Copyright 2006

By Linda Scrivner

Members of the Facilitation Group held the second of two planned open forums Nov. 14, at the Riverbend Country Club. Larry Studdard, along with Linda Garrard, Don Beatty and Gordon Timmons,  also hosted this session. There were approximately 40 industry owners present for the forum.

 During his introduction, Larry Studdard stated that they were not aligned with any organization but they intended to meet, understand and communicate the positions of all the organizations. “Our industry is at a serious crossroad and we as passionate owners must get involved,” Studdard commented.

 Studdard stated that the group had spoken to the USDA and explained what they were trying to accomplish and that the USDA had been invited to join. “Chester Gipson applauded the effort and our intent is to invite the USDA and critique the plan we develop,”  said Studdard.

Larry Lowman explained the process and the reasoning concerning TWHBEA’s withdrawal from NHSC. He stated that it was not the HIO program or rulebook that had began the process, but the desire and a motion for a high point program.

Studdard thanked Lowman for clarifying this and said, “High point programs are a wonderful way to create interest in the  breed.”

The TWHBEA Sanctioning Plan was discussed with Lowman stating that no one had presented suggested changes for the plan.  Gorden Timmons declared, “Everyone agrees that we need one rulebook and one HIO. The major stumbling block is the 30%  that could block  changes. (70% was the number needed to make changes, according to the plan, which many thought was way too much.)

Studdard stated that everyone needed to read the plan and go to TWHBEA and ask explanations for what is not understood. The 30% is an issue. Review the plan and tell them what you don’t like. “Remove this obstacle which is part of the issues. Since the 70% majority is  in the plan, it’s not who gets control but who can block the vote. We overturn presidential vet with less than that,” remarked Studdard.

John Thomes expressed his opinion, “Mediation usually ends by meeting in the middle and the middle may not solve our problems. When one group gains more power, there are problems.”

Studdard encouraged everyone to join the organizations, “We need a strong trainers, breeders and WHOA group or there will be inequities. The reasons the owners come together are to prevent future problems that we as owners have allowed to happen. We need to make WHOA the organization it should be. It’s our fault, not WHOA’s .Use the 
systems that are in place. We don’t need any more organizations,” he concluded.

The group also discussed the fact that the government doesn’t sign the Operating Plan and the pros and cons of having one was discussed. Some felt that they should strip back to the Horse Protection Act and others gave reasons that they should not. Studdard continued, “ The USDA sees us as divided and weak. One voice will give us more power. The government plays one group against the other. Until we unify the  USDA calls the shots. 92% sound horses is not the law, 100% is.”

Public opinion was discussed and ways to improve it were also discussed. Studdard said that his ultimate goal was communication between the groups and to try to bridge the differences. The time frame was discussed that would be needed to solve the problems. “Owners have a large investment. If we don’t resolve the problems 
now, the industry goes away,” commented Studdard.

Timmons stated, “People are starting to agree and that is a plus.” The various study programs concerning walking horse pads and chains were discussed also.

The group expressed that they felt entire boards from the various organizations should be attending these meetings. The immediate problem identified was how we can operate under the government in 2007.

Pam Ingraham said, “One unified voice is most important.”

Studdard summarized the issues on the board. The issues read: 1. TWHBEA Sanctiong Plan, a. HIO, b. Rule book and c. Accountable judging, 2. Judging, 3. Inspection Process, 4. Joint Owner/Trainer Inspection, 5. Sound Horse, 6. Motion Study and 7. Unity.

Studdard summarized that the earlier session had also concluded that unity was most important and showed the group the plan the earlier group had come up with. Studdard passed out surveys, thanked everyone 
for their opinions and concluded the three hour meeting.