By Jeffrey Howard

The industry has been consumed with rumors from this past week’s meeting and corresponding announcement from the Trainers’ Association Board of Directors.  It is important for the facts to be considered before rumor allows an important decision to be tarnished.

The meeting that was conducted on March 1-2 was called by Link Webb, President of the Trainers’ Association and facilitated by Frank Eichler.  The entire board of directors of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) was invited along with representatives of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC), Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA), Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), and National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) board of directors.  Along with these groups, both veterinary and legal representatives were in attendance.

Representing the WHTA board were all of its members except for Wink Groover and Dan Waddell.  This included Link Webb, Wayne Dean, David Landrum, Mickey McCormick, Ray Gilmer, Bill Cantrell, Jamie Bradshaw, Rollie Beard, Chad Williams, John Allan Callaway, Jamie Hankins and Joel Weaver.  Representing the Celebration were Dr. Doyle Meadows, John T. Bobo, David Howard and Chairman of the Board Charles McDonald.  Mike Inman from the TWHBEA executive committee was also in attendance.

Bob Medina from the NHSC board of directors was in attendance.  Unfortunately, Frank Neal, David Pruett and Mark Farrar were unable to attend the meeting.  Also, invited from WHOA, Tommy Hall and Mark Taylor were not able to attend.  Other invited parties were unable to attend because of weather and previous plans.

During the two days of meetings multiple proposals were considered to address the current turmoil and move the Walking Horse industry forward.  At the conclusion of those meetings, the WHTA board voted to recommend to the NHSC board to dissolve the NHSC and turn over its functions to the Celebration Horse Industry Organization (HIO) SHOW.  As a part of the recommendation from the WHTA board, all of the functions and affiliations of the NHSC would be assumed by SHOW.

This recommendation and corresponding acceptance would remove the WHTA and WHOA from compliance in the HIO.  This decision would eliminate both trainers and owners from oversight of the inspections and judging in the HIO.

This recommendation was contingent on the approval of the WHTA general membership and NHSC board of directors vote to support the wishes of the WHTA board of directors.  The Celebration board of directors will meet to vote on activation of their HIO and consider the wishes of the WHTA board of directors and general membership.

The meetings are being scheduled and news will be forthcoming upon the completion of these meetings.  The WHOA board of directors has scheduled a conference call for March 5, 2009 for an update from President Frank Neal.  The general membership meeting of the WHTA will be at 1:00PM on March 9, 2009.  The Celebration Board of Directors and NHSC Board of Directors will also schedule meetings.  The WHOA Board of Directors’ meeting is scheduled for March 20, 2009.

The Walking Horse Report will update the results of these meetings as they are made available.