AFTCA members and fellow Field Trialers,
We recently held our AFTCA annual meeting in conjunction with the Purina Awards Program in Lexington, Kentucky. I would like to congratulate all the Award winners for their achievement. It did not come without hard work, sacrifice, and a lot of teamwork. All of us should be so lucky as to stand on that stage with a big smile and a joyful tear, while we attempt to thank everyone imaginable for our victory. The celebration was magnanimous and time spent with old friends and new friends alike will be fondly remembered. A hearty thank you goes to Jim Pendergest, his family, and staff at the Thoroughbred Center for their organization and hospitality in making this a successful event. Last but certainly not least, out thanks go to Nestle Purina for their generosity and support. Karl Gunzer, Greg Blair, Jim Smith and especially Gail Inman (along with her crew) make this event the highlight of our field trial year. Our sport would most certainly be different without their continued sponsorship. When you have a chance, please thank them personally.
A sidelight to this year’s adventure was being able to tour a couple of Thoroughbred Farms in the Lexington area. We are always amazed at the beauty of these horse farms, their paddocks, stables, and especially their inhabitants. First up was Claiborne Farm. Privately held and in existence for over 100 years, this place exemplifies it’s motto “Doing the usual, unusually well”. There was no doubt we were walking on “hallowed ground” when touring the cemetery. The likes of Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Pulpit, Sir Gallahad III, and Gallant Fox were just a few of the entered. Seabiscuit was foaled there. There current line up in the stud barn is also equally impressive and headed by War Front, a leading thoroughbred Stallion, that demands a $250,000 fee for his romantic interests. Our next stop was Ashford Farm a division of Coolmore Stud of Ireland and Australia. The honor of visiting with American Pharoah was truly magnificent. The first Triple Crown Winner in 37 years and the only horse to ever win the Grand Slam (includes the Breeder’s Cup). He is absolutely gorgeous to the discerning eye with the disposition of one of our birddogs. Our friends, Gary Winall and Ellen Clements invited us to visit Dream Maker Farm, the walking horse farm of Ricky and Joy Howard. We had a grand time watching the colts and yearlings frolicking in the pastures. Gary and Ellen took home a cute yearling to give them something to do in their spare time. Dr. Fred Corder selected a stallion to carry home for inclusion in his breeding herd, Luckily, my billfold missed all of the distillery tours around Lexington this year because we are still on the installment plan from our last visit. However, no trip here is complete with out a short visit to the Liquor Barn. That was accomplished with my bride, Angie, and our friends, Johnny and Trisha Atkinson of Marion, SC.
Committee meetings were held Thursday afternoon. Our AFTCA Trustees meeting began Friday morning with President Hansen presiding and Secretary Huffman recording the proceedings. The minutes should currently be available on our website and soon printed in the American Field. Please read the minutes and if there are any questions contact your Regional trustee(s), Piper or myself. Any of us will be happy to address your concerns and questions. I know some of you still question the need for personal membership, I cannot enumerate the necessity of our Organization becoming financially self-sustaining. Our previous business plan had become obsolete. Our individual clubs were no longer capable of meeting our annual budgetary requirements. Individual memberships was determined by the Board to be the most equitable method for stabilizing our financial future. Believe it or not, the AFTCA does actually have a viable function in our sport. We are the governing body for our members (clubs and individuals) that provide a level playing field to all participants. We are the one you call, when there is a problem or complaint with expectation of a just outcome. We organize 16 National Championships on various gamebirds on many wonderful venues that you might not have access to without our organization. We help oversee too many Regional Championships to count and certify the results. We supply win certificates, Championship Scrolls, and a dog win database to memorialize your victories. We oversee the 20th Century Fund and distribute annually its investments proceeds to help member clubs improve their habitat on their grounds. Currently, $240,000 has been granted to date. A much improved website is available for your use, with many more improvements coming. We are considering an online store, a classified section, advertisers, links to provide membership savings, among many others. This is a few of our responsibilities at the AFTCA to serve you. Our goal is to make your individual membership a value that will far outweigh its costs. I might add that your trustee(s) serves with his time and at his own expense. His servitude is accomplished through the love of our sport.
My utmost concern is for the future of our organization and our beloved sport. Communication is vital to us all for our survival. The AFTCA has lost far too many Clubs over the last several years. Our demographics dictate the we must encourage greater participation from younger people. The loss of upland game hunting opportunities to the masses has been our greatest downfall. Hunters have been our lifeblood. We must identify other methods to introduce young people to our beleaguered sport. Our competition for their time and money is great, but with the proper introduction maybe they can appreciate the rewards from the sport we all cherish. Invite a son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin, neighbor, or any other young person to work dogs with you or attend a field trial with you and tutor them. Be a guiding influence. Every hour afield is a memory; make it one that leaves them with a thirst for more. Only through your help can we improve our plight.
I have asked the Trustees to send me a list of 5 ideas each to develop a “5 Year Plan” for a more focused “vision” for our future. I have asked them to enlist you in the process. Contact your Trustee(s) to voice your opinion as to the direction you would like the AFTCA and our sport to head. Let’s combine our many thoughts and talents to create a workable “vision” for our future.
Yours in Sport,
David E. Williams
21 Sherman Blankenship Road. Beech Bluff, TN 38313
901-871-9430 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org