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Use of New Database System Starts Today

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) started utilizing the new database this morning.  This concludes the first phase of a three-phase project to update and expand the MFTHBA’s data management system.

“We are pleased to be at this point in the process and are excited about the additional capacity this new system will provide,” commented MFTHBA President, Mark Mackie.  “This upgrade is one our members have wanted us to complete.”

One such member is longtime owner and breeder, Jan Alford of Alford Stables in Buffalo, Missouri.  “Congratulations to the MFTHBA on the launch of its new database!  This project is the result of many hours of research and planning in order to provide the Association and its members a technologically up to date and efficient means of maintaining the valuable registry records as well as several other types of data.  I am confident that it will be a great benefit to the Association and most importantly its members.”

Vision for a New System

The commitment to a new data management system started by the 2016 Board of Directors.  “We identified that a new system had been needed for years,” shared Dr. Joyce Graening, past MFTHBA President.  “The Association needed a new system to bring it into the 21st century and provide more information to our members. We needed a system that would ease in registration and researching our horse’s ancestry and accomplishments as well as ease of show entries and data.”

In 2016, the MFTHBA Board of Directors conducted a needs assessment.  Through this process, the Board identified the “wish list” of what the Association needed in a new system and surveying other equine breed registries regarding their experience with database development.   In August 2016, the MFTHBA Board of Directors created a restricted account to set aside money for the development of the new system.  “This was a vision strongly held by the Board in 2016, which unanimously voted to set aside funds to make this happen,” added Dr. Graening.

The establishment of this fund prompted Joe and Jennifer Stewart, of Farmington, Arkansas, and the Arizona Fox Trotter Association to donate money to support phase 1 of the overall project.  “Without these donations, we could not have moved forward with the project,” shared MFTHBA Secretary/Treasurer Melvin Snethern.

Finding the Right Vendor

In late 2018, the MFTHBA issued a request for bids to complete the project.  “When I was elected, I focused on completing the bid process,” shared Mr. Mackie.  Once bids were received, they went through a review process and each bidder was interviewed at the MFTHBA office.  Funnware Development, Westerville, Ohio, was selected to complete the project.

The project got underway in mid-2019.  The first step in the process was to update the computer hardware within the office.  The new database also meant new opportunities to address comments received from members over the years.  “Over the years we have heard many concerns from members regarding wanting changes to our registration forms and increasing the amount of data that is included,” shared Cathy Lansdown, MFTHBA Registry Manager.  An ad-hoc committee was formed that included members, Board members, and the office staff to develop a mock set of papers to incorporate into the new system.  Information on the new format was released in June 2020 (“MFTHBA Releases Prototype of New Registration Papers”).

In 2020, the project shifted to transferring data from our old system.  In early November 2020, the MFTHBA received its first test version of the system.  “Our office staff spent three to four weeks checking this system to ensure the data transfer process was effective,” added Mr. Snethern.  Throughout this process, Funnware Development made adjustments based on the feedback provided by the MFTHBA.

In mid-December, the MFTHBA received the full test version of the software.  For the past six weeks, the MFTHBA has been testing the system, identifying errors, and working with Funnware Development to modify the system.  “While we were anxious to start using the system, we didn’t want to make the final switch until our office staff was comfortable with all aspects of the system,” added Mr. Mackie.

Moving to Phase 2

Phase 1 of the project was focused on expanding the capacity of the system for use in the office, the primary focus of phase 2 shifts to getting members access to that additional data.

Starting today, the information in the Online Horse Records System will no longer update.  “We will be leaving our old database system in place so that historical information will remain accessible to our members,” shared Mr. Mackie.

The initial plan was to code the new database to output into the current Online Horse Records system.  However, with the age of the online member site, it was determined that the best use of our financial resources is to focus on building a new Online Horse Records site that provides more data and better usability for members.

“We know access to this information is important to our members and regret that new information will not be immediately available,” added Mr. Snethern.  In the next few months, members will have an opportunity to complete a survey to provide input on what they would like to see on the new site.

