On February 15, 1968, a meeting was held near Chicago, Illinois at Ed Jenner’s Knolland Farm (resident trainers: Tom and Donna Moore).The meeting was attended by large group of prominent horsemen. Their objective was to establish an organization that would give a united voice to the horse professional in order to better address concerns and problems that existed within the show horse industry and to improve conditions for all those involved.
Founding Father, Tom Moore, was elected as the UPHA’s first President, Chat Nichols as Vice President, Don Brockman as Secretary and Ben Segalla as Treasurer; all were respected horse trainers from local Saddlebred training barns. Others instrumental in the legal and functional formation of the UPHA, drafting its policies, constitution and bylaws, included: Dudley Abbott, Charles Dennehy, Richard Durant, J. Ralph Peak and Lloyd Teater.
Because of the foresight and dedicated service of these men, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association became a reality. In less than a year’s time, the first annual UPHA convention was held at the Pheasant Run Lodge in St.Charles, Illinois, this time with professional horsemen and women from across the nation – 139 strong.
From this small dedicated group, the UPHA has expanded to 21 regional chapters that comprise all 50 states and Canada.
Since its inception, the UPHA's members have worked for certain goals that help not only the individual horse person, but also the industry as a whole. Specifically, the UPHA has worked to improve horse shows by advising on such concerns as class scheduling, lighting and show ring footing. Grooms and caretakers, the backbone of the industry, have also benefited from a great improvement of the facilities provided for them at horse shows through continuing efforts of the UPHA.
The United Professional Horsemen's Association continues to strive to uphold the standards established by the founding members over 40 years ago. Today, the UPHA is two separate organizations: the UPHA Members Organization, Inc. and the UPHA Foundation, Inc., working together for the betterment of the horse show industry. The UPHA Membership Organization was established to provide many services for the benefit of the members and also helps sponsor the UPHA Classics Grand Championship each fall. The UPHA Foundation continues to be the charitable portion of the UPHA which supports not only the horse show industry, but other areas of the equine industry as well. The UPHA Foundation has placed scholarships in various university veterinary programs, has donated to funding of equine health research, has made contributions to numerous riding for the handicapped programs, raised over $100,000 for the United Cerebral Palsy Fund, and supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through the Ribbons of Service program. The UPHA Foundation also supports the American Saddlebred Museum, the American Morgan Horse Institute and Building Funds, the American Horse Council, as well as the National 4-H Council's horse programs.
The UPHA has given a united voice to the individual horse trainers and horse people that have developed the UPHA into the powerful lobby that it is today. In just a little over 40 years this group has created many concrete programs to realize the common goal of improvement within the industry while still striving to recognize the unique capabilities and talents of each member.