Attempts to Overthrow TWHBEA HIO Sanctioning Plan Fail

Copyright WHR 2007

By Christy Howard Parsons

The semi-annual meeting of the International Board of Directors of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association proved to be contentious as the split between industry factions widened. Throughout the eight hour meeting, questions regarding the HIO Sanctioning Plan continued to come up from the directors and answers were tabled until later in the agenda. Eventually the subject was addressed and after some discussion Tracy Boyd made the motion to “rescind, remove, abolish, or whatever the proper term is the HIO Sanctioning Plan.”

TWHBEA General Counsel John T. Bobo was prepared for the motion as Daniel Starnes had posed questions regarding the legality of such a motion to Sid Baucom, Vice President of By Laws. Bobo concluded that the international board was not able to make such a motion as that authority had been delegated to the Executive Committee by the bylaws. After an hour of questions and legal wrangling among the group, Marty Irby challenged the Plan with a motion to pass a resolution to recommend to the Executive Committee that they abolish the HIO Sanctioning Plan.

A roll call vote was taken and the motion was defeated 36-32.

The meeting began with recognition of staff members. Paulette Ewing was recognized for 15 years of service to the Voice magazine. Sarah Gee, Joni Jenne, and Christy Stephens were each recognized for 5 years of service to TWHBEA.

Charles Wharton presented the audit for the approval of the board. CPA Greg Cook reported on the audit indicating that last fiscal year saw a loss of $92,000 including a $36,000 writedown of gift shop inventory items which were destroyed.

Jerrold Pedigo then made his opening remarks. “We are the guardians of the most versatile and talented of all the equine breeds. TWHBEA is the face of the Tennessee Walking Horse nationally and internationally… As directors we have a fiduciary responsibility to our membership. We must bear that responsibility wisely today… There is no one segment more important than the whole, or more important than the horse,” said Pedigo.

“This organization has had to make difficult decisions. The future growth of the Tennessee Walking Horse is dependent on our efforts. We must be broadminded enough to accept change and to put forth the effort to allow the change to be successful,” concluded Pedigo.

Senior Vice President Jane Meredith also shared her thoughts with the directors. “After the tumultuous season the Tennessee Walking Horse had last year and the deluge of negative national and international press, I believe we still have a tremendous reason to be optimistic. Our horse is so versatile and multitalented . . . the horse has never been to blame. The horse is why we have reason to look forward to the future.” Meredith cited the aging of the population. “ there will be 11,000 turning 50 every day. We must seize this opportunity to capture a larger portion of this aging market.”

“The Tennessee Walking Horse’s future is brighter than ever,” concluded Meredith.

New Executive Director Chuck Cadle also had introductory comments.

“When I came I passed out a 100 day plan to the Executive Committee. I just wanted to make sure our expectations were aligned . . . The main objective they gave me was to get the industry to endorse the Sanctioning Plan. They believed that once the membership was united with a common goal, that the industry could thrive,” explained Cadle.

“ One of my first challenges was with the Kentucky Horse Park. The World Equestrian Games is going to be held there in 2010. For the first time, it will be held outside Europe. This is a great time to showcase the Tennessee Walking Horse. This year, however, they would not allow our Tennessee Walking Horse to return to the Kentucky Horse Park. I called a meeting with director John Nicholson and asked him what the reason was. The reason was because they thought TWHBEA was aligned with the NHSC and the Celebration and therefore supported sore horses. I gave them a copy of Sanctioning Plan and assured them we were committed to taking responsibility for the past and they we were charting a course for the future. I told him that would be my goal as long as I was a part of the Association,” said Cadle.

“Our Plan has now been endorsed by USDA and by American Farm Bureau Federation. Ron Thomas said in correspondence to me that it would be hard for any reasonable person to disagree with it. I’m focused on my mission that was assigned to me by the Executive Committee,” said Cadle.

“I have received many emails, letters -with directly opposed views. Reasonable people can agree on goals and objectives but have honest disagreements on how to reach them. Our industry conflicts are not good versus evil. Leadership is hard. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s about making tough decisions that support your objectives,” stressed Cadle.

“I have read your oath of office. It states you will support the objectives of this organization which means in part that you support the Sanctioning Plan. I ask you to go to the Celebration and to the industry and ask them to support the plan. If the NHSC and the Celebration signed the Sanctioning Plan, it would send a statement to the world that the industry was ready to take responsibility for their past and to lead us into the future,” continued Cadle. “The alternative is to ask why the NHSC and the Celebration do not support the Sanctioning Plan. I am laser focused on our mission. I will work hard to lead the industry to do the right thing.”

