian industry does currently have an advantage over many industries, equine and otherwise. Today, those with a decade or more of serious involvement with Arabian horses are true diehards. They are bona fide Arabian horse aficionados and breeders. They love their Arabians and in many cases have had to make real sacrifices in order to keep them during our recent economic downturn. These owners and breeders have not perceived the Arabian horse business as strictly a monetary investment the way owners have done in the Thoroughbred industry. If you go to Saratoga Springs and visit the Racing Hall of Fame, exhibits actually point out how the Thoroughbred industry owners have changed from serious We need to have a lot breeders to horse investors. of nice small shows They simply do not have the where the actual owner passion for their horses that one can still find within the can participate and Arabian horse industry. show his horses without On the track, where our Arabian horses race having to pay these on the same cards as the incredibly high show Thoroughbreds, we have fees. — Sigi Siller people from that industry tell us frequently how much fun they have with the Arabian racing people. It’s fun because we are now the way people in the Thoroughbred industry were, once upon a time. Almost all Arabian horses racing today are owned by people who breed Arabian racehorses. We love them just as much as those breeders who take them to horse shows. The biggest difference between the showing and racing groups

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is that racing Arabian owners now pay less than horse show exhibitors to train and compete with our horses and we have the opportunity to make good money racing and pay for our enjoyment. In today’s Arabian show world the same people are asked over and over again to sponsor things and to pay increasingly higher and higher fees and costs to exhibit. This constant “going to the well” eventually wears out the sources and drives them to refuse to participate temporarily, or worse — to leave permanently. In the racing world the betting public pays for us to run our horses. If our horses are successful, we race them and profit. If they are not successful, we send them home and place them in another discipline, like endurance racing, one of our important secondary markets. Racehorse trainers don’t want losing horses filling up box stalls at the track that could be occupied by successful racehorses. Those winning race checks are far more important to our trainers than keeping stalls filled with paying boarders. Recently there has been much sponsorship support from the Middle East, for both Thoroughbred and Arabian horse racing internationally. The Middle East seems to have a twofold purpose determining their support. As the homeland of the Arabian horse, the Middle Easterners have collectively decided to put forward this most beautiful equine treasure as their ambassador to the world, and in so doing they have also strategically set their sights on venues that will effectively showcase the Arabian horse to the masses. In this country, their first real success with this new program was the running of the Arabian President’s Cup at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington in the fall of 2010. In 2011, they negotiated with Churchill Downs and, although we did not get to run on Kentucky Derby Day, we did have a race at Churchill on their second-biggest weekend, Stephen Foster Day. This year, the Arabians ran at Pimlico in Maryland on the card with the Preakness, second jewel in the Thoroughbred Triple Crown of horse racing. There were over 40,000 people in attendance that day last May at Pimlico, and


these are just a few of the opportunities now available to Arabian racehorses all over the world. What’s difficult for me to understand is why these enormous success stories of outreach, exposure, and opportunity for Arabian racehorses have created so little stir within our collective Arabian horse industry. Here is a once-in-a-century opportunity to showcase our Arabian horse to literally thousands and thousands of people globally, expose our breed to interested newcomers and truly help us to grow. What is wrong with our industry? At this very late date, when anemic registrations and a serious lack of new owners threaten our breed’s very survival in this country, why do we remain frozen into inaction by shortsighted, outdated personal agendas? Are our trainers and owners really so uneducated and uninformed? Why is there so little exposure given to versatile niche disciplines like Arabian racing by our media outlets, except for Arabian Horse World, which covers Arabian racing on a regular basis? These are Arabian horses and what happens to them affects every one of us. Here is where I have to stop and seriously thank Arabian Horse World for continuing this critical discussion. Dialogue is the first step toward solutions. Perception is also critically important and a look at the larger view can also help us achieve change. No matter what any of us thinks is the cause of our breed problems we have to take into account the larger picture. The entire equine industry has problems with diminishing status and importance. It’s very obvious to those of us racing Arabians that the Thoroughbred is the “representative horse” primarily recognized by the world outside of the horse business. Of all our breeds in this country it has by far the largest number of participants and spectators. It would behoove all of us to understand this and to capitalize and coattail on this most visible of all horse breeds. The Thoroughbred can and does affect the rest of the world when it comes to overall exposure to horses, and no other breed is nearly as well positioned as the

Thoroughbred to elicit interest in horses by the general public. Just as the Thoroughbred creates interest, our breed has discouraged interest and been badly branded over the past thirty years by our competition and some rather bad press we have virtually encouraged, rather than countered. For instance, the Arabian horse is generally perceived to be a very costly horse. We broadcast loudly when horses in our breed sell for six figures and frequently neglect to tell the story about the Arabian horse found at the slaughterhouse, rehabilitated, and then shown to championships. The Thoroughbred industry and its media have created great promotion touting these heartwarming, “ragsto-riches” stories. Why are we so reluctant to understand the meaning and value of these stories? I have heard trainers say that they don’t want to talk to anyone not willing to pay at least $30,000 for an Arabian horse, and I have heard of as many as six people or more making a commission on an Arabian horse sale. Well, no wonder the Arabian is perceived to be too expensive. A great many things created the myth that Arabian horses are too spirited and difficult to handle. More than ever before in the history of the horse in this country, the horse owner wants to have a horse they can ride and interact with personally. In the racing industry it’s common knowledge that the Arabian is smarter than the Thoroughbred, and usually smarter than its trainer or handler. Disposition? You have only to walk through

The fact that the numbers of straight Egyptian horses have held steady, even grown, over the last ten years might suggest that the Pyramid Society has been doing something right. — Allison Mehta-Westley

