March 18, 2010 -- The inaugural class of AQHA's Stewards went through a comprehensive training program today in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in April, the 39 people attending the training session will begin stewarding some of AQHA's more than 3,200 annual shows and special events.
"This is truly an historical and important launch for AQHA," said Ward Stutz, senior director of breed integrity and animal welfare. "We are dedicated to making this program successful, and this first round of stewards is key to that success. We know we have the right people and will look forward to welcoming more stewards later this year."
Funds for the target="_blank">stewards program were made possible through an increase in target="_blank">show processing fees that became effective in 2010. To help level the playing field for exhibitors and ensure the welfare of horses in competition, a portion of those funds have been designated for breed integrity initiatives like the stewards program.
"The time had come to implement the stewards program to help exhibitors, show managers and our horses," said Stutz. "AQHA cannot be everywhere, but with these ambassadors now attending shows and special events, we can be in more places than we ever could have imagined. Today, we are able to provide more service to exhibitors through this program.
Stewards will be assigned to specific shows selected by AQHA with geography in mind to minimize travel costs. The most critical and urgent need for stewards is to monitor and patrol show grounds and warm-up areas at events to carry out AQHA's pledge to humane training practices. Additional responsibilities will be added to help show management, judges and exhibitors in order to increase their usefulness at the various events.
The purpose of the stewards program is to ensure the health and welfare of the American Quarter Horse, whether competing or preparing on the show grounds, is paramount. The safety of participants, both human and equine, must not be compromised nor should the fairness of competition.
Stewards must have a comprehensive knowledge of AQHA's show rules, which were reviewed during the training session. Stewards were told to expect questions on and to be able to address such areas as (but not limited to) illegal equipment, prohibited conduct, eligibility issues, safety, show management concerns and overall class operations. Stewards' feedback on situations they encounter will be key to helping the overall program as it evolves.
Above all, stewards are asked to be ambassadors for the American Quarter Horse, AQHA and AQHA shows so that as AQHA expands its show menu, horse owners will feel more comfortable participating in AQHA events.
Some Specific Responsibilities
- Monitor warm-up pens and barn area to ensure the health and welfare of the horses in the competition by making routine inspections of these areas
- Fulfill AQHA's pledge to humane training practices
- Answer exhibitors' questions about bits and other equipment
- File a steward's report and evaluation with AQHA
- Evaluate any unsafe circumstances related to the show, e.g. poor footing in the warm-up area, and correct if necessary
- Be prepared, if necessary, to recommend removal of an exhibitor from the show grounds after informing show management and AQHA headquarters
- Ensure that warm-up jumps are set properly
- Issue warning or removal cards as warranted according to AQHA rules
- Investigate complaints of class filling
- Be courteous toward management, exhibitors and spectators
The above is not a complete or comprehensive list of stewards' responsibilities; rather, it is intended to help understand the general scope of stewards' duties.
Graduating from the inaugural stewards training session were:
- Sandy Arledge, California
- Margo Ball, Colorado
- Orin Barnes, Texas
- Don Bell, Texas
- Mario Boisjoli, Washington
- Marvin "Butch" Carse, Florida
- Heidi Cecil, Florida
- Pauline Cook, Texas
- Casey Devitt, Kentucky
- Kevin Dukes, Texas
- Dianne Eppers, Ohio
- Leo Fourre, Minnesota
- Lori Gordon, Pennsylvania
- Jay Grubb, Oklahoma
- Jim Heird, Texas
- Doug Householder, Texas
- Lyle Jackson, Alberta, Canada
- Suzy Jeane, Texas
- Pete Kyle, Texas
- Larry Little, North Carolina
- Tom McBeath, Mississippi
- Karen McCuistion, Oklahoma
- Steve Meadows, Virginia
- Scott Mitchell, Missouri
- Lynn Palm, Florida
- Clark Parker, Utah
- John Pipkin, Texas
- Kenda Pipkin, Texas
- Trigg Rentfro, Texas
- Bennie Sargent, Kentucky
- Clark Scoggin, Mississippi
- Don Topliff, Texas
- Sherry Trafton, Maine
- Lance Treptow, Wisconsin
- Gary Trubee, Kentucky
- Sandy Vaughn, Florida
- Karen Watters, Ohio
- Tracy Willis, Missouri
- Debra Jones-Wright, Georgia