Show Issues Addressed

The AQHA Show Council and strategic task force met to set direction, address issues and bring innovation to shows.

American Quarter Horse Association

The American Quarter Horse Association Show Council met with members of a show strategic planning task force June 9-10 in Dallas

The American Quarter Horse Association Show Council met with members of a show strategic planning task force June 9-10 in Dallas to address critical issues related to the AQHA show industry and model.

The planning task force, appointed by the AQHA Executive Committee, first met in January and identified several high-level AQHA show issues, including improving the value of AQHA shows; organizing, allocating and distributing AQHA shows; ideas for reinvigorating the AQHA show brand; improving AQHA’s world shows, including reinforcing the prestige of qualifying for, entering and competing at one of AQHA’s world shows; and the AQHA Incentive Fund.

During the joint meeting, which was facilitated by noted association strategic planning expert Harrison Coerver, the groups spent time formulating recommendations to address the issues AQHA’s shows are facing and that the Show Council will now drive forward. The overarching theme during the two full days of strategic planning was to make significant recommendations that will improve the AQHA show model, while retaining existing and attracting new exhibitors.

“There are some very real issues facing all horse shows, and AQHA being the largest certainly has its fair share,” said AQHA Show Council Chairwoman Stephanie Lynn of Fall Creek, Wisconsin. “There is not one single factor that has driven up showing expenses, resulted in a decline in horses and exhibitors, a disappointment in the world shows or even a decline in the Incentive Fund, which everyone universally agrees was once the industry’s gold standard.

“Many factors have brought us to where we are today, and it’s now the Show Council’s job, working with and through the various AQHA show-related committees, staff and the Executive Committee, to re-instill trust in the show model and give exhibitors the value they’re looking for when they compete with their American Quarter Horses.”

Over the years, the Show Council has primarily functioned to streamline the multitude of rules that the Association receives related to shows. A major shift in how the council now operates will mean that the council will take a more active “ownership” role in guiding the AQHA show industry and determining the initiatives that need to be driven forward and how that is done.

“We have deep expertise on the show council,” said AQHA President Johnny Trotter. “Using their industry involvement in a new and different way – much like we now do with the AQHA Racing Council – will certainly help the staff, the committees and the Executive Committee keep AQHA shows the model for the industry.”

The ideas and recommendations discussed at the Dallas meeting will go to the Executive Committee for final action. Among the items exhibitors and members can reasonably expect to see as we move forward are:

  • A complete review of how shows are allocated
  • A determination of what the Association needs to regulate regarding shows
  • An aggressive campaign that addresses the pipeline through which AQHA attracts new exhibitors
  • An objective review process for all AQHA shows so that all exhibitors know what to expect when they attend an AQHA show
  • Improved hospitality at the AQHA World Championship Show, exploring ancillary events to improve the World Show experience and developing different avenues through which people and horses might qualify
  • Options for either improving and managing the point values for the current AQHA Incentive Fund or developing a new fund to meet today’s specialty crowd
  • Enhanced marketing to reach groups of exhibitors and provide educational products to those who compete at AQHA shows, and improved communication to industry stakeholders
  • Greater accountability when it comes to judging AQHA shows

As the 14-member Show Council wrapped up the meeting, which marked the conclusion of the strategic planning task force’s role, members were optimistic about the direction set and the more active role the council will play in the AQHA show industry.

Going into the June meeting, some of the ideas that were developed in the January meeting had already been addressed. Among those were establishing a new mission and vision statement for AQHA shows; implementing a statement of promise (aka code of ethics) for show managers and sponsors; addressing staffing issues, including hiring a new executive director of shows and judges; and beginning to reorganize the AQHA show department.

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