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the backside at the track and see the Arabians hanging their heads out over the stall doors looking for a pat or a treat, and enjoying life as a racehorse. They are doing what God created them to do … take flight, and what the Bedouin bred them to do for centuries … run like the wind. You can also go to an endurance race and see well-behaved Arabians tied to trailers and standing in makeshift pens. Most were purchased for less than $5,000. The owners and their family members are riding and grooming, all in a family setting. The Arabian is the finest family and personal companion horse ever created. Why not rebrand our horses in that direction? Breed programs and futurities have not produced the positive results we should all be The board of directors enjoying. We have had several needs to be able to opportunities to be this country’s act. The delegate and equine leaders convention system in prize money programs, a great is too slow and incentive for fragmented to lead. newcomers and breeders. Instead, — Greg Knowles questionable spending and unfortunate mismanagement of funds by some have damaged the overall integrity of all these programs and our breed. Breeders nominate stallions so that the stallion offspring are eligible for prize money classes, and with each nomination there are fewer paid stud fees. In most cases the owner of the stallion not only nominates his horse but ends up buying the breeding back to establish a stud fee value, another questionable business practice. Right now there is a limited supply of people able to afford breeding fees. It is also very sad that Arabian

horse breeders are not given enough credit for being breeders, either financially or via recognition. Arabian horses are also sold domestically and internationally and have their names changed, removing the breeder’s initials. That’s so painful for the breeder trying to develop or maintain a good reputation. I am told that WAHO is trying to address this concern. I hope that they do. The Arabian show scene is rife with accusations of cruelty, some actual and some imagined. It is the same for the Arabian racehorse. As previously discussed, the racetrack is a very public and visible venue. We are all wise to present our horses to people in the manner we wish them to be perceived … comfortable, friendly, intelligent, and kind. We would also be wise, in this climate where obscene greed in big business and on Wall Street is heavily criticized publicly, to provide a haven of integrity within the horse business. Imagine a place where people smile and say “hello” when you walk into the barn at a farm or a show and make it their business to welcome visitors and be ambassadors for the Arabian breed. What if we had horse shows and events that were not the most expensive in the equine industry? What if they were specifically created to be affordable and entertaining for horse people as well as ordinary people? What if these shows or events routinely offered one session, perhaps an entire Saturday afternoon, devoted to children, newcomers, and families where there were schooling classes, entertaining demonstrations, open barns, light refreshments, and delightful opportunities to learn and interact with horsemen and Arabian horses? Imagine. Frank Hennessey, Hennessey Arabian Farms, Ocala, Florida: It’s no secret that the graphs showing the decline and diminishment of the Arabian horse are alarming. Conversations around what is wrong and discussions explaining the underlying reasons are interesting, but by their nature are problematic. As long as we continue to talk instead of act on what’s wrong with the Arabian horse industry we will be stuck with what we’ve got.

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We own it. It’s like Walt Kelly, the creator of the “Pogo” comic strip, saying, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Talking about solving problems is of little use, unless we are willing to shift our focus away from history and move it toward telling the truth about the present, thereby creating the future we want. What defines the present context, the fundamental commitments of the Arabian horse industry? The answer: The motivating factor at this moment in time is purely commercial finance. Don’t get me wrong; the profit motive is an absolute necessity in any industry if it is going to thrive. But what’s missing for me is a collective purpose, a strategic intent, based upon a future that we all desire. What is our vision for the future — say five years out? What does it look like, and what do we want it to be? We cannot get there from where we are today if the fundamental motive is simply financial. There must be a greater and more compelling purpose. For this industry to grow and be successful it must be based upon capturing the hearts and minds of the American people. How do we do that? First, we need to be aligned with a common and agreed-upon strategic intent. Nothing will change without a new context, and it must be bold and game changing. It must be noble in purpose. It must reflect why we love the Arabian Our new strategic horse. Our new strategic intent must expose the beauty and intent must expose functionality of the Arabian the beauty and horse to all Americans. It must share our pleasure in functionality of the the Arabian horse with the Arabian horse to all vast public. It must educate, Americans. It must promote, demonstrate, and demand leadership from our share our pleasure association to deliver on this in the Arabian horse intent. with the vast public. Second, the opportunity

to create the future we all want needs to be based on spreading the joy we all feel from our relationship with the horse. This is a universal joy — accessible to all, with the right exposure. Imagine a promotion of the Arabian horse to the community at large; exposure via platforms like the horse show “Cavalia,” movies like “The Black Stallion” and “Arabian Nights,” and the use of the Arabian horse in therapeutic programs for physically and mentally challenged individuals. Imagine families learning about the history of the Arabian horse, via National Geographic and a virtual visit to the Arabian horse museum in Kentucky. Imagine broadcasting competitions throughout the country for both halter and performance horses in activities such as reining, driving, English pleasure, and country pleasure. The purpose is to demonstrate the magnificence of the Arabian horse and its interactions with humans. It’s not new, it’s been forever, and it cannot be lost. With the right vision and direction, we can create a “National Transformation Institute” toward this end. We can describe the future, develop an action plan, and watch it unfold as a shared reality. Our mission together can be to invent, ignite, and implement a future for the Arabian horse, the industry, and countless people in America. Third, the challenge for all of us is to establish agreedupon principles for governing this magnificent world known as the Arabian horse industry. The task will be to co-invent our own definition of the industry, as we want it to be. Imagine an “Arabian Horse Institute” whose vision is to promote the wonders of the Arabian horse, and create a national demand from people who want to be involved. Imagine it as a positive force; a branding of the Arabian horse by focusing on creating a genuine public image of the Arabian horse that represents the possibility it can be in our lives through education, promotion, demonstration projects, and marketing. In the spirit of this message, I’ve established a blog setting forth concepts, describing examples and seeking input from all who care about the treasure of the Arabian horse. Stop by

It must educate, promote, demonstrate, and demand leadership from our association to deliver on this intent. — Frank Hennessey

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at www.stateofarabians.com. Take our opinion survey, share your thoughts with us, and sign up to be a part of the dialogue. Imagine creativity unleashed — together, we can change the world. I thank Arabian Horse World for starting this dialogue, and for contributing to us all in a meaningful way.

