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Guilty by association 1.10.15

Why join a horse club? This club, or any club for that matter? In this day and age, when social media, email and publications like Saddle Up have displaced once-coveted newsletters that kept members connected, really, why pay for what you now get for free?

A google search tells us belonging to a club provides us with a “sense of meaningful existence.” How many horse people do you know say they can’t imagine their lives without their horses? Who can’t relate to that? It’s human nature for people with similar interests to congregate in groups. (Think church, hockey, Facebook …)

Breed clubs like ours are often accused of being strictly a show club and in many respects, that’s true. But we shouldn’t apologize for that, and those that don’t show shouldn’t hold that against us. Shows are where horse owners come together to compare their breeding and training programs with each other, and with breed standards. Shows are an important promotional tool for breed clubs and their members! They attract an audience and potential new club members and horse owners, and it’s where members can foster relationships with people who often become friends in and out of the show ring -- arguably the best membership benefit of all!

Shows are not only the primary revenue stream for clubs like ours, they also generate financial opportunities for our members and sponsors: trainers, coaches, stallion owners, buyers and sellers all benefit – directly or indirectly – when we promote Paint Horses at our horse shows. Shows are good. They bring members together to organize them and the more you are involved – whether organizing or competing -- the more “fringe” benefits you are going to receive. (A google search says group participation increases self-esteem! They must have been talking about horse people!) Membership has its perks! Pay your dues!

But … BC Paint does more than just promote breed shows.

As unique as our horses

Several years ago, we created a couple of unique programs to provide membership benefits to Paint Horse owners and competitors that can’t or choose not to attend APHA shows. The Open Show and Competition Program provides awesome year end awards to members who compete at their local all breed or discipline specific shows, and the Otter Co-op Free Trophy Program reaches out to clubs and provides them with an award sponsorship for the Paint Horses competing at their events. As a member, you can participate in these programs – or help us promote them in your communities. That’s an interest we can share. And the information is all available to download from our website.

Calling on youth

There are so many opportunities out there for young people now. Fewer people living in rural areas means less exposure and access to horses. Dance, hockey, school … all of these things compete with our industry for youth participation and we’ve seen their decline in the show ring. That’s truly a concern for horse clubs like ours – and even the community clubs. We need to support and encourage youth participation in our industry – in and out of the show ring -- so last year, we created a new $500 youth scholarship to be awarded annually. This year, we had only two applicants. If you are finishing high school and are looking at post secondary education, invest $25 in a youth membership now so you can apply next fall for the 2017 award. The odds are in your favour!

Before the days get longer and the snow melts, take a personal tour through this website – then support our efforts to promote Paint Horses in BC, pay your dues and be “guilty by association.” We promise: you’ll be in good company!

Cathy Glover

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