AQHA President Dr. Glenn Blodgett's 2016 AQHA Convention Speech

AQHA President Dr. Glenn Blodgett reviews the highlights of his efforts during his presidency.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

I grew up in a small town on a farm and ranching operation in the Texas Panhandle. As a young boy, I always enjoyed ranching more than farming and spent every opportunity I had on the ranching segment of the operation. I quickly decided that I had a passion for horses and cattle, and all that the western lifestyle embodied. I wanted to be a cowboy. Growing up, I took a liking to veterinary medicine, particularly with horses. I received my bachelor’s degree in animal science from Oklahoma State University and a degree in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University.

My breeding business started when I bought a broodmare in 1964, Miss Sandy Clegg, a daughter of American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Bell Clegg. From there, I started raising foals and never looked back.

In 1982, I became the resident veterinarian and manager of the horse division at the Four Sixes Ranch located near Guthrie, Texas. I am proud to say that the ranch has become an all-time leading breeder of both racing and performance American Quarter Horses, and in 1993 won the Best Remuda Award. I’ve been very active in the Association for a long time because the American Quarter Horse is very special to me. I was very humbled and honored to be asked if I was interested in being considered or nominated for the Executive Committee, and if my peers felt I could have a positive impact, I was willing to give it a shot. I got the blessing from Mrs. Marion and the fact that she supported me 100 percent meant a lot to me.

While my start in the equine industry began nearly 50 years ago, our Association was formed decades earlier. In 1940, a few great horsemen and -women shared a meal and a common goal: to preserve a line of horses that we know as American Quarter Horses. For those of you who don’t know, Mrs. Marion’s mother, Anne Burnett Tandy, and father, James Goodwin Hall, were two of the horsemen who discussed the idea of forming an association for Steel Dust and Billy horses. In fact, the meeting was at their home in Fort Worth.

These horsemen were looking to improve the future for our great horse and whether they knew it or not at the time, their work would forever change the equine industry.

This past year as president was a memorable milestone not only in my life, but also for AQHA. As we celebrated our 75th Anniversary, it was my goal as president to learn from the past 75 years and take the necessary steps to ensure our Association will continue to flourish in the future.

It has truly been an honor to serve on the AQHA Executive Committee and as your 2015 AQHA president, and I am proud of what we accomplished as an association during my presidency.

As you all know shortly after I began my role as AQHA president, Craig Huffhines began his role as AQHA executive vice president. I couldn’t be more pleased with Craig’s enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for the equine industry.

With the new executive vice president came more leadership changes in October of last year, with the creation of the AQHA Leadership Team.

If you all are in the room, will you please stand as I read your name?

  • Treasurer and Chief Operations Officer Trent Taylor
  • Chief General Council Chad Pierce
  • Chief Show Officer Pete Kyle
  • Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Walsh
  • Chief Foundation Officer Brent Davison
  • Chief Publishing Officer Carl Mullins

Also filling in on an interim basis in our racing department, Jen Perkins.

These individuals and their teams are truly talented. I believe that through the leadership abilities and skills of Craig and these chief officers, along with their supporting staff, great things are in store for our Association and Foundation in the future.

The Horse

One of my top priorities at all times is the health and well-being of the American Quarter Horse and continuing to put our horse first. I felt it was my duty to take a stand on animal welfare for the protection of the horse and for the future of our breed during my time on the AQHA Executive Committee and as AQHA president.

Last year AQHA implemented the Multiple Medication Violation System also known as MMVS in the racing industry. With any new program or rule, the Association continually evaluates the cost and benefit of the program to ensure that resources are devoted in the most effective way for achieving the goals of the program. 

The AQHA Executive Committee recently decided that the time is right to conduct a thorough evaluation of the MMVS prior to allocating additional resources to the program, at this time the MMVS will be temporarily suspended. During the temporary suspension of the MMVS program,

AQHA will continue to collect medication violation data on American Quarter Horses for the purpose of tracking violation trends. I believe it is imperative that we address the performance-enhancing drugs in our industry because we continue to see a significant number of rulings from multiple jurisdictions, which is simply unacceptable.

This year, we took a strong stand against the abusive use of clenbuterol in show horses. Clenbuterol became a banned substance for show horses on November 1, 2015, and is no longer reportable on a medication report form. The executive committee also approved significant fines and penalties for those found guilty of its use.

Additional advancements for animal welfare include the continuous evaluation of tack and equipment and whether its use is considered appropriate for training and/or showing; modification of the AQHA Stewards Program; and development of a new animal welfare page on AQHA dot com.

As you know, we took a strong position and eliminated the use of lip chains at AQHA events starting this year. This was done for the benefit of our horses and to ensure new owners and members in our industry see the importance of the welfare of the horse. I was pleased to work with AQHA members and long-time halter exhibitors, along with the leaders of AQHA alliance partner the World Conformation Horse Association to review potential options and alternatives. While the use of lip chains remains unacceptable, the Executive Committee approved a humane alternative, the lip cord, in amateur and open halter classes for stallions, ages 1 year old and older only.
We are proud of this example of working together as an industry to find solutions that work for our breed and for our exhibitors.

