AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines shares how the western way of life shines through brightly with courage, passion and innovation during this unprecedented time.
2020 marked the 80th anniversary of the American Quarter Horse Association. We were all looking forward to celebrating this landmark year in our traditional western heritage fashion. However, the worldwide pandemic upended the traditional routines and plans we all had hoped for. While it disrupted our daily lives, separated many of us from our loved ones and friends, and perhaps changed our habits entirely, it has never deterred us. In fact, when you peel back the veneer of fear, stress and despair that the pandemic caused in 2020, our western way of life shines through brightly with courage, passion and innovation. There have been countless acts of courage, stubborn dedication and willpower that have blessed our industry this year and kept our great Association thriving during a very difficult time. During the holidays, I would like to recognize and give thanks for the blessing of so many people who have influenced our industry. I also want to express that our thoughts are with those who are healing, currently ill and who have lost loved ones due to the coronavirus.
Back-to-back years of challenges have made AQHA stronger. In 2019, AQHA went through one of the most difficult business years in the Association’s history. New computer and phone systems were deployed that halted AQHA business in the first half of 2019. But through sheer grit and determination, our AQHA IT and Member Experience teams worked tirelessly to optimize the capabilities of those systems so we could turn around registration papers in and out of the office in three days or less. By the time the shelter-in-place order was announced in March of this year, AQHA had the capability of sending employees home with the necessary equipment to serve our global membership remotely. The busiest day of the year for AQHA is typically the Monday after Thanksgiving. On that day, our call center handled more than 2,850 phone calls by 5:30 p.m. Eighty percent of those calls were taken remotely.
Through the dedication of our IT Department, improvements are being made daily to our technology. As a collaborative effort between departments, we are making headway in creating efficiencies and more accurate records for our membership – a cornerstone of our role as a breed registry. We’ve introduced many new enhancements made possible by having the system in production. A few of the impactful improvements include:
- Invoices are now emailed and can be paid online.
- A copy of the certificate of registration is automatically emailed to the owner upon completion of a transfer, correction or registration application.
- Introduced an electronic method for quality control of certificates and invoices, which saves significant time and expense.
- Modified the software to support several new show classes.
- Modified the software to support combining multiple championship events.
- Owners can report online when their horses are microchipped.
- Exhibitors can enter AQHA championship shows online.
One of the most remarkable AQHA accomplishments of 2020 was the fact that we saw month-over-month and year-over-year membership growth for the first time in years. Over the past 18 months, AQHA has created new ways to communicate with expiring members and new prospective members through digital means. We’ve also made it easier and more attractive for people to join and start receiving the benefits of AQHA. One of those benefits is the new design of the incredibly beautiful American Quarter Horse Journal. We are so proud of the newly designed Journal, which celebrates everything that is good about AQHA, our horse, our heritage and our creativeness. Thank you to the entire Journal team including the writers, designers, photographers and sales staff for producing the greatest publication in the equine industry.
There are so many individuals who have stepped up and served our industry with their time and treasure to keep our industry rolling this year. While local, state and federal mandates have crippled industries across the country, certain states have cautiously continued to conduct business. Read more.
To learn more about the American Quarter Horse Association, visit www.aqha.com.
AQHA Director of Communications and Special Events