2023 AQHA Initiatives

2023 AQHA Initiatives

AQHA Chief Executive Officer Karl Stressman shares his mission-driven plan to drive the Association forward.

A group of riders are in a pasture in black and white.

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Well, folks, it has been a year! Last spring, we started this journey together and in, what feels like, just a few short months, we have made significant progress. It has been a fun ride to learn about the staff, our members, their American Quarter Horses and our Association. The learning process is an on-going one so we won’t cross education off our list, but we can cross off one year of progress, growth and commitment.

When I stepped into this role, I wanted to clearly lay out how our plan to structure the future of AQHA was to be determined. That plan is threefold:

  1. Establish the most important initiatives for the Association.

  2. Accomplish those key initiatives to the best of our ability, rather than take on too many initiatives and only reach partial completion.

  3. Continue to strengthen our team, because the stronger our team is, the stronger the results will be and the better we can serve you.

Our initiatives drive our vision and our core focus each year to serve the members. We have already moved through our first set of initiatives and we will continue to work on those areas, but this year we have additional areas of focus.

These 2023 initiatives are:

  1. Provide better tools for the staff to better support our members.
  2. Acknowledge and celebrate how diverse our membership is and increase participation in AQHA’s various programs – Horseback Riding Program, Professional Horsemen, Ranching Heritage programs and more.
  3. Complete a comprehensive member survey to determine the demographics and desires of our membership.
  4. Develop a multidiscipline educational series on animal welfare.

Our focus is on these areas, but we continue to challenge staff to think critically and creatively on how we can better serve the membership. As an Association tasked with preserving the integrity of the American Quarter Horse, we will continue to adhere to the Association’s mission, which includes protecting our horse; recording and preserving pedigrees; providing beneficial services and diverse educational programs; and generating growth of AQHA membership; all while honing our vision to specific areas to incite change.

In 2022, the Member Experience Team focused on AQHA member services in three primary areas: work turnaround, call hold times and increasing the number of AQHA representatives members can speak directly about their AQHA work. In January 2022, there were 17,000 applications waiting to be worked, many of which had been waiting longer than 100 days. This backlog was caught up by the Member Experience Team by April 2022 and maintained the rest of the year. Currently, work is being fully processed in less than two weeks, provided all the necessary information is in order. AQHA’s top priority is serving our members worldwide and their American Quarter Horses.

It is a privilege to work with AQHA staff, the AQHA Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Standing Committees and council members and, of course, our affiliates representing more than 130 countries, to continue to improve AQHA for generations to come.

I have operated on an open-door policy and will continue to do so. If you ever run into me at an event, please don’t hesitate to say hi and introduce yourself or schedule a visit to come see us down at AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo. Getting to know each of you is a perk of this job and one I take very seriously. I am looking forward to another year of progress and promoting the American Quarter Horse we all love!