I see or hear literally every day about a daughter of an employee or an acquaintance getting their first horse. The people are there but the Arabian is not foremost … Walter Farley, where are you?

Shawn Crews, Manager, Arabians Ltd., Waco, Texas: Of all the reasons mentioned in Bruce Johnson’s article regarding declining registrations in the U.S., I have seen the cost of care and the shaky economy be the biggest factors in why more people are not buying horses now, or selling or not breeding the ones they have. In the last five years hay and grain prices have tripled; that is substantial. Prior to the hike in those expenses, feed was always a factor in the annual budget, but not like it is today. That fact means that many Arabian owners are cutting back on breeding, showing, and a lot of the fun things they love to do with their horses. We all know the economy affects people’s decisions about how they spend their discretionary funds. Many are fascinated by these horses and can afford them, but they’re just holding back until they feel a bit more confident in the economic future. The U.S. is exporting a lot of Arabian horses and our breed has totally gone global. I would just guess the worldwide numbers are slowly expanding and will continue to grow as those horses are bred and produce. Obviously those foals are being born around the world and not in the U.S. But this is not a bad thing. Having mentioned some of the challenges, I still firmly believe there is a bright future for this breed. Those people for

— Alan Kirshner

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whom having a horse has been a life dream will find a way to get involved and there is a lot more we can do to attract them to Arabian horses. They will buy a horse at some point in their life, so exposing these amazing animals is key. Exposure should not be the responsibility of AHA alone, it is something that all of us who have chosen to “do horses” as our life passion are responsible for. And there are simply not enough people available to promote our breed and help the novice owners and breeders with the guidance they need to be successful. In the Thoroughbred business, there are bloodstock agents who help buyers and sellers. New horse owners also find it hard to find young trainers to work with around the country. Many of the established training centers are full and have obligations to their longtime clients. So we have few venues for new people to get help training their horses for halter or performance, and we all know the experience some have when they send their Arabian horse to a trainer of different breeds. Supporting the young professionals and bloodstock agents so the new breeders have “people” is huge. If you knew nothing about racing, and wanted to get into it, you would look for a


either correctable or very controllable. Of course, the economy plays a large part. Breeding and showing Arabian horses requires a very personal involvement. The affordability of properly providing for a horse is certainly a major consideration. We do not have a lot of people coming into the industry because of financial restrictions and limitations. The desire might be there — the necessary affordability is not. Another, more emotional reason, is that many of the newly involved people feel that they are not having a good experience and they quickly leave. They are being taken advantage of by trainers who are so motivated by their own interests that they cycle through clients in the short term, instead of nurturing a long-term client relationship. Our market for the $10,000 to $40,000 horse has suffered because some marketer/agents only spend their time and energy trying to sell high-dollar horses. There is a huge economic imbalance in this problem. But then again, what do we have to offer the $15,000 show horse? The days of classes full of $15,000 to $25,000 show horses, competing enthusiastically at their level are gone. Our AHA halter scoring system is demoralizing to the lower and mid-range quality horse. It unnecessarily insults the majority of participants. AHA’s attitude is counterproductive because it actually suggests that owners not show their $15,000 horse unless they are willing to endure the low-scoring insult as an award. Manny Vierra, Valley Oak Arabians, Brentwood, I personally register 10 to 20 foals per year, yet I have never California: had my regional AHA director or any of the AHA leadership First, let’s not forget that it is the passion for the Arabian horse that binds all of us! For most of us, the love of the Arabian come to me for my opinion. High-dollar sales are welcomed by all but the stabilizing horse is our motivation. But where have all our horses gone? And of our industry requires that breeders with a solid breeding why are the numbers declining? foundation produce Arabian horses of interest to all market I believe there are a number of clearly defined factors that have caused our Arabian horse population to decline. And all are demographics, large and small. We must direct positive energy back into the show arenas that will service the majority of breeders. Then There are two things that the Arabian horse is we will see the $15,000 Arabian horse in professional to guide you. Developing a professional network that newcomers could tap into would be huge! I really believe this is one of the major factors as to why Arabian breeders are not attracting more of the market share of horse lovers. Our industry needs to offer more in the way of services to horse owners and prospective buyers. Although there are fewer foals being produced, with embryo transfer and thoughtful breeding decisions, the overall quality that knowledgeable breeders are producing is impressive. We breed Egyptian Arabians, and have felt the economic stress that others have but we still have a solid market for quality horses. I do see a positive trend in the breeding business, but with a smaller number of horses. Those people generally do well, and in a slow market year have no problem as they are not carrying a large number of horses. It is a super time to become involved with Arabian horses! The top-quality horses are still bringing a good price, but a new breeder can get quality stock and that is essential to a newcomer’s success. So, there is a lot we can all do. Certainly we would like to see the numbers come up, but less does not have to be a bad thing. It gives us all the great opportunity to help reshape the future of the breed we love so and do a better job with all we have learned.

famous for right now: they’re expensive and

they’re crazy. AHA needs to change that. We’ve got to show that these horses are not all expensive and they are every bit as much a family horse as any Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Fox Trotter, or Welsh pony. — Rob Bick