Changes were made this year to the AQHA Stweards Program to improve its function in the industry. Under the AQHA Stewards Program’s modifications, stewards are assigned to specific regions, no longer permitted to actively show in AQHA competition and required to attend steward seminars to expand their knowledge on animal welfare. Additionally, the number of stewards has been reduced to allow for more continuity in stewarding decisions.

Members can now review a new animal welfare Web page on AQHA.com that contains lists of violations and suspensions, along with newly approved fines and penalties. The animal welfare page further discusses additional animal welfare initiatives, including the AQHA Stewards Program, owner responsibility and more.

In the future, our goal is to continue to educate both members and non-members on the issue of animal welfare. It is our responsibility to protect the safety and welfare of our horses and horsemen, for the overall benefit of our industry.

Fiscal Responsibility

As we have seen our industry evolve dramatically over the past decade, we must continue to change our business model to remain fiscally responsible. I am proud of the expansion of AQHA into additional entities like Robin Glenn Pedigrees Inc. and Awards Recognition Concepts. I am also pleased to announce that the operating revenues and expenses have remained stable compared to the prior year. We continue to reinvest into the Association and our industry to build a foundation for the future. 

Last year we were pleased to report that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion in the cloning lawsuit, the opinion reversed the District Court’s Judgement and held that the Plaintiffs’ claims against AQHA fail both because the Plaintiffs’ evidence did not prove a conspiracy to restrain trade and because AQHA is not a competitor in the allegedly relevant market for elite Quarter Horses. After the Fifth Circuit issued such opinion, the Plaintiffs filed a petition for rehearing. This past October, we were pleased to report that the Fifth Circuit entered an order denying the Plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing and leaving intact its previously issued well-reasoned opinion in favor of AQHA.

Thank you to our staff and legal teams who devoted countless hours fighting in support of AQHA’s position that when members with shared interests, goals and values come together to form a voluntary private association to serve a common purpose, such members have a right to determine the rules for their Association. 

The decision of the Fifth Circuit allowed us to focus on growing registrations, transfers, membership and other activities that are important to you, our members and to the future of our Association.

Last year, we spent time completing an in-depth survey of our membership to obtain important demographic information, along with asking questions about buying habits and preferences for certain brands and stores in the United States. We were honored by the great many of you who took time out of your busy schedules to complete the survey and support the future endeavors of AQHA. In reviewing the research, we learned many things about you, our current members, and also found our eyes opened to areas of potential growth and opportunity in our Association’s future. The data on spending habits, for example, is very valuable to both current and potential sponsors of AQHA, and we plan to use it to continue creating the best member benefits package possible for you, our members. After all, AQHA would not be where it is today without our great horse, valued members like you and our generous corporate partners.

Those who know me well know that I am a man who lives and breathes the American Quarter Horse. This horse has not only been my livelihood, but it has also helped raise my children and created for my wife, Karen, and me a family that goes beyond the bond of blood.

I always knew that our American Quarter Horse family was important, but it was during this presidential year that I learned of its significance.

Many of you know that Karen was in a terrible car accident at the end of September that almost took her life. Over these past five months of her recovery, my family and I truly believe the phone calls, emails, text messages and, most importantly, prayers that came from everyone has proven to be a remarkable gift in a way I never expected to need. I sincerely thank each and every one of you who reached out and who prayed for my family, because your friendship and support has made all the difference.

This great American Quarter Horse that bonds us all together in life has proven to be a remarkable gift in a way I never expected to need.

There are a lot of people I would like to thank for helping me while I was on Executive Committee and during my term as president:

  • Fellow EC Past and Present
  • Gene and Barbara Graves
  • Johne Dobbs
  • Johnny and Jana Trotter
  • George Phillips
  • Sandy Arledge
  • Ralph Seekins
  • Dr. Heird
  • Stan Weaver
  • My family
  • Karen
  • Friends
  • AQHA Staff
  • Don Treadway
  • Jackie Payne

There is a final individual whom I haven’t mentioned yet as I thank those who have been a huge part of my success during this Presidential year. So, at this time I would like to ask AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines if he’ll step over here near the podium? I would like to take a moment to recognize a man who has the knowledge, skills and ability to take the American Quarter Horse Association to new heights.

He has been instrumental in making much of the progress I mentioned earlier; he has spent the past year traveling all over the country to learn about AQHA and our members; the AQHA staff really like him; our members respect him; and I’m proud to call him my friend. Craig, the Executive Committee and I want to present you with this Montana Silversmiths Buckle as a token of our appreciation and a constant reminder that we believe in you and your ability to take our Association into the future.

In closing, I have truly enjoyed serving as your 2015 AQHA president and on the AQHA Executive Committee.

I will continue to support the American Quarter Horse industry for years to come and hope each and every one of you can unite in our shared passion.

It is my hope that we will do as our founding fathers did seventy five years ago – join together for a common goal. Whether you are involved in racing, showing, ranching, trail riding or just love American Quarter Horses you are a part of this great association.  An association built to preserve the American Quarter Horse. It is our duty to do what is best for the FUTURE of our breed, and we MUST work together to move this Association forward.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your 2015 AQHA President, and I look forward to seeing the bright the future of this great Association!