Get Involved: Connecting With Your Affiliate Organizations
As the new show season is well under way, many changes are taking place. Exhibitors are gaining new show partners, designers are creating new show jackets and breed affiliates are electing new officers. While most are aware of changing show trends, many are less familiar with changes in their state breed affiliate and local organizations.
We spoke with Iowa Quarter Horse Association’s Amateur Chair, McKenzie Shaffer about opportunities within the association and why you should get involved. Shaffer has been invested in the Iowa Quarter Horse Association (IQHA) since 2009 when she began showing as a youth and has experienced its value firsthand
Shaffer shared her experience serving as the IQHA Amateur Chair and the benefits and opportunities that working with breed affiliates and local organizations bring.
What’s their purpose? – Shaffer shared that the IQHA changes leadership and sets new goals at the beginning of each year. “Every year, IQHA leadership strives to improve what it has to offer its members while still maintaining the integrity of the breed,”
Where can I get involved? – “IQHA offers endless opportunities for people of all ages and various equine interests,” Shaffer commented. “Programs range from scribing clinics in the spring, to a weekend-long trail ride in the fall.
Additionally, Shaffer said for recreational riders, “There are also opportunities for members that don’t show their horse.” said Shaffer. “The IQHA has a horseback riding program where you log the hours you ride, earn benchmark awards and qualify for year-end awards. Some districts also participate in group trail rides with their members.”
Amateur opportunities – Amateur members can help organize and participate in exhibitor parties and fundraisers. Shaffer brought attention to a popular local event. “Our annual Mayflower Basket silent auction at the Mayflower State Show is always a big hit, along with our donation…free coffee and donuts each morning.” She also noted that IQHA is continually looking for new ways to fundraise and bring awareness to the association.
Youth association opportunities – “There are many leadership opportunities for youth members…the AQHA Youth Excellence Seminar (YES).” said Shaffer, “Every summer, each state affiliate sends three delegates to vote on the national youth officers and directors.” Another unique event for youth members is the National Youth Activity Team Tournament (NYATT) at the All American Quarter Horse Congress.
Leadership – In addition to the youth leadership opportunities, there are many leadership roles available to general and amateur members. A board of directors is elected each year, as well as district leaders. These leaders provide expertise and guidance to help the organization set and reach goals.
Making your voice heard – By becoming involved in the association, horse owners and enthusiasts alike can make their voice heard on various issues impacting the equine industry. Members can contribute their thoughts on what events they would like to see throughout the year, as well as what the goals for the association should be. “Becoming a member of IQHA allows you to have a voice and a vote for the changes you want in your association,” Shaffer stated simply.
Finding your herd – Outside of the benefits provided by the programs and leadership opportunities, there is something to be said for the strong friendships you make within your affiliate. Shaffer expressed, “I greatly appreciate the guidance I have received from the life-long friends I’ve made through joining IQHA.”
How do I get started? – “The best way to get involved is to contact your district director and attend one of your district’s monthly meetings,” said Shaffer “Interested parties can work directly with their officers, attend a district meeting and connect with local members.
Whether you are a road warrior or recreational rider, there is a way to get involved. Shaffer noted that the association is always looking for helping hands at shows. “Running the gate or assisting in the barn office are great ways for new members to dip their feet in the show scene.”
Shaffer ended on this note, “The more people who get involved, the better. It always helps to have new inspiration and ideas in an organization and you’ll be making lifelong friends in the process.”
About the author: Rebecca Ness has been riding horses since the age of nine. Currently residing in Muscatine, IA, Rebecca competes on the AQHA circuit with her gelding CLW Dun In Magic.