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Monday’s question for you

As part of the strategy discussion leading to the development of a more focused business plan for the ApHC, we need your help and your insights. More than personal preference or personal opinion, we need your best understanding of what’s going on in the equine industry generally, and within our breed in particular.

Today’s question(s): How do we address the needs of the “entry-level” horse person? How do we attract them and how do we keep them excited about owning an Appaloosa? As the movie actor might ask the director: what’s my motivation?

17 Comments

  1. Curt Fuller Said,

    May 23, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    Entry Level question: In the Western and Mountain states, our support group and memberships have fallen in numbers for Regional Clubs. They were the building block for “entry-level” horse people in the past for ApHC. Regional clubs hosted trail rides for all types of owners and horses, open shows and regional shows, some had racing owners and supported ApHC races in states, and Appaloosas were seen in parades, horse drill teams, and rodeos. They were all supported by people in Regional Clubs or some type of award was sponsored for these events from the Regional Club. This is seldom happening today and therefore we also lose our attraction to potential owners, our publicity in the public eye and non-appaloosa owners is being lost. This diminshes the Appaloosas popularity that it once had(1970’s) yet still could have one day again.

  2. Carol Jones Said,

    May 23, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    Steve,
    The AApHC has found the single judge/open horse shows a great way to introduce our breed to the area. The entry level participants find the single judge shows more affordable with lower entry fees and no overnight stabling costs. We have a great time while still earning national points to help qualify horses for the World show. Our last show had fourteen in the open walk trot class!!

  3. Tim Said,

    May 23, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    In looking at this question in the horse show world, I think we need to bring back recognition to exhibitors in the arena. First timers enjoy ribbons & trophies. First timers at large shows such as the Nationals are frequently annoyed at the inconsistency of the four/five judge system. They become disappointed and quit to go play another less expensive sport.

  4. debbie Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    show to them that the appaloosa has mertits and worth beyond the confines of the show arena as halter & pleasure horses
    ……….the appaloosas abilities are only limited by the wants and needs of those who who are using them for whatever disipline they desire……… and quit treating horses, owners & riders that succeed outside the confines of the ApHC show ring like they are of less value to the ApHC then those that do…………

  5. nancy Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 6:52 am

    1) Let unrelated Novices share horses to show. 2) Drastically reduce the cost for Novice classes, and/or 3) allow Novices to show to only one or two judge(s) to reduce the cost of showing at a 4 -judge show. Offer an occasional All-Non-Pro show (no trainers allowed).

  6. Carrie Giannandrea Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 7:09 am

    Build a second book! Let those owners of “other” outcrossed Appaloosas have a place to call home! This will do more to grow the ApHC than anything else! The owners of these horses compete/show/exhibit more than the ApHC show crowd!

  7. Cindy Ruud Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    You keep asking how to attract ‘new’ people. Numbers have dropped because members left. FIX what is driving members away .. FIRST. There members who want to show in classes that promote natural and healthy gaits and head sets. Provide classes that promote those ideals. Stop promoting pintaloosas. The mission statement states the purpose of this club is to preserve the breed. The Appaloosa is a separate breed from paint horses as defined by thier coat patterns. The issues of keeping the breed sseparate was addressed early in the clubs history. Teh APHA does not promote pintaloosas why is the ApHC?

  8. Talea Metivier Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 8:02 am

    Great questions! I think the “right” answers will be as diverse as our Appaloosas and their owners! I think the obvious thing that sets Appaloosas apart is their color. Many breeds rightfully claim versatility and disposition, which are commonly noted characteristics of our breed.

    I have noticed that many “entry-level” riders focus on the socialization factor more so than the desire to compete at a high level. They like to trail ride in groups, haul to fun shows together, camp out at local competitions and participate in other socially fulfilling activities with their horses. I think the currently offered perks of ApHC membership that they do or are likely to take advantage of include the trail rides (Chief Joe) and maybe the saddle log.

