Director’s Corner

AHA Board of Directors Meeting Report

AHA SPRING Board Meeting Denver Colorado Mar 17, 2023

President Deborah Johnson opened meeting welcoming board and Zoom member Lance Walters whose flight was cancelled in the northeast.

Conflict Of Interest: none

Youth Update: Brenna and AHYA executive and 9 youth directors went to a large animal horse clinic where rehabilitation therapy is a large part of the program. They also attended a college in Denver.

New AHA Building: March 23 is the official move in date and work is well underway transitioning from old office to new. Very exciting and refreshing for staff and executive.

President Johnson paid a tribute to Jim Lawless. He has been the head of IT and this will be his last meeting.

Brad Short, in charge of accounting is working hard on bringing financials up to date after ransom ware attack.

Purebred Arabian Trust (PAT) has paid legal fees, finalizing details to the lawsuit. It has been 20 years since the merger. The relationship between AHA and PAT has been tenuous and will need to be rebuilt from here. 

AHA is working together with Equestrian Canada to help bring more Arabian breed awareness to the Canadian organization.

AHA has not signed affiliate agreement with USEF. There are snags in value shows.

Secretary Jan Decker reports on staff hiring for replacement of J Lawless.
Executive committee lead Stan Morey reached out to a tragedy in Louisiana. A farm was broken into where tack and three horses were stolen. The horses were severely injured. Motions were passed on some housekeeping rules.

Lance Walters/Brad Short

Brad Short: federal grant PPE pushed AHA through Covid years…building sale looks good on books and PPE but we have to continue to be careful as horse show income and registration are still on the decline.

The President’s expenses have been examined and approved. Deborah has done an excellent job keeping her expenses down and Lance appreciates the effort.

Yearly review : Fee increase request in registration. AHA slightly flush with cash at this time. A conversation headed by P. Conway stating all investments are struggling, showing decline in returns and decline in values. Cash heavy right now and investing is challenging.


Lance Walters, Brad Short, Gerald MacDonald, Stan Morey and President Deborah Johnson have made huge efforts to tighten, streamline budget. Difficult times with inflation rates at 9%, retaining staff, increases that came up at US Nationals called for drastic budget changes.

Slide show presentation see pics

Fee increases for FY24:
US Nationals, Youth/Mid Summer Nationals, Sport Nationals, Competitions (results reporting fee) Dec 1, 2023, Sweepstakes, Registrations, Performance Futurities, Convention

Memberships 2022: 14,998
Memberships 2023 15,249. up 1.7%

Statement of Activities or Profit and Loss – an unbelievable number of columns to fill in for people in Budget & Finance.

Jim Lawless – Oracle program migration: 3 major items to move yet. Possibly in a year’s time we will be completely out of the old system. Replacement of archaic Oracle system will simplify the IT infrastructure. The intent is to migrate most components to the Cloud. Antiquated phone system did not move to the new building….all done through the Cloud. Communication through Zoom.

Gerald commented that it was one of the most difficult budgets he has ever worked on for AHA. He thanked the staff and Budget & Finance team.

President Johnson thanked Gerald MacDonald profusely for his tireless efforts on putting ‘Budget 2024’ together.

Debbie Fuentes:
Purebred down 1.9% 2,189 to 2,149
HA/AA up 7.2% 709 to 760

1/3 of the stallion owners do not send in stallion reports. Only 45-50% of mares get their foals registered. There are a number of horses registered after a year old.

Stan Morey
USEF-communications re: AHA Value shows (no USEF involvement) put into place for judges to get practice and to allow people to show Arabians without having USEF memberships. Currently in US, half of their shows are value shows. Morgan, ASB, and Arabians are on the same page, looking for continuance of Value/Star shows that do not require show stewards, farriers and drug testing and no USEF memberships.

Liability issues have become a great concern for management, exhibitors, clubs, and judges as there are not under the umbrella of USEF. USEF LITE licensing is an option, but does require membership, Safe Sport and drug fees. AHA’s affiliation with USEF has advantages and disadvantages.

Katie Freighner:
Building the Arabian Horse, the Unique Breed” video series. First release beginning of June.
#1 Welfare of the Arabian
#2 __________Video
#3 Call to Action
#4 Find Our Family
#5  A Year in Review.
Watch the AHA website for updates.

Commissioner Mary Jane Brown
Judges and Stewards 2022 school was well attended, but only one “r” was evaluated.

School and Seminar Dates 2023
In Person Phoenix, AZ Nov 30-Dec 2/23
In Person evaluations for “r” Dec 1-3/23
Judges Seminar and N/R Interviews – both virtual
Nov 30-Dec 1/23 for seminar Dec 2-3/23 N/R Interviews– Judging interviews on Zoom. Looking to change video platform.

Halter Judges pilot program at Scottsdale Show 2024:
Procedure will include ten approved carded judges sitting off to the side judging. 2 days long ECC looking for continuing education in hand halter division.

4 classes in Ranch Riding added to Sweepstakes 50/50 rule – recommendation to hold these classes for Sweepstakes entries only by 2026.

Kaitlyn McGarry
An All Breeds competition with numerous rides planned for 2023. Arabians are very competitive in the endurance races Aug 23-25, 2023 in Virginia.

Kathy Callahan Smith
Discussion by this committee on how to prevent performance halter from turning into a class like breeding halter class. Conversation is also taking place on qualification changes.

