The ACPS Annual Meeting began at Penmerryl Farm on Oct. 2, with the arrival of people and Connemara ponies. For many who brought their ponies, the first order of business after finding stalls, was taking a trail ride through the winding paths on the farm. The social activities began with a wine and cheese welcome reception. Friday was a day set aside for committee meetings, and the Awards Banquet that evening at the Virginia Horse Center.
Saturday morning, Oct. 5, found the members of the Board of Governors ready for their duties conducting the business of the Society. Here succinctly is a report of their work:

Deb Norman, ACPS President, called the meeting of the ACPS Board of Governors to order at 9 a.m. The minutes from the January 2014 meeting were approved as emailed.

Membership - Anne Moe, chair, reported that much money had been saved by using the on-line directory. Since her work is as a volunteer, the salary paid previously was also a savings. She recommended eliminating the current membership card, which would also eliminate the cost of an entire mailing to the membership, and perhaps emailing a membership card. A motion was made to that effect, with the addition that "for those without email, a hard copy of the card will be mailed upon request." Anne also recommended that the money she has worked so diligently to save should be redirected to the magazine printing costs, to enable the Society to return to six printed copies per year.

Treasurer – Cathy Blackmon reported that the USEF had granted the ACPS a $500 stipend for the Annual Meeting expenses since the ACPS is a Breed Affiliate. Four young riders were suggested for the USEF Youth Scholarship. They were Alexander Dawson, Margo Goldfarb, Anna Weniger, and Emma Ciafone. The deadline for the scholarship is upon us, and Cathy Blackmon will facilitate the project. The Society finances look to be on track with the projected budget: registration is up, magazine down, but the coming month is the start of the next year's advertising. Inspection has paid for itself, membership is just about the same, promotion still has monies left over from WEG. Investments were up.

Registrar's report – Marynell Eyles noted that the purebred foal numbers for 2014 were nearing 40, an increase from last year. Foals of 2015 will be microchipped, with the microchip sent from the office.

HWSD - With the advent of the Hoof Wall Separation Disease test available, a chart of stallions and their sons was passed around, largely to help breeders see which pedigrees were "endangered" and which were already well represented. More work will be done on this project and the list shared. Though the following policy on HWSD was formulated later in the meeting, the policy that was approved is:

  • In an effort to reduce the number of foals affected by HWSD, the American Connemara Pony Society has adopted the following breeding policy: All breeding stallions must be tested with UC-Davis lab, and the test results reported to the ACPS Registrar no later than Feb. 1, 2015. The foals of 2016 will not be registered unless the sire has HWSD results on file with the ACPS.
  • The ACPS also strongly supports the importance of testing all breeding mares prior to covering. The simple test will be a breeder's best tool to avoid producing foals affected by the Hoof Wall disease.
  • This policy will reduce the possibility of affected foals if the test results are used responsibly by both the stallion and mare owners.
  • A list of the HWSD reports will be kept, and printed in the magazine and published on the ACPS web site.

ICCPS – Susan McConnell – reported that once again, Scott McGuffin had represented the ACPS very ably, and that the annual ICCPS meeting was a bit contentious, with various reactions to the HWSD decisions, and stud book discussions.

ACPS Foundation - The Foundation has paid several scholarships, and there is a new USEF/USDF trophy called the Seldom Seen Trophy, that is being designed for 2015. The funds in the Foundation will pay for this trophy. There are still $6000 in proceeds from the WEG that is earmarked for Promotion.

– Marilyn Cheek asked the Board to approve a change in the requirements for awarding the Broodmare Award and the *Tooreen Laddie award, from requiring only purebred foals to be considered when evaluating the broodmares and stallions, to including halfbred offspring. The motion was made and passed. Marilyn noted that Region Chairs should have knowledge of successful ponies in their areas, and could help find recipients. The web site was a problem in 2014, for getting news out, or keeping up, but the new plans will make things better. The Committee had more requests for ribbons for the open shows, and there were good numbers of participants in the Achievement Award program. Megan Harris asked about points for the "free jumping" classes her ponies had been doing. No decision was reached. Lee Webster will provide ribbons (from Kathryn Short's supply) for best scoring Connemaras at the AECs. As always, more publicity, and getting the information out that USEF registration is needed for winning Horse of the Year awards through USEF.

ByLaws – Scott McGuffin – tabled until the January 2015 meeting

Finance – see above – Cathy Blackmon folded the Finance report into her Treasurer's report.

Inspections – Megan Harris and Gloria LaCroix reported on the ponies inspected in 2014, and said their committee was making a power point presentation for the web site. They are reevaluating whether a judge at a region show should be part of the inspection team at that site. They want to include an "Inspection Corner" in the upcoming magazines. Their discussion also included whether to move the evaluation forms from words to a numeric ranking system, and they discussed how to host more annual clinics.

Internet – Amy Plavin reported the good news that a new Webmaster had been selected, and asked the Board to approve her employment. Once the new proposal from the candidate has been received, the decision will be made. The prospective webmaster, who attended the meeting, is Cheryl Microutsicos. The whole web site will be redone.