Bob Ramsbottom questioned Cadle’s comments “Are you asking us as directors, if we do not support Sanctioning Plan, or if we support the NHSC or the Celebration, that we are doing something wrong?”

Cadle responded “I am asking you to support the Sanctioning Plan. I can’t judge that for you.”

Bob Ramsbottom continued “I’ve been to 12 horse shows and shown 5 horses at least 20 times. TWHBEA doesn’t have padded horse shows that I know of. If I pay the money and go to support the NHSC, you make it look like I’m doing something wrong.”

“I recognize the industry is in trouble and the world is looking at us to see what we’re going to do about this,” responded Cadle.

“You’re asking us to go the NHSC to change - to align with the Sanctioning Plan. Horse shows are great. With the USDA in attendance, the show was great. Thursday was great. Friday was great. Everyone says there’s a problem with the NHSC and showing horses. What’s the problem? We showed last night with the USDA. I have a problem saying to people at the NHSC, you guys are doing it wrong. They want us to come over to the TWHBEA and support the Sanctioning Plan. It’s a little bit of a paradox,” said Ramsbottom.

“The NHSC has a mission and they are doing the best they can to put on good shows, but the reality is that the NHSC hasn’t even signed the Operating Plan. Our Sanctioning Plan asks that all HIOs sign the Operating Plan,” said Cadle.

“The NHSC is a recognized certified USDA HIO so they are doing their job. We can all be for one rule book and an overall judges clinic or instructions but we cannot say whether one HIO is doing their job or not. That the USDA took away from us. They certify the NHSC is doing their job. If they weren’t they would take that away from them,” responded Kathy Zeis.

“I did not say the NHSC was not doing their job. I said I wanted the industry to align…” explained Cadle.

Christy Coon Lantis also expressed her opinion “We pulled out of the NHSC. We could have done this much differently. And now we expect them to fall in line with what we’re doing. I think that’s wrong.”

Marietta Gambrell defended the plan. “This is all about control and every group wants control. A lot of people think the Sanctioning Plan gives TWHBEA control. It doesn’t. It gives everyone a voice.”

Sally Fleck protested “One of the main reasons we were going to form the HIO was so we could count everyone’s points. Now we’re not counting anyone’s points. I think it’s cutting our throats.”

Walt Chism asked the TWHBEA representatives to look up the resolutions that had been passed by the board of directors relative to the Sanctioning Plan for discussion later in the meeting.

David Landrum then expressed his resentment regarding the press release by TWHBEA on Friday relative to the American Farm Bureau Federation and its reference that soring is a practice that may be increasing in occurrence.

“That is not right and I have a real problem with that. For this organization to put out this is very disappointing. The bickering needs to stop. It needs to stop here first…I have a tremendous problem with this kind of language. Come over to the horse show. You haven’t been there. “

Tracy Boyd asked “this is an announcement from TWHBEA. I want to know who wrote it and who authorized its release?”

“We didn’t say this. Lewisburg is just where it’s released from,” explained Cadle.

After a short break, Deborah Williams resumed the questions. “When Mr. Cadle was addressing us as National Directors he said that we had the legal obligation to endorse this plan. I’d like clarification …I want to understand what Mr. Cadle said correctly that we are obligated to support the Sanctioning Plan. If we do not, I want to understand what the repercussion is.”

The discussion continued as to what the legal responsibilities were to support the actions reached through the democratic process. Eventually legal counsel John T. Bobo was asked to clarify that oath.

“ The pertinent portion of the oath of office, respect and support the decisions reached, the key word is to support. There are a couple of ways to test that. If you vote against it, if you speak ill of it, it certainly could fall in violation of that oath, but now whether you could be convicted of that is like spitting on the street. Not saying if you speak ill of the plan, you’re going to get rolled as a director. You’ve got to draw on common sense examples. ..I’ve been called Mr. Gray, but you have to consider all the aspects here related to the oath of office.

“Not only do we have that to look at. But as members voted on by our state members, we have to answer the people in our state who elected us. As this thing is hemorrhaging money, we have to look at both sides of the issue,” countered Dee Dee Sale.

Robert Thomas added “This is the most ludicrous discussion we’ve ever had. I’m elected by the people in Mississippi to represent them to vote our convictions. There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion. We are not required to go along with everything that’s decided.”

