Alberta wins the “Chapter of the Year” award. How do they do it?

Featuring the Seventh-Consecutive Win


By Enny Van Aken

April, 2021


It is exactly how the FHANA words it in their definition of this award: “Each Chapter is unique in how they participate within the organization and how they help to promote the Friesian Horse.” And let me tell you this; these results don’t come overnight!

The Alberta Friesian Horse Association was founded 24 years ago. The members were proud to be part of the bigger organization, FHANA, and were excited “to promote and preserve the KFPS Friesian Horse in North America.”

Keuring, of course

Every year, they organized a “keuring” where their horses were judged. These events were worthwhile to attend, even for outsiders. There was always time to socialize, enjoy a meal together and take in the breathtaking movements of the Friesians. During these bonding moments, new ideas came up and plans were made.


FHANA 35th Anniversary

FHANA 35th Anniversary Show in Ponoka, July 2019.


Trail Rides, Musical Ride, Parades, Derbies, Shows, etc.

The club started organizing yearly trail rides in Alberta, the musical ride was born, and individual members organized and attended dressage and driving clinics, while competing in both disciplines at low and high levels. They showed their horses at big events and parades (the prestigious Spruce Meadows and Calgary Stampede, to name a few). They participated in officially organized trail rides in the USA as well. A few years ago, the winter derbies were introduced and, to top it off, the club put together an impressive quadrille presentation.

AFHA members were willing to share their horses, supplies, time, knowledge, and enthusiasm. Add the social aspect to the equation and the picture is complete. Today the AFHA Chapter is unique because of their members’ solidarity!


Ponoka Ringsteken 2020

Ringsteken in Ponoka, July 2020.


The Key to Winning

What did it take for the AFHA to win the Chapter of the Year award for seven consecutive years?

The answer is simple. A club does not need their members to all reside really close together: AFHA members are spread out over all of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Eastern British Columbia. You do not need an impressive membership list: only 13 members brought in the points for Alberta last year. But what you do need are these three components:

  1. Club members who want to go out of their way to organize events and send out invitations.
  2. A group of active members who always accept the invitations, and who do not envy but rejoice in each other’s accomplishments.
  3. One person, your “admin,” who collects the information from the members and forwards the accumulated points to the FHANA.

The AFHA carries all three components, which makes it a total collective achievement. The biggest challenge for every Chapter though is to find your administrative person.


The AFHA found a strong and committed “admin” person in Annie Muilwijk. She acknowledges the workload. She understands that it is not for everyone, but she is willing to help other potential “admin” people by sharing her newly developed data form and the explanatory instructions with every other FHANA Chapter.

This form can be used by individual members. They forward the information (per event) to their “admin” person. The “admin” collects the data on a spreadsheet before sending it to the FHANA. This process will help the Chapter “admin” to get on board and become part of the Chapter of the Year award competition.

On an exciting note, there must be more chapters in North America who want to take on this challenge!

The AFHA members don’t organize events or participate in them only to collect points. They are in it for the love of the Friesian Horses and the good times spent with their horse friends. This club is characterized by a “bug” called “contagious enthusiasm.”

On behalf of the AFHA board and membership, we hope this may be also true for all the other FHANA Chapters, today and in the future!

For questions about collecting member data, contact Annie Muilwijk at AFHA: or 1-403-598-3675.


Friesian Horse Derby 2021

Winter Derby in Lacombe, April 2021.

AFHA's Other Stories

Enny Van Aken is an AFHA member and regular writer for AFHA, owner of Friesian horses, avid driver in indoor and outdoor derbies, driver in the Alberta Quadrille, and a loving mother and grandmother.

Alberta Friesian Horse Association