“We are working to identify the best service provider to develop this new site,” shared Mr. Snethern.  “This will take a coordinated effort between our database developer and the website developer we contract with.”

Phase 2 will also continue to focus on adding more information to our new database system and expanding the type of data that can be stored.  “Our new system already can store show records and going forward this information will automatically upload from our new show management software; however, historical data will not be as easy to add,” added Mr. Mackie.  “In the coming year, we will work with Funnware to convert old data out of our show management software which should provide nearly 10 years of results from MFTHBA Shows.”

Also slated in phase 2 is to add options for maintaining National Trail Ride, Fox Trot America, and Three Year Old Futurity records into the system.

“Thanks to the donations previously made, we still have money in our database restricted fund to start phase 2; however, to complete this phase to the level that our members want, we will need additional funding,” shared Mr. Snethern.  Individuals interested in donating directly to this project should contact the MFTHBA office.

Once Phase 2 is complete, Phase 3 will focus on updating MFTHBA.com and its associated webpages.

What Current and Past Board Members Are Saying

“This is a major accomplishment for the Association.  With the significant help from donations from our membership that were earmarked for this project and the leadership of Region 4 Director, Amber Wilson, and President Mark Mackie, we are at the finish line.  Our office staff also deserves a special thanks for working behind the scenes to coordinate this effort.  I know that the membership will appreciate this step forward.”  Jeff Shields, MFTHBA Secretary/Treasurer (2018-2019)

“It’s been a long process.  The new database will provide a great information source for our members by tracking our historical information in one program.”  Pam Lynn, MFTHBA Vice President (2014-2016)

“I am excited to see the results of long-term planning across multiple boards that demonstrated the MFTHBA dedication to improved member services.”  Albert Cook, MFTHBA Secretary/Treasurer (2014-2017)

“The new database system will allow better communication between the MFTHBA and its members by streamlining many member service areas allowing the staff to handle the paperwork and queries quicker and more efficiently.” Karen Graddy, MFTHBA Vice President

“Our region is so spread out with these wonderful Fox Trotters horses. We need this system update to provide a much better way to get information for our horses and to add to their record of accomplishments! Thank you to all of you who made this possible.”  Hope Adams, MFTHBA Region 1 Director

“Updating the database also helps track information we wouldn’t have had otherwise to help keep up with accomplishments.”  Alexis Zastoupil, MFTHBA Region 3 Director

“I am grateful for the members that have remained committed to this process.  This is a big accomplishment for our Association and one that will provide the framework to address feedback we have received.  The change members will notice is the updated registration papers but there is so much more accomplished with this new system.  Starting today, the MFTHBA has a greater capacity to store information.  This helps the MFTHBA meet its mission to maintain the records of the registry.  More importantly, the new system provides a system that can continue to evolve and expand.  As we move into additional phases, I look forward to seeing new programs and services to include a more user-friendly Online Horse Records, a way to document results from local events, the establishment of a point system to level show competition, and much more.” Amber Wilson, MFTHBA Region 4 Director

“The new database is a huge step forward for the Association in making things more streamlined and easier for everyone.” Debra Levillie, MFTHBA Region 5 Director

“Thank you to everyone for their hard work on getting this system up and running.”  Brian Land, MFTHBA Region 6 Director

“After a long hard process, the new MFTHBA database system is formally launched!  The new system is a step towards moving the Association into the 21st century.  Although there are some things that will look a little different, once everyone becomes accustomed, they will appreciate the value of the changes and the formal recognition that will be available to all members, regardless of preferred discipline.”  Sam Gerhardt, MFTHBA Region 8 Director

“The new MFTHBA database will allow Fox Trotter owners and riders, regardless of discipline, a means to track the accomplishments of their horses.  This should lead to increased value and marketability of registered Missouri Fox Trotters in every region.”  Julie Cook, MFTHBA Region 9 Director