Despite the low approval ratings for Congress, American equestrians are still interested in what Congress is doing. Why? Because what Congress does--or does not do--impacts the horse industry. This is true regardless of your breed or discipline, whether you are an individual owner, run a track or show, own a horse business, work in the industry as a service provider, or ride for recreation.
It is important that we build relationships with our elected leaders in Washington and that they understand and appreciate the $102 billion horse industry's contribution to the economic, sporting and recreational sectors of the United States and their states. This year, 2012, is a terrific opportunity to do this because it is an election year and so many members of Congress and new candidates are running for federal office and they want to meet you.
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to simply invite a member of Congress to your farm or ranch or to an equestrian event back in the district or state. Invite other horse people so there is a built-in crowd of voters. A personal experience with the horse community makes an impression.
All across the country there are farms and ranches getting ready for the breeding season--a great time to showcase the industry. There are horse shows--large and small--races, rodeos, organized and disorganized trail rides, horse sales, and more. Each of these events is an opportunity to build a relationship with a member of Congress or a candidate and to help them understand the horse industry a little bit better. Remember that going to a horse farm or event is a pleasant way to spend a few hours. Having voters there makes it even more pleasant for those running for Congress.
Building relationships with members of Congress is more important now than ever. There are many issues before Congress such as taxes, federal spending, immigration reform, racing legislation, trails legislation, and disease programs that could all have profound implications for the horse industry. Only by having personal exchanges with their constituents involved with the horse industry will members of Congress fully appreciate how these issues impact the industry.
If you would like to invite a member of Congress to your facility or your organization has an upcoming event you think would be appropriate for your Senator or Representative to attend, please contact the American Horse Council (AHC). The AHC will help you invite them and provide any guidance you might need. Contact the AHC at 202/296-4031 or AHC@horsecouncil.org for help. Ask for our brochure Getting Involved in the 2012 Elections, which will give you some pointers.
Please get involved. You will be helping yourself and your industry. And remember that while Congress' approval rating as a whole is very low, polls still show that most people feel their Senator or Representative is doing a good job so you might even enjoy the visit. They will.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.