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Bill Young Elected President of WHTA



By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA) held its annual general membership meeting at its headquarters on December 5, 2014, the day before their annual Horse of the Year Awards Banquet.  The major item of business was the election of new officers.

Bill Young was elected President of the association beating Benny Johnson for the top office of the association.  Young has previously served as President in 2001-2002.  Bill Cantrell was elected 1st Vice President beating Larry Latham.  Jamie Hankins ran unopposed for 2nd Vice President.  Three board positions were filled with Laurie Toone, Derek Bonner and Winky Groover.

Both candidates for president addressed the membership prior to the vote.  In his remarks Young stated that reestablishing the finances of the association was paramount.  "I will provide a copy of the bank statement to each board member at each monthly meeting.  I will account for every dollar that comes in and goes out of this association."

Young also stated that the industry is made up of owners and trainers and that the owners don't really want to spend the time running the industry so it puts the trainers in a unique position to be the leader.  "The customers trust you and believe in you. As trainers we tell our owners what blacksmith to use, what tack store to purchase from, what horse to buy, what shows to go to."  

Young also mentioned that the trainers were upset with how some of the shows in the industry are run.  "We have the power to change it.  If we all stick together we can change it."  He went on to say, "I am not advocating a strike but all you have to do to solve problems is stick together."

"I don't think many of the things being done to us have been done in a fair and equitable manner.  If negotiation doesn't work then you have to step up your game and do something about it," said Young.

To start the meeting, current President Mickey McCormick gave opening remarks and then turned the floor over to industry lobbyist Jeff Speaks.  Speaks is paid by the Performance Show Horse Association, whose major funding comes from the SHOW HIO inspections.  SHOW gives $15 of every inspection to PSHA to fund among other things the lobbying efforts of Speaks and Bill Spencer.

Speaks opened by alerting the membership that he is aware of one last push for the PAST Act to be brought to the Senate floor today.  Speaks couldn't guarantee the membership it would not be brought for a vote but told them in his opinion it would not get to the floor or pass during this session.  However Speaks alerted all those in attendance that the industry has won nothing to this point and the pressure for passage of the PAST Act will only grow stronger in the new Congress.

Speaks urged, "Please understand, the status quo is no longer an option.  The industry must come up with alternatives."  Speaks also spoke to the difficulty in lobbying Congress when not a single veterinarian association in the country supports the industry and many are vocal supporters of the PAST Act.  Speaks warned as well, "HSUS has spent a lot of time and money defining this industry and it will take a lot of time, effort and money to redefine it."

The WHTA Horse of the Year banquet will be held Saturday, December 6th at the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall.

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