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demand again. Currently, our market is only active within our very own limited community. Breeders cannot keep breeding and selling just to other breeders. One of the primary market strategies at Valley Oak Arabians is to promote our quality horses to newcomers — this is a must in our industry. On the positive side, there have been some great efforts made with shows like our Breeders Cup in Las Vegas. This excellent show has done a lot to bring new people to the U.S. from other countries. And the live-feed Internet coverage has exposed our products in a very favorable and energizing manner. It has done a lot for our industry! Of equal importance, the show has been a lot of fun and very positive for new people coming and having a good time. In fact, all have a great time, and all leave with an optimism that they take back to their countries. Marketing rules apply: If breeders (large and small) do not market their horses, they obviously cut back the numbers in breeding. As a result fewer horses are registered, fewer horses shown; fewer shows for mid-range quality, and lower participation. Our regional shows in California: Regions 1, 2, and 3 have all steadily declined in numbers over the last 15 years. But, to me, the last five years have been the most dramatic. Once the numbers per class dropped below the top-five line, it seemed that the reason for its being referred to as “competition” vanished. There is no more Cal-Bred Futurity. I remember when there were over 30 horses in each of the seven Cal-Bred classes, and the champion three-year-old colt and filly were the

I personally register 10 to 20 foals per year, yet I have never had my

legitimate front-runners for the U.S. and Canadian National Futurities. Now, the show doesn’t even exist! The Cal-Bred Futurities were like our Rose Bowl game is to college football! The horses bred in North America are unsurpassed by any in the world, a fact demonstrated by the majority of international champions that are from the U.S. or who feature our horses in their pedigrees. That tells me that our quality has held to the highest standard. That said, we need to be sure that new people experiencing the breed do not have negative experiences, and that we longtimers don’t lose our passion. There are a handful of trainers at the top of our industry who have mastered the art of selling and marketing for the benefit of their clients and themselves. But let’s not forget the newcomers coming in, because they need to be the next generation of enthusiasts to advance our breed into the future. Again! Let’s not forget that it is the passion for the Arabian horse that binds all of us! Hopefully we won’t continue to let short-term goals separate us and hurt our industry. Robert North, North Arabians, Ramona, California: Breeding is, to a large degree, done by halter people. They are motivated by having foals that can be shown and sold at a young age (like zero to two years). For a performance horse, you usually have to wait for two to four years before you have a market. The halter breeders need to have a number of shows where the young foals, yearlings, and two-year-olds can be shown. AHA has worked hard to eliminate these shows by requiring that the young horses be in sweepstakes or several other restrictions. This reduces the number of young horses that are eligible to show. In addition, the AHA shows for halter are very bad shows. They are long in terms of number of days and usually AHA shows no real interest in or promotion of the halter classes. In addition, many of the AHA shows do not even have those

regional AHA director or any of the AHA leadership come to me for my opinion. — Manny Vierra

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that could be reviewed and initiated. classes anymore but there are no AHA An experienced senior It is a hard problem, and to my shows for just halter. The Class A shows representative of another knowledge currently AHA is doing have now deteriorated to just a place to nothing to address the issue. qualify for Regionals and the Regionals breed organization was run for at least four days. Therefore, asked for his opinion after Sigi Siller, Om El Arab the breeder is not motivated to go to International, Santa Ynez, these shows the way they are promoted; listening to the two days California: the shows run for many days of every I believe the current state of the performance category you can think of, of discussion. He was able Arabian breed is indicative of the and have little or no “fun factor.” to distill all that he had overall decline of everything, but AHA does not have any breeder the economic decline is only partly awards or promotions. Breeders are not heard to this comment: responsible for the declining numbers treated any better than someone who “The problem is not the of production of Arabian horses. This owns one backyard Arabian riding horse. decline was already happening long They should set up programs to promote Arabian horse.” before 2008. I remember attending breeders with awards, recognition, and — Howard W. Pike workshops organized by the Purebred money rewards. Instead, the breeders Arabian Trust and the Arabian Horse are expected to pay big nomination Owners Foundation years ago to find fees for their unborn foals to support ways to improve our industry and to brainstorm how to increase prize money for the performance people after the horse is numbers in foals being born. Yes, horses are a luxury and when under saddle. times are tough, these luxury items are the first ones to go. The few new “fun shows” for young halter horses and breeders are all currently non-AHA shows (i.e., Scottsdale halter, However, as mentioned several times before, the Quarter Horse industry was able to turn their declining numbers around. Vegas World Cup, Breeders Finals, etc). In my opinion Arabian horses are still a high-end luxury AHA has not promoted the amateur halter classes to any item. Only affluent people can afford to own an Arabian show degree with prize money. All the current halter prize money classes are non-AHA programs and shows. These programs have horse, whether in halter or in performance on higher levels. Exceptions are the endurance and NATRC world. These become the most popular in the halter show circuit and are the events are still mainly occupied by hands-on owners who pride main reason a few people are still breeding. themselves on caring for their horses on a daily basis. They AHA could initiate a number of breeder incentives to get immense satisfaction in preparing their horses for these reward the few breeders we still have rather than punish them competitions and ride them to their placings themselves. The with programs that cost extra fees and shows that are way few exceptions are some foreign competitors who either buy too long for the U.S. and international breeder to attend or already proven endurance horses or rent a horse to compete in participate in with their horses. our endurance races. I believe that there is no other breed more These are a few ideas but are only the beginning of ideas

