Around the World With AQHA President Sandy Arledge

Sandy Arledge reminisces about all of the amazing AQHA members and horses that she has met during her travels this summer.

American Quarter Horse Association

Sandy reminisces about all of the amazing AQHA members and horses that she has met during her travels this summer.

As the weather changes from hot summer days to cooler temperatures, I’ve been reminiscing on my summer as AQHA’s president. I have been very fortunate to meet hundreds of members from across the globe and their American Quarter Horses. From a small horse show in Maine, to huge shows on each coast, to international competitions in Australia and Switzerland, the language of “horse” unites those of us who love them! 

Shortly after returning from a terrific Youth World Cup in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia, in July, I attended the EMO Western States Championship Show in Las Vegas. Exhibitors from nine states and Canada came together to experience camaraderie and competition at the beautiful, climate-controlled facility that is the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center. This invitational show was developed for AQHA members from the western United States. The Western States Affiliates is a nonprofit venture between the Arizona and Pacific Coast Quarter Horse associations, sponsored by the EMO Agency. As at the Level 1 championships, I spoke with many exhibitors who appreciated the opportunity to show without the competition of the top tier of exhibitors and horses. I feel certain that this show, and others that may come along using the same format, will continue to grow. 

The next event was the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar in Amarillo, where the future leaders of the equine industry came together to tour AQHA Headquarters, work together in breakout sessions, hear motivational speeches and campaign for director positions and national offices. This is a terrific opportunity for kids from around the world to get together and share their life stories and their aspirations for the future. There were several parents and youth advisers from around the world who were there supporting our future leaders. If you are a youth and are not already involved, join in your state, provincial or country affiliate’s youth association! You certainly don’t need to show to be a part of this exciting event. If you have any questions, please contact AQHA’s youth department at 806-376-4811 for more information. Also, in case you are reading this and aren’t a member, or have horsey friends who aren’t members, did you know that you can purchase a youth life membership for only $50? The youth life membership is valid through age 18. 

The month of July also featured the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame Dedication, where the 2016 American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame inductees were honored with a wonderful banquet and ceremony outlining their history and dedication to the American Quarter Horse. The stories of these horses and humans are documented in the halls of our beautiful museum and follow the timeline of world history. It is a fascinating pictorial journey, and the artifacts from each era are very interesting. If you haven’t visited the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, you’ve missed out! Right on I-40 in Amarillo, it is worth the trip. 

While you’re there, ask for a tour of AQHA Headquarters, which is located right next door. There are more than 250 employees in the building who work diligently for you and your horse! You will be amazed at the building, the wonderful employees, and the work that is carried out there. If you are interested in more history, the halls are full of photos and paintings of famous horses. The staff will be happy to give you a tour! 

There was also an AQHA Executive Committee meeting in mid-July, and your dedicated Executive Committee met to conduct the business of the Association. These meetings were held over three intense days, when reams of papers are read and decisions made that affect the future of the Association. In addition, the AQHA Investment Oversight Committee met with the Association’s financial advisers to assess the fiscal health of the organization and its many programs. During our meetings, we typically meet in the Presidents Room. If you are on a tour, be sure to ask to see the room where many of the decisions for AQHA’s future are made; it is filled with photos of AQHA’s past presidents. To end my time in Amarillo, I was able to experience the National Day of the Cowboy celebration. AQHA hosted more than 1,500 people on July 23 at the Hall of Fame. A highlight of the event was a chance to ride an American Quarter Horse. It was amazing to see the kids’ faces light up when they were given the opportunity to ride an American Quarter Horse for the first time. 

From there, I travelled to the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, AQHA Select World Championship Show, presented by Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan), and many places in between. Now, AQHA’s staff is hard at work preparing for the All American Quarter Horse Congress, Bank of America Challenge Championships and Racing Conference and Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show.

Suffice it to say, the Association staff is busy. There are shows, races, youth events, registrations, transfers and much, much more being worked on within those walls. Thank you for your membership! Be AQHA proud!

Until next time!