    Ways we could address the needs of the “entry-level” Appaloosa owners is by catering more to the non-pro, casual rider. Things like offering a non-pro blanket fee at shows or having “fun” trail rides or poker rides put on by the regional clubs would probably help. Hopefully the horse itself will keep them excited about owning an Appaloosa! As long as we give them outlets to get together with other Appaloosa owners, the feeling of belonging and pride in the group will be good.

    We can attract the “entry-level” riders by ads like the ones in Trail Blazer magazine. Horse expos are great ways to show off our breed. The best way to promote our breed to non-Appaloosa owners is for Appaloosa owners to get out there and demonstrate the good qualities of our breed. Actions speak louder than words!

    Another thing that may be helpful is to add more in the Appaloosa Journal about Appaloosas doing well in open competitions. A new owner of an Appaloosa may become more interested in the breed itself when they see how amazing some Appaloosas are in “non-traditional” sports! Some of the activities that are rapidly gaining in popularity are trail challenges and mounted shooting. Those are wide open markets right now and we could get in on the action! Find the horses doing well in those events already and use them for advertising. George and Joker need to be plastered across the pages in Trail Blazer, Trail Rider, and even Western Shooting Horse! FYI, all members of Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Association get a free subscription to Western Shooting Horse so all the extreme cowboy racers are reading it.

    Thanks for opening up this discussion. I hope a lot of good comes of it.

  9. Cassandra Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    When it comes to “entry-level” horse people the biggest thing in this economy is MONEY! People want horses because they love them and the enjoyment that they bring, but when it comes to things that the any club offers….such as the ApHC it has to come down to the money. For example why pay membership fees and then pay for the huge expense required to go to the ApHC horse shows, when you can go to the numerous open shows available and pay 1/3 the cost in fees and have all ages of riders there to participate and have fun. This alone may drive some people away from joining the club who might have appaloosa’s and want to show. Of course this doesn’t apply just for the show people but for any of the items offered by the club. It’s almost seems that joining the clubs anymore are for the elite or people with money. I do want to say though that I do know that some of the club fee’s, such as the membership, are lower than clubs out there and you are trying to keep costs low for all members and I’m not contradicting what I’m saying I just think that for the “entry-level” horse person it still might be much for them; especially when you think of all the initial costs just to get started when you own your first horse. I don’t know just a thought.

  10. Faye Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    I think you need to offer something for the exhibitor, whether it be a child or an adult. I joined the ApHC almost 30 years ago after having shown hunters and Quarter horses. The people are what draws others in, but what draws the people?? They enjoy receiving things, like ribbons. My 10 year old gets up set when she doesn’t get 4 ribbons for her 4 judge class. She likes the ribbons. Other novice persons like the ribbons also, for me it doesn’t matter. It gives them something for their effort. The ACAAP is a great tool, but a lot of people don’t utilize it. Why? When I go to an open show I always scout out the apps and suggest they join the ACAAP and a regional club. Year end awards are great… You are spending the money anyway, why not get something for the effort. How about classes for novice persons that are actually novice persons, No trainers involved…. I love the appaloosa breed and the people we show we. We try in everyway to promote the breed.

  11. Shelby Snorek Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    I agree with what Steve (3) says, bring back recognition to the exhibitors and horses into the show ring, announce placings while they are still in the arena, cut down on the number of classes so people can slow down and enjoy the show and spectators as well as exhibitors can see what is going on. Get something on RFD TV to promote our breed.

  12. Anne Landers Said,

    May 24, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    I have a small riding academy and my people are telling me that the shows are way too expensive. Our horse industry has to compete with soccer, ballet, cheerleadiing, etc. Most of these activities are cheaper to participate in and require less time and energy to become proficient. Remember that before anyone steps into the show ring, they have to have a horse, saddle, tack, clothes, truck and trailer (or a ride to the shows). All of that coupled with $8/bag shavings, trainer fees, stalls, entries, etc. makes it tough for an average family to go to the shows.

