From the desk of MHSA News Editor, Lynn Frazee:

At the Annual Banquet this year in Columbia, Missouri, MHSA members heard about an up and coming new organization associated with the American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA).

VERSA, which stands for American Saddlebred Versatility Association, was recently chartered as a nonprofit organization in the State of Missouri in conjunction with the ASHA. The ASHA now boasts over 50 Charter Clubs world-wide to enrich the experience of members at local levels and enhance the breed and its reputation.

The VERSA group seeks to dispel the myth that American Saddlebreds are “designer horses”, suitable only for animated, showy classes at big horse shows, for those who can afford to show on a national level.

In truth, the American Saddlebred horse, long known for its attributes in the show ring, actually offers a wide range of ability and temperament making them suitable for any number of undertakings. VERSA’s purpose is to promote and encourage the versatile character and use of the American Saddlebred horse. It seeks to showcase the breed in as many Equestrian disciplines as possible, demonstrating the wide range of activities they are well suited for. Also, high on the organization’s ‘bucket list’ is encouraging the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to adopt rules for the breed’s entry into competitions.

Today it isn’t uncommon to see Saddlebreds not only performing in the show ring in performance (English and Western), Equitation and driving classes, but also performing at successfully high levels in Hunter and Dressage classes, in Eventing competitions. It is also not uncommon to see these horses being trail ridden and kept at home as “back-yard buddies.” This truly provides a broad pallet on which to paint the full picture of the scope of their talents and abilities.

VERSA’s additional focus is on the Saddlebred owner who simply wants to enjoy the breed and all the activities they can so aptly participate in, even though they themselves may not actually participate in all areas.

Those of us who love and embrace the versatility of this magnificent breed, and who relish it’s diversity, can underscore our support of the VERSA organization with a $20 membership, (or $10 if you are already a member of another ASHA Charter Club). Contributions are also gratefully accepted.

For further information or an application to join, contact Becky Peck at beckpeck1@yahoo.com. Or you can go to the ASHA website: http://www.asha.net/