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suitable for endurance than the Arabian horse. We as breeders and horse owners have to create more affordable, fun events for Arabian horse lovers. We need to have a lot of nice small shows where the actual owner can participate and show his horses without having to pay these incredibly high show fees. This also requires capable judges who can evaluate horses without the hard stand-up. Fun has to return to Arabian horse events! There is this misconception that Arabian horses are high energy and sometimes dangerous. Our breed organizations should work to create a better image for our breed. Bruce Johnson, Bint Al Bahr Arabians, Buckeye, Arizona: There are as many good ideas for stabilizing the declining numbers as there are great people working within the Arabian breed. Here are some of mine: Breed for the future — As the country recovers from its economic challenges, the cost of breeding and raising horses will continue to rise and fewer horses will be bred. The best advice is to breed the best animals possible. • Educate yourself and perform the required research; don’t just rely on flashy photos and videos. • When at all practicable, visit a prospective stallion to study its conformation. View its offspring to see how the stallion’s genetics influenced the offspring produced by different phenotypes of mares. Does the stallion do what your mare needs? • Each foal bred should have a purpose, whether it is for competition in the showring, pleasure riding, breeding, endurance, dressage, Pony Club, or genetic conservation. • Start horses under saddle whenever practicable so that breeding animals have a secondary career if the first does not pan out. • Help get the facts out — be direct, truthful, and provide educational links and information for new people attracted to Arabian horses.

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Most importantly, have fun! Remember the reasons you got involved in the first place and keep sight of what makes you, and your horses, happy. — Peri Wilson

• Educate and help prospective new owners by using the purchase/lease/breeding checklists developed by the Registration Commission on the AHA website. Put the “social” back into clubs — Clubs represent a large proportion of the current Arabian Horse Association membership. It’s time to put the “social” back into the clubs. Work to move some club meetings out of restaurants and banks back to farms and invite enthusiasts to attend. This serves several purposes: • People interact on a face-to-face basis. • New members can learn bloodlines or disciplines supported/ trained by each farm. • Each farm meeting should cover at least one topic that would help other club members learn and be especially informative for new owners and enthusiasts. • The combination of education in a social environment will attract new enthusiasts to the Arabian horse and increase club memberships. Invest in the future — Breeders, you have a responsibility to pass on your knowledge to the members of the next generation and help them continue down the breeding path. There are many ways one can do that. Once you find new breeders or enthusiasts that you believe will contribute positively


to your bloodlines, disciplines, or to the Arabian breed, there are Gordon Potts, The Brass Ring, Burleson, Texas many options to help them get started: The day the music died was the day after the 2004 • Donate or discount mares or stallions convention when the big money sweepstakes thing was approved. • Send your stallion or mare to them on a maintenance lease Then Sunday morning after the convention there was a meeting • Swap stallions by the whole board of directors and it got voted down. • Make a gift of frozen semen Prize money is what makes some of these breeds continue • Offer free breeding(s) to your stallion if they purchase/lease to grow or hold their own, while others flounder. For instance, a mare (Al-Marah Arabians in Tucson, Arizona, has a very in the 90s, the Quarter Horses maintained their growth. I think successful program selling a mare in foal or in a three-in-one they’re all down now but they actually grew and the Paints took package with a foal at side and the mare bred back) off. Those horses are so quiet, and they have so many varied • Significantly reduce board if mares are left in your care for uses, but they are primarily the backyard pleasure riding horse. breeding You can take a two- or three-year-old Quarter horse or Paint • Pay for and process registration transfers for all horses sold at and ride it down the road. You can’t do that with an Arabian. It your farm was amazing to me when I started riding big Quarter Horses, Attract new riders — Some well-known trainers have how quickly they were trained. One of the reasons they are easy developed academy programs to teach new riders (youth to train is that they don’t have any endurance; they can’t go for and adults!) to learn how to ride on the back of an Arabian. very long. These programs are serving as a model to other trainers to Reining is big money, cutting is big money, and so are attract and help new enthusiasts move barrel racing and roping, whether it’s through the stages of riding lessons, weekend jackpot stuff or the big-time That’s where we’re joint lease of a horse with others, horse stuff. So that keeps the price of those ownership, pleasure riding, introduction drying up — at the roots. horses up there. All those sports are their to competition through open shows, own entities. They don’t need breed We need to get some life organizations — they’re well-heeled Arabian community and one-day shows, USEF-recognized (formerly Class A), on their own. But their source, their down there. — Rob Bick Regional and National competition. product, is the American Quarter horse Breeders who are also trainers can use and its derivatives. this model to help sell or lease horses The bottom fell out of the Quarter while also providing valuable jobs for Horses and Paints skyrocketed. I know older show horses as lesson horses. because I was in it at that time. I bought my first Paint in 1996. The key is that it will take all of us and all our good ideas to I thought they were cool looking — but also, weanlings and reverse the decline in Arabian horse numbers. We are competing yearlings were selling from five to ten or fifteen thousand dollars. not only with the other breeds but other non-equine interests to But the bottom fell out of Paints, too, because they overbred attract the people who will become the new owners, trainers, and their market and they had no prize money programs in place. breeders to guarantee there is a solid future for the Arabian horse. They were registering 40,000 a year and were transferring 40,000