Donald Longest shared his convictions “This industry needs leadership. It is time the bickering should stop. It’s time for us to unite. I think the plan is great and I think it has room for everyone… It’s time to shut up and step forward.”

Kim Bennett clarified the original motion that put the wheels in motion for the Sanctioning Plan which was made by his wife Leigh Bennett. Bennett clarified that the intent of the motion was simply that TWHBEA enter into IPEDs all horse show results from all USDA HIOs. It was not in any way to start a highpoint program.

Jane Meredith concurred, “That’s how I remember the motion as well. It was later that a highpoint program came into account.”

Eventually the meeting returned to the agenda to ratify the actions of the Executive Committee. The vote was close enough that directors had to stand to be counted for their vote. The actions of the committee were ratified with a 39-30 vote.

Committee reports followed and Charles Wharton began with Administrative/Fiscal. He clarified that after four months the financials showed a loss of $222,000 compared to a profit of $23,000 for the same period last year. He also indicated that an extraordinary income item had been recognized for a little over $100,000 regarding income which had been realized but not yet recognized due to incomplete transactions within the registry. This income reduced the amount of loss that would have been reported for the period.

Chuck Cadle and Kristi Lane have reviewed all accounts and line items in the budget and expect by year end to experience approximately a $35,000 loss, approximately a $70,000 swing from the $35,000 profit that was projected.

Tracy Boyd questioned the current loss of $222,000 and whether it indicated a trend that would result in a much larger loss by year end. Wharton responded again that he felt a $35,000 loss would be closer to the final outcome.

“I don’t believe in bullshitting myself. These will be the most conservative financials I can present. As long as I’m in this role, you take your heat up front. If I thought this was a snowballing thing, I would stand up and say so. Through our first four months, we haven’t had the transfers and registrations we thought we were going to have,” explained Wharton.

Ramsbottom compared the Voice May issue to last year. Wharton clarified that Voice magazine revenues were down $76,000 from last year. “Is there an identifiable trend here that the industry is not supporting this association, its programs and its publications?”

“There are people who advertise who are able to control their enthusiasm for us,” quipped Wharton.

Ramsbottom asked “Do we need to start initiating some changes to bring those people back?”

“We need to all be on the same page. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We are at that point in time that if we don’t start to have a meeting of minds of how to do this, it’s going to be a bigger train wreck than what we have right now,” warned Wharton.

Kathy Zeis was the next Vice President. She presented the work of the Breeders Committee, primarily relative to the DNA conversion.

Zeis explained that the biggest problem in the conversion has been the Shelterwood debacle. Jamie Hankins drove to Shelterwood to pick up the samples and found them outside in garbage bags. TWHBEA was prepared for 10% of the samples to be spoiled and thus far the rate has been closer to 20%. After Hankins picked up the samples, he drove all night to the University of Kentucky where he met Dee Dee Sale and Sharon Brandon to transfer the samples to the UK freezers. Upon their arrival, they also found there were missing samples from 2002-2004.

There have also been glitches in the flow of information to UK. But Zeis was happy to report that they had received 2000 conversions just this last week. “ We made the right decision and we definitely needed to end our contract with Shelterwood,” concluded Zeis.

Zeis also addressed the current depression in the price of horses. “Transfers are down. Registrations are down. We’ve talked about reasons but one of the things we talked about in Committee is the demand on horses. There is no bottom to prices now. We’ve always depended on the slaughter plants to put a bottom on horses. The ban on slaughter means there’s not a bottom to prices. We can tiptoe around that, but all the years I’ve been in the horse industry, if you had an unwanted animal, you could always depend on the slaughter for a bottom price. We’ve overbred them. It’s a buyer’s market. If you get an offer for $200, you sometimes have to take that and get out from under that horse. The political and industry unrest has a lot to do with that also,” explained Zeis.

Zeis is also making recommendations to cap late fees on transfers and registrations. “We want to make it breeder friendly. User friendly.”

Walt Chism questioned the Executive Committee’s authority to charge the conversion fee for the switch to DNA. After several legal opinions, Chism appealed the decision of the chairman, but ultimately the right to charge the fee was upheld.

Jamie Hankins gave a brief report from the Enforcement Committee before the break for the luncheon was announced.

The luncheon was in honor of Sharon Brandon who recently retired from the Association. Kathy Zeis led a touching tribute to Brandon who was saluted by many of the directors for her service to TWHBEA.

