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

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