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to be hit with a VS (vesticular stomatitis) sanction. You could be on your way up there and they close the border to you. Scottsdale numbers are virtually the same. I think those people could probably write the book on how to do a horse show. More and more NRHA guys have gotten interested in the HalfArabians because of the prize money in reining at Scottsdale. I’ve been involved on the APHA board for a number of years and been a judge since 1981. I have been around the political machine of AHA or IAHA for a long time and to me it is refreshing to see what Lance Walters and Glenn Petty have meant to the association. The National show commission has changed their attitude 180 degrees in how they treat the exhibitors. Their whole outlook is, “We’re interested in your opinions as professionals. We’re on the same team and we want to have a great horse show. What can we do to help you and what can you do to help us? We’re all in this together.” That kind of attitude never existed before. They have gone to great lengths to improve things in Tulsa this year. And you have to remember that people on the commission, people in AHA, with exception of a few, don’t get paid. Their hearts are in the right place. They are trying to do the right thing and put on a great horse show. I’m in the minority: I like Tulsa. Granted, there’s nothing like going down that ramp into Freedom I have been around the political machine Hall, but when you have great horses in an arena it doesn’t matter where you are. Honestly — I would of AHA or IAHA for a long time and to like to see them move the show to Fort Worth and I think that one day that might happen, hopefully me it is refreshing to see what Lance when I’m still showing, because that coliseum does have the kind of aura around it that Freedom Walters and Glenn Petty have meant Hall does. We’ve seen a big step up because of the Arabian to the association. Their whole outlook English futurity prize money, which is now at U.S. is, “We’re interested in your opinions as Nationals. That alone increased the breeding for purebred English horses. The participation hasn’t a year. And that was second only to the Quarter Horse. Now I use those Paint mares to breed Half-Arabians. Some people feel that Half-Arabians detract from the purebred Arabian. In reality, I think the Half-Arabian has brought people into the Arabian fold. The people who have come up through the Arabian ranks are, all of a sudden, intrigued by a Saddlebred, or the NRHA, or intrigued by color. And believe me, all three of those things are big draws. They can have their taste of Quarter Horses and Saddlebreds, they can have whatever color they want. That has kept people in our breed. They don’t have to leave the comfort of what they came up in, the arena that they know, and their standing in this community, to go to another breed. This is the first year that I’ve seen a slowdown in business. We had some of our biggest years in the last five years. We had to rent another place to have room, and we were just taking horses. Our numbers were good going to shows, which is where we make our money — where all trainers make their money. But this year has been one of our worst years. I think it’s been a tough year for most people. Still, Canada was up 100 horses, but you’ve got to want to go to Canada. They put on a great show and they’re great people but it’s tough to get there; it’s tough to get your help there. When you’re coming from the Southwest you never know if you’re going

professionals. We’re on the same team and we want to have a great horse show.” — Gordon Potts

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been as great as they would have liked, but you see more people breeding. Those are difficult classes for four-year-olds but still, when I have a client who asks me to go find a young English horse, that’s nice, because before I might look for years — now I can find one pretty quickly. There is certainly demand for really good horses. And when I say “really good” I mean, not just the top, sure-shot, National Champion, but a horse that an amateur can go and be competitive with. Most of them are looking for English horses but in the last few years I’ve bought more reiners than anything. People want to show. They like to show. They think it’s fun. When people talk about stiffening the qualifications for Nationals, well, that’s dumb because the whole organization is funded by that horse show, so I don’t think we want to restrict it. And for those who think that there are too many classes — let me tell you something, the more people that win, the better off you are. It all comes down to prize money. In any successful horse venture, you can follow the money. So when you ask, “Why didn’t our breed flourish?” It’s because we didn’t have the prize money. What will it take to get it turned around? I’m on the Sweepstakes commission and I’m one of the people who resuscitated it. We used the model that Peter Conway and Gary Dearth had and we just had to dial it down, but at least if you have a purebred horse and you win a national championship, you’re going to win ten thousand dollars. And for Half-Arabians it’s half that but still, it’s something to get out of bed for. I think we have three enemies facing the breed: #1 lack of significant prize money, #2 people who are motivated by their own self-gratification or ego and not trying to further our breed, and #3 our endless rule changes. Our National show is a really good deal. Leave it alone. We have great English horses, and great Western horses — compared to the other breeds our western horses are pretty pure and pretty neat. So leave it alone. There are so many people who have to have a cause. Their cause should be furthering the Arabian horse, not witch hunting.

If everyone could recruit just three people a year, our breed would be a lot stronger. Allison Mehta-Westley, Talaria Farms, Atlanta, Georgia: I think most Arabian horse enthusiasts today understand the situation we now face: diminishing numbers of people purchasing Arabian horses, and thus fewer Arabian horses being bred. It’s just that plain and simple: no market — thus no product. But there is the reverse side to the “no market-no product” trend. You can produce a marketable product and then develop your market — the old “if you build it they will come” philosophy. Plenty of people still ride horses and still enjoy the lifestyle associated with them. What we need to discover is why they aren’t buying Arabian horses. Ours is the most versatile breed, the one associated with an exciting international lifestyle — and Arabian horses, with their ability to enchant humans, almost sell themselves if given the opportunity. So, if we have such a great product, what are we doing wrong? Well, we’ve really been doing something wrong for the past twenty years, I believe. With the exception of the sport horse market, most breeders have relied on trainers and horse shows to help them sell horses. But we forget that trainers must have myriad clients in order to survive (thus competition for every sale). Plus, many trainers also breed Arabians themselves. Moreover, horse shows are probably the worst place to sell horses to newcomers (with the exception of a couple of glamorous shows such as Scottsdale and the Egyptian Event). We’ve all seen those people, invited by some horse-owning friend, meandering around the show grounds looking dazed, or sitting in the stands barely concealing their yawns. Let’s see … western pleasure junior horse, western pleasure select, western pleasure ladies to ride, western please JTR, western pleasure

We’ve already done the experiment and know that doing the same thing is not going to bring a different result, unless of course, we are fools. — Leslie Hammel-Turk