After the luncheon Christy Lantis made a motion to amend the agenda to move Old and New business ahead of the remaining committee reports. Such a change in the agenda required a 2/3 majority vote and the motion failed with a 30-35 vote.

Thus Pat Stout resumed committee reports with her report from the Horse Show Committee. She announced that TWHBEA had affiliated 15 shows so far this year in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, and other states.

Stout presented the motion that passed the Executive Committee earlier that day (See separate story Executive Committee Grapples With Celebration Issues.)

The motion said that by June 8, 2007, the TWHBEA staff in conjunction with Stout and her committee would find a suitable venue for the National Futurity to be held in the few days preceding the Celebration in a geographically convenient location for those members coming to the Celebration.

“People are wanting to know when we are going to have this. We would like to still have with Celebration, if this is not going to happen, we need to know that now, and not 30 days before the show is scheduled to start. People are already setting up their plans to take vacation and show at the Futurity that week. If it’s going to be at the Celebration on Wednesday, great. If it needs to be at the Ag Center on Tuesday night, that’s fine. But we can’t wait any longer. We can’t let this drag out. We’re asking questions continually and not getting an answer,” said Stout.

Stout also recommended that Tennessee Walking Horse papers be changed to indicate if a horse is futurity nominated.
“In other breeds, it is a fantastic selling point. We need to have this Futurity grow and we need to have an importance for a Futurity nominated weanling. I think we’ll get it accomplished this year and it would be a great value for our horse,” said Stout.

Stout also explained that Marty Irby had proposed that two and three-year-old park performance classes be added to the Futurity this year. Stout concluded that her committee would compile data on the division and consider adding it in 2008.

Stout also proposed a new computer software program to help show managers utilizing current technology to help with show management.

Christy Lantis questioned what the holdup on the plans for the National Futurity were.

“The holdup has been, now that we have the Sanctioning Plan and have a contract with an HIO with our Sanctioning Plan, our horse show should be run through TWHBEA with our Sanctioning Plan. The problem is that the Celebration has not said who they are going to affiliate with, so we don’t know where we stand,” explained Stout.

“Does our Sanctioning Plan exclude us from using another HIO,” asked Lantis.

“Yes,” responded Stout. “We are in contract under our Sanctioning Plan.

Marty Irby presented the marketing report. He presented the plans for the Voice magazine including new celebrity articles featuring artists like Sheryl Crow and their Tennessee Walking Horses. The plan calls for eventually putting some of these people in publications outside the industry as well.

Irby addressed the recent issue of the Voice. “It’s the smallest Voice I’ve ever seen. We’ve seen a lot of resistance from performance horse people - we have a $76000 difference in revenue from last year to this year. I can understand some of the reasoning behind people not buying advertising in the Voice. But we are trying to promote performance horses in the magazine, and if they don’t advertise, then we do not have them in there,” said Irby.

Irby also gave reports on a new membership benefit product evaluation form to be used in acquiring new sponsorships. He gave positive information on the GMC Sponsorship, the Walk This Way tour with Nicole Carswell and the Best of America by Horseback program.

Sally Fleck recommended “I always hear the TWHBEA is only for the performance horse. I think it’s because of all the padded horse advertising in the magazine. I think it would be helpful to put PAID ADVERTISING on all the ads.”

Tracy Boyd expressed his feelings about the recent newsletter which was done without input from the marketing committee. “I take exception to the expenditure of the newsletter.”

Irby clarified that there were no plans for an additional newsletter at this time.

Kristi Lane next gave Jack Haefling’s report including a description of the Celebration clinics that have been planned.

Bob Ramsbottom was hesitant in confirming the clinic he was scheduled to host. “The reason I said maybe is whether or not the breeders had withdrawn their corporate sponsorship money from the Celebration and whether we would be able to have the clinics during the Celebration or not.”

Pedigo responded, “As we discussed yesterday in the committee, no decision about changing the corporate sponsorship has been made by the association in any way. It’s budgeted and part of the budget the national board approved. That rumor is a result of a communication between Ron Thomas and Chuck Cadle that was misinterpreted. No change has been made.
David Landrum asked Chuck Cadle, “did you say in the email that TWHBEA would only be sponsoring horse shows that came under their sanctioning plan?”

“Yes. As of this moment, that was correct. I told Ron we would get together and discuss this. This relationship goes back for a number of years and we do a lot of things together,” responded Cadle.