  13. Jessica Smith Said,

    May 25, 2011 @ 9:37 am

    There are two things that this club needs to do. Gain new members and keep current members. To gain new members there needs to be more promotion on the local level, programs that fit the average person. A better ACAAP program will help. A program that does not lump all the competitors together because a NRHA horse is not the same as a dressage horse.
    A part breed registry will help a lot! So many people represent the Appaloosa that are not even recognized in the ApHC because their horse may not have the right parents. A part breed registry will give horses a place, yet keep them out of the main book.
    Recognition for those outside the ApHC show ring in the Journal and other things, more economical options available for shows and trail rides. People are already sold on the horse, the club just needs to sell themselves to the owners! Economics are a huge thing right now! People are pinching pennies, and membership to new clubs might not be as important as $50 of groceries.
    To keep current members the club needs to unite in a common goal, to preserve and protect the Appaloosa. Without that common goal we have things happening in and outside the ApHC that divide the members. We aren’t all going to agree that modern or foundation or trail or shows are the way, but we can all agree that the Appaloosa is the best breed on earth and needs to be protected from blending in with the rest. Until the club puts the breed and the horse first and foremost, it will lose members.
    Another idea is to have perks for members, like for those who are regional members as well as ApHC members get a discount on membership cost. Or maybe every 5 years members get a free year? Something to keep members going consecutively. The journal isn’t keeping them interested, that needs to be asked why. I personally think it’s because it has too many advertisements for ApHC show horses and not enough for the real world horse owner. It is sometimes diverse, but it needs more! More recognition to the diversity of the horse! Maybe advertising should be cheaper so we can get more variety in there? Articles regarding Foundation breeders programs, ACAAP competitors, regional clubs, historical facts, ect. There is so much potential for this club! So much potential for the Journal!

  14. dar arrowood Said,

    May 25, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    Why dont you survey folks (past members and general public) and ask them directly?

  15. Liza Bruce Said,

    May 26, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    Great question!!! I think we need to focus on the “next generation” that is coming up..they need to be out motivation!!! Here in Louisiana you see Appaloosas being ridden by youth at ropings, trail rides, being shown at Regional shows, 4H, FFA, Rodeo (Little Britches and High School) and of course at the College Level in MANY different disciplines. Our Regional Club makes sure that the kids showing Appaloosas at the State 4H show have awards…our own way of motivating them and us.

  16. Rebecca Said,

    May 27, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

    Steve,
    First, thanks for posing the question. Second, I invite you to check out our Facebook page: ApHC Members for Progress: Let’s Go Forward With the ApHC. Its a page of actual ApHC Members who are offering ideas, concerns, and solutions in their dialogue. There are some great ideas there and we are sharing them with the necessary BOD and office staff. I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

  17. Wayne A. Banta Said,

    June 1, 2011 @ 10:18 am

    I have talked to many people that have left ApHC and have done so in the past myself and can tell you that the universal answer I get is dissatisfaction with the direction the ApHC has taken the appaloosa over the last 25-30 years. Numbers are dropping consistantly and I see posts from people nearly daily that are dropping membership due to this. I think that the ApHC needs to take a serious look at what the club was doing in 1970 and the standard in use at that time and reconsider what is being done and promoted now. Only about 1/3 of members are show participants, and yet the show seems to run the direction of the club. People are extremely unhappy with all the solid “Champions” and do NOT feel that this is a true representation of an appaloosa. Maybe the club should seperate the catagories into solid and color. Pickenpaw, as president made the statement that he was very concerned that the appaloosa would be turned into a colored quarter horse, and since this has been done membership has dropped DRAMATICALLY. It’s time to look a basics and the ApHC mission statement. The appaloosa is a breed, not just an LP gene to be abused as seen fit. Maybe when ApHC gets back on track members will come back.

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