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

Inaugural Arabian Breeders Finals

Arabian Breeders Finals – The Inaugural Event

The show was incredible from my perspective. It was positive from every aspect; the arena, the cabanas, the schedule, the judging . . . The show management did an amazing job setting the perfect atmosphere for camaraderie and fellowship. It was a great show! – Andy Sellman

In a word, FABULOUS! I haven’t seen anything like it since Star Wars. Do you remember the excitement of Star Wars when it came out? That’s what I felt at the Breeders Finals. The management, the hospitality, the schedule… all of it was awesome! It was an amazing show! We can’t wait for next year! –David Boggs

Incredible. I don’t refer to it as a horse show; I refer to it as an event. People were excited and having the time of their lives, even people that didn’t have horses showing that were there just to watch. The clients of mine that did not bring horses this year can’t wait to bring their horses next year. We had a wonderful time and success both in the ring and in sales. It was the perfect set up, the perfect schedule… truly a great event! –Sandro Pinha

The Breeder Finals was originally conceived to pay homage to the Arabian Breeder. To put on a show where The Breeders bring their top halter horses to compete at the end of the year in an upscale atmosphere.  A celebration of the Arabian halter horse and the people who breed them. To present these horses in an exciting, beautiful, venue.  Mission Accomplished and I expect this show is here to stay!!! – Greg Knowles

I didn’t know what to expect of the show. The only shows I have been to in the States are Scottsdale and the Nationals. I have never seen an event as special as this! It was a huge party with all the people sharing the same passion for the Arabian Horse. I am so glad I got to be there for this wonderful event! – Rodrigo Noguera of Bogota, Colombia

It was a pleasure to work on this exciting event. The committee members took a vision to reality in a few short months. The mission was all driven by a true passion for the Arabian Horse, to provide a weekend to increase marketing opportunities, and to produce an event that is upscale and fun. It worked.   – Janice McCrea Wight

I was very excited when I first heard about the idea to bring another high-end breeder driven show to Scottsdale to anchor the fall season. I was blown away with how successful this event was for a first year horse show. We had envisioned a show where everyone would stay ringside rather than at the stalls, like the shows in Europe and Las Vegas. This concept was a resounding success and the Equidome never looked more beautiful. We have truly created a show that felt like a party every night…  add in high quality horses and this event was spectacular from start to finish…. – Scott Bailey

I felt that this show nailed it! The venue allowed the breeders to showcase their program in a way I have never seen. The planning, the schedule, the activities made it an event that I could feel very comfortable bringing new people to and never worrying that they would get bored. There was something for everyone! I think this is the most promising show in the country and can’t wait to bring horses next year! – Ashley Robinson

As an Arabian horse enthusiast it gives me great pride to see our horses exhibited in such a facility where the design was exquisite and the beauty of this breed was manifested before our very own eyes. It was truly an honor and privilege to be a part of the first Arabian Breeders Finals. Bravo to the show committee! – Kimberly M. Jarvis President of C. Jarvis Insurance Agency Inc

The Arabian Breeders Finals was a great show.  A lot of fun and very social the way it was organized.  It has already become one of North Arabians “Must Attend” shows.  With the added prize money coming for the future shows, it will be on the list of most halter breeders and handlers.  Good job to the Show Committee.  Robert and Dixie North

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An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate on it, it becomes transformed by thought. -Pablo Picasso

Imagine if you will, a small child. A girl around the age of nine. She throws on a pair of dirty jeans over the basketball shorts she slept in and haphazardly buttons up her western style shirt. She didn’t comb her hair; there was no time for such things today. As she raced to the other side of the farm away from her families small home at Lasma Arabians, she couldn’t stop thinking about all the excitement awaiting her on this glorious day in Scottsdale. Blissfully unaware of what was really going on, she knew everyone had been preparing for this day for months and the excitement in the air that the day of the auction had finally come was exhilarating! She did not know that she was a part of some of the most important history imaginable for the Arabian horse industry.

Fast-forward 34 years. On the outside, I paid a little more attention to my appearance, on the inside; I am that same little girl. I can’t wait to get to Westworld to see the set up that we had all so carefully planned. Somehow, this time, I knew we were embarking on an event that would make history in our breed.

The Arabian horse industry is in desperate need of events that cater to the breeders and spectators. Events that generate camaraderie, fellowship and support of each other’s programs. I believed the Arabian Breeders Finals was going to be such an event. I believed wholeheartedly in the commitment, the passion and the abilities of the Finals committee members who had painstakingly planned this event. I was “All In” the moment I heard the concept and vision for the show over a year ago. (Show Chairman: Jay Allen; Vice Chair: Greg Knowles; Show Committee: Scott Bailey, Sharon Chauncey-Siar, Janice McCrea, Gary McDonald, Rory O’Neill and Taryl O’Shea Pearson)

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The photos, the videos, the words cannot describe the setting and the feeling in the air that first night of the show. The red carpet, the twinkling lights and each farm’s version of their cabana decorated to entertain their clients set the stage. As everyone excitedly greeted each other and found their way to their seats, the gate opened for the first class. The horses entered an arena that had been decorated from one end to the next with elegant black drapes, luxury cars and beautiful banners of the farms that so handsomely supported this inaugural event. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had butterflies in my stomach and goose bumps all over. It was all that I had hoped it would be and more!

There were many critics in the development stages of this show. Some had doubt that it could actually be pulled off just a year after the idea had been sprung. Many were skeptical about the number of horses and spectators the show would bring. No one had any idea, not even those of us involved in the show, just how spectacular an atmosphere would be created for this event. I have asked everyone I know that was at the show for their thoughts. Though I was so intensely moved by its success, it was almost surprising to me how highly everyone else praised the show.

The show committee is already making big plans for 2012! Breeders Club Yearling classes, added prize money for the weanlings, more cabanas and great entertainment!

Visit the Arabian Breeders Finals Web Page for more information

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