Vote of No Confidence in the Arabian Horse Association
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STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR THE ARABIAN BREED IN U.S.A
CALLING FOR “VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE” IN ARABIAN HORSE ASSOCIATION AND REPLACEMENT OF AHA OFFICERS AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
In 1983, I, Al Parks and my wife, Judi, founded a breeding operation for Egyptian horses, now located in Arizona, which has become Abbasiyah International Inc. Our focus has been on exporting horses with prized bloodlines to the Middle East and promoting the positive attributes of all Arabian horses here in America. I’ve been a Life Member (#L 0660) of World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO) for almost three decades.
During 35+ years of active involvement, I’ve watched the fortunes of the Arabian breed in the U.S.A. reach a pinnacle in the 1980s, then, steadily decline to the point where, I fear, the breed will be lost if serious, preventive measures aren’t taken. In fact, irreparable damage has already been done, and much of that has occurred under the governance of Arabian Horse Association (AHA).
When AHA was created in 2003 to replace International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) it was basically meant to be an organization for presenting (and writing rules for) horse shows. Because of this limited mandate, there is no leadership in the U.S.A. which has a vision, commitment, and long-term goals for the future and well-being of the breed we love.
But, as I see it, AHA is failing to fulfill its basic function of presenting shows that display Arabian horses in a positive light to the public and demonstrate the respect and love they deserve. Instead, we see halter handlers whipping and shanking Arabians in full view of judges and stewards, with no consequences. In performance classes, Arabians may be drugged and physically harmed through abusive training methods, with no consequences. Indeed, these routine hardships of Arabian horse shows may inflict mental and physical damage that afflict our horses for the rest of their lives and contribute to an unfair reputation that Arabians are brainless and unreliable.
In addition to the damage to body and soul, the Main Ring has become a garish spectacle of shaved and greased Arabians, robbed of their natural beauty, and made laughingstocks to the rest of the horse world, all with no consequences.
Furthermore, Main Ring at horse shows, and the powerful trainers alternating as judges who ply their trade there, has become the place that defines through judging decisions what is and isn’t an Arabian horse. The erosion in quality, certainly in terms of conformation, legs and hooves, and loss of athletic ability, is obvious to anyone who knows what the Arabian horse used to be. Regrettably, the practices that have been so damaging to the Arabian industry in America, have been exported and adopted around the world.
It’s clear to me, that AHA is unwilling and unable to address the harmful practices that are within their scope of responsibility. Indeed, AHA routinely defers (in matters of drugging, for example) to United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Recently, it was protests from individual AHA members who took action themselves to seek relief for our horses. In one case, a protest was filed with USEF asking that an AHA rule prohibiting intimidation and excessive whipping and shanking be enforced. USEF agreed. In another case, an AHA member filed a complaint with AHA seeking the removal from its ranks of a trainer in Florida whose 54 horses were starved, neglected, and taken into custody by local authorities. Decision pending. These outrages perpetrated upon our beloved breed should not come as a surprise when AHA allows anyone, who claims to be a trainer, to have access to Arabians, without credentials, background checks, payment of fees or annual memberships, or liability insurance, and despite previous offenses. Arabians damaged through ignorance or malice, Arabians dead from drugging and/or abuse, and the consequent loss of valuable property is the high price many uninformed owners in the Arabian horse show world have paid. And, there is no consequence.
Not surprisingly, participation in Arabian horse shows has fallen off considerably. Membership in AHA is in steep decline. In what seems like an attempt to deceive, AHA says it serves 84,000 Arabian and Half Arabian owners in North America. Actual AHA membership seems to be about 19,000.
Any notion that things will level off and not get worse, has been dispelled by recent events. In Oregon, two women with ties to illustrious Arabian horse legacies, have been charged with 83 counts of second degree animal neglect for Arabians removed from their property. To my knowledge AHA hasn’t commented on that.
Shortly afterwards, horses in Arizona, belonging to another esteemed member of AHA, were confiscated by local authorities and a rescue owing to neglect. Euthanasia was deemed necessary for some of the horses. In that case, AHA issued a press release claiming that a friend had reached out to ask for help. Early reporting seems to indicate that is not true; that the person(s) involved had been under scrutiny for awhile and officials stepped in while the owner was showing at Scottsdale.
Tragically, incidents of large numbers of Arabians being hoarded, starved, and neglected, have been all too common in the U.S.A. However, these last two cases are what have driven me to take the extreme step of begging WAHO to intercede for Arabian horse in America. When people, who have basked in the glory of our breed and built comfortable lifestyles around the Arabian horse, turn out to be shameful imposters, then, I believe, we have reached a state of emergency in America. Clearly, AHA has no ability to deal with this emergency.
I’m asking all WAHO members to join in a “vote of no confidence” in AHA, and that the current officers and board of directors be replaced. We must have a new organization with a wider authority to address the downward spiral of the Arabian breed in America and, equally important, the desire and determination to do what’s necessary.
Please sign here and if you wish to additionally contribute thoughts, send your vote of no confidence to WAHO headquarters in the UK. Email email@example.com
If you have further questions, feel free to contact me.
Albert J. Parks, firstname.lastname@example.org
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