Monday, January 30, 2012

The First Female President

The past three weeks have been a tumultuous time for members of the National Reining Horse Association; when I last blogged about the judge tampering scandal, in "A Tale Of Corruption and High Stakes...," the membership had been informed of the allegations, and a flurry of comments on the social media outlets ensued.  Some defended the accused, some demanded their heads, and many worried about where the association was headed.  While the letters both from the anonymous accusers and the reply from the NRHA board have been published on the NRHA website, the actual hearings were held behind closed doors, as NRHA policy requires, so I do not have any ground-breaking revelations to share as to what went down.  But the end result - the deposing of sitting president Allen Mitchells -IS ground-breaking.  I cannot recall hearing of any other sitting president of any horse association being thrown out of office due to an ethics violation.  This is certainly a black mark on our history, but since I am a perennial optimist, I also see it as a positive.  By reacting swiftly, with (relative) transparency, and by handing down a very strong judgement, the NRHA is saying that they stand for what is right.  They are enforcing their rules, listening to their membership and seeking out unfairness on every level.  I applaud them.  I hope this begins a new era of honesty and fairness, which brings me to my next point...

I am so excited that we now have our first female president of the National Reining Horse Association!  Congratulations to Beth Himes for making history.  No doubt she would rather have gotten the post without all the attached controversy, but it is still fantastic.  While women have slowly gained more equality in all areas of life, the top positions in business still elude us.  Even in the horse industry, where there are more little girls that ride than little boys, more female non-pros that show, and many excellent breeders who are women, most 'big time' trainers are men, most judges are men, and all association presidents are men.  The glass ceiling has been present in the horse industry with the same prevalence that it exists in the rest of our culture.  Until now.  We can all revel in this moment, because it shows that times are changing, and for the better.  It is one less barrier that hasn't been breached, and perhaps will encourage more little girls to participate and dream big. 

Bravo, Beth, and good luck.  It is often when things fall apart that we begin to grow, and I am confident that out of all this upheaval, we will emerge as a much healthier association.  How exciting that a woman will be steering the ship!