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From the President’s Desk

AFTCA News

By David E. Williams, Pres. Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America | Aug 01, 2017
David Williams

AFTCA members and fellow field trialers: We recently held the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America annual meetings in conjunction with the Purina Awards program in Lexington, Ky.

I would like to congratulate all of the Purina Award winners for their achievements in 2016-2017. They did not come without hard work, sacrifice, and 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 will be fondly remembered.

A hearty thank-you 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, our thanks to Nestlé 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 Purina’s continued sponsorship. When you have the 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, Claiborne exemplifies its motto: “Doing the usual, unusually well”. There was no doubt that 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 legendary horses interred there. Seabiscuit was foaled there.

Claiborne’s current lineup 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 Stud Farm, a division of Coolmore Stud of Ireland and Australia. The opportunity  to visit American Pharoah was truly memorable. He is the first Triple Crown Winner in 37 years and the only horse ever to win the Grand Slam (includes The Breeder’s Cup). He is a handsome specimen with the calm disposition of one of our bird dogs.

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 yearling to give them something to do in their spare time.

Dr. Fred Corder selected a stallion 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 without a short visit to the Liquor Barn. That was accomplished with my bride, Angie, and our friends, Johnny and Trisha Atkinson of Marion, S. C.

Committee meetings were held Thursday afternoon, June 22. Our AFTCA Trustees meeting began on Friday morning, June 23, President Torben Hansen presiding and Secretary Piper Huffman recording the proceedings. The minutes of the meeting are currently available on our website and in The American Field (see issue of July 22). Please read the minutes and if there are any questions contact your Region Trustee(s), Piper, or myself. Any one of us will be happy to address your concerns and questions.

I know some of you still question the need for individual AFTCA membership. I cannot stress too strongly 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 membership 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 for all participants. We are the one you can call when there is a problem or complaint with expectation of a just outcome.

The AFTCA sponsors sixteen (16) National Championships on various game birds on many wonderful venues that you might not have access to without our organization. The AFTCA oversees numerous Regional Championships (all-age, shooting dog and walking) and certifies the results. The AFTCA also supplies win certificates, championship scrolls, and a dog win database to memorialize your victories.

Additionally, the AFTCA manages the 20th Century Fund and distributes annually its investment proceeds as grants to help member clubs improve wildlife habitat on their grounds.

Currently,  a total of $240,000 has been awarded to date.

A much improved AFTCA 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.

These are but a few of the benefits available through 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 because of his 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 member clubs over the last several years. Our demographics dictate that we must encourage greater participation from younger people.

The loss of upland game hunting opportunities to the masses has been a great detriment. Hunters have been our lifeblood. We must identify other ways to introduce young people to our beleaguered sport. The competition for their time and money is great, but with the proper introduction it is hoped they can appreciate the rewards from a 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 sport.

I asked the Trustees to send me a list of five ideas each to develop a “Five- Year Plan” for a more focused “vision” for our future. I asked them to enlist you in this 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 thoughts and talents to create a workable “vision” for our future.

Yours in Sport.

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