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From the Desk of Marty Schaffel: Ingredients for Success

Published Date: Oct 02, 2019

I write this latest column while sitting on the plane returning from the St. Louis Charity Horse show this past week. It was my first time attending, and I thought it was one of the best horse shows I have had the pleasure to be a part of. It epitomized so many of the initiatives the ASHA has been working on to expand opportunities for the breed. This horse show was a delightful experience that provided fun times for a broad segment of our market. 

My key observations: 

  1. Opportunity. St. Louis seemed to have something for everyone and every American Saddlebred. There were numerous hunt seat, western, equitation, performance and pleasure classes, and all were heavily populated. The great variety of entries here breeds confidence that the new ASR Four Year Old Hunter Sweepstakes will thrive and provide continued avenues for young Saddlebred hunters to shine. In addition to a wide array of classes in those divisions, there was a slate of other less traditional classes such as the new jumper stake, working hunter, working western, and five gaited country pleasure. I was encouraged by the continued opportunities these types of classes can offer our community and the new exhibitors they bring to the show. I continued to hear throughout the week compliments about the ring management and judges. Most importantly, all of these factors allowed American Saddlebred enthusiasts to thoroughly enjoy their experience and leave feeling it was worth the trip and investment. 
  2. Hospitality. The hospitality extended by the show management was terrific. Two nights of free food and beverage kept everyone smiling. Every show representative was very warm and welcoming, eager to help and solve problems. The dedicated volunteer team also made a tremendous impact on the quality of the exhibitor experience. Volunteers were extremely engaging and served as a great help to this newcomer.  
  3. Facility. While there are many beautiful venues for Saddlebred horse shows not many offer the level of social engagement that I observed here. The majority of the seating was tabling that were close together and encouraged comradery amongst spectators. During every session, the service to the tables was excellent and kept people ringside watching the show. 
  4. Partnership. I saw so many entities coming together for the greater good at St. Louis. Whether it was the hunter-jumper show committee helping during the Saddlebred week, Saddle & Bridle Magazine sponsoring finals for our hunt seat and western horses or the promotion of the impact this show has on our breed by ASHA, U.S. Equestrian and Event Mix all were contributing to the betterment of the American Saddlebred experience. This joining of hands makes the wonderful variety of classes and opportunities for the American Saddlebred lover possible. 

 Everyone I spoke with had a great time this week. I am grateful to have been there and experienced it. Congratulations to everyone involved with the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show and The National Equestrian Center for producing a great show and enjoyable experience for all participants.


Marty Schaffel, ASHA Interim President 

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