by Linda Scrivner


           Jack Haefling welcomed everyone to the Owners and Exhibitors Committee Meeting on Friday, Nov. 30, 2008. Haefling exclaimed, “It’s been an exciting year. We cut back on our conference calls and committee meetings due to the financial crunch. We just signed an agreement with the national park service and we have a news release on this really exciting program.” (See TWHBEA press release at

            Haefling said that this concept originally came from this meeting and that many, many other things would come about from this partnership – trail maintenance, ethics, relations with other agencies and the most visible item will be working with Back Country Trail Riding Associations.

            After a pilot program of two to three years, other associations will join with us. We can expand and get broader visibility. Sally Fleck asked if it will cost us anything and Haefling said that the budgets are there for these programs. He said that grant money for trails come from the highway system. Haefling said that the owners and exhibitors need to be involved with older issues also. We need to work on the Horse Protection Bill to continue equine trails. This has not passed yet.

            The committee discussed that the Voice should have an issue section as well as the website to keep members involved and knowing what is taking place. The members need to know what is taking place. The government issues are really big. One bill before Congress deals with capital gain on race and show horses. This will be in the power point presentation tomorrow. Another important issue is disease issues. Many are regionalized issues. The Coggins tests may not be needed in some areas. Haefling said that one thing that he would like to do today is to develop strategic plans for this committee.

            The group then brainstormed ideas. One person said that we need to work on public image. We hear about the negative. We need to put out a positive image. The Celebration Clinics were a great idea.

Martha Branson felt that we need greater rapport with the trainers and

work together with them. Jane Meredith said we need owners’ education. There’s a lot of overlap and we need to work with other groups to accomplish this. Another spoke that marketing the horse makes it grow. We need expertise, and ideas to help us market them.

            Jane Hardy said we need a list of ways we can promote our horses from the association and what is available, such as the performance horse pamphlet. Sally Fleck said we also need standards available telling people what to look for in a horse. Haefling suggested a first time owners’ manual or a list of how to market our horses. He said we also needed a film library that could be put on our website for educating people. Martha Branson said we needed a promotor like Joe Webb and that we were losing a lot of our heritage. She and Jane Meredith said that we needed a history of some of the characters in the industry and their stories.

            Larry Arvin said that he heard that people were turning out unwanted horses on public lands. He suggested that instead they be donated to the park services for these programs. Other things mentions by others were exhibiting at the Smithsonian Institute, needing lots of touchy feely things to promote our horses, people need to be proud of their registered horses.

            Sally Fleck said that we need to simplify the registration process. She said, “Blood typing is a mess, we need to figure out how to get them registered more simply so that registrations would go up. One person stated that the Voice had been a picture book too long. Another felt that more people would be willing to work if you would get more information to them. Many felt that the committee were too fragments and should have one big agenda and that all the committees work for that agenda. They felt that they needed to get show and trail pleasure people together with lots of crossover participation. Another said a lot of it comes down to resources and  communication. The budget is tight and they needed ideas that didn’t cost much. Jane Hardy suggested a message board on which they discussed topics, not gossip. She stated that this committee needs to be about education. Keith Dane suggested that horses for sale be listed on internet, perhaps TWHBEA should have a sales website with low prices or even free. More sales, more transfers and memberships.

            One member said we need to clean up the bad image. Another member said that we need to get away from talking about it. Talk about positive things. Don’t talk about the bad things. Present a positive image.

Haefling said he said the committees were too diverse with each having their own agenda. We need to work for the same thing and have committees such as a Government Relations Issue Committee and committees that have goals for the common good.

Heafling concluded with the statement that we need a strategic plan for our organization saying where we will be in 5-10 years just as they do in industry. We need one master strategic plan to be set down. Jane Meredith agreed and said that we need to work much better with state organizations. She felt that we have failed miserable with this in the past.