Identifying the problem . . .

“The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution”

I recently read an article in the Arabian Horse Times written by the young and talented, Kara Larson. She posed a list of questions to some of the leaders in the Arabian Horse community in an attempt to ‘Find Our Roots and Move Forward From Here.’ In her article she quoted Greg Knowles to say “There is a lot going on in the halter world right now, and it is not all rainbows and roses.”

I have found over the years, in my passion for the Arabian horse, that it is often not popular to speak out against things that we don’t like. Most seem perfectly content to complain amongst friends in the barn aisle about all that frustrates them. When those complaints are taken to a board or an organization that ‘should’ be able to solve the problems, the delivery person is labeled as negative. Therefore, the barn aisle debates remain the comfortable forum. From where I stand, the only “positive” move at this point is a move toward change. In order to change, we HAVE to identify the problem. Below are 7 of the hot topic problems as I see them. . .

1 – Decline of Arabian Horse Registrations – My dear friend Frank Hennessey recently shared a link with me regarding the 70% drop in registrations. You will read and see more on this from Frank in an upcoming blog from him. In summary, in 1997 there were 30,000 registered Arabans; in 2011 less than 2500.

2 – Less top quality horses to choose from for the buying market – Basic economics tells us, a 70% decrease in Registered Arabians will severely affect a buying market. For those of you who wonder if there is still a buying market, I personally assure you, there is! I get calls weekly for people searching for ‘that special horse’. The demand is here.

3 – Transported Semen and Embryo transfer debate – I would be interested in taking an official pole on this subject, however, at this point I have only my own observations in discussions and experience on this matter. The vast majority feel that transported semen has severely affected the population and the gene pool of the Arabian horse and is a major contribution to the decline in breeding.

4 – Exhibitors, breeders and buyers do not want to attend our US National show – This is where I will likely be labeled ‘negative’. Again, an official pole would be very helpful, but I will jump out on the ‘negative limb’ and state that the US National show in Tulsa is nothing short of a disaster for the Arabian Halter horse. (I can not speak for the performance division). There have been articles, blogs, stories and MANY barn aisle discussions about why it is such a problem. The bottom line, it is a problem.

5 – Finding homes for the horses that do not fit into the ‘top quality’ category – Nearly everyone I talk to agrees that there is a decline in demand for a family horse. This lack of demand has severely affected both the small and large breeders. We know from experience that on average, 1 out of every 20 horses that a breeder produces is classified as a ‘top quality’ marketable individual. So, what do we do with the 19 ‘family horses’ if there is no demand for them.

6 – Current Arabian Score System  – Again I am treading dangerous waters and will definitely be ‘judged’ (pun intended) for my view on the Arabian Score System developed by AHA. I attended convention the year the new system was passed. I was not certain at that time how a “score system” in general would affect the breed, but I was adamant that ‘re-inventing the wheel’ was a mistake. I did not and still do not understand why a proven system that was already in place in other parts of the world could not be tried and tested before making this HUGE change in our show ring. The foundation of the problem, in my opinion, is education of the judges. No matter the system, it will fail if the judges are not properly educated on judging an Arabian halter horse.

7 – Breeders don’t trust Trainers – Just typing that title wanted to make me put on a life vest. I can feel the waves a comin! The fact of the matter is, a majority of the breeders I know tell me that they feel they have been lied to and/or cheated by a trainer at some point in their breeding and showing years. The unfortunate outcome of this statistic is “multi-fold”.

Can we fix these problems? If so, how?

In the weeks that follow, I will post a blog regarding one “problem Topic” at a time.

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Frank Hennessey showing in the Scottsdale Signature Stallion class in 2012

4 thoughts on “Identifying the problem . . .

  1. This photo of Frank Hennessey and one of his beloved horses beautifully expresses the love of these glorious gifts from God that brought everyone together in the first place. May your efforts to find solutions to the problems that divide this small world that surrounds the Arabian horse be blessed.

