The American Quarter Horse Association reported that its membership reached a record level in 2001, with 333,886 members on its roster at the close of business on Dec. 31. That figure is nearly 2,000 more than were reported at the end of 2000, according to the association, which attributed the steady growth in membership to the "breed's strong popularity and to increasing the number and types of member benefits."In addition to its record membership, AQHA also reported a 3.3% increase in registrations. During 2001, AQHA registered 150,956 American Quarter Horses compared to 145,935 in 2000."It was a good year for AQHA, and we couldn't be more proud of the record number of people who have become members of this association," said Bill Brewer, AQHA executive vice president. "America's Horse magazine, free Internet online records, reduced fees, corporate partner-driven benefits and more opportunities for Members to spend time with their horses all have helped us retain and attract more members than ever."In 1990, the AQHA adopted a mission statement that it says laid the groundwork for membership growth by changing AQHA from strictly being a breed registry of horses to one that also "provided beneficial services for its members, which enhance and encourage American Quarter Horse ownership and participation." The mission statement was modified slightly in June of 2000 to add education as an element, according to the AQHA."By recognizing that we also are an association of people, we have been able to add programs, provide innovative service and through our team of corporate partners, add benefits that our members are telling us they want," said Brewer. "We are about people, the relationship they have and the lifestyle they lead with their American Quarter Horses."