HISTORY OF THE ARABIAN HORSE ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA
The history of the Arabian Horse Association of Florida dates back to the early 1950's when a group in south Florida who loved the Arabian horse banded together to plan the future of the Arab in the state. Among those active in organizing the association then were Mrs. Diane Schwartzberg, Mr. and Mrs. John Vance, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Smathers, Mr. and Mrs. Willis Flick and Ms. Liz Langford. Shortly thereafter the Florida Association became a member of the International Arabian Horse Association. The primary purposes of the Florida Association are to promote the Arabian horse in the state, to maintain the annual high point awards and futurity programs and to encourage shows throughout the state.
In 1968 under the direction of Dr. Albert King and Mr. Snow Martin the first state directory listing all the members was produced. That year also saw the AHAF officially incorporation with the state on April 19. On a Regional level Karl Hart and Eric Wolfe have served as Chairman, for many, many years Willis Flick served on the Board of the Registry and Karl Hart served on the Board of International. These positions have given Florida a strong hand in deciding the future course of the Arabian business.
Until 1970 the only classes offered to Arabian horses in Florida were in conjunction with all breed shows. The promoters of these shows had to be begged for six or eight Arabian classes. Thanksgiving of that year saw the first All Arabian horse show in Florida held in Winter Haven. It was a very ambitious project, with only $250.00 in the Treasury and 86 members to plan and fund a three day event. By 1972 the 108 classes at the Thanksgiving Show was attracted 324 horses and exhibitors from Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Michigan. When one looks at the number of horses and entries at today's shows it's hard to imagine the beginning.
For many years the Thanksgiving show featured the all important dog classes. Winners there had bragging rights for the next year. Perhaps the most important non-equestrian event was the Thanksgiving dinner server on the grounds to as many as 300 hungry Arabian folks. For many years the dinners were prepared on the grounds by members of the association, shared with all the exhibitors and grooms. The problem of serving large numbers were overcome with the use of muck baskets, pressed in to services for the large amounts sweet potato casserole, salads and rolls that were served. Through the years the Thanksgiving show as grown into one of the premier Arabian shows in the United States. Sometimes accompanied by a day or so of cold and rainy weather belying our claim as the sunshine state, the show has always reflected a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
With the AHAF membership and Thanksgiving show entries both in excess of 400 the future of the Arabian horse in Florida is assured. While the years have brought new faces the purpose of the association has never changed; the betterment of the beautiful Arabians horse.
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