Consists of the Chairs & Vice Chairs from the National Show commissions and APHA.

Efforts to improve the Nationals Patron package template, control the advertising of non-registered vendors on AHA platforms. The Directorate would also like to improve the vendor layouts at Nationals.

Kaitlyn McGarry
All breed-pro and non pro classes; clinic scheduled for 2023. Saddles for champions.

Cricket Gates
Adding jumping classes, double jeopardy carriage driving class. WEC Facility September, 2023.

Chuck Rickart
Looking at 2023 US National class schedule changes, 2024 increases in fees for exhibitors as there are cost increases across the board. Changes in vendors area in efforts to make more attractive. Contract with Tulsa facility is year-to-year so  investigations are ongoing for new location.


Mark Himmel
Sweepstakes money added into show. Ranch classes added. Splitting sport horse in hand, Western Dressage classes added. Dressage in specialty arena and speciality judges have been requested. Age splits in several larger class – requests for sponsorships at 1000.00 have already been fulfilled.  Award concerns were received. Garlands and rose blankets will be unique to this Youth/Midsummer and definitely ramped up.

Courtney McLees
Questions asked how and why we got to Myrtle Beach for the Convention November 2022. Contract was signed in 2018 – a process that meets the criteria in the AHA handbook. Plans, contracts and deposits for in-person convention have always been made well in advance. Covid did play a part in the delay of the 2022 in person convention.

Virtual Convention November 2023-offers a financial  break even and/or possibility of small revenue.

In person Convention in Reno, Nevada 2024. This will be an election year. Estimating costs between $15,000-$50,000 depending on attendance and sponsorships.

Side bar: To bring coffee into the meeting room at this meeting was $28.00/per person. This was not done due to cost. The general consensus is that there is a significant increase in cost of airlines, hotel rooms and food.

President Johnston
Announcement of USEF SADDLE SEAT MEDAL FINAL Program. An introduction to an All Breed yearly final event. Qualifying classes to be offered at horse shows starting with Scottsdale. The 2023 final to be held at the AMERICAN ROYALS – open to youth age groups. Visit the USEF website here for more information.

Josh Schildroth R18
13 Judges; 14 Stewards
Working on better communications between Equine Canada and AHA.

Director At Large-Bruce Johnson

During the lawsuit, communications regarding PAT activities were to be kept to a minimum. 

The trial is over and the courts ruled in favour of AHA. All AHA legal fees have been paid by PAT. PAT is looking at increasing fee registration.

There is no activity to report from WAHO. Bob Falls and Howard Pike are the WAHO contacts. 

Four at-large seats available on the Purebred Arabian Horse Trust.

Katie Feighner
Discovery Farms has been a great program to promote the Arabian breed. Over 90 farms registered.  Meet The Arabian Horse is beginning promoted during the month of May.

Events the MVP would like to target in 2023 are Kentucky Derby Parade, Breyerfest and Equine Affaire.

Social Media Advertising: Efforts to promote, educate and to re-target. For example: If you leave  a site with something in the cart, a gentle reminder comes up two days later. The ability to capture social media participants a second third and fourth time can be stimulating.

Breed Promotion – first touch we are good at

Membership-Ownership = registration transfers, increased business for AHA

Lisa Blackstone – MVP
Complimented Katie Feighner on working well with MVP and the AHA Marketing team. Paul Kostial’s We Love Arabian Horses is also sending information out to collaborate with AHA on promoting the Arabian breed.

Nancy Goertzen R2
Region 2 Director wanted to have an open discussion on consolidating regions. All regions rely on their regional horse show for major source of revenue. Nancy stated in California they are seeing clubs shrinking and folding. Their regional shows are struggling in numbers and finding it difficult to afford facilities. Region 15 Director Cricket Gates are for the second year combining their show with Region 16. They ran as a separate entity, shared expenses, ran classes that could be concurrent in between the two shows.

Cricket Gates and Nancy Goertzen are going to work on restructuring, not necessarily the boundaries, but allowing the Regions to run as separate co-operations. This will be a longterm project with lots of new ideas needed. How can we change? We are antiquated in many of our processes.  We are slow and cumbersome.  This conversation has come forward on a number of occasions, last in 2019. Cricket Gates, Nancy Goertzen, Dan Stevenson to work on. Hope to see more on this discussion and input is welcome.

USEF always concerned for the welfare of the horse.

How/should we look at USEF and EC for succession planning? How does the outside perceive what we are doing? There is a perception that what we do is not acceptable. If you can’t be a good example, you could be a horrific statement!
The horse does not get to choose! Social license awareness. Self regulation is very important.

The Arabian industry is not immune from being on the front page of paper or on social media platforms. We as an association need to be aware of the health of the welfare of the horse and the perception by the public.

Riders that fall off an entire incident report is written at many lesson barns. Witnesses are included and incident report for insurance and liability protection.

4:00pm Adjournment

President Johnson adjourned the meeting with special thanks to those that were in attendance.

Next Virtual Board Meeting August, 2023

The following morning, we took a van out to see the new AHA office. The transition has involved significant downsizing. The staff of approximately 33 will work remote and schedule in to the office when needed. The office can accommodate 17 staff members easily with a small board meeting  room attached. Staff is definitely excited about being warm in the winter and cool in the summer as the newer building operates much more efficiently.

Visitors always welcomed.