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AHR Futurity 2020 Update

AHR Futurity 2020 Update

Dear American Haflinger Registry Members,

The AHR Board has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 AHR Futurity.

At the June 10, 2020 AHR board meeting the Board cancelled the 2020 National Showcase event scheduled for September. In making that decision the Board considered the:
• health risks associated with large gatherings in the current COVID-19 environment
• probability that infections would increase again in the next few months
• increasing risk to participants if cases rose
• probability that the event would be cancelled

The decision was made at the June meeting to go forward with the AHR Futurity separately because it:
• involved a much smaller group of participants
• allowed for greater management of the risks associated with COVID-19
• honored a partnership with the Haflinger Breeders’ Cooperative (“HBC”) that the AHR Board made several years ago to grow the Haflinger futurity program

Both HBC and AHR were moving forward, planning an event for the first weekend in October 2020 in Ohio at Windy Knoll Farms.

However, last week, the HBC Board informed AHR that they decided to move their futurity event to August 14-16 in conjunction with the Central Ohio Haflinger Show. AHR was invited to move its Futurity to the same dates. The AHR Board has decided not to accept that invitation to hold the AHR Futurity in August based on the reasons below:
Health Risks –COVID-19 cases have started to increase again across the country with many states and communities looking to restrict large gatherings. Holding the AHR Futurity in conjunction with a horse show offering a full schedule of classes, like the Central Ohio Show, increases the number of people at the event and the risk of Coronavirus infection.
Timing of the Event – Holding the AHR Futurity in mid-August provides only a month’s notice to exhibitors. We do not consider this fair notification when the exhibitors would have to schedule time off work, make family care arrangements, book accommodations at the facilities and consider that foals born in late May or early June would not be weaned. We believe that these challenges would hinder participation in the AHR Futurity. Maybe the HBC, which is focused on yearling and two year-old horses, does not have the problem with telling its membership to be ready in a month and expect to have stock in prime condition for presentation, but our Board does, especially when the AHR Futurity’s classes include weanlings.
Member Feedback – The last time AHR held our Futurity in mid-August, members and participants told the Board that the date was too early. As mentioned before, late April, May and June foals were not yet weaned, reducing the number of weanling entries. The Board feels that holding the Futurity this year in August would be ignoring that input from our membership.
Organization, Planning and Managing an Event – AHR has been moving forward with planning for our Futurity in October. We have not sent out entry forms for the Futurity, nor scheduled judges for August as we were moving on a timeline for October. While it is possible to complete the planning and organizing of the Futurity in this timeframe, it is likely that we would not have the type of event nor the entries that we would have in October. AHR Futurity payouts and operating costs are all funded through entry fees and sponsorships. Therefore, if the short notice and timing negatively impacts entries, as expected, the event would have little or no payout in 2020, damaging the program for the future.
Board Involvement in Futurity – There is a perception issue with Board decisions that involve activities in which Board members participate as members of AHR. The perception is that the Board makes decisions to benefit Board members. Although I have not seen this at any time with any member of this or any other AHR Board that I have served with over the last decade, to ignore it would be foolish. Since several of the breeders that participate in the Futurity are on the Board, we need to make sure our decision is without question. Holding a futurity on short notice after publicly discussing the event as taking place in September or October for a year could be perceived as providing an advantage to the Board members participating in the Futurity. Instead of raising that question with all the other issues identified with an August Futurity, our decision was clear: do not move the AHR Futurity.

The AHR Board wishes the HBC and the Central Ohio Show the best of luck with their respective events in August. However, with the increased risks assessed by the Board, the short notice to members to enter the event and prior member feedback, the Board believes that holding the AHR Futurity in August is not feasible nor fair to the membership. Therefore, the Board voted unanimously not to hold the Futurity in August.

The AHR Board did revisit holding the event in October. The Board would have cancelled the Futurity last month with the National Showcase but wanted to honor its commitment to and partnership with the HBC, since that organization indicated they wanted to continue to pursue a futurity in the fall. The AHR Board has been supportive of the HBC since its inception, absorbing most of the costs of the facility and show operations until the organization could get on its feet and then splitting the costs more equitably in later years. We are sorry that the HBC decided to move away from the successful joint operation of the Futurity again this year. However, with HBC’s decision and after careful consideration, the Board decided to cancel the AHR Futurity for 2020 and move forward with planning a bigger and better event for the Showcase in 2021. In addition to the risks discussed with respect to the COVID-19 virus, the Board felt that the split-off of HBC having members prepare and absorb the costs of participating in two futurity events in 2020 was not fair to the membership and added financial risks to the AHR Futurity that were unacceptable.


Chuck Hendershot
American Haflinger Registry President