  2. “The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution”.
    That… is a commendable statement, Riyan Holte!
    But… we have gone well beyond that.
    The most important thing about a problem is: Understanding that it is a problem; who created it and how to never make the same mistakes, again. Void… ourselves of the unvested… who interfere… creating the problem to begin with!!! Leadership… is only an action word… that has a very broad variable from positive to negative. GREAT leadership is DYNAMICALLY POSITIVE. Poor leadership is boring… and so is its results!!!!!
    Personally… I am sick and tired of the complacent and “forgiveness” attitude that we have had toward those interfering and unethical persons who have stuck their faces into a room that they have no business or sincere interest in.
    That was the philosophy of Saint Sebastian!
    The important lesson from Saint Sebastian’s “story” is that… contrary to common belief… he did not die from his being shot full of arrows. He was believed to be dead; gathered and nursed back to health by a local woman… only to be stoned to death while, again, preaching his “opinion” publicly. He was stoned… because the system allowed it to be done… with NO repercussions to the attackers. Sound familiar!
    The lesson is: To disagree with the majority in a “majoritarian” governance doesn’t mean that you are wrong… it just means that you are in the minority. In most cases… the minority is the vested group… and the majority (who have control)… have underlying and disingenuous motives… NOT beneficial to the vested.
    Prosperity… can only be reached… by overpowering the negative and disrupting influences… with POSITIVE programs.
    The cliché’… “Minding your own business”… has two very important interpretations: 1. Taking care of your own business; and 2. Not… trying to take care of some one else’s business.
    Dick Adams

  3. It is a brave thing to discuss the problems that our industry faces in an open discussion. I had the privilege to grow up with a small local breeder that exposed me to so many of the day to day operations from live cover breeding to the training and marketing of Arabian horses. In my opinion, I think that transported semen has decreased numbers of overall horses but has increased the quality of the existing stock. Too many studs were kept stallions at stud for the wrong reasons before AI, now the ability to breed the best of what you can afford is at your fingertips. As far as ET goes it is still what I consider a “wealthy” owners game. With a scientific background, I can’t help but think that it allows one to find that perfect match and maximize genetic potential of the elite. Other horse industries have generated lots of business surrounding the facilitation of ET. Is it fair to the little guys??-since when does that matter, fair is for fairy tales.

    The general number of people involved in horses has declined as well, not only have registrations dropped so have memberships. This is an expensive hobby/business for any involved. There has to be some kind of outreach at local shows to demonstrate the versatility of the arabian and half arabian. Where are those horse-crazy youths? In my region many have taken on stock type breeds that are competitive at local shows where they can have fun and enjoy themselves with other horse loving individuals. It is sad to see the lack of representation of the Arabian breed.

    The only part of this issues that I see a solution to is about the judging system. I think continued education,holding judges to strict standards, and report poor judging, Judges choices reflect the trends of our industry. The performance horses(and halter horses for that fact) that are so intimidated in their performance are reminiscent of the peanut rollers in the quarter horse bred, if they continue to place those performances then they will continue to train them that way. I also concur that the old system was not broken..the new system seems to hold them “more” accountable as far as their reasons to placings. This judging problem is not an easy problem to fix, always seems to come down to the good ol’ boys gang, belong and you’re in. That is the part that needs to have repercussions, no more I’ll scratch your back system.

    As far as breeders trusting trainers, you’re absolutely right. The top trainers ( the ones I have been exposed to) have basically been given licenses to steal. It is a hard profession, but I have never been treated so poorly as a customer in my life. Basically has turned me off from any competition in the bred. No more Scottsdale or National level for me, my dream turned into a nightmare. I think the idea of the Gold Star show and ones that try to pull involvement of the whole family and community are on track to pulling more people into the industry and ownership. I wish I didn’t sound so bitter but it is an accumulation of the experience where I went in with an open mind and left with a bitter taste in my mouth…………

  4. I agree with Heather’s belief in EDUCATION for Judges! But… was this a consideration when the AHA Convention voted to change the seminar requirements for National/Regional Accredited Judges from 3 years to 6 years. WHAT… was the political dynamic of this change! It, certainly, was not to improve the education of Judges. THIS… change is exactly WHY… the AHA BOD or Executive Committee should have the power of “checks & balances”! While I DO believe that the AHA/USEF Judges cadre has, within its group, the BEST Judges of the World… I, also, believe that… every one of these Judges CAN be BETTER!!! Bill Melendez (Chairman of the Education Evaluation Committee) & the EEC have done a GREAT job of educating Judges. What needs to be improved is the more personal approach to developing the individual Judge. This means MORE seminars; available to Judges who want even more expertise in judging the disciplines that are of less expertise. ADAMS TALKS

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About Riyan Rivero

I am a lifetime member of the Arabian Horse community, specializing in public relations and marketing of Arabian horses.