by Jeffrey Howard

 The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association March meeting again focused on their stressed financial condition. As for the good, TWHBEA was able to deposit $100,000 back in the reserve account and instead of the budgeted $125,000 loss year to date, there is a $28,000 profit (see separate chart of Comparative Statement of Activity).
 The bad, the association is in need of six months operating expenses in that reserve which amounts to nearly $900,000. Donations: the Executive Committee needs them and is making a plea to state associations and their national board of directors for help.
 The early stages of the meeting were highlighted by the announcement that the Georgia Association had met the challenge lay forth by the Florida Association and pledged $2,500. Also in the meeting, Jamie Hankins said the Kentucky Walking Horse Association was going to donate $1,500. 
 TWHBEA announced two other very positive financial moves, the first the receipt of the $27,000 USLGE grant for international marketing and that the last week of the amnesty program produced revenue of $150,000. However TWHBEA did issue a word of caution for the $150,000 difference in the bottom line budgeted versus actual net gain. Some expenses have not been realized including some post-employment benefits and other marketing expenses so in reality the amount of the $150,000 change is closer to $50,000.
 David Pruett spoke about the staff of TWHBEA in his remarks. “I would like to compliment our staff on the job they are doing. We have cut down to a skeleton crew and all of them are having to do three times the work.”
 Pruett did ask his executive committee “to be more accessible and make yourself available to the membership.” He made them aware that all of their email addresses are now available on the TWHBEA web site and in the Voice magazine.
 In the Executive Director’s address to the committee it was pointed out that they had received approximately $15,000 in donations and would begin to make the list of those that have donated available to the public. It was also pointed out that they are trying to handle the call volume with the reduced staff and “are doing the best they can.” TWHBEA also pointed out their concern with the continued stagnant membership numbers. The membership was 15,200 last year at this time and has lost approximately 100 memberships through February 2008.
 Also, an area of concern for TWHBEA was the fact that futurity nominations are down 19 percent from previous years nominations. On the positive side, they mentioned the $27,000 USLGE grant and pointed out that TWHBEA has been pre-approved for this same grant in 2008 and it could exceed the previous amount.
 With regards to the amnesty program, TWHBEA pointed out that first time foal registrations for three months of 2008 are up from 2,589 in 2007 to 3,163. “Amnesty has been a huge success because breedings are down and first time foal registrations are up,” said Inman. TWHBEA also pointed out there is still no money for programs, which are needed and that they are in need of extra staff.
 Mike Inman led off the committee reports and set the tone for the day. Inman pled, “We are here by the actions of a few but we will only survive by the contributions of all.” Inman also pointed out that they have replaced over $400,000 in salaries from the previous regime with $65,000 in the current budget.
“We have squeezed this every way we can,” said Inman. Inman asked his fellow committee members to seek help from your states, your members and your national board members. “If we can get each and every member to give $50, that would be $750,000 to the reserve account,” Inman said. He continued, “If we can’t get help by the May meeting we will be forced to either get a line of credit against the building or sell the building. We are at that point.”
 After this plea by Inman the committee jumped in with many suggestions. Bob Ramsbottom said, “Let’s divvy up the list of National Directors and call on them for support and then ask them to extend within their states for support.” Pruett added this played right into his earlier plea to be “more accessible” and Inman added “and accountable.”
 Lantis stated, “We are for the entire breed, we are all in this together and now is the time.” Joyce Moyer included, “Where does the value of my horse go to without the registration.” At this point, Inman pointed out, “We have proportionately allocated funds to the membership interests, but now we need donations to come proportionately from those interests.”
 Bill Stricklend talked about the futurity in his horse show report. With regards to the proposed new futurity fee structure, Stricklend has had the meeting with the regional futurities and there was no resistance. He pointed out to the regional futurities that the only change in 2008 is that weanlings have to be nominated or they won’t be allowed to participate.
He also pointed out that Alabama is shutting down its futurity and he said the national futurity “needs to tread water until 2009.” He added, “We need to limit the number of regionals that can participate in the national futurity because only so many dollars are coming in (under the new 2009 format).” As to those that would want to join later, “They would have to join with another state in that case,” said Stricklend.
 His committee also is looking into expanding the National Futurity into a multi-day show. In May they will address deadlines for nomination, deadlines for shows to be held and the interest in a “pointed-in” show which would promote more shows. He also pointed out that the National Futurity may have to be held after the Celebration in future years (because of Regional Futurity dates) but that the futurity would continue to have a show at the Celebration. The committee will also institute the graduate program and identify each nominee with a seal on the official pedigree that states their futurity nomination.
 With regards to the 2008 Futurity, Stricklend brought up the issue of blood testing and its corresponding cost. “We have a problem with a horse that tested positive in 2007 yet nothing was done by show management to the entry,” said Stricklend. “With the added costs of blood testing, should we charge an additional $5 fee to the entry to cover this?” Stricklend asked the committee.
This motion was made by Stricklend but failed to pass, the first such motion to fail before the new executive committee. Lantis pointed out, “Is this not the responsibility of the HIO (to drug test)?” Stricklend answered that this is something show management has done in the past and they can always strengthen an HIO rule. Lantis then made the following motion, “At the 2008 National Futurity, show management may randomly drug test entries.” This motion passed unanimously.
 Darren Gray gave his owners’ and exhibitors’ report which started with the announcement that a fourth day has been added to the Celebration clinics and that Nicole Carswell will be the project manager. Gray also stated that his committee is pushing to get these clinics broadcast on the TWHBEA web site for others to see and learn from.
 Connie Hess gave the performance horse report and mentioned her visit to the Virginia Association banquet where she addressed the attendees and gave a report on TWHBEA which she mentioned “was very well-received.” Also, her committee helped with the Academy Championship which was held Saturday, March 22 during the Trainers’ Show.
 Diana McMurtey gave the pleasure horse report and told the committee that the Pleasure Walking Horse Association of Tennessee (PWHAT) had asked to have a show on the Sunday following the World Versatility Show in August. “This would form some sort of triple crown from the International (Pleasure), World Versatility Show and PWHAT show,” said McMurtrey. “Also they (PWHAT) have agreed to a $500 sponsorship in exchange for this opportunity,” concluded McMurtrey.
She also pointed out that the NWHA Nationals in October provided a great opportunity to partner TWHBEA with NWHA and have an “event” at the Nationals. This event would not be a show and would not cause any affiliation issues with TWHBEA. Ramsbottom jumped in here and added “They had over 3,000 entries last year and we need to establish some ground with them.”
 McMurtrey concluded her report by stating her committee was considering asking new Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows to judge the World Versatility Show.
 Jamie Hankins gave his trainers’ report with an update on the WHTA reception for Dr. Meadows during the Trainers’ Show. “Dr. Meadows said he had been involved for 40 years with the walking horse and right now is the most unity and positive thinking he has seen,” said Hankins. He also asked the Executive Committee to get together with the WHTA Board of Directors and come up with a plan to help in fundraising efforts for TWHBEA.
 Christy Lantis’s youth report was supplemented by a visit from Blake Everett, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Youth Association. Everett gave an overview of the visit of the TWHYA officers to the American Youth Horse Council. You can view his complete report at the following link at the TWHBEA web site -
 Lantis also organized a membership booth to be on display at the Trainers’ Show and had the TWHYA board handing out gifts to all youth winners at the Trainers’ Show.
 The marketing report was given by Joyce Moyer, but Moyer had guest Nicole Carswell there to give an update on the Walk This Way Tour and other initiatives by Carswell. Carswell told the committee that more needed to be done to connect to the trail riding segment and that they needed to be creative in how they went about getting to this market since funds were not readily available.
 Also at the forefront of her report and Moyer’s later address were the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games to be held in Kentucky. The budget to participate in the 2010 Games is $60,000 which poses some problems for TWHBEA yet the Executive Committee felt strongly that they need to be a part of the games. “NWHA already has a location at the Kentucky Horse Park, which is looked favorably on, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get in the games,” said Carswell.
Later in the meeting the motion was made and approved to have Bob Ramsbottom head a sub-committee on how to fund and organize sponsorship of the 2010 Games and to send the $7,500 deposit, signifying TWHBEA’s intent to participate.
 In new business, Ramsbottom asked and received from the committee for TWHBEA to become an alliance partner with the American Association of Equine Practioners. “We need to have a good relationship with this respected group of veterinarians,” said Ramsbottom.
 Also, the committee agreed to look into partnering with Walking Horse Report to update the show records of individual horses in iPEDS. The committee hopes that a more accurate iPEDS system will increase membership in the iPEDS database, which is currently only seven percent of the membership.
 Sharon Brandon did alert the committee to the resignation of Sylvia Crouter of Wyoming. Her term was to expire in 2008 so until the election this seat will remain vacant.
 At this point the media and guests were dismissed as an Executive Session was called to finish items on the agenda.