“The email does sound like we aren’t going to sponsor the Celebration,” concluded Landrum.

Bruce Vaughn then presented the report from the Performance Show Horse Committee.

“It’s been a very interesting and trying year for the performance horse. Some of our programs have been altered by our HIO. The youth medallion program that was very successful and starting to gain steam has been placed on hold. One of the shining stars is our Academy program. We went from 6 shows to 12. Entries were down, although we are still fighting the scar rule, so some of our best horses cannot participate, but hopefully that will improve as time goes on,” reported Vaughn.

Billy Strickland raised a general question in response to Vaughn’s report.

“Everyone keeps saying it is against our HIO. My question is to the board in general. When we got the plan, we read the plan and we enacted the plan, I did not read anywhere that this body signed authority over to HIOC to make decisions for us. It is bothering me to no end. Everybody keeps saying we can’t do this because of this HIO. Or we can’t do that because of this HIO. My question one is, is that what we voted on as a body. Who are the members of the HIOC? How did they get appointed?

Pedigo reminded everyone that the Sanctioning Plan needs to come up under old business but to specifically answer his questions, Pedigo responded. “The HIOC is composed of myself, Craig Evans and Donna Benefield per the Sanctioning Plan that allows each HIO to send up to two representatives from each HIO under the plan. TWHBEA has agreed to underwrite the expenses of the plan. The plan is unchanged from what you looked at last year in May. It creates a mechanism by which everyone can be a part of the whole in making decisions,” explained Pedigo.

It was also brought up that recently two new HIOs have made application to the USDA including an organization founded by Jack Haefling in Indiana which has already received certification from the USDA. Pedigo indicated there were an additional two organizations preparing to be HIOs in other states and regions.

Strickland continued with his line of questioning.

“The original statement of the plan was to take nothing away from any organization that was willing to join this plan. But that’s not what’s coming true. The Go program, counting points from results, sponsoring organizations. I believe this is taking away from an organization. From TWHBEA. I don’t see that that’s what we voted on,” said Strickland.

Pedigo compared participation in the Sanctioning Plan to TWHBEA’s former participation in the NHSC. “We would vote on issues at TWHBEA, and there are issues that we might see as a benefit from TWHBEA’s viewpoint, and it would still be subject to NHSC’s final determination that that program we wanted to initiate was approved or not. We delegated that authority to the NHSC. We had the same responsibility then. We had the same position in that we had to be part of the final decision that came out of the NHSC.”

Craig Evans clarified the discussion relative to the show results. “I think some people lost focus in terms of whose show records they were. In the contract with the NHSC, it said that the show records belonged to TWHBEA. The NHSC contract had an exception in the non-compete clause for the versatility programs. As a result, the versatility program had already been outside the NHSC Contract.”

A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the status of a binding contract between TWHBEA and the HIO, the HIOC, the HPC, etc., etc.

Sally Fleck concluded, “I thought the reason we pulled out of the NHSC was because we wanted to count all the points, and now we still can’t count all the points.”

Kim Bennett asked if the Voice had implemented any restrictions in the magazine for advertising performance horses.

Bruce Vaughn responded “There are no written restrictions. There has been some discussion about encouraging the front page to have a more friendly type atmosphere.”

Darren Gray was up next with his Pleasure Horse Committee report. He reported on the World Versatility Show which is moving to a three-day format and returning to the Celebration grounds for its tenth anniversary on August 2-4,2007.

Gray also reported on the Host-A-Ride program whereby TWHBEA partners with local clubs to help fund organized trail rides across the country. Eleven rides have been scheduled for 2007, but there is additional money in the budget if additional rides are organized.

Gray attested to the value of trail riding programs with his own story of being introduced to the Tennessee Walking Horse via the trail. “Our horse is the best out on the trail. This is how we can get people hooked on our horse. It’s how I started in this business,” said Gray.

Wayne Dean presented the report from the Training division.

“Horse shows have been a great success. I commend horse trainers that have stepped up to put these horses in the ring. I’ve talked to a number of leaders in the industry. They are really pleased we are presenting a more positive image in our show ring. We’re going to have to keep that up.”

Dean is working on a group insurance program for trainers and breeders as well as developing a directory of trainers for the Voice magazine and the website. He is also investigating a high point program for trainers within TWHBEA and workshops for trainers..

