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AQHA CEO, Karl Stressman, shares plan to drive Association forward

AMARILLO, TX – In May, I was honored to take the lead as the chief executive officer of the largest equine breed association in the world. Since then, I have been working closely with the AQHA senior leadership team to evaluate the current processes and develop a plan to drive the Association forward.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge to improve the industry’s leader, and to focus on what drives our business – our members and their American Quarter Horses.

Every day, I’m learning more and more and processing what the priorities are for this great Association. The talented and passionate people who work at AQHA are instrumental in establishing what we need to do and where we need to go from here to better serve you, our members.

My plan for AQHA is threefold:

• Establish the most important initiatives for the Association.
• Accomplish those key initiatives to the best of our ability, rather than take on too many initiatives and only reaching partial completion.
• Continue to strengthen our team because the stronger our team is, the stronger the results will be and the better we can serve you.

Over the past several weeks, the senior leadership team and I have done an extensive review of the Association’s initiatives. Each department was directed to bring two initiatives to the table that impact AQHA internally and externally. After a comprehensive review of all of these initiatives, the team established the most important initiatives for AQHA as a whole.

These top initiatives include:

• Maintain current talent and hire top candidates to fill open positions to best serve our membership and their American Quarter Horses.
• Develop additional youth resources to grow, lead and challenge our youth members and enable AQHYA to recruit more members.
• Implement myAQHA, which is a new member portal that will replace the current AQHA Services. MyAQHA is currently in beta-testing and is being designed to give members more access to what they want and need.
• Redesign the AQHA website to provide an easy-to-navigate website that fulfills our users’ needs and experiences.

Although these top initiatives are our main focus, they are not our only focus. As an Association of horsemen and -women, we will continue to focus on adhering to the Association’s mission, which includes protecting our horse; recording and preserving pedigrees; providing beneficial services and diverse educational programs; and generating growth of AQHA membership, which we’ve seen year-over-year in 2020 and 2021.

AQHA has come leaps and bounds in the past several years and our members are seeing that progress with quicker turnaround times for transfers, registrations and other AQHA business; however, it is my goal to harness the skills of our team to successfully achieve our top initiatives, while providing our members and their American Quarter Horses with the best service and programs available. Even though we have made significant improvements in the past few years, our team is dedicated to continuing to improve our efforts to provide our customers with an outstanding customer experience.

In short, AQHA is about serving our members worldwide and their American Quarter Horses.

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to represent the brands that I love from Wrangler to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to the United States Team Roping Championships, and now the American Quarter Horse Association.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with AQHA staff, the AQHA Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Standing Committee and council members and, of course, our members representing more than 130 countries, to continue to improve AQHA for generations to come.

My wife, Allie, tells people I don’t know a stranger, so please don’t hesitate to say hi and introduce yourself if you see me at events or at the AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo. That’s one of the things I love most about this position, meeting others who are truly passionate about the American Quarter Horse, just like I am!

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The WRANGLER Horse & Rodeo News has been the leading equine publication of the Rocky Mountain Region since 1987. Under the new ownership of the DeLancey Family in 2022, The WRANGLER is now headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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