Marketing Initiatives and Advocacy Are Topics of AHC National Issues Forum

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AHC -- MAY 30, 2012 -- The American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum, entitled “Reinvigorating the Horse Industry,” will feature several important initiatives undertaken by major organizations in the last year. The forum will be held June 26 in Washington, DC, during the AHC’s annual meeting, which will run from June 25 to 27 at the Washington Court Hotel.

“Many industry leaders are concerned with the decline in horse ownership and the falling trend in public interest in our various activities,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “Several organizations are striving to rebuild the fan base and attract young people to the magic of horses. We are very pleased to have The Jockey Club and the American Quarter Horse Association outline their ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the horse industry.”

James L. Gagliano, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Jockey Club, will provide an update on The Jockey Club’s multi-year plan to implement many of the wide-ranging recommendations that emanated from The Jockey Club’s comprehensive economic study of the Thoroughbred industry in 2011.

That study, conducted by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company and entitled “Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding,” analyzed the current state and prospective future of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in North America. Since its release last August, The Jockey Club has been undertaking the various recommendations, including: increased television coverage of racing, a new interactive website for fans, the creation of a free-to-play game and a social game, and development of a new resource to encourage Thoroughbred ownership.

Todd Branson, director of Youth Development, American Quarter Horse Association, will describe AQHA’s efforts to bring tomorrow’s horsemen and horsewomen into the horse industry through its new Digital Oats program, a new, all-breeds youth organization that hopes to unite the world’s most active equine groups through a mixture of horse games, activities and a new website. The program’s objectives are to introduce America’s youth to the world of horses and the equine lifestyle, ignite a lifetime passion for horses, and seek parental support for equine activities that can benefit their child mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Issues Forum will host speakers on “Legislative Advocacy in the Electronic Age.” Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY) will be the featured speaker. Mr. Owens serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

Also speaking will be Neil Shader, Communications Manager of the Wilderness Society, who will give a presentation on how organizations can use social media to engage and communicate with their members and the broader horse community to improve grassroots advocacy efforts.

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion with Congressional staff about how the increase in electronic correspondence and the use of social media is impacting how Congressional offices hear from, and respond to, constituents in this new age.

The AHC’s annual Congressional Reception will take place on Tuesday night and the Congressional Ride-In on Wednesday. This year’s meeting will also host the AHC’s Breed Roundtable, a popular event that brings together leaders of horse associations to discuss common issues of importance to the industry.

The AHC’s various committees, including the Unwanted Horse Coalition, will meet on Monday, June 25, to discuss issues affecting the equine community.

More information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information, can be found on the AHC’s website, www.horsecouncil.org/2012-annual-meeting or by contacting the AHC.