At this point in the meeting, the officers realized many new faces were in the crowd, and time was taken to let each person introduce himself/herself. Here is a list (with hopes the Secretary did not miss a couple). Janice Meyer, Pat Reichle, Paul Pinner, Katie Pinner, Darian Hall, Bonni Kelley, Gloria LaCroix, Susan McConnell, Pat Ashworth, Cathy Blackmon, Janet Gunn, Anne Moe, Annie Balotti-Paleen, Megan Harris, Lisa Rease, Nancy Buchanan, Sandra Hathaway, Sue Antilla, Ginny Winkler, Katherine Wilkins, Marian McEvilly, Catherine Mack, Joan Ervin, Debbie Howell, Julia Jordan, Becky Jordan, Linda Trimper, Donna Duckworth, Pat Norton-White, Heather Magnan, Melanie Trimper, Sally Oxnard, Marilyn Cheek, Joan Webster, Linda Haines, Kim Sterl, Carolyn McEvitt, Richard Cunningham, Maureen Loughman-Abel, Stephanie Fenton-Hickey, Amy Plavin, Deb Norman, and Marynell Eyles.

Promotions – Melanie Trimper and Heather Magnan reported all good news. While 2014 was a year for them to regroup and organize, they also managed to donate gifts to the Dressage Pony Cup, to the USPC Championships in Kentucky, sent items to the Hideaway's Erin Go Bragh celebration, and placed ads in the Paisley Pony, and were given a free one in the Equiery.
The committee wants a Promotion tab on the new web site, and for 2015 plans to support the Pony Finals, the AECs, Dressage4Kids, and USPC championship rallies. They plan to establish an Instagram account and link it to the Facebook account. Discussion also included the topics of fundraising with ACPS logos, and how to make new members WANT to become members. The committee chairs also thought something should be done to appreciate the Life Members – perhaps send the smaller ACPS seals to each as a token. Members are reminded to send promotional articles and photos, and to use the email:

Region Chair Liaison – Joan Ervin and Gloria LaCroix reported that the group would meet, and regional reps should let the Inspection Committee know about hosting an Inspection by Feb. 1, 2015. Regional people were encouraged to ferret out the juniors in their regions who were doing well, and to encourage them to apply for the scholarships. The show schedules for 2015 seem to be in place already, which the committee thought a good way to encourage more news from each region. Show dates thus far are: July 11-12 – Midwest, July 18-19 – Region 3 (pending), and July 25 – Region I.

Youth Program – Sally Eyles and daughters – While not quite sure of their assignments, Margo Goldfarb has stepped up to find articles about juniors for the magazine. The Youth program was begun under the wing of Mary Yeager, who was coordinating with USEF Youth Committees, but that USEF program has fizzled.

USEF Connemara Committee – Susan McConnell and Cathy Blackmon, who was appointed as the official liaison to the USEF Governing Committee, reported the USEF had a turnover in staff, and that Joyce Hamlin was the newest ACPS/USEF liaison.
Ad Hoc Committees:

Genetics and Registration issues – Micro chipping – Amy Plavin will order the microchips, and they will be sent to owners who register purebred foals. The owners will call their vets to have the micro-chip implanted. Amy said we need an official form for recording the information on the chip.

Partbred Registry – Megan Harris – reported that she has talked with Candy Verhulst, and is waiting to speak with the Microsoft engineer who wrote the ACPS database program, Kim Martin. After much discussion, the Board recommended that the Partbred Registry would include all the Halfbreds, thus making a Purebred Studbook, and a Partbred Registry. While names for this registry were discussed, a decision on the final label was not made. It was decided that the registry would include performance Connemaras down to ¼ bred, that halfbred stallions would be registered, and that the registry would include halfbreds bred to halfbreds. More details will be given at the January Board meeting. Additional topics to be discussed besides halfbred stallion registry is registration of blue eyed cream stallions.

Melanoma Study - Richard Cunningham spoke to the Board, explaining the status of the ongoing Melanoma research, and his very large financial and emotional contribution to the project. He reported the startling figure that 80 percent of grey Connemaras will develop melanomas in their lifetime, and that the study's goal is to identify the genetic component of the development of melanomas. He has three vets in California who have volunteered to travel to collect the additional needed samples. The group that is still in dire need of samples is the "under 6 with melanoma." If more are not found, the study may come to a halt.

The Board meeting was adjourned, briefly, and the ACPS Annual Meeting was called to order by Deb Norman who deftly guided the group through a quick rehash of the Board's meeting, as most attendees had also been present for that meeting. For a welcome change, 50 members were in attendance for this AGM, and the six new Board members were announced. They are Stephanie Fenton-Hickey, Darian Hall, Deborah Howell, Jill McNicol, Deb Norman, and Kathy Sparks. The new slate of officers for 2015 are: Deb Norman, President; Amy Plavin, Vice-President; Cathy Blackmon, Treasurer; Marynell Eyles, Secretary (not a member of the Board).

After the meeting was adjourned, while the general membersehip reassembled in the Indoor Arena for another session with Jan Redmond who had a volunteer horse/owner for this clinic. Marilynn Davis and her halfbred mare were the subjects of "Showing and Winning In-hand," and the session demonstrated how improvements can be made. During this time, the newly elected officers and new Board members met to officially elect the officers for 2015, which were the slate as presented.

With some time left before the Salsa Dinner and Dance, a caravan of Connemara folks headed for Middlebrook and Ridgetop Connemaras, with a stop at the Middlebrook General Store.

Next year – Region II will host the meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Heather Magnan and Melanie Trimper will be our hosts, and the site is close to major airports and also near the training headquarters for Buck Davidson.

Respectfully submitted:

Marynell Eyles, Secretary ACPS


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