The following persons have donated to TWHBEA in an effort to restore the financial stability of the official breed registry.

Amie Marks
Ben Moss
Bill Bailey
Bill Birdwell
Bryant & Mary Jo Dicus-Boydstun
Bud Thomas
C&E Miller Farms, LLC
Cathy L. Hayes
David & Julie Thompson
David Pruett
Diana McMurtrey
Dr. David Ranson
Earnest & Mary Burke
Elsie M Darrah
Florida Walking & Racking Horse Association
Georgia Walking Horse Exhibitors Association
Gilbert & Mary McCarley
Harv & Brenda Carlon
Herbert & Jill Derickson
Jack Greene
James & Betty Corlew
Jean Herzel
Jeanne Harrison
Jeffrey & Mindee Howard
Jerry James
Jerry W. Harris
JoAnne Dempsey
Joe H. Dietz
Knox Blackburn
Kris & Kay York
Larry Heiden
Larry Kyte
Larry McLaughlin
Lynn Dorris
Mack Dekle
Mary Mack Hall
Mike & Karen Inman
Mike McBrayer
Nancy Kirkpatrick
Patty Marek
Pee Dee Horseman’s Association
Randall Johnson
Renee Carlton
Robert & Wayne Westbrook
Robert Garber
Robin McDonald
Robin S Cooke
Ron Carney
Ronald & Terri Mosley
Rosa Lee Manning
Sherry Dietz Wart
Sheryl Smith Crawford
Sonny Holt
Timothy Owen
Virginia Stewart
Wendell & Kristi Kirkpatrick
William R. Hill