The American Horse Council has announced that the theme for this year’s National Issues Forum is “Reinvigorating the Horse Industry.”
This year’s National Issues Forum will be held on Tuesday, June 26, in Washington, DC during the AHC’s annual meeting. The annual meeting will run from June 24 to 27 at the Washington Court Hotel and will include the AHC’s Congressional Reception, the annual Congressional Ride-In, and sessions on federal advocacy. This year’s meeting will also include the AHC’s Breed Roundtable, a popular event that brings together leaders of horse associations to discuss common issues of importance to the industry.
The AHC’s various committees and the Unwanted Horse Coalition will also meet to discuss issues affecting the equine community.
Over the last few years the number of horses bred and overall participation in equine activities has declined. Clearly, a major factor is the downturn in the economy; but there is a growing concern in the industry that the long-standing connection between horses and people is at risk for additional reasons. Many organizations are looking at how they can get more people active with horses, attract more participants and spectators to their events, and restore the demand for horse ownership by growing the horse community.
“Several national organizations have undertaken marketing initiatives to reinvigorate the industry. They are addressing what can be done to bring back those who may have left and attract new people. The Forum is an opportunity to hear from those organizations attacking this problem and to hear what they are doing,” said AHC president Jay Hickey.
The Forum will also include presentations on the evolving changes in federal advocacy. “Advances in technology and social media and how constituents can contact their federal officials have affected grassroots activities. What other groups are doing and what kind of success they have had in mobilizing their members with new technologies will be addressed,” said AHC Director of Legislation Ben Pendergrass. Regardless of the method, grassroots activities are important to success in Washington and at the state and local level. Speakers will address these advocacy issues at the Forum.
The AHC will be hosting its Breed Roundtable. This event was brought back last year and proved so popular that it will be done again. It allows leaders of horse organizations involved in various disciplines to visit with each other and discuss issues of common concern.
The annual Congressional Ride-In will take place on Wednesday, June 27. The Ride-In allows members of the horse community to meet with their elected representatives and their federal officials to discuss important issues affecting them. All members of the horse community are encouraged to participate, even if you don’t attend the AHC convention. Congress deals with many issues that impact the horse industry, including taxes, gaming, immigration, access to trails and public lands, diseases, and interstate and international movement of horses. This is an opportunity for the horse community to come to Washington in force and meet with their Senators, Representatives, and staffs.
“The Ride-In puts an individual face on the $102 billion horse industry and the millions of Americans who are part of it,” said Hickey. “The most effective way to affect Congress is through voters, the horse people from back home who can tell Congress first-hand about the horse industry in their states and districts and the issues that impact them.”
The AHC will conduct a free briefing for Ride-In participants. Anyone wishing to participate in the Ride-In should contact AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-296-4031.
More information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information can be found on the AHC’s website, http://horsecouncil.org/events.php or by contacting the AHC.