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AOTR, western pleasure open, etc. Pretty boring — especially if you’ve never ridden a western (or hunter, or English pleasure) horse. Plus these same newcomers often get to hear the caustic complaints of unhappy exhibitors whose horse didn’t place well. But that is what the Arabian industry has become … we plan our lives one horse show to the next, our magazines catalog the glory of show wins — and horse owners pay, and pay, and pay to “enjoy” their horses. If we are to survive, the Arabian industry (whether AHA, or an owners’ organization, or a group of breeders) absolutely must develop ways to make owning Arabian horses more fun, more interesting — and, to some extent — less expensive. We should exhibit our horses at celebrations, have a booth at Pony Club Nationals, set up a display at the Breyer celebration (with real horses and interesting demonstrations). We need to develop, rather than another expensive show, an Arabian horse fair at the Kentucky Horse Park (or a West Coast venue), with exhibits and clinics, and hands-on activities for people to learn about Arabian horses and how to enjoy them. I know fairs have been tried before, without much success. But we need to keep trying until we find a moderately priced formula for some successful event other than a horse show to introduce newcomers to the beauty and versatility of Arabian horses, their fascinating history, the fact that they are ambassadors to other cultures around the world. Beyond this, I think all Arabian horse shows should devote at least a half-day in the schedule to fun activities for attendees. People will spend money for enjoyable camaraderie — that’s why they play golf, sail yachts, and belong to tennis clubs. In closing, I can only point out that making the annual weeklong Egyptian Event in Lexington, Kentucky, as much fun as possible for all attendees (horse owners and breeders, exhibitors, and just casual onlookers) is the absolute mantra of the Pyramid Society. Plus, many of the individual straight Egyptian farms have followed suit — offering their own open

houses, clinics, seminars, and conferences. The fact that the numbers of straight Egyptian horses have held steady, even grown, over the last ten years might suggest that the Pyramid Society has been doing something right. We all need to remember Mr. Kellogg and his open houses at the Kellogg Ranch. How many people were introduced to the Arabian horse through his Sunday afternoon Arabian horse presentations? Anna Wolfe, Des Moines, New Mexico: As an endurance rider I enjoy spending hours and hours each day and each week with my beautiful, intelligent, and kind Arabians. They come from my mother Patricia “Tish” Wiman Hewitt’s Crabbet bloodlines and were bred for disposition as well as beauty and athleticism at her Friendship Farms in Illinois. They are remarkable and generous companions that are willing to share miles of trail and together we grow into a bonded and trusting relationship. I was shocked to learn how much the numbers of Arabian registrations have declined, particularly since my mother’s death in 1992. But when I think about it, the number of Arabians owned by our family have also fallen by a factor of ten. My mother had nearly 100 Arabians when she died, for she ran a large operation with many employees. My brother and sister and I combined had about 20 Arabians at our peak numbers, and now it is down to about ten of mine. Until recently I had never bought or sold a horse in my life, for I had just inherited them, been given them, or bred them, and I usually kept them until they died, with the exception of one that I can think of that I

A great many things created the myth that Arabian horses are too spirited and difficult to handle. More than ever before in the history of the horse in this country, the horse owner wants to have a horse they can ride and interact with personally. — Deb Mihaloff-Kirshner

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I believe we should reduce the number of our regional shows to a number that can draw 400-plus horses. — Mike Weinstein

gave away. I was never in the horse business — my horses are part of my family, and so I don’t breed more than I can take care of or use myself. My family is a micro example of the decline in the number of Arabians. While I have owned mares whose bloodlines and beauty would tempt me to breed them each year, I did not do so, for I couldn’t use that many horses. Particularly with the economic downturns of recent years it is not just a matter of breeding more horses, for realistically not all that many people can afford to give them the homes that they need and deserve. Sadly, the economy is not something that we, as lovers of the Arabian breed, can do much to improve. But I certainly hope that there will still be those who will come under the spell of these kind and gentle animals, and who will enjoy spending time in their company. I have chosen endurance riding as my favorite method of being with my Arabs because it is a way to see new trails and new country from the back of my horse and I can spend up to 24 straight hours or up to five days in a row doing it, not to mention camping with my horse, and all the hours, days, weeks, months, and years it takes to get there. And the horses I have from my mother’s breeding seem to excel at this sport. Endurance comes from perseverance, stick-to-it-iveness, inner strength, and dedication, and these attributes serve me well in life — I think a lot of it I learned from having children! So how can more people learn about this breed and this sport? While I’d love to take each potential Arabian owner for a ride on my mountain, and mentor them, and help them find the

right partner, I feel that in this day and age the most exposure we can give the breed is through the Internet or television. YouTube reaches a lot of people, and I’m not sure how to make it happen, but movies and television programs that feature Arabians, their relationships with people, and what they can do could lure a lot of people into our very special world. Wouldn’t it be great to have a video game based on a girl and her horse (an Arab, naturally) that could become popular, or maybe DVDs for kids that feature Arabian horses as the stars? A child’s desire for a horse is often the gateway to a family becoming horse owners. A fictional account of a girl achieving a Tevis dream could be as popular as “National Velvet”! Leslie Hammel-Turk, Turk Arabians, Las Vegas, New Mexico: The economic pressures on horse ownership are the same for all breeds. What we need to look at is why the Arabian’s popularity is low and diminishing. I believe that their perception of Arabians is at odds with what people want to do with their horse in the back field on weekends — and that is chasing away potential new owners. Although over 75 percent of Arabian horse owners do not show, shows provide the highest visibility both within and outside the breed. What happens in the showring is the primary driver of how the breed is perceived. And when publicity and promotion emphasizes the halter classes for Arabians, the predictable outcome is that the horses are perceived as merely expensive baubles. But there is more to the story. The showring is an indicator of trends in the horse market. The strong growth in our shows — especially small local shows — is in the working horse classes, specifically reining and sport horse. It appears that riders want to do something interesting with their horses under saddle. The halter ring, at its best, shows off the Arabian’s beauty and charisma. However, as a stand-alone test, halter in all breeds

