A Weekend Spent Learning About the Industry We All Love

AQHYA Officer Madelynne Herlocker shares her experiences and what she learned at the 2016 AQHA Convention.

American Quarter Horse Youth Association

AQHYA Officers and Directors at the 2016 AQHA Convention. From left to right: Meg Tebow, Ann Elizabeth Tebow, Maura Hynes, Maddie Herlocker.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I stepped off the plane in Las Vegas, but I can tell you I was very excited to attend the 2016 AQHA Convention. This is my first year attending the convention, and I will be back next year.

During the Equine Industry Small Business Workshop, we learned about a variety of important and interesting topics, including equine law from attorney Yvonne Ocrant. You don’t really think about liability and what happens if you fall off while at your trainer’s barn or that the contracts clients sign don’t always protect the trainer from spending thousands of dollars in legal fees, especially if they aren’t worded correctly. Every state has its own equine liability act, and if you aren’t familiar with your state’s rules, you can get in some serious trouble.

Rebeca Peskin talked about profitability for professional horsemen and trainers, which might sound boring, but it was something we could all learn from. She had an example chart for a horse trainer’s earnings and, before expenses, it was just under $500,000. Isn’t that crazy? For a few minutes I was considering being a horse trainer. Then she showed us what happens after you take out all of the expenses. After expenses, trainers can take home about $32,000.

Maybe horse training isn’t for me.  As a youth, I didn’t really think about this side of the horse industry and how much horse trainers really do. She also gave an example of a veterinarian, who was considering hiring a vet tech to help him during the day. He was questioning if it would be profitable and decided to give it a trial run. At the end of the day they compared their invoice sheets, and the difference was $400, just because the vet forgot to write things down that he pulled out of the truck. How crazy is that? It really makes you stop and think about how above and beyond our vets, horse trainers and show management go for us.

Especially as youth we don’t realize, and don’t fully appreciate, what these people who we chose to surround ourselves with do for us. I encourage you to thank these people today or the next time you see them, because without them we would not be able to enjoy this sport like we do.

During convention, we also enjoyed a town-hall meeting, which covered reaching out to target audiences to increase participation in AQHA. We also learned about the power of perception and how we can affect the way people see our industry. Perception is certainly an issue today because we are involved with electronics as a generation. With social media, I say if you don’t want your mom or grandma to see it, you shouldn’t be posting it.

Overall we really enjoyed the learning opportunities available during convention, and I appreciate AQHA allowing us to come and participate in the convention. I encourage AQHYA members to set their sights on next year’s convention in San Antonio.