While the calendar indicates Spring, many of us have experienced some wild extremes of weather and temperatures.  Despite these challenges, our Champion Show Season was well under way with a great start with the Lone Star Show in Belton, TX!  The success of our shows starts with all the work done by so many members well before the show date.  Their focus, dedication and attention to the details coupled with our wonderful sponsors produces a positive experience for our exhibitors and a fun show!  Our thanks to all those visible and ‘behind the scenes’ for their work!  See more details on NAPHA and specific show websites.

Q-1 2024
Following being selected as the 2024 NAPHA President, I have been spending a great deal of time talking to members across the country.  The objective was to better understand a variety of perspectives and make every effort to respond to the feedback ‘ NAPHA doesn’t listen to its members.’  The goal was and will continue to be, to listen and invite on-going, direct communication.  The openness of so many has been greatly appreciated!

The Burning Platform
This term is frequently used in organizations when their future existence is seriously threatened.  The downward trends in our membership, exhibitors, breeders, clubs and shows is a well-known trend and not in dispute.  In recent years we have not been able to effectively promote our breed and grow our membership.  While investments were made in media and promotional materials, the downward trend has continued.  Our shows compete for a shrinking number of exhibitors.  This is the time for us to work together to promote and grow our wonderful breed across the country. 

These include the economic challenges to owners of all sizes as well as the ability to start/maintain breeding businesses.  Misinformation regarding DSLD on social media does our breed no favors.  Our internal member conflicts are now massive distractions that keep us from working together to grow.  Over the past quarter, I have heard far too often: ‘I want it this way or I’ll ….threat….’ Agendas of grievance or retribution will not help us meet our challenges.    There is no question that we have issues that need to be addressed and we must work together to improve and adapt to a changing environment if our breed is to flourish. 
Promising Potential
The last Advisory Council meeting discussion produced many ideas regarding marketing and promotion.  In reading the minutes, it appears to be one of the most robust discussions within NAPHA.  This is a great opportunity to form a marketing/promotion/membership work group to develop specific recommendations/actions to the BOD.  If we can harness this enthusiasm/interest, we can make real progress.  Now is the time for action and I look forward to working with this group to implement their ideas now…..let’s make this a year of rebuilding!  ‘It’s about the horse.’

Action In Progress
At the February BOD meeting, our website project plan was approved under the direction of Janna Loeffler.  The membership website survey showed multiple needs that have not been addressed for several years. Janna is the lead project manager of Kelly Powers and Natalie Braverman.  Work is in progress and many of the suggestions made in the recent AC meeting are included in that work.  Drop down menus have already been consolidated and there is updating of old/unused content.  This project is an ideal companion to integrate the work on marketing/promotion and membership.

The Difficult Review
The BOD made the commitment at the request of the AC to review the previous decision regarding quadruple points for the National Show.  Information was shared by the AC and others with the Board.  After a comprehensive review and active discussion, the earlier decision was affirmed.  The BOD took this task of evaluating input seriously and will be closely monitoring data going forward.  The BOD heard the concerns of the quad point issue regarding the potential negative impact on the regional shows.  Early indicators show a great deal of enthusiasm and support for both the upcoming Cactus Classic and Heartland Classic Shows.  Hopefully, the success of these new venues will dispel those fears and most importantly, bring new opportunities to showcase and promote our breed!

2025 National Show Proposals – Last Call
Kerry McGinley and others have been gathering and submitting information about potential venues for the 2025 National Show.  Criteria has included rate sheet/costs, available dates, details on the facilities, amenities, closest international airport and any other useful information. This will help us select the best possible location for the 2025 U.S. Nationals. We need to get the new location booked as soon as possible, so any additional proposals are due to the board by May 20.

Member Updates
Our thoughts and prayers continue for Lynn Austin and Janna Loeffler.  The support from our equestrian community is greatly appreciated, is strong and will be on-going.
We are now at a critical juncture in our history as a breed organization.  We can continue our current path of division and conflict or we can begin to work together—we have destructive or constructive choices.  As your President, I welcome hearing from you as to how we can begin the constructive journey of rebuilding our breed in North America.
Paul Opdyke
2024 NAPHA President

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