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the running. This will highlight the versatility of our breed, while can tend to run off into the weeds because it is so subjective. making a statement that we are serious about true using horses. It It is easy to lose sight of the fact that ultimately we should be might also play to amateurs and those who presently don’t show breeding for the ideal riding horse that is also beautiful and their horses in halter. Those who want to continue to show as charismatic. they always have done, can — this just adds a new top end that We need a way to shine the light back on all that is great our horses are more than capable of achieving. Are we? about our breed. We need to show that our Arabians are still up And what about those who don’t show and those who are to the most difficult of tests — as they were when those in need curious about Arabians? What occurs in the showring affects of topflight warhorses traveled to the Middle East to purchase those who ride for pleasure and never plan to show. They may the best. Toward that end, what would it look like if instead go watch a show and see the possibilities and go home with of the National halter champions being called the National Champion Stallion/Mare/Gelding, they were called the National raised expectations of what they and their horse can do. What if people start to see spectacular, quiet horses in halter and then the Champion Halter Stallion/Mare/Gelding? What if the title of National Champion Stallion/Mare/Gelding was reserved for the same horse doing amazing things under saddle? They may give Arabians another look. What if people started to see pictures on contender that accumulated the greatest number of points not the cover of Arabian Horse World of National Champion stallions only in halter but also in a “rail” class such as western pleasure, English pleasure, hunter, or show hack, and a working class such that are powering over Cougar Rock during the Tevis Cup ride? Pretty compelling, I’d say. as reining, high level dressage, racing, or endurance? This would not be easy to bring about, and I am sure that Clearly, this is a much more difficult test that will many would be adamantly opposed to this incorporate some level idea. But no matter what course we take, of self-regulation. People it is not going to be easy to get our breed are going to be a bit Our new strategic intent back in the forefront where it belongs. disinclined to jump on must expose the beauty and We’ve already done the experiment and board one of those halter know that doing the same thing is not horses that is quivering functionality of the Arabian going to bring a different result, unless of in fear. Halter horse horse to all Americans. It course, we are fools. conformation will start to reflect a horse that must share our pleasure in can hold up to the rigors Peri Wilson, Wilson Training of high level work. On Center, Tavares, Florida: the Arabian horse with the the other side, breeders After being invited to give my vast public. It must educate, of racehorses and other thoughts about the decline in interest working horses may pay in the Arabian breed, I took a few days promote, demonstrate, and a bit more attention to to think about how this decline can be retaining more Arabian stopped. The issue is a large one and leaves demand leadership from our type in order to be in quite a bit to think about. I do believe

association to deliver on this intent. — Frank Hennessey

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everyone who is involved with this great horse, at any level, is going to have to put forth an effort to turn things around. I do believe this can be done. After spending some time really considering all of the areas in the industry where changes could be made to stop the decline, here’s what I’ve come up with. We need to get back to what draws people to the breed. If everyone takes a moment to think back on what drew them to the Arabian horse, I believe their story would be similar to mine. I grew up with homebred, “backyard” Arabians. We showed a couple of times a year at local open shows. We spent weekends and summers on horseback. We had fun! Many of the other kids I grew up riding with are still involved in this breed in a very real way. I treasure how I came to be a part of the Arabian horse and I have to imagine that most people feel the same way about their introduction to the breed. I think the industry needs to better support its grassroots. It’s so simple to get wrapped up in striving to be at the highest levels possible but I feel we close ourselves off to those who have no idea what they are missing. If we want people to be involved, then we need to open the door for them. By this I mean, offer open barns where locals can come in and learn about the Arabian horse; go to a local open show and offer a clinic or a presentation to people who love horses but don’t know much about the Arabian. Take time at a horse show to talk to spectators about what we are doing and striving for. People need to hear our stories and meet this amazing horse. I think if those less involved had the opportunity to join in, at whatever level they could, they would. We just need to make that opportunity available. The next thing to consider is how to keep the new people involved. Arabian horse enthusiasts have a responsibility to take new people under their wing. Help educate them, help them make sound decisions on how they are going to proceed in the business. So often, people make decisions in this business based on what is new and exciting and then end up disappointed with the outcome because it was not ultimately what made them

happy, long term. Every individual needs to decide where his or her passion lies with this horse and be encouraged and supported to stick with that. Every decision that is made needs to be considered thoroughly. Owners, breeders, trainers, and amateurs alike need to have a strong support group of knowledgeable people who are willing to share their wisdom for the greater good of the breed. Trainers need to keep in mind that steering people in the correct direction, even if it may not be the most profitable in the moment, will eventually turn into a positive, long-term relationship. Everyone needs to look toward long-term goals. When breeding, breed an Arabian true to the type standard that can go on and compete in all divisions. Take time to study pedigrees and understand what you are breeding. When owners are making decisions on where to place their horses for training, showing, and/or selling, get to know the people you are working with. A good relationship with open communication and clear goals needs to be developed and maintained. When the time comes to offer your horse for sale, be realistic about pricing. Do your homework and communicate with those with whom you have built relationships. We need to look forward in a positive manner. Everyone needs to do their due diligence as supporters of the breed and take some time to spread the word and knowledge about these incredible animals that have stolen so many of our hearts. Most importantly, have fun! Remember the reasons you got involved in the first place and keep sight of what makes you, and your horses, happy.

The Arabian is the finest family and personal companion horse ever created. Why not rebrand our horses in that direction? — Deb Mihaloff-Kirshner

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Where Have All the Arabians Gone? Your Turn