|New Organization to Assist Local Horse Councils|
Focus on Connecting, Informing and Educating Horse People
A new, non-profit, equine organization dedicated to serving horse enthusiasts throughout the state has ridden into town.
Formed in October 2011, the Alabama Association of County Horse Councils (AACHC) is focused on connecting, informing and educating horse people in their own communities.
"The Alabama Association of County Horse Councils is a grassroots, hands-on, from-the-ground-up type of organization," said Rebecca Salamone, executive director of AACHC. "Working in the equine industry and being inspired by the efforts of the Coosa County and River Region Horse Councils, I noticed a need for a way to make connections among horse people at the local, individual level. Thus, the idea for the association was born."
As well as being a resource to anyone with an equine interest, the association will support county horse councils and work with groups to establish a more central means of communication of information, meetings and activities.
Each individual group will find their own level of community contribution, involvement and participation while the organization assists their growth.
"Not only will horse people be able to connect, stay informed and educate themselves through the AACHC resources, but also those who are interested in horses, but don’t necessarily own one," Salamone said.
"In this regard, the AACHC hopes its activities will help to educate the general public about horses and the contributions Alabama’s horse industry makes to the state’s economy. Small groups have been known to make big things happen. The AACHC is making things happen and invites all those with equine interests to be a part of the ride."
The association will help organize events like clinics, expositions, demonstrations, shows, organized rides and social gatherings.
"The activities of the individual county horse councils give people a real way to connect with each other in their own communities," Salamone said. "Over time, we hope to have county horse councils in each county across Alabama. Imagine the networking opportunities that will give Alabama horse enthusiasts, not to mention the benefits afforded to equine service providers."
Soon to be launched, the organization’s website will provide a wealth of information to horse owners, equine service providers and horse users.
"The AACHC’s website will serve as a central means of communication for those groups, and in particular, the county horse councils, to get their message out about their activities, projects and events," Salamone explained.
The site will include networking tools like a members-only section complete with a blog, forum and optional directory.
A section of the site will be available for county horse councils to post upcoming activities and photos.
Information for groups who are in the process of organizing their county horse councils will also be available.
Other interactive tools the site will provide include an events calendar, an e-news sign-up, a page to promote sponsorship and advertising, a section to post for sale items and a page to include various types of horse-related information as well as links to other horse-related sites.
Social media is another valuable means by which the association connects horse people and provides the latest equine information.
Other goals of the association include addressing equine-related concerns, providing education on horse care, handling and responsible ownership; supporting youth development through equine-related education and charitable service projects; and networking with other equine organizations in an effort to enhance and improve equine health and welfare.
Natural horseman, radio personality and writer Jim Swanner, who is a board member, said the organization could help facilitate safety of horses and their handlers.
"I think people need to be educated on horse handling, horse safety and how to be around a horse," Swanner said.
People need to understand the nature of the horse, he added.
Salamone said, as more county horse councils are developed throughout the state, the association will have a more regionalized focus with equine expositions taking place in the northern, central and southern regions.
"It may take some time to get to that point, but, although slow, our efforts are sure. Slow, steady, quality growth of an individually-focused, community-based, county-level resource group - I think that best describes the Alabama Association of County Horse Councils," Salamone said.
The AACHC’s current initiative is to support the organization and launch of the Shelby County Horse Council (SCHC).
On January 12, a group of local equine leaders gathered for the first informational and preliminary interest meeting of the SCHC.
After the successful organizational meeting, the group decided to move forward with the creation of the SCHC.
The AACHC invites anyone with an equine interest to attend the meeting and embark on a journey to connect, inform and educate horse owners, equine service providers and horse users in the Shelby County area.
For more information about the AACHC and its affiliate, SCHC, check out their Facebook pages or call (205) 612-6781.
Jade Currid is a freelance writer from Auburn.