Letter to AHSA Members
Dear Members of The Arabian Horse Society of Australia Ltd.,
The Challenges facing Australian Arabian Breeders into the 21st Century.
Where society goes, so goes the role of the horse.
With increasing urbanisation, an ageing population, the rising cost of living, long working hours, social media, and the ever present drought, all breeds of horses in Australia are facing a crisis.
This is not just an Australian problem, it is worldwide. It likewise does not affect just the Arabian horse, but all breeds.
Older breeders are retiring, dispersing valuable bloodlines - which is an opportunity for new breeders. However, we are facing a generation that hasn’t grown up exposed to agriculture and horses in the same way past generations were. Urbanisation means less people have direct contact with farms and horses. Horses are not as prominent in our general media (remember the TV westerns that used to be all the rage) and many people come from cultures without a strong equestrian background. Add to that a stalled economy with low wage growth, and we can see how horse ownership has been affected.
Traditionally, the largest group of riders was the 5 to 24 age group, a population that is much smaller than the baby boomer generation. Between the ages of 55 to 65 and beyond, most people cease riding, so soon more people will have stopped riding than those who will start.
The horse industry is focused on ownership, when what is needed is a way to bring in newcomers in a way where they can participate without having to own a horse. This will become more apparent as rural land becomes less available.
We now live in a time where the fastest growing economic activity is the Digital Knowledge economy, along with the Leisure, Recreation, and the Tourism Experience.
This also ties into horses now being used for Therapy, the growing use of horses to treat PTSD, Riding for the disabled, tourism, new types of recreation and fitness. There are people out there who want to learn about and be with horses and have new experiences. Being generally time poor, they are willing to pay for experiences and social connection. They are seeking rewarding personal interactions with horses and like-minded people.
The Arabian horse, with it’s people loving nature, can be an ideal companion for this new age. It just needs entrepreneurs and innovators to keep up with and take advantage of the changing landscape of horse ownership.
The current largest demographic of horse ownership is female, with major activities mainly leisure and social riding, amateur competition, education and training. Growing horse sports include dressage, western dressage, trail and endurance riding, mountain trail, working equitation, campdrafting, team penning and even medieval horse sports and horse archery.
The AHSA seeks to help promote the use of the Arabian horse in ALL equine pursuits, even the Arabian just being a loving companion for some as we travel into the 21st Century.
Social Media - While the new Digital economy has opened up access to a world of knowledge and a worldwide connection, it has also opened the flood gates of potential damage that can be done to a breed by users of social media.
The Arabian horse fraternity is not alone in the benefits and pitfalls of social media use, it effects all breeds in all countries. It has opened up connections to breeders all over the world, immediate access to show results, new foals, endurance rides, and other competitions. You can chat with people from Europe, Asia, the Middle East or America and follow their journeys with the Arabian horse. Unfortunately though, we have become our own newspapers on social media. However, often without the journalistic integrity of establishing the truth both in print and photography (photo shopped horses are an increasing problem).
Living in the information age is fabulous, but can likewise also be soul destroying. Fake news, social media gossip and drama, as well as keyboard warriors are active 24/7, with little regard for the worldwide damage they are doing to the image of the Australian Arabian Horse, or the people involved with them.
It is a fact of life that some people will always find something to complain about. A constant stream of negativity can incite people to criticism and abuse just for the sake of it, and be carried along on a wave of highly visible protest that they might not have even given a second thought to if it had not been served up on social media. The problem being that often, nobody has thought to verify the “facts” or the “truth“ being spouted, and just jump on the bandwagon. Ordinary citizens have become “journalists” who can take a picture or write something, anything, often giving biased personal opinions or perpetrating falsehoods. This is then easily and quickly communicated to a large audience worldwide.
What can you do? The responsible action to take if you see issues or information being touted on social media that you don’t understand or that you require a more thorough explanation for, you are best advised to ring or email the AHSA itself and get the correct information. We are here for our members.
The Board of the AHSA will not answer questions on social media or engage in destructive argument on a public forum. Frustrations at officials, judges, other competitors or members, or the Board of Directors of the AHSA should never be communicated through social media. These issues should also be addressed to The Secretary of the AHSA in a written statement of complaint. All correspondence will be answered. Positive promotion and horse welfare are always the highest priority of the AHSA, and any breaches should also be notified to the AHSA.
The AHSA social media policy has been drafted with legal consultation and reference to Government recommendations, as well as comparisons to other equestrian social media policies. Members have always signed on their membership form acceptance of member responsibilities, and to abide by AHSA rules and regulations, part of which is our social media policy.
The AHSA has put their social media guidelines to the forefront as a reminder of the damage to the reputation of the Society and the Australian Arabian Horse to the worldwide community that continued speculation, defamation, misinformation and conspiracy theories can have.
The AHSA Board must abide by strict confidentiality clauses to protect members’ privacy and the integrity of the AHSA as a business. So, any supposed information about confidential Board business that may have been illegally obtained, and any members inciting and relaying said information to others, are being detrimental to both the membership and the breed itself.
Let us all make social media a better place. Share our Arabian horses’ successes and our love of the lifestyle our Arabians bring, whatever that entails. Let’s make it our mission to attract and welcome new members into the joys of Arabian horse ownership or interaction.
The AHSA would always love to hear about your adventures with your registered Arabian and Derivative horses, and may be able to use them on our social media forums or in print. All submissions are welcome, but please make sure your stories have accurate information. Please ensure that any photos are of a large size (2mb or larger), with written permission from professional photographers and a model release (or written permission if it features your child or yourself) for any people in the photo.
Let us all honour and promote the Arabian Horse in the way it deserves, so that generations beyond ours may have the same joy we have experienced.
Board of Directors of The Arabian Horse Society of Australia Ltd