American Horse Publications - Its History Through the Years
The Formative Years
By Tony Chamblin, Executive Director 1977-1983
Published in 1989
Editors and publishers of half a dozen publications were represented at an informal meeting in Lexington, Kentucky in 1970. They discussed a new idea advanced by Arnold Kirkpatrick, who at the time was editor of The Thoroughbred Record.
Kirkpatrick envisioned an organization of horse publications, an idea that raised eyebrows in some circles and fists in others. Horse groups didn't see eye‑to‑eye on many matters in those days and any thought of Quarter Horses, of Harness and Thoroughbred types getting together was considered by many to be a bit radical.
"We spent a lot of time at that first meeting looking at one another's shoes," recalled The Horseman and Fair World's editor, Bob Hackett, alluding to the curious mixture of cowboy boots, jodhpurs and wing‑tipped brogans. Bolstered in by the fact that the American Horse Council, formed with a similar ecumenical philosophy a year earlier, was still in business, the group of six decided to march forward. Out of the meeting came the American Horse Publications, which grew from the six foundation members to 20.
Over the years, the majority of major equine publications in North America have joined AHP. Today, it boasts a membership of 85 magazines, newspapers, tabloids and newsletters with a combined circulation of over 1,000,000 readers, plus several affiliate members.
AHP's success likely is based on the fact that it has never strayed from its original goal "to promote better understanding and cooperation between all facets of the horse industry, irrespective of breed." When the editors and publishers began comparing their common problems ‑ editorial, advertising, printing, mailing, financial, to mention a few – they ceased looking at shoes and started looking at ways to improve their products.
Longtime members will recall early seminars when layout and design experts such as Jan White would humble editors for shoddy work in the same manner Vince Lombardi used to tough‑lash the Green Bay Packers. Publications gradually upgraded from black‑and‑white photography to color, from cluttered layouts to ones of simplistic elegance, from press release type articles to smooth‑flowing texts which were both entertaining and informative.
This effort was aided by the start, in 1974, of the AHP's annual awards contest for outstanding articles, photographs, and advertisements. Stimulated by the competition, many members' publications improved dramatically during the 1970s.
The Years of Growth and Purpose
By Christine W. Brune, Executive Director, 1992-Present
Published in 1999
American Horse Publications has gone from infancy to adulthood during the past 30 years. From its start in 1970 when the hope was that 20 publications could work together for the common good to its current membership of 250, the association has grown to represent a diverse group of publications, professionals, businesses and students ‑ all working together to promote better understanding and communication among all facets of the equine publishing industry.
Today, the association provides its members with more benefits and services than its founders would ever have imagined. Networking is considered the most valuable benefit and the annual membership directory, bimonthly newsletter, and productive seminars, keep members informed and in touch. The AHP web site has become an indispensable communication tool and now includes an online membership directory, association news, a news broadcast server, and numerous links to publishing resources. AHP programs such as the internship handbook, trade show program, and awards contest, allow members to reap the advantages of a cooperative effort.
Membership has continued to rise during the past 10 years with numbers catapulting from 101 in 1993 to 160 in 1995, to 199 in 1997, and to 250 in 1999. Improved economic conditions and new technology have given birth to a wide variety of publication formats. Increased awareness of the association has attracted interest from the freelance and corporate communities adding a new dimension to the group. At the annual meeting in Nashville, members voted unanimously to approve several new membership categories. A Student membership category encourages participation of aspiring publishing professionals. The globalization of publishing is recognized with the establishment of an International membership category. And to identify the growing influence of the new media, an Electronic Publication membership category was added.
In reflecting on the past three decades, and I think I may be the only active member able to do that, I can see three distinct stages in AHP's history. The first ten years marked the formative period when members were defining the association's purposes and goals. Led by equine publishing leaders like Arnold Kirkpatrick, Stan Bergstein, Snowden Carter, Audie Rackley and Tony Chamblin, the association grew at a steady rate, held its seminar in conjunction with the American Horse Council, and offered members a chance to compete in the annual awards contest.
The next ten years were transitional years, when rapid growth was stunted by economic conditions and several changes in administration. However, the awards contest entries continued to increase and a winter seminar was added under the leadership of Executive Director, Ruth Brown. By the mid 80s, the annual meeting was being held independently in various parts of the country and the association's identity began to emerge.
In 1990, AHP returned to Washington, DC to celebrate its 20th anniversary and begin the next decade. Thirteen past presidents were present to watch the next generation of publishers move forward into the 90s, a period of phenomenal growth in membership, benefits, and unity of purpose.
In 2000, AHP will gather in Texas at the brink of the new millennium charged with the objectives to remember our beginning, stay true to our purpose, perpetuate the momentum, and be ready to accept the challenges the next ten years will bring to the association and publishing. The old‑timers among us recall the days of "a few close friends," and although we may not be few in number anymore, my wish for the future is that we will always be close.
Published in August 2006
From the beginning, the founding members realized a need for American Horse Publications. What is amazing is that as the needs in equine publishing changed over the past 36 years, the association embraced the changes and re-invented itself to match the needs. But what has not changed is the camaraderie, the lifelong friendships, and the support and encouragement freely given. Our AHP memories have become a part of the common bond we share. We have set the standard for the new millennium. We venture into the future to face the challenges armed with the wisdom of our past and surrounded by an ever-growing circle of support and friendship.
In 2006, American Horse Publications reached new highs. In June, membership totaled 445 with a combined circulation of its publication members of over three million. The annual awards competition, which was for material published in or by member publications in 2005, drew a total of 1,058 entries from 105 members. Seminar attendance at the Orlando seminar exceeded 156 registrants. Seventeen students pursuing careers in equine publishing applied for the Student Award which was presented for the 14th year. The Equine Industry Vision Award was awarded for the 5th year to one of AHPs own, Stanley Bergstein, 1971-1972 President. In 2001, Pfizer Animal Health partnered with American Horse Publications to develop the Equine Industry Vision Award. Its purpose is to recognize outstanding leadership, creativity and meritorious contributions in the equine industry.
The AHP Board of Directors continues to work toward providing all members with services they can use and afford while remaining true to AHP's mission to improve communication and cooperation through education and networking within the equine publishing industry.