The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) held its International Board of Directors meeting on Saturday May 26 at its Lewisburg headquarters. The meeting was attended by 30 of the 64 directors and several of the executive committee members were missing because of health-related issues.  Two members of the executive committee, Ford Gates and Margo Urad, have resigned their positions due to changes in priorities in their personal lives, according to president David Williams.
Williams informed the directors that the executive committee would not appoint replacements for Gates and Urad but would rather wait until the election in December. Chris Hazelwood has agreed to help with the Belfast horse show, which was a major priority for the Performance Horse Vice President, now vacant with Gates’ resignation.
One of the Pleasure Horse Vice President’s top priorities is the World Versatility Show, which with Urad’s absence has now been taken up by the members of the staff at TWHBEA and the committee members Urad had.
Admin/Fiscal Vice President Nancy Lynn Green gave a brief report on the financial condition of TWHBEA. TWHBEA posted a profit of approximately $35,000 in fiscal year 2017 with $350,000 in cash and $1,500,000 in assets. For the first five months of fiscal year 2018, TWHBEA has posted a loss of $60,000 as compared to last year’s loss of $44,000 in the same time period.  
It is common for TWHBEA to start the year in the red and move back to more of a breakeven point as the year goes on and the registrations and transfers pick up.
Director Jack Heffington made a recommendation that the financials be printed in The Voice magazine of which Green agreed to do moving forward. In addition, Denise Rowland asked that the financials be emailed to all of the directors instead of the need for the directors to have to request a printed copy.
Breeders’ Vice President Carrie Benedict gave the report that ultimately created a topic of conversation at the meeting and for the remainder of the weekend. Benedict made a motion for the executive committee to be given authority by the directors to explore a change to the existing TWHBEA futurity program and to put in place something more in line with a point based system or incentive type fund.
Benedict used the success of the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund as an example but also pointed to the lack of participation in the current Futurity as reasons to explore a change. In addition, with the one day Futurity held in Shelbyville in August it has deterred some in other markets, especially internationally, from nominating. Many examples were given of what used to be a major payout and well-attended Futurity now being something that hardly has any monetary value and has become just a one-day horse show.
However, Rowland took great exception to the idea and spoke to the potential point-chasing that would go on. She said TWHBEA shouldn’t reward those types of horses as models of the breed if they in fact are not the best of the breed.  
Rowland wasn’t alone in highlighting potential problems, however Benedict assured everyone that any change would be approved by the entire board and this motion simply authorized the executive committee to explore a proposal to present in December.  
Benedict answered a question by stating only one regional futurity remains, signaling the failure of the current program.
TWHBEA has previously changed the fall foaling date to Sept. 1 and Benedict reminded everyone that foals born after Sept. 1, 2018 would carry a 2019 registration. The age of the foals born in the fall has been a confusing item for members of the association.
Allison Thorson has been a great addition to the executive committee and continues to promote the youth of the breed. In her report, Thorson highlighted the highly successful Equine Education Day held earlier in the spring at the Calsonic Arena. Click here to see a video from the Equine Education Day: 

Upcoming events include summer camps, the All Youth Day at Celebration, scholarship announcements and a clothing drive that will include drop-off points at the 4th of July shows. The clothing drive allows for people that might not want to pay for a suit or attire to have access to the donations made by those in the industry.
Trainers vice president Russ Thompson addressed the need for more trainers to join TWHBEA and have their voice be heard as well as participate in the breed registry. 
Thompson also took his turn to address the Futurity and potential changes highlighted by his prior involvement showing at the Futurity but also as an executive committee member getting to hear from the membership that exists in other areas including internationally.  Thompson seemed in favor of the overhaul of the program allowing horses to gain recognition for showing at horse shows across the nation and internationally.
Keegan Meadows, Ashley Wadsworth and Bobby Beech all also gave reports highlighting the activities in their respective area.  Meadows, as Owners/Exhibitors/International vice president, handles the USLGE grant funding. TWHBEA is seeking $86,000 as part of the program in 2018.
The next meeting will be as part of the year-end awards banquet.  The weekend will be Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and include the general membership meeting and election of directors for fiscal year 2019.