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An ASHBA Convention Summary


We are still riding high from our Annual Convention and Youth Conference on February 15  – 17. It was an incredible weekend gathering of minds and ideas that showcased the American Saddlebred. A special thank you to Chris Schubert, who chaired the Convention Planning Committee, along with our dedicated committee members, board, volunteers and staff. Also, a thank you to all our sponsors, donors and attendees for making it such a resounding success.

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The Convention kicked off Thursday evening with a welcome reception at Angel’s Envy Distillery. Thanks to the gracious sponsorship of Helen Rich and Ali DeGray, guests enjoyed a vintage trolley ride over, a bourbon tasting, signature cocktails, outstanding passed hors d’oeuvres, and a tour of the distillery.

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Thursday and Friday were filled with meetings and forums. Thank you to all the guest speakers and members who attended. During the Competition Forum, horse show dad Matt Linker spoke on his experience at the 2023 World’s Championship Horse Show and made suggestions for future horse show safety. Katlynn Wilbers, USEF representation spoke on safety, rule and procedures. Stacey Halloran of Equidae Insurance spoke on insurance coverage. Attendees also were treated to an informative Breeders Forum led by Kristen Bagdasarian. Speakers included Todd Graham, Jenny Taylor, Dr. John Cummins, Dr. Fatima Wazir, and Dr. Charles Scoggins. A special thank you to Sunrise Stables, LLC for graciously sponsoring the Breeders Forum and Lunch.
Friday afternoon, youth attendees were welcomed to Louisville with a field trip to the famous Muhammad Ali Museum. Attendees were introduced to the six core values Ali lived by, as well as his connection to the American Saddlebred.

Later that afternoon, ASHBA President Allen Bosworth and ASHBA Executive Director, David Mount led the Annual Membership Meeting. The two shared updates about the organization's marketing efforts, strategic plan, and committee restructuring and revealed an exciting project with the state of Kentucky. ASHBA has the opportunity to develop a specialty license plate, three designs were shared with the membership during the meeting and members can cast their vote on their favorite design.
Vote for Your Favorite Design

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Friday evening at the ASHBA Awards Gala guests were treated to a one-on-one with Lifetime Achievement Winner William Shatner and Bret Day. Shatner shared stories about his start with American Saddlebreds and how special it feels to still be involved with the breed at the age of 92. It was a magical night honoring ASHBA Major Award winners. Congratulations to the following major awards winners:
  • Gordon Jenkins International Award - Barbe Smith
  • Frank Ogletree Youth Award - Alexa Dahl
  • Sport Horse of the Year: CH-SH Rockin' in Vegas
  • Emerging/Young Sport Horse of the Year - Look Out World
  • Sport Horse Owner/Breeder of the Year - A.E. Nelson.
  • Wing Tempo Award - Harry Callahan
  • Melissa Moore Passion for the Breed Scholarship Recipients: Devin Sell, KASPHA and Harrison Goode, ASHBA
  • Meritorious Service Award - Kathie Dunn Jacobsen
  • Paul and Dorothy Gillenwater Family Award – Glasscock Family
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - William Shatner
  • VERSA Mae Condon Awards: Rob Erickson and William (Bill) Thompson
  • CJ Cronan Sportsmanship Award - Justin Cowley
  • Breeder of the Year - Prospect Lane
  • Wing Commander Award - Fran Crumpler
  • Breed Ambassador National Awards
    • Amateur Individual Division National Champion: Kathie Jacobsen
    • Horse Division National Champion: CH Spurwing’s Superfine Lady
    • Barn Group Division National Champion: Vantage Point Farm
    • Charter Club Division National Champion: Northern CA ASHA Club
  • Lurline Roth Sportsmanship Award - Joan Hammond
  • Breeders Hall of Fame - Louise Gilliland
  • Horse of the Year - The Crowd Went Nuts!
Watch the William Shatner Lifetime Achievement Video

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While the ASHBA Awards Gala took place, the ASHBA youth were treated to a visit to the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs for the Youth Legends of Friday Night. Attendees were able to hear from past Junior Exhibitor World’s Champions featuring Alayna Applegate, McGee Bosworth, Richie Dallen, Izzy Fischer, Aida Jones, Patrick McMurtrie, Nissa Sultan and Victoria Walz. The panel was moderated by Friday Night Legend Camille Cowart. This interactive event also featured a poster signing with current World’s Grand Champions Matt Shiflet and Steve Wheeler.

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Saturday we hit the trail—the Saddlebred Trail on buses graciously sponsored by Sampsel Equine, Hillcroft Farm, Noble Braveheart, Glamourous Nuts, Undulata’s Nutcracker and Marc Of Charm. The first stop on the trail was at Monnington Farm where guests were treated to a light breakfast, graciously provided by Colleen Cooper and EAC Equine in honor of RWC Arrowhead's Unlike Any Other. Many of the guests arrived on the WGC CH Marc Of Charm bus, sponsored by Carolyn Koch and Riverdreams LLC. Lionel and Georgia Ferreira treated a full house to a great lineup of Saddlebred stars.

Stop two was Autumn Hills Farm. Guests were treated to lunch sponsored by Diane Sembler Kamins, Kimberly Blackwell, Chris Schubert, and Susan Shepherd. Farm owners and operators, Steve and Tiffany Wheeler, showcased several horses in their program. Guests were surprised by Five-Gaited Reserve World’s Grand Champion Only On Top exhibited by Tre Lee to the delight of owner Mary McClean. To round out the group at Autumn Hills Farm, ASHBA Horse of Year, and current Three-Gaited World’s Grant Champion, The Crowd Went Nuts! made a knockout performance with Steve Wheeler and greeted some of his youngest fans.

The final stop on the trail was Willowbank Farm. During this open house style tour, attendees learned about the historic breeding program were able to wander the hallways and view stallions including Glamourous Nuts, Undulatas’s Nutcracker, Sedgefield’s Legacy, Heir Emerald, and Arrowhead’s Moscato, among others.  

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To close out the Youth Conference on Saturday night, the youth attendees were able to participate in fun activities, such as a Meet & Greet Bingo and our Horse Trivia Prize Wheel. A 360-degree photo booth captured the fun energy of the night. The ASHBA Youth Awards Gala honored the hardworking youth of our industry with the Youth High Point Awards, Photo Contest winners, Youth Club Awards, and the Academy Medal Awards. The evening also featured two exciting raffles! Four raffle winners received CH Marc Of Charm Breyer Horses. Our second raffle featured Freedman’s Boot Bags for two lucky winners, and a Freedman’s Advantage Comfort Double Bridle and browband went to the grand prize winner. A special thanks to Grace Arnold, LLC and Elisabeth Goth for their generosity and support of the youth events.

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To close out the Convention on Saturday night, adult attendees heard from nearly every living Three-Gaited World’s Grand Champion winner at the iconic Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. These Three-Gaited Legends shared stories of their World’s Grand Champions while being interviewed by Bob Funkhouser. This historic event was commemorated by Legends of Saturday Night signed autograph books that were available to all attendees. This event was graciously sponsored by Gen Hess and Fluid Film whose promotional products were provided in all attendees' welcome bags as well as additional items at the event.

It was a weekend for the history books!