Sid Baucom presented the by law changes that had been approved by his ByLaw committee and the Executive Committee. There were five changes that will be presented in the July Voice and will be voted upon in the fall of 2007. Those changes include:

1. To get more continuity to the Executive Committee, is to provide for a term to coincide with the term for which the director was elected. So if you are serving a 3 year term and you are elected to the Executive Committee after your first year, you would have two years on the Executive Committee.

2. To change the secretary/treasurer from elected to appointed office.

3. To change the period of time that a director may qualify for election or be removed from office for HPA violations.

4. Have President rather than directors appointing secretary of the meeting.

5. Change the right of the Executive Committee to contract an Executive Director term of more than one year to up to three years.

Baucom also made some general comments. “The Futurity. I am assured and am aware of almost continuous meetings with Pedigo and the Celebration. They are optimistic it will be worked out for the Wednesday before the Celebration and I am truly hopeful that will occur. If it isn’t, the Executive Committee set a date by which the time and date must be set. But I am confident it will occur. WE have to compromise,” said Baucom.

“My father used to tell me there is no such word as can’t. There is won’t and try. We are going to try and get this done properly.”

“This is really a serious problem. We have these groups with divergent views. Even with divergent views within the groups. No one has been willing to compromise. We are talking about the industry. We are talking about the horse. If we don’t get this solved, we are going to lose the performance horse. The economic backbone of this industry,” stressed Baucom.

Holly Reynolds gave the final committee report on the Youth. She announced the scholarship winners which include graduate school students Melissa Burnette and Daniel Starnes and undergraduate students, Rachel Galeski, Mathew McMurtry, Blair Morton, Sarah Rowland , Ashley Scott and Mary Jo Williams.

Reynolds also expanded upon the statistics that Meredith gave regarding the aging population. She further commented, “We have a lot of new attitudes to deal with in the industry. We are no longer looking at our horses as livestock. They are pets. We are going to have to address those new attitudes.”

The meeting finally reached the Old Business portion of the agenda where the HIO Sanctioning Plan was to be properly addressed.

Pedigo began the discussion by referring to the bylaws and the need for a bylaw change if TWHBEA did not wish as an association to be an HIO or to establish rules governing HIOs.

“Then we need a by law change,” Sally Fleck remarked.

Of course by law changes had to be submitted prior to April 1 to be voted upon this year.

“I don’t see where in that it says we are precluded from doing business with other HIOs. For example, the Celebration that might be affiliated with the NHSC,” remarked Christy Lantis.

Billy Strickland added, “It has occurred to me. I was in the NHSC when some of these battles ensued. I was in NHSC when we argued the versatility exception. ..Now we are in the HIOC and we can’t get these three people, two of whom are appointed by TWHBEA to make an exception for some of these programs?”

Evans clarified that there are now four members of the HIOC including Jack Haefling from the newly formed HIO in Indiana.

Marty Irby expressed his frustration, “We had a heated election in December… I ran that I was against the HIO and the Sanctioning Plan. I want to tell you how I feel. So many of you have told me that you didn’t know what you had voted for. To put the horse first, we have to keep this business running. If a business can’t sell it’s product , then you get rid of the product. That’s the way I feel about this plan. I feel like the EC has no power to do anything.”

“I think we should vote to pull out of the HIOC,” said Sally Fleck.

“I think we lost $100,000 last year and this year we’ve got another loss of $200-300,000. We’ve seen the Voice reduced to a pamphlet. I think it’s time to take a look and see can we really afford to participate as we are, and take the beating on our financial statement. There are a lot of indications that something is wrong,” worried Bob Ramsbottom.

Kathy Zeis added, “I voted for the Sanctioning Plan. There was nothing on paper. I thought we were going to bring unity and include all the members and all the horses. In December there was only an outline. Nothing was ever mentioned about excluding members from programs. I voted to come out of the NHSC because it excluded members from some of the programs. Now I am totally against this. I think we are now excluding many more members.”

Donald Longest was offended that members of the Executive Committee were speaking out against the plan. “When this Executive Committee votes on something and they decide something, I think you are obligated to support that. I don’t think members of the Executive Committee should be opposing actions of that Committee.

Bill Strickland continued “My opposition is not to the plan or to bringing people under this. My opposition has always been that you go from thousands of people, down to 100, down to 11 (EC), and then we went to the NHSC and argued about 9 people in control. Now we have 3 people in control, four people in control. I believe in the Exec Board process, but you cannot convince me that I voted to instill the power through the plan to that small a group of people.”

