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On The Rail

091. Governance, Welfare, and Community Insights with Lori Bucholz

AQHA Executive Director Lori Bucholz

In the latest episode of the On The Rail Podcast, we had the privilege of discussing the details of governance, animal welfare, equestrian community insights, and the exciting prospects of digital transformation within the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association). Our conversation with Lori Bucholz, a distinguished member of the AQHA Executive Committee, shed light on various facets of horse industry leadership and the significant strides being made toward enhancing the welfare of our equine companions.

The Journey of Lori: From Amateur Competitor to Executive Committee Member

Lori Bucholz's equestrian journey is a testament to passion, commitment, and continuous growth within the horse industry. Starting as an amateur competitor who did not grow up in a horse-centered family, Lori's dedication has seen her evolve through the ranks to becoming a vital member of the AQHA Executive Committee. Her story is inspiring, reflecting a lifelong commitment that has significantly contributed to her deep understanding of horse welfare, governance, and the community at large.

Governance and Community Engagement at AQHA

One of the key highlights of our conversation was the governance structure of the AQHA and how it promotes active participation from its members. Lori emphasized the "bottom-up" approach, encouraging every member to get involved and make a difference. Her insights illustrate AQHA's commitment to listening to its members, fostering transparency, and promoting inclusivity in decision-making processes. Whether it’s through proposing rule changes or participating in committees, Lori encourages members to engage and contribute to the shaping of the association’s future.

The Emphasis on Animal Welfare

Lori's passion for animal welfare was evident throughout our discussion. Having chaired the Animal Welfare Commission, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. The commission's approach, as Lori elaborates, is not about policing but ensuring the utmost care and respect for horses across all disciplines and activities. The initiatives led by the commission underscore the importance AQHA places on animal welfare, advocating for responsible ownership and the ethical treatment of horses.

Digital Transformation: The Future of AQHA Registrations

A portion of our discussion was dedicated to exploring the digital transformation initiatives at AQHA, notably the shift towards digital registration. Lori provided an overview of the proposed digital registration process, aiming to streamline operations and enhance member experience while ensuring the physical representation of horse documents remains intact. Although met with initial resistance, the thoughtful delay and reassessment of the digital registration rollout demonstrate AQHA's responsiveness to member feedback and their commitment to excellence.

A Call to Action: Involvement, Leadership, and the Future

Lori's insights from the podcast serve as a call to action for current and prospective members of the equestrian community. She highlights the myriad of ways individuals can contribute to the industry, regardless of background or level of experience. From governance and leadership roles to advocating for animal welfare, there’s a space for everyone. Lori’s story, combined with her strategic outlook on AQHA's future provides both inspiration and a pathway for those looking to make an impact.

In closing, the conversation with Lori Bucholz not only provided a window into the intricacies of AQHA governance and the priority placed on animal welfare but also echoed a powerful message – the equestrian community thrives on the passion, involvement, and continuous contribution of its members. As we look forward to the industry's bright future, Lori’s perspectives remind us of the importance of collective effort in shaping an inclusive, ethical, and progressive equestrian world.

To get in touch with Lori, email her at


A Closer Look:

The American Quarter Horse Association is pleased to partner with the American Quarter Horse Foundation to advance the development of young adults and their continuous involvement in the equine industry. The AQHLead program is a program designed for young adults, ages 21-35, to help support their development as young leaders in the equine industry. During the program, participants will attend leadership-focused webinars to provide additional insights into AQHA and the industry. They will also have the opportunity to partner with a mentor from the American Quarter Horse industry to learn about their mentor’s leadership activities in service to AQHA and the equine industry, and benefit from gaining more insight into their roles in impacting the industry. Selected young adults will be able to apply for one of five additional travel grants to attend a major industry event or place of interest. AQHLead is supported in part by donors of the American Quarter Horse Foundation including a grant from the Dogwood Foundation. To learn more about AQHLead, visit

There is also this program/recognition for that age group:

AQHA Emerging Leader Award, for young-adult AQHA members ages 21-35 are eligible for nomination, and honorees will be formally recognized each year during a plaque presentation at the AQHA Convention. AQHA has a wealth of young adults achieving an elite level of professional success, contributing to their communities and transforming the horse industry, and AQHA would like to acknowledge them for their accomplishments and impacts on the American Quarter Horse industry.

Candidates can nominate themselves or be nominated by another AQHA member. A completed nomination form and all supporting materials must be received in the AQHA office by January 15 of each year. Nominations and the award recipient will be reviewed and selected by a member committee. Award recipients will be notified and invited to attend the AQHA Convention for the award presentation. A member can be honored with the AQHA Emerging Leader Award only once and the nomination form will compile information on the nominee, including their achievements, involvement within the industry, Emerging Leader qualities, career accomplishments and letters of recommendation. 

Honorees can be recognized in a variety of categories, including but not limited to:

  • Leadership

  • Service

  • Science

  • Education

  • Impact

  • Innovation

  • Ambassador

Selection for the award may be based on direct involvement within the Association or may highlight the successes of an outstanding AQHA member who remains committed to and involved in AQHA. If you or someone you know exhibits qualities in each category, applications are due via email to by midnight Central time on January 15, 2024.

Nomination forms are available online. To learn more, email the AQHA Youth Department at or call 806-378-4330


Director Emeritus is someone who, “has served AQHA faithfully as an Elected Director, shall be designated with lifetime tenure, on the following basis: The individual has reached the age of 65 years, having served 10 cumulative years as an Elected Director.”


Director-at Large is someone who, “has served twelve (12) cumulative terms as an Elected Director..”

Maybe we should rerecord those parts and I’m not sure I said my final thoughts as clearly as I wanted.

Your call.



Amateur Arena Magazine

Amateur Arena Magazine is a celebration of the bond between horse and rider, showcasing the passion, dedication, and talent of amateur exhibitors from all disciplines. Through captivating articles, stunning photography, and insightful interviews, we aim to inspire and empower our readers to pursue their equestrian dreams while fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for all. Whether you're a seasoned exhibitor, or just getting started, our magazine offers something for everyone.



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