02/02/2016 11:01AM

Jay Hickey, American Horse Council president, to retire

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Jay Hickey, the president of the American Horse Council since 1993, announced his retirement on Tuesday, effective June 30, the AHC said.

Hickey, 71, has been on the AHC staff for 27 years. While president, he directed the lobbying efforts of the organization and communicated with equine constituencies on their concerns and the prospects of equine-related legislation.

The AHC represents the Thoroughbred industry, but only as part of a coalition of equine interests. When the interests between breeds have conflicted, the AHC has adopted a neutral stance, which often leads to a delicate balancing act by the president to keep the organization from favoring one side or the other and alienating one or more constituencies.

Hickey proved adept at navigating those waters through several controversial issues that have been taken up recently on Capitol Hill, such as horse slaughter and the soring of Tennessee walking horses. At the same time, the AHC has also often lent a hand to specific breeds hoping to pass legislation that does not affect other breeds.

“In his quiet and unassuming manner, Jay Hickey closely observed every issue that could have some effect on the American Horse Council’s constituents and then provided them with astute guidance for more than two decades,” said Jerry Black, the chairman of the AHC, in a statement. “He has been a beacon of integrity, a trusted colleague, and a good friend to countless people in the horse industry.”

The AHC said it has formed a search committee to identify Hickey’s successor.

Hickey succeeded Richard Rolapp as president of the lobbying group when Rolapp died in 1993. Hickey said on Tuesday that he plans to remain in Washington, D.C., after his retirement. Hickey grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and his four grandchildren live there.

“I have no plans beyond June 30 other than the typical plans of someone who has retired,” Hickey said. “Fix up the house and play with the grandkids.”