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A Personal Profile: Debbie Fuentes
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August 18th, 2015

 

Personal Profile: Debbie Fuentes

By Lisa Abraham

 

 

I met Debbie Fuentes, the Registrar of the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), several years ago in Paris, at the Salon Du Cheval. After classes one day, Anna Bishop, the Executive Director of The Pyramid Society, introduced us. Of course I was thrilled to meet her, since, like everyone else, I had a registration issue to discuss with her—right off the bat. As I quickly and happily discovered, Debbie is always prepared to handle AHA issues. She carefully listened, made notes and, after returning home, addressed the matter for closure.

Since that time Debbie and I have become close friends, sometimes even traveling to shows together. One of the most interesting facets of being close to Debbie is that she is constantly approached from people all over the world, who require assistance with matters concerning AHA registration.  And with each person, just as she handled my concern, she listens, takes notes, gets contact information and when able, offers solutions. I have never seen her too busy to address job related issues or to meet new people.

In 2014, Debbie was awarded the prestigious “Earl E. Hurlbutt President’s Award,” by Cynthia Richardson, the AHA President. This award is given in honor of E.E. Hurlbutt, a founding member and the first President (1950-1955) of the AHA. It is given to individuals who make outstanding contributions made to the Arabian breed, the Arabian Horse Association and to its members.  The AHA President may choose up to two individuals to receive this award per year.Debbie and her crew at the 2013 Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas. (L-to-r) standing Janice McCrea Wight, AHA President  Cynthia Richardson. Sitting Pat Henderson and Debbie Fuentes

Cynthia shared, “I gave the President's award to Debbie for her outstanding service to the AHA and its members.  Debbie's first job out of college was with the Arabian Horse Registry Association (AHRA).  She got married, had her three children and has remained a loyal employee for over thirty years. In 2003, when AHRA and IAHA (International Arabian Horse Association) merged to form AHA, Debbie was elected unanimously for the registrar for all three registries--Purebred, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian.  Under her current job at AHA, Debbie is the Senior Director over both Registrations and Membership.  She also serves on the National Pedigree Livestock Council (NPLC), and now, in her second term, is the current Vice President. In her first term, she was the first female to ever serve as President—quite a tribute to her work ethic.  Furthermore, she also serves on several committees for the American Horse Council and is known as the ‘keeper of all horse stats' for all the breeds. 

“Over these many years, she has established working relationships all over the world which have benefited the AHA and its members.  She also serves as our representative at World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO) and participates in the Registrar’s meetings.  Maybe most important to us is that Debbie is our ambassador around the world.  Her willing smile, knowledge and dedication to the Arabian breed has earned respect from her peers and friends. We are proud and thankful that Debbie is a part of AHA.” 

As impressive as Debbie’s resume with the AHA, she has begun to make another significant contribution. Zakir Khan, a photographer from India wrote, "For me, photography is a virtue, a charity if done to value the people around." There are no better words to describe the efforts of Debbie Fuentes as a photographer. Debbie’s body of work which is growing by each show and event, will have value to our Arabian community for years to come.

Although her “point and shoot” show/event photography began in 2011 at the AHA convention, it was at the 2013 World Championship in Paris that I first noticed the influence of Debbie’s work. Immediately after the show, she posted her photos on Facebook and they were a HIT! People were tagging them, sharing them and spreading them all over our global community. The magic of these photos was that Debbie's effervescent personality came through. Not only was her sincere appreciation for the subjects in her photos clearly demonstrated, but her positive show/event experience was evident as well.

Debbie Photographing guests at the 2014 Arabian Horse Times Award Ceremony in Scottsdale! Debbie shared, “I started taking pictures because I thought it would be a good thing to show how much fun people were having. But once I started it helped me in so many ways. Primarily it has been a nice ice breaker, giving me more opportunities to visit with people. One year in Scottsdale, while going up and down the aisles looking for a friend, I stopped every person and couple and took their picture. While doing that, I met a grandma, mother and a daughter—three generations….all enjoying the show! That year I met so many people! Also, it has also been great in terms of remembering names—especially abroad.”

At shows or events, it is now common to see Debbie walking up and down the aisles taking photos of attendees. Within days those show or event photos are posted, giving everyone another opportunity to relive their most recent Arabian event experience. Also, as she has become quite well known for her images, it is common for people to stop her and ask to be photographed. I would like to further comment that Debbie is a very good photographer and I am personally grateful for some of the pictures she has taken of me—all of which I will treasure forever. Debbie shared, “People have seemed to really appreciate the pictures and now it is expected. I have had so much fun capturing people enjoying shows, their horses and each other."

 

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Through her work, Debbie has touched many people with her kindness, her personable nature and her professionalism. So it seemed appropriate to invite members of our Arabian community to make contributions to this profile—AND THAT THEY DID!

                                                                                                                                                                            

 

Debbie is the best Public Relations person in the Arabian Breed.  Her effervescence helps to reinforce and build relationships within the community and she is exactly what the   Arabian horse industry needs. Debbie is not only a wonderful ambassador of the breed but her stewardship of the past, present and future ensure the integrity of the Arabian horse.

Debbie and Taryl O' Shae at the 2015 Arabian World Breeders Cup in Las Vegas

Taryl O’ Shae (USA), Executive Director of the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona

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Debbie is a wonderful lady who does so much for our breed. She is one of those people that when you cross paths with them, you'll never forget them. She touches your heart and has an amazing personality.

Vivian Reisel-van Eerten (The Netherlands)

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The Arabian horse community is fortunate to have within its members someone like Debbie Fuentes.  Devoted to her job and a long-time asset to the Arabian Horse Registry, she has demonstrated the most valuable quality I know:  she cares.

Debbie admirably represents American breeders and our Arabian Horse Registry at home and abroad - always with a smiling face and welcoming hand. Experience counts, and that she has in spades.  How lucky we are to have her – and we need more just like her.

Judith Forbis (USA), Ansata Arabian Stud

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Wish I could write a book; but I will say in brevity that I know of NO ONE who is a more valuable asset – world wide – to both the Arabian Horse Association and the Arabian breed than Debbie Fuentes.  She exemplifies everything that is good about both.

Anna Bishop (USA), Executive Director of The Pyramid Society

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There are very few people in our industry who are as in tune and in control as Debbie Fuentes. She not only handles all the registrations here in the USA, but is our very own National and International ambassador for the Arabian horse. In addition to attending shows and industry conferences, she travels the globe representing the Arabian horse. We could not be in better or more capable hands and we all owe Debbie a big thanks for her efforts.

Scott Bailey (USA), President of Arabhorse.com

Debbie with Brooke Marie Jarvis, Scott Bailey and Mike Ruiz at the 2015 IntArah Auciton

 

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Debbie and I met on the elevator at convention when the merger was being voted upon.  We introduced ourselves and then spent 2 hours standing out in the hall very late at night getting to know about each other's worlds (IAHA and AHRA).  I was elected to serve as an IAHA representative on the newly formed Registration Commission.  Debbie and I have literally traveled all over North America together as outreach to our breeders.  We have many stories, shared lots of laughs and a few tragedies.  She began taking pictures at the different events and sharing them on Facebook with her many friends.  Now folks come to her to get their pictures taken so they, too, can be part of the Arabian Family.  With Debbie's friends all over the world, she has provided a link that keeps us connected and sharing in our love for the Arabian horse.

Cynthia Richardson (USA), President of the Arabian Horse Association

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I’ve had the pleasure of working with Debbie on a variety of projects during her tenure at AHA, and it’s always a pleasure. Debbie’s professionalism is second to none and her people skills are exemplary. She represents our breed supremely, and we’re all lucky to have her as part of our Arabian horse community.

Jeff Sloan (USA), Aria International, LLC

~with Scott Benjamin

 

Debbie continues to be a tireless ambassador for the Arabian horse, the equine industry and, most importantly, the Arabian breeder. Always positive, with tireless energy and  enthusiasm, she is always hard at work making the world a better place for the Arabian breed and the multitude of breeders and owners around the world involved with the Arabian horse.

Scott Benjamin (Canada), Scott Benjamin Equine

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I truly value the professional friendship that Debbie and I have developed over the last nine years. Together we have worked on some unique projects which have led to both positive and significant results for Arabian horse activities in Russia. I’m always amazed at Debbie’s many wonderful qualities—she is professional, friendly, open-minded; she has integrity and a great sense of humor. Despite her intensive travel schedules, Debbie is always smiling and sparkling. It has been a pleasure to know you Debbie and I wish politicians would learn how to build International relations on our example.

With Love from Moscow,

Igor Bochkarev (Russia), Director Russian National Arabian Horse Society

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Debbie is one of the most fabulous women I know. She has a heart of gold. I love her people photos! She takes them all over the world and posts them for all of us to enjoy. Fun to see all the people at the horse events. Thanks Debbie for sharing!

Dixie North (USA), North Arabians

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Debbie does a wonderful job of promoting the Arabian horse to people all over the world. She is one of those people that when she walks into the room, it just brightens with her smile. We are proud to call Debbie our friend and thankful for all she has done in bringing all together to celebrate the Arabian horse.

Love,

Dick, Lollie and Lara Ames (USA), Cedar Ridge Arabians

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Debbie Fuentes is a Priceless Treasure! When I think of Debbie Fuentes, the first thing that comes to mind is her warm, genuine smile.  Debbie has a way of making you feel like she is genuinely glad to see you. It does not matter if you are a foreign dignitary or a volunteer at a show, Debbie’s interest in you is immediately apparent. I think she can talk to anyone and make them feel at ease, which I believe is one of the reasons she is so successful in her role as the AHA Registrar.

Debbie is an astute business person and a first class ambassador for the Arabian horse breed. She always conducts herself with professionalism and integrity. In addition, Debbie knows her job inside and out; she can speak on the subject with great authority based on her deep knowledge of the subject.

One of the things I appreciate most about Debbie is her positive attitude. It’s not that she sugar coats things, but I believe she is a person who sees the glass as half full, rather than half empty. A positive attitude always achieves more than negativity and Debbie is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met.

I think of Debbie as a diplomatic problem solver. She has a gift for bringing people together. People feel at ease to voice their opinions around Debbie because she is always very respectful, whether she agrees with an opinion or not, which is yet another reason she is so good at her job. Debbie’s job as the AHA Registrar is certainly not an easy one. But, she does it with grace and efficacy. I sincerely believe Debbie Fuentes is one of the most valuable assets in the industry and I am honored to be her friend.

Beth Ellen Hunziker (USA), B. Creative Consulting Photo by Jerry SparagowskiCourtesy of Patricia Dempsey of Beloveds Farm

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I am a big fan of Debbie’s, she always has a smile on her face and is a joy to see at the shows. She does such a good job and is always a pleasure to work with. Did I mention she took one of my favorite images of me--that is not easy.

Jerry Sparagowski (USA)

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Debbie is our resident Paparazzi and one of AHA's best Ambassadors. I personally think she's the best Registrar in the world - of all breeds! I am proud to depend on her as a valued co-worker who I can absolutely count on her years of experience and knowledge of our breed.

Glenn Petty (USA), AHA Vice President

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Debbie is a very professional manager for the USA studbook. Any question you may have, she knows the answer. Debbie gives us a very good feeling when we visit the USA shows. Thank you Debbie for all of your support!

James & Christel Swaenepoel (Belgium), Swatam Arabians

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Of all the wonderful and varied personalities and that our Arabian horses bring together, Debbie is one of the truly special individuals that are horses have brought into our midst. Her professionalism and commitment are only matched by her enthusiasm for all the things that are most important to this historic breed, it's integrity and history. I can't imagine a better person for us to haveon the front line of preserving and promoting the Arabian horse. Debbie is someone who I look up to both professionally and personally and I'm proud to call her friend.
 

Mary Trowbridge (USA), Trowbridge’s LTD

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Having had the privilege of knowing and working with Debbie for over fifteen years, I would say she 'owns' the following: intelligence; a perpetual smile; boundless energy; and the highest work ethic. She is an important ambassador for the Arabian horse both here and abroad and, oh, so photogenic!

Denni Mack (USA), Chairperson of the AHA Registration Commission

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Debbie Fuentes is one of the most amazing people I know. I honestly do not think that I have ever seen her without a smile! She is always so welcoming to everyone – whether those new to the industry or old friends – and she always takes time to stop and say hello, no matter how rushed she is. As an ambassador of the Arabian breed, Debbie’s work is tireless. She travels the world and talks to those involved in the different strands of the industry, and she shares best practice and ideas across all of them, all in an effort to better the world in which we work. One of the greatest joys of Debbie is her photography! With her smile and a camera in hand, she goes around the outside of the arena, capturing people at the heart of the industry. She takes such wonderful, vibrant images of people and, for me, her gift to us is truly precious. While others record the horses in the ring for posterity, Debbie ensures that those around are also acknowledged and recognized. She truly is a light in the industry and I always look forward to seeing her, as do my family. Thank you Debbie for all that you do!

Samantha Mattocks (UK), The Arabian MagazineLong time friends: Debbie and Dr. Cory Soltau (photographer unknown)

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I think the phrase "Whoever Debbie doesn't know ain't worth knowing" applies best! But on the other hand, I think she knows everyone in the Arabian Community--and everyone respects her. Debbie has an incredible way of interacting with people from every corner of the world. She is also, for the most, the “go to person” to solve what often seems like impossible Registry situations. Although Debbie always takes a positive approach, she is never a push-over in negotiations. I have followed her at International horse shows, and watched her give her no-nonsense, “tell it as it is” (good or bad) reports at the AHA BOD meetings.

But most memorable for me are the adventures we've shared: climbing barbed wire fences; stumbling out into fields to get DNA samples; and trying to keep a straight face while sitting in the homes of confused owners, trying to ID their unidentified mares. She always does what it takes to get the job done.  Best of all, Debbie is a devoted friend and mentor—she’s the best! 

Dr. Cory Soltau, DVM (USA), Blackhawk Valley Arabians

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Every organization has a bright star and that honor falls to Debbie. She is pleasant, competent and committed and is an outstanding representative of AHA. I am pleased to know her.

Frank Hennessy (USA), Hennessy Arabians

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Debbie is a star! She has the most adorable smile and welcoming attitude! For me her photos epitomize her personality. Every person she photographs always looks good as she goes out of her way to check that everyone is happy and at their best. One thing is for sure Debbie could have another career as a photographer. In addition Debbie is also a consummate professional in her job where she manages to provide knowledgeable and consistent professional services both in the US and the worldwide seminars she attends with a caring and genuine attitude. I am so pleased to know her!

Jane Fraser-Brown (Wales)

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Debbie's truly genuine, bright shining personality makes me smile every time I see her. I find her professionalism, positive, yet realistic view on everything she is involved in to be refreshing and inspirational. Her presence in the Arabian horse community and support of all who love it is amazing. 

Riyan Rivero (USA)

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When  I share with others  my Arabian horse stories, I often say it was the horses that brought me here,  but it is the people who keep me here.  Debbie Fuentes, with her engaging personality and passion for the Arabian horse is someone I look forward to seeing at our Arabian horse gatherings around the world.  I know I am not alone when I say I know I can count on Debbie for her positive outlook and friendly smile. 

Darryl Larson (USA), Darryl Larson Productions

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Debbie and Phyllis LaMalfa  at the 2015 Arabian World Breeders Cup in Las Vegas For horse show images, if I want to go see pictures of horses, I go to those photographers who are known for their horse images, but if I want to see people photos I go to Debbie’s Facebook Page. She very good about making sure everyone looks their best and because of Debbie’s personality, people always seem very happy.

Cat McKenna (USA), Cat McKenna Design and Photography

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What an amazing women--traveling all the time, a full time mom at home, taking care of all of our Arabian horses and all with a cheerful greeting and smile on her face.  Debbie is a great ambassador for the Arabian horse and we are very lucky to have her--and let’s not forget all of the amazing pictures she takes at each event and then takes the time to post on Facebook. That’s a job in itself!

Phyllis LaMalfa (USA), Executive Director of the Arabian Breeders World Cup, in Las Vegas

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Every now and then, as we race through the hectic pace of our respective lives, there are extraordinary people who we meet, and instantly we recognize that our lives are changed in some manner just by the impact of this newly discovered friendship. Debbie Fuentes is one of those people who seems to repeatedly have this affect in the hearts and minds of many, not only myself. It is an honor to be considered her friend and I am truly grateful to know this elegant and remarkable woman.

Laurelle Anderson (USA), Laurelle Anderson Photography

 

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Lisa Abraham is an International Journalist and Photographer from the United States. Although she does free-lance for various media, her primary dedication is to Arabhorse.com as a Premier Contributor and Representative. She is also a breeder of Straight Egyptian Arabians.