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ASHBA Board Spotlight Q & A with Evan Orr

Learn more about one of the leaders at the American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association (ASHBA). Follow us each week as we share these Q & A's with each member of our board of directors! You'll learn their history with the breed and how they want to make a positive difference for the American Saddlebred.

Name: Evan Orr

Location: Greensboro, NC

How did you get started with the American Saddlebred?

My interest in horses was sparked by a trail ride in South Dakota on a family vacation when I was 12.  That fall I started taking riding lessons with Sharon Rubsam in Cantrall, IL.  It just so happened that she had Saddlebreds and Arabians.  So, my involvement with Saddlebreds began simply by chance, or fate I suppose. 

What is your involvement with the American Saddlebred currently?

Currently, my wife Mary and I own and operate High Caliber Stables.  We have a large training operation, large riding lesson and Academy program and a small breeding program. 

Why are you passionate about serving on the ASHBA board?

Serving on the ASHBA Board is truly an honor.  I think that it is extremely important to have leadership that advocates for our breed and protects the interests of our breeders and competitors. It is also important for that leadership to understand the challenges that we face as an industry as it strategizes for moving us into the future. 

What other industry boards &/or committees have you served before?

I am currently the vice chair of UPHA Chapter 12 and a Board member of the Carolina’s Futurity. 

What committees/councils/initiatives at the ASHBA will be or are you serving on as board member?

I serve on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the Ethics Review Board and as Licensed Officials Board Sponsor. 

What is your vision for bettering the breed through serving on the ASHBA board?

My vision for bettering the Saddlebred industry is very practical.  It happens where the rubber meets the road if you will.  We expose people to the horse by giving lessons and making Saddlebreds visible in our community.  For those that want to show we can take them to that level.  We also breed our own horses and encourage our clients to breed there by perpetuating the breed.  We most certainly have an incredible product.  Delivering it to the masses is our challenge and we try to lead by example. 

What are the top three challenges you believe the ASHBA Board should be working on?

The top three challenges for the ASHBA are the Merger transition, breeding challenges and membership perception and communication. 

The merger has been such a great thing for our organization.  The leadership, dedication and the incredible talent and experience of our board members has been inspirational.  The merger is making us more effective and more transparent so we can work on the business of promoting and protecting our breed and the interests of our membership.  

Secondly, breeding numbers are down across all breeds, and this will continue to be a challenge for us all.  Adapting to the changing show environment and finding places for horses, breeders, and riders to feel successful is a challenge that will take not change overnight.  An industry like ours steeped in tradition will not give up that tradition easily.  I am optimistic that we can adapt without losing the history and tradition that makes us unique. 

Lastly, I think that we are challenged by communication and informing our membership.  Every member looks at the ASHBA through a lens that is shaded by their personal interests and priorities.  We are tasked with balancing all those interests of our members all the while promoting and protecting our breed and its future.  Communication is key to that and in today’s world getting our message through in an already saturated information loop is difficult.  But our future us bright and we have tremendous people with a love for the Saddlebred that are working tirelessly to make this organization run for our horses and our members.