VanBebber Blog

No matter where we are, the love of the Quarter Horse brings us together.

No matter where we are, the love of the Quarter Horse brings us together.

Being the Chief Racing Officer of your American Quarter Horse Association keeps me on the go. Since last writing a blog, me and my suitcase have been in Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Florida, and most recently, Mexico City, Mexico.  Soon, I will head to San Antonio, Texas for the AQHA Convention, and I hope to see you there! I would like to give you a few highlights of my journey, in hopes of sharing how my efforts are striving to make your association better for you and for our equine athletes.

Last December found me in Tucson, Arizona, for the Racetrack Industry Program’s Global Symposium on Racing. It was my first time to attend this event, and I found it very informative. I built a better rapport with other industry contacts, and found the symposium’s discussions very informative. I was also honored by the opportunity to mentor one of the students during a mentor's luncheon, and attended every session possible. One of the speakers there was Patti Strand, President of the National Animal Interest Alliance, who has a perspective on animal rights that is very pertinent to issues we are facing today. Consequently, I have invited Patti to speak to the Race Committee at our convention, and hope you're there to hear her.

While in Tucson, AQHA hosted a meeting that included representatives from several racing commissions. Over 30 people accepted our invitation for dinner and a roundtable discussion where I outlined some goals for the betterment of Quarter Horse racing. The discussion included clenbuterol as a prohibitive substance, vet's list for horses with positive tests for prohibitive substances, reciprocity between racing jurisdictions, adaptation of breed-specific rules, and other topics. Our guests engaged in great dialogue, and we all left the evening feeling like progress was made. I am pleased to report that we are seeing big improvements from behind the scenes that are aligned with our goals at various jurisdictions with Quarter Horse racing. These efforts will improve the integrity of our sport, guard animal welfare and level the playing field in races.

I left Tucson encouraged, and went straight to Los Alamitos where I enjoyed being on hand for both the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and the Champion of Champions.

In January, I got to lead my first Champions Selection Committee meeting in Dallas, and then assist the staff in the ensuing plans for the Champions Announcements Ceremony at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City. It was new for me to be a part of the AQHA team for this event, being more accustomed to joining horsemen in anticipation of awards. But it was great to be a part of it, and I am very proud of our production. I hope you were there and got to enjoy both the announcements and the D. Wayne Lukas segment. Always a dynamic speaker, he did not disappoint!

The Heritage Place Sale offered other opportunities for us as well. While horsemen were gathered in Oklahoma City, we met with the Next Generation Sub-Committee, held a Hispanic Forum and announced Prairie Meadows as the 2017 host for the Challenge Championships.

February found me continuing to log in the miles, traveling to multiple locations. I had the opportunity to attend a Racetrack Medication and Testing Consortium meeting at Gulfstream Park in Florida, then go to the Texas Quarter Horse Association's annual meetings and banquet at Horseshoe Bay, join a panel discussion on hair testing that was hosted by Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association held at Heritage Place and attend Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association's banquet in Shawnee.

From left, Craig Huffhines, Hannia Wolf, Anna Morrison, Costa Rica
QHA President Victor Wolf, Betty Berge, Sandy Arledge, Janet
VanBebber, trainer Jacob Dominguez and 2016 Mexican Champion
Valentino Mystery. PHOTO: Courtesy A Caballo Magazine 

I then wrapped up February with a trip to Mexico City, where our group, which included AQHA President Sandy Arledge, AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines, Chief International Officer Anna Morrison and International Customer Service Liaison Betty Berge were treated royally by Adrianna Gomez of the Mexico Quarter Horse Associaiton. While there, we saw their beautiful city, attended the Annual Awards Banquet, and went to the races at Hippodromo de las Americas for the running of their Merial Challenge Distaff and Mexican-Bred Derby.

Each of these trips were important. I forged stronger relationships with our affiliates and their members, and sought ways to improve AQHA's ability to both serve its membership, and effect positive change in the racing industry.

While I've been on the road, your staff has been steadfast in their efforts. From the office, we've worked to enhance legislation and other issues in Colorado, Florida, Kansas and Wyoming. Some have had positive outcomes, others still require work. Also, we've been diligent in our preparation for the upcoming convention, as much of the data required for the meetings is laborious to produce.

Speaking of the AQHA convention: We need you there. This is your opportunity to learn about what we are doing, and how you can help to shape the future of this great industry. Everyone's voice is welcome. Please go to this link to see the meeting times, agendas and details about the banquets. San Antonio is a wonderful city, see you there!

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit