American Quarter Horse Youth Association takes on Washington, D.C.
Brock Murphy, AQHYA President gives a day-by-day experience of his time at the American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum.
By Brock Murphy, AQHYA President | June 20, 2017
With tons of excitement and determination, five AQHYA officers and directors began a trip to Washington, D.C. from various locations around the country. Brock Murphy (myself), McKenzie Merritt, Ty Cornelius, Austin Ralls, Alan Hinds, and our valiant leaders Katie Reynolds and Jacy Hammer were excited to be able to attend the American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum and talk to lawmakers on Capitol Hill about issues affecting the entire equine industry.
Sunday, June 11
The majority of the day was spent traveling to Washington, D.C. When we all had arrived at the hotel, we decided to continue a tradition of eating at a restaurant called “We, the Pizza” (making it the third year AQHYA had eaten there while attending the trip). We ended up walking past the Supreme Court building, the Capitol, and the Libraries of Congress to and from. The history that encompasses the entire area was breathtaking and truly made me proud and blessed to be a citizen of the United States! After the somewhat short walk back from dinner, the group went to sleep to prepare for the busy days coming up!
Monday, June 12
On the morning of June 12, the entire group enjoyed breakfast at the hotel. Shortly after breakfast, Ryan Thomas, AQHA’s lobbyist, joined us to discuss the public policy issues that are affecting the equine industry. He also gave us an overview of our upcoming Capitol Hill visits. Issues discussed revolved around horse processing, additional measures to promote the humane treatment of horses, recreational trail funding, and funding for programs within the government that promote opening new markets in foreign countries.
Once the meeting was finished, AQHYA’s group went on a United States Capitol Tour provided by Missouri’s Congressman Jason Smith and led by an intern from the University of Missouri. The history, the paintings (horses were in many!), and the detail in everything sent chills up my spine multiple times while walking the halls of the Capitol.
Following the Capitol tour, we went to the Newseum where we saw the history of the news. The amount of information in that building would take days upon days to completely go through. We then continued to walk around D.C. until we found ourselves at the White House. It was crazy to think we were right by the home of one of the most powerful people in the world.
We slowly and tiredly walked to dinner that night which was right down the road from the White House. After our dinner, we finished the night by going to the Lincoln Memorial.
Tuesday, June 13
This was another busy day for AQHYA in Washington, D.C. The American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum began early in the morning. During the Forum, I had the amazing opportunity to serve on a panel to discuss youth and our importance to the success of the equine industry. I was blessed to be able to serve as an ambassador for 23,000 AQHYA members. We also heard a panel from industry experts about equine research and the need for more.
Following the morning meetings and speakers, meetings with government officials began. The first meeting was with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. We were so excited to be able to meet with such an impressive, influential man. The day then continued with us meeting with Congressmen from across the country. This was an awesome opportunity for us to share our perspective with Senators and Representatives about issues that could have a negative effect on the industry if we don’t voice our opinion.. It is our job to let representatives and congressional staffers know what we stand for and what the equine industry really needs action on.
Once the meetings were done on Tuesday, we attended a congressional reception put on by the American Horse Council to honor those who work hard to promote the equine industry. At the reception, the American Horse Council awarded Senator Mike Enzi from Wyoming an award for his dedication to the horse industry.. After the reception, our group of seven joined up with former AQHA President Dr. Glenn Blodgett, Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines, AQHA Director of Breed Integrity Ward Stutz, and the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s CEO Eric Hamelback. We had an amazing time chatting about the trip and the industry as a whole!
Wednesday, June 14
This was the final day of our trip in Washington, D.C. for the 2017 American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum. The morning was composed of a few meetings with legislators from Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas. After our meetings, we went back to the hotel, packed everything, and then headed off to the airport to head on home.
It was truly an honor to be a part of a panel and visits with individuals across the horse industry about youth involvement and youth engagement in the public policy world. This is yet another prime example of how amazing it is to get the opportunity to be in a leadership role for AQHYA. I highly recommend that everyone get involved and go all-out to ensure the future success of our Association. Maybe even join the new AQHYA Public Policy Group that will help us take action to ensure that the industry remains intact so that our kids and grandchildren can be able to experience the Association the way I have and my parents did.
God bless the people in AQHYA. God bless the people in the entire horse industry, and God bless the horse that brings us all together!