America’s Horse, February 4, 2009 - The registration of more than 2 million of the now more than 5 million horses in the American Quarter Horse Association registry and a growth in membership numbers from 276,500 to more than 350,000 are examples of the success of the customer service-driven management model that Bill Brewer implemented during his 17-year tenure as AQHA Executive Vice President.
“I believed that by increasing the opportunities for people to enjoy their horses through member-based programs, the industry would grow because these programs would generate more members, which would increase the demand for our horses,” Bill says.
Now after 37 years of days, nights and weekends in a position that he never once considered a J-O-B, Bill has decided to step down.
“It’s time,” he says matter of factly. “It wasn’t – and still is not – a decision that was easy, but in the long run, it is the right thing to do, and this is the right time, difficult as that might be.”
Difficult is right. AQHA and the American Quarter Horse have been Bill’s passion for most of his adult life.
And that’s why Bill’s decision to step down as executive vice president has been more than a year in the works – because someone who has guided the day-to-day inner workings of AQHA like Bill has since 1992 doesn’t just announce such a decision and walk out the door.
“This is not something that I or the (AQHA) Executive Committee have taken lightly,” Bill told AQHA members at the 2008 convention. “We have had hours of discussions focusing on the questions of who, how and when. We have hired a management consultant to help us work though this process. The Executive Committee and I have done our best to do this thoughtfully and proactively.”
When he became executive vice president, Bill, the Executive Committee and the staff expanded AQHA’s business model from being primarily a breed registry to including a long-term initiative to grow membership.
AQHA developed the trail ride program, which features more than 100 rides each year all over the world; marketing alliances with reining, cutting, palomino, buckskin, snaffle bit, equine veterinary associations and even dude ranchers; the Bayer Best Remuda Award, which recognizes the American Quarter Horse breeding programs of ranches all over North America; and breeder recognition and legacy awards for longtime American Quarter Horse breeders; the Bank of America Racing Challenge Program, which provides more racing opportunities for older American Quarter Horses; the development of America’s Horse as the official member publication of AQHA; and a project Bill’s very proud of – the remodeling and grand re-opening of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, which puts the Hall of Fame members – horses and humans – front and center.
It has been rewarding for Bill to sit in the grandstands of some of the industry’s premier events, knowing that he provided the impetus to help them grow and prosper over the years. That includes the Ford Youth World Championship Show and the Youth World Cup, and, of course, the Bank of America Amateur and FedEx Open AQHA World Championship Show, which he managed for several years, and this year offered more than $2 million in purse and prize money.
One thing on Bill’s to-do list that he hasn’t gotten accomplished is making reining the first western equestrian discipline to be adopted as an Olympic event.
“Everybody said it could never be done,” says horseman, fellow reining advocate and AQHA Past President Don Burt. “Bill Brewer never took no for an answer, and with AQHA behind it, it has moved forward. I think he deserves a lot of credit for that foresight.”
What’s the biggest change Bill has seen in the industry?
“The continued specialization of the American Quarter Horse,” he says. “Shows were started to evaluate the horse. Who would have thought we’d evolve into cowboy mounted shooting competitions and an affiliation with that organization?”
It’s the fact that American Quarter Horses are used in a variety of ways that Bill says – along with soundness and disposition – makes the American Quarter Horse timeless.
As March 9, Bill’s official final day as executive vice president, is looming, he knows the future of AQHA also includes him.
“I plan to continue doing work connected to AQHA in various areas,” he says.
And get his health back on track.
“In July 2008, I got sick – really sick – with acute pancreatitis. I lost more than 70 pounds and spent more than a month in the hospital. I’m getting better, but I still have one and possibly two more surgeries ahead of me.”
He plans to play golf, spend time with his wife, Sue, and his son and his family, which includes two grandchildren – Grady, who is 6, and Holland Rae, who is 3.
“I thought I’d like to learn to ride a cutting horse, but at the World Show, I became an advocate of performance halter,” Bill says. “I was so impressed by these classes that I really want a performance halter horse.
“I think performance halter exemplifies the American Quarter Horse and its versatility; almost every discipline had horses showing in the class – horses with ROMs in western pleasure, hunter under saddle, working hunter, roping, cow horse, reining, speed events and racing,” he continues. “It indicates that AQHA can still have a competitive, versatile horse that has proper conformation. I would really enjoy showing in performance halter at one of the AQHA World Shows.”
AQHA news and information is a service of AQHA publications. For more information on The American Quarter Horse Journal, The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal or America’s Horse, visit http://www.aqha.com/magazines
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/aqha-bill-brewer-service-02-09.html">AQHA Executive Vice President Bill Brewer Steps Down after 37 Years of Service</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com