SW Update — John Kelley resigns as USMMA President

Below is the letter John sent to the USMMA Board with his resignation.  Susann Gabriel is now the new USMMA President.

Susann,
I wanted to give you a heads up on the announcement  that I plan to send to Aline for the next newsletter.  I suggest you or someone from the Board provide additional information on this policy change so the membership will get a perspective on the change.
There has been a change in the USMMA Organization.   I have resigned as President of the USMMA, effective May 5, 2012.  Susann Gabriel, an eight year USMMA Board Member, current Vice President, and passionate owner of Marchadors will become President until the next USMMA election in 2013.
The USMMA is a strong organization, with a solid balance sheet and outstanding reputation in the United States, Brazil, and Europe. The USMMA  Registry includes nearly all the owners, breeders, and Marchadors in North America. We have a strong working relationship with Brazil, evidenced by the very successful 2012 Sela de  Ouro and Clinic recently held in Ocala Florida. 
The USMMA Board has recently approved a policy change that I cannot support and over my strong opposition.  It was clear to me that I should step down.  The direction approved is to move toward a requirement that US inspections for Mangalarga Marchadors be performed before a horse can be registered with the USMMA, based on the USMMA breed standard that is similar to the ABCCMM standards.   Here are a few of the reasons behind my strong opposition:
– I do not believe, at this time, that we should be excluding Marchadors from the USMMA based on inspections. We had already enacted safety and quality measures with parental DNA and a verification of no genetic defects at birth.  I believe the number one goal for the USMMA should be growth and diversity.  I fear that this change will discourage some USMMA members from registering horses perhaps simply because of the cost of inspections or fear that their horses won’t be accepted and we will lose Marchadors and perhaps those members from our base.
– The Marchador is a BRAZILIAN breed.   I believe our current process of encouraging American breeders to join the ABCCMM and voluntarily seek ABCCMM inspections keeps that connection strong.  I believe, for breeders especially, that inspections provided valuable information but should not be mandatory or a requirement to register Marchadors with the USMMA.
– In my mind, the quality of the MM breed in the U.S.  is a three legged stool.  One of those aspects is genetics.  However, limiting the gene pool also creates an adverse affect – poorer quality in the breed.  The other two legs of the stool are presentation and training.   If a very well-bred quality Marchador is not presented well or trained correctly, then it will look like bad breeding.   We all imported or bought the highest quality Marchadors to begin breeding programs.  It is the other two legs of the stool that I personally feel need the most attention.    The USMMA  could do more with education, more with show kits, more with clinics and bringing up gait trainers than will ever be accomplished with an inspection program. 
Lynn and I have enjoyed our time actively involved in the USMMA Board of Directors but it is time for new leadership. We are confidant that the USMMA will continue to be a successful organization. We will continue to support the Mangalarga Marchador as members of the USMMA and as members of the Brazilian Association, the ABCCMM.  We will also maintain dual registration of our Marchadors including inspections performed by ABCCMM authorized inspectors.  We will now focus our time on our personal goals of improving the quality and diversity of the Marchador breed via imported frozen semen and frozen embryos from top Brazilian breeders and developing the M Foundation.  
We will try to be available to other members to help in any way we can since we share a common passion, the Mangalarga Marchador.  
John J. Kelley

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Many people will still have questions after reading this letter, so here is some more from the SW Future Foal perspective and our thinking.

Inspection & Registration

We believe strongly in the Brazilian inspection process and the quality of the MM breed.  There is a process to become members of the ABCCMM and to obtain ABCCMM inspections.  Every SW Future Foal is from ABCCMM inspected parents and is provisionally registered with the ABCCMM.    They are also registered with the USMMA, so if the new owner does not want to inspect, the USMMA paper becomes primary.

We do not believe the USMMA should link registration with inspections nor change its registration policy to require mandatory US inspections.  Today about 10% of the current Marchador horse population whose owners are “unknown” to the USMMA.  We would like all Marchador horses to be registered and not become lost.   We think mandatory inspections could make more animals (and their offspring) unregistered (for a variety of reasons, could be cost, could be quality, could be indifference – the owner doesn’t care about inspecting)  and there is a real downside to that, in our opinion.

When we originally founded the USMMA, the registration process was designed similarly to the Andalusian design where all Andalusians (and half-Andalusians, for that matter) are registered with the IALHA.  Then if the owner or breeder desires, they can complete the paperwork and process to get their Andalusian registered and approved in the Spanish association – Pure Raca Espanol or PRE.    Fresians and Icelandics both have inspections where quality is assessed, but it is not tied to registration of the horses.

We also do not believe that any U.S. vet has the experience and knowledge of the MM breed to become an inspector for conformation, gait and temperament or for judging a Marchador.  We put our trust in ABCCMM inspectors.  It is the ABCCMM Horseshoe M brand that is the international mark of the Marchador horse and of its quality.  Substituting a USMMA brand is not the same in our mind.

As mentioned in the letter, John was the only dissenting vote on this issue.  As such, it was clear that he could no longer continue as President.   If John had remained as President, both he and I would have had to work on communication and implementation.   Clearly, because we are so against this policy, we did not want to work to make it a reality.

ABCCMM, Brazil and the USMMA

The Marchador is a Brazilian breed.  The ABCCMM (the Marchador association in Brasil) will always have more knowledge, more horses, more money and resources than the USMMA.   We have encouraged Marchador owners and breeders to become members of the ABCCMM and to inspect and register their Marchadors with them, as we do.   We would love to see that continue.   (The ABCCMM is creating a new registration book to solve some of the paperwork problems of the past.)  We would like to see everyone that owns a Marchador travel to Brasil to feel the passion, ride their horses and relive the history at the birthplace of the breed.

Partnering with the ABCCMM also helps us with the other aspects of marketing and promoting the breed:

  • the rich history and passionate stories of the Marchador breed,
  • the breed’s value in Brasil,
  • their marketing and international press about the Marchador,
  • training for the marching gait that is the hallmark of the breed &
  • visits back and forth, for clinics, shows and other.

A New Beginning

This is just our opinion and obviously others, just as passionate about the MM breed felt differently.  In the end, it does not matter what we think.   It only matters that the USMMA continue to grow and prosper and that the Mangalarga Marchador get more recognition and attention here.

It is a good thing to refresh the association; to get new members involved and working.   John and I have been around,  since the beginning of the association in 2004 when we formed it with other founding members and great friends, Cristiana Guerra, MM Horse Farms and Tresa Smith, Montana Marchadors.  Now eight years later, with a strong membership and bank account, it is a good time for us to step aside.

Remember that our work was voluntary.  We did it because of our passion for the breed.  Now it is time for others who are just as passionate (and hopefully younger) to take on the work we need for the next decade.