AQHA President Challenges AQHA Members

AQHA President Ralph Seekins discusses his focus for his term as president – the priorities of AQHA members.

American Quarter Horse Association

I appreciate the trust you put in me this year and look forward to what the future holds for our horse and great association. (Journal photo)

It was an honor to be elected as your 2017 American Quarter Horse Association president at this year’s AQHA Convention in San Antonio. As an executive committee, we are determined to continue to increase transparency and involvement with our membership. Last year, AQHA Past President Sandy Arledge started a blog to keep members informed with the happenings of AQHA and to share insight into the workings of your Association and executive committee. With that being said, it is important to me to continue that line of communication and will also be blogging during my term as president. 

AQHA is a member-driven organization, therefore my goals during my term as president are not to focus on my own priorities. Instead, it is my goal to work with the members and focus on our members’ priorities.

The AQHA Executive Committee is made up of five individuals from different backgrounds who are working on your behalf. We have worked tirelessly over the past few years for the benefit of the Association, laying aside our own personal differences and looking at the big picture – the American Quarter Horse and AQHA.

When Craig Huffhines was hired as AQHA’s executive vice president in April 2015, he set out to determine what we, as an organization, are doing well and what needs to be changed.

The Association conducted a gap analysis – a study that determines the difference between what our members want and how satisfied they are with the availability or Association’s handling of that issue – at the end of 2015. According to that data, four of the items that had the biggest gap included:

  1. Ensuring the availability of organized competition for exhibitors of all financial needs and skill levels: 82.1 percent of our members said that was important; 41.1 percent said they were satisfied. That’s a 40.97 point gap.
  2. Ensuring the high standards and consistency in creating and enforcing AQHA rules and regulations: 86 percent of our members said that was important; 46.7 percent are satisfied. Almost a 40 point gap.
  3. Ensuring a level playing field for all exhibitors in AQHA competition: 81.9 percent said it is important; 44.5 percent are satisfied. That’s a 37.34 point gap.
  4. Ensuring increased opportunities for recognition and rewards for those investing their time and money in formal AQHA competition: 77.5 percent said it is important; 44 percent are satisfied. Again, a gap of 32 points.

To improve as an association, it is important to remember how our members view AQHA and to work together to improve that perception. 

Henry Ford once stated, “Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.” 

I challenge each of you to figure out what we need to work on as an Association and to work together to enhance AQHA. Your individual commitment is what makes our team work. You are a representative of the Association everywhere you go.

I believe Vince Lombardi said it best, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” And, in our case, an association work.

Are you AQHA proud? I am!

I want people to know that I am here to answer any questions or help with any concerns you have. I hope all of our members feel the same way about promoting our horse and AQHA both inside and outside of the equine industry. The Executive Committee and AQHA staff encourage you to be our eyes and ears and report back about what you are seeing and hearing.

AQHA First Vice President Dr. Jim Heird explained several things that we were doing right as an association during the Equine Industry Business Workshop at convention this year (you can watch his speech on AQHA’s YouTube Channel):

  • We listen to you better.
  • We are positive about the future.
  • Judges are better trained than ever before.

We aren’t home free yet, but progress is being made. However, my point is that we are doing things well and progress has been made over the past few years. But, in my opinion, there is always room for improvement, which is why we need your help.

This is your organization. You own it. My challenge to our board of directors, committee members, committee chairs and members is to re-strengthen as a team and be more involved in the Association. With your help, we can rebuild the trust in the eyes of the more than 250,000 members across the globe. Remember that you’re the owners of this Association. Help us make AQHA better.

We are no longer in defense mode. We are in offensive mode – to improve and grow, while having a great time together with our horse.

I appreciate the trust you put in me this year and look forward to what the future holds for our horse and great association.

(AQHA President Ralph Seekins and AQHA Past President Sandy Arledge at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio. Journal photo)