The American Horse Council (AHC) Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum, held June 9-12, 2019, provided a wealth of information and ideas from different perspectives on how the equine industry can grow and how AHC members can continue to work together. Attendees were treated to insights ranging from cutting-edge topics designed to help equine athletes to how the next generation can be encouraged to be involved in the horse world, to how AHC member can partner with other organizations for the benefit of the industry.
- Coalition of State Horse Councils (CSHC) – The coalition reviewed federal and state legislation and regulations, and then turned its attention to the results of a recent questionnaire to identify ideas and best practices that might be useful to state councils.
- United Horse Coalition (UHC) – UHC gave a presentation on where we were, where we are currently, and our goals for the future. The new website is live, with a focus on our Resource Database. They are currently working in the background to develop a Searchable Resource Database, as well as identify those resources available across the nation for horses at-risk or in transition. We are also updating and working on identifying a need for new Educational Materials. They held a kickoff meeting to discuss the re-grouping of Executive Committee and Sub Committees, as well as growing the UHC Ambassador program to help promote the new mission and good works of the UHC.
- Marketing Alliance – The Time To Ride Program Manager reviewed the 2019 Time To Ride pilot program, which focuses on working with local lesson facilities to offer a series of riding and horse-care lessons to school-age children. Instructor and facility requirements and industry support were discussed. A total of 62 facilities were accepted into the pilot program, representing a broad cross-section of breeds and disciplines from across the country. These facilities are being given marketing materials and support to introduce themselves to schools and youth groups in their local areas, helping put horseback riding on a the same footing as other sports activities available to young people.
- Health & Regulatory – The Committee was provided with USDA-APHIS Surveillance, Preparedness and Response Services Update from Dr. Angela Pelzel-McCluskey and USDA-APHIS-National Import Export Service Update from Dr. Amber Headen. Bailey McCallum provided a review of new features, including the database, on the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC), and Dr. Nat White discussed the financial needs of the program and requested fundraising support to maintain and preserve the EDCC for the future.
- Recreation, Trails & Land Use – Guest speaker Michelle Lane, a Professional Staff Member at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recapped passage of the S. 47, the so-called “Lands Package,” in February, and pointed out that the most important provision in the law was the permanent re-authorization of the Land Water Conservation Fund. Bryan Brendle, AHC Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs, highlighted that AHC continues to lobby for the Restore Our Parks Act (H.R. 1225/ S. 500), which adopts a creative approach to fund trails initiatives by establishing a new revenue stream to move forward with deferred maintenance projects. AHC grassroots efforts have generated 129 letters to support ROPA, which has gained more than 220 cosponsors in the House and 37 in the Senate.
- Racing Advisory – The committee heard updates from committee members on the following topics: sports betting legislation; guest worker visas, H2B; the Horseracing Integrity Act; three-year depreciation of racehorses; advance-deposit wagering (ADW), account holder credit card funding transaction declines and Google advertising by ADWs. Remi Bellocq of the North America Riding Academy (NARA) presented the concept of workforce development apprenticeship or certification programs to train U.S. citizens to work in the equine industry.
- Equine Welfare – Bruce Rittenhouse from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided an update to the 2018 presentation on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. The Committee also heard presentations from inside and outside of the AHC on industry welfare efforts including United Horse Coalition & Equine Welfare Data Collective; ASPCA “Good Welfare for All Equines” campaign; AQHA Welfare Commission Update; NRHA Welfare Issues Update and HSUS Domestic Equine Welfare Legislative Efforts.
- Horse Show & Competition Committee – The committee heard several legislative updates and welcomed guest speaker Penny Brown from Cowgirls of Color and director of the STAND Foundation. Brown provided an inspiring presentation on their afterschool and summer camp riding programs, which use activities to discover, understand and master the rider's abilities, skills and mannerisms for the training, riding, and managing of horses; it also trains children to manage their own behaviors and mindsets. The committee also heard updates from Cozen O'Connor PLLC regarding “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act”.
National Issues Forum
The morning session kicked off with a panel discussion entitled “Celebrating Our Past and Envisioning Our Future.” It was moderated by AHC President Julie Broadway. Panelists included Matt Iuliano of The Jockey Club, Billy Smith of the American Paint Horse Association and Olivia Tordoff of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association. Each shared their insights on industry accomplishments over the last 50 years, ways the industry is making a difference and their vision of the future.
Jim Gagliano of The Jockey Club and current AHC Board Chair, provided a “State of the Industry,” highlighting overall economic impact and strong indicators for growth. AHC President Julie Broadway provided a “State of AHC,” sharing 2018 accomplishments and victories. Bill Scebbi, Chair of the CSHC, shared observations from the state horse councils and encouraged attendees who didn't have a state horse council to investigate establishment of one.
Rick Mack of the Association of Chief Executives for Sports (ACES) provided background on ACES and focused on the key pillars of their work with National Governing Bodies (NGBs).
Bill Knauf, Vice President of Operations at Monmouth Park, and Jessica Feil of IFRAH Law PLLC, shared the latest updates on sports betting and told great anecdotes about the positive impact of sports betting at Monmouth Park.
Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of the National 4-H Council, launched the afternoon session, highlighting ways to engage youth and build the next generation of leaders.
Jeff Jensen, Olympic and Breeders' Cup horse trainer, shared his thoughts on the use of CBD and hemp products for horses.
Eric Hamelback of the HPBA, Alex Waldrop of the NTRA and Remi Bellocq of NARA lead a panel discussion that tackled workforce development and immigration. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus, also attended and spoke.
Brian Leaders of the National Park Service (NPS) provided an overview of the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and shared some wonderful examples of multi-use trails. Of note was that NPS offers 27 horse camping locations and 73 horse riding/trekking locations.
Dale Moore of Farm Bureau closed the day with some great ideas about promoting agricultural life and ways to build grassroot support to move legislation in a positive direction.
Slides and recordings of Tuesday presentations will be accessible to AHC members from the AHC website, www.horsecouncil.org in the coming weeks.
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