Industry Opportunities in Washington, D.C.

AQHYA First Vice President McKenzie Merritt reflects on the American Horse Council National Issues Forum in Washington, D.C.

AQHYA First Vice President McKenzie Merritt meets with Nebraska Cong. Adrian Smith.

One of the greatest challenges the equine industry faces is that we are not a universal industry that everyone plays a part in. On one hand, it’s nice that we as horse enthusiasts gain a sense of belonging within our smaller industry group. On the other hand, when our industry faces problems, finding solutions becomes a foreign concept to those who are not directly involved in the equine industry.

This past week, I attended the American Horse Council National Issues Forum where members from all avenues of the equine industry came together to discuss the main issues that we, as an entire industry, are currently facing. Some of these issues included federal funding for trails and public lands, Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, H-2B Temporary Guest Worker Program and the Safeguard American Food Exports Act. Each of these pressing issues require not only our industry to create solutions, but also the help of senators and congressmen in Washington, D.C. During my trip, I had the opportunity to speak with some of these members of congress.

Understanding that these individuals deal with a lot of industry, national and world issues, I have to start with giving my appreciation and gratitude to those who took the time out of their hectic and crazy-busy schedules to sit down, shake our hands and discuss these issues that are so important to our industry.

One of the congressmen I spoke with stood out in particular, and that was Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE). Not only was he personable, humorous and attentive during our time together, he was very well educated and sensitive about the problems that we were discussing. Not only was he asking relevant and resourceful questions, but he was working to understand the perspectives on these issues that we as equine owners see. Despite never being a part of the equine industry, Rep. Smith was anxious to hear not only more about our issue, but our industry as a whole.

Our meeting left me hopeful for the solutions that are soon to come, but it also reminded me of a very important tactic that I think we sometimes forget. I think a lot of us forget about the power that telling our story has on those who are not involved in the experiences, memories and industry that we have all grown to love. To allow people to see our perspective about our issues, we have to first show them what it’s like when we have solutions.

I am forever grateful for opportunities such as this one that allow me to see first-hand those who support and encourage the future of the equine industry, along with the desire to make changes that will make our industry strive and flourish for the following generations to come. Thank you to the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Horse Council for giving youth, such as myself, a bright future to look forward to, while also guiding and teaching us how to find solutions to whatever problems we may face in the future.