Jerrold Pedigo responded “there are various reasons for people to participate in the decision making process. We wanted to share that power. TWHBEA only has a 1/3 vote in this plan.”
Craig Evans continued “Any HIO that signs up has seats. The only thing that stops any HIO from having a voice is sending a letter in to say they are a part of the process.”

Chuck Cadle added, “David Landrum and I have talked more today than since I‘ve been onboard. We’ll continue to talk and maybe we’ll find that compromise that Sid talks about. We can’t talk around it. I’m your representative. I’ll listen. I’ll analyze and I’ll take this to the people who will make these changes.”
“ If you don’t back me,” Cadle continued, “ If you don’t want me to do my job, then maybe you don’t need me onboard. Maybe this wasn’t a commitment of this association. The first time we talked, we talked about being cause-driven. If we’re cause-driven, let’s stay the course. Things aren’t perfect. But let’s get the people to the table. This is not a plan that takes over anybody’s HIO. It’s a voluntary, self-policing plan.”

Craig Evans then gave a run down of all of the motions taken since December 4, 1999 relative to the HIO Sanctioning Plan.

Tracy Boyd interjected “I want to quit talking around this issue. The HIO Sanctioning Plan has successfully killed the Youth Medallion, the GO program, and our results programs. And it will kill the National Futurity if it affiliates with the HIOC.”

Boyd made a motion to rescind the HIO Sanctioning Plan. His motion was met by a legal opinion by John T. Bobo. Apparently Daniel Starnes had contacted Sid Baucom regarding the legality of a motion before the National Board regarding the Sanctioning Plan. Baucom had involved John T. Bobo in an effort to address Starnes questions.

When Pedigo announced he would not recognize the motion Bob Ramsbottom responded, “that’s a surprise.”

Pedigo responded, “There’s been a lot of madness over these issues. We need to have respect for each other and the opinions they have. We’re not going to agree. But there’s no reason for this bitterness. Let’s agree to disagree. I’m not going to recognize the motion based on general legal counsel.”

The basis of Bobo’s opinion was that the National Board could not overturn the actions of the Executive Committee. The Board had delegated the power for these type decisions to the Executive Committee by way of the bylaws.

Again there was a great deal of discussion regarding contracts with third parties and the terms of TWHBEA’s contractual agreement with the HIO and HIOC. After much legal wrangling, Marty Irby was able to structure a motion that Bobo did think was permissible.

Irby said “I want to know what this board wants. I would like the national board to pass a resolution to make a recommendation to the Executive Committee to rescind the Sanctioning Plan. John Fikes seconded the motion.

Dan Holmes gave his opinion as a part of the discussion. “I’ll tell you why I voted for the Sanctioning Plan as a new member of TWHBEA but a long-time lover of Tennessee walking horses. The involvement of the USDA became increasingly apparent. The culmination of that happened the first week in August at the Belfast-Wartrace weekend. That’s where the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Whether you like it or not, the governmentt lost faith in the NHSC and the DQP process as we knew it all these years. It was my hope that at the time the Sanctioning Plan was presented that it would have been equal representation from TWHBEA, the national registry of the Tennesee Walking Horse, the Trainers Association, and WHOA. With all three pulling the same direction we could have gotten where we needed to get. We all three pulled in different directions. Whatever happened - a lack of communication, wrong timing, personalities, or differences of opinion the plan did not work,“ Holmes said.

“I have to give the trainers a great big hand of applause since that time because I have seen them bring in clean horses presenting a good image. I’m proud of what we’re seeing today. But it’s not enough if the USDA doesn’t endorse it. The only plan that the USDA has endorsed and stood behind is the Sanctioning Plan. Isn‘t that right,” continued Holmes.

Chuck Cadle clarified, “Two days ago Chester Gipson read me a letter endorsing TWHBEA’s plan, but they also have an OP with other HIOs.”

“They endorsed that plan as it was written and if we could administer it like it says, they would go away. That hasn’t happened, but I think the involvement of all three, if we all get on the same plane, I don’t care if it’s the Sanctioning Plan or a new one. We need to get over the missed timing, the control issues, whatever it is. My only intent is to further this breed. Without the performance horse show and the performance horse, we can’t survive. It’s a smaller portion of the membership but it’s the highest percentage of the dollars. It’s not whether our points are counting today or the troubles we’re going through at the futurity. Keep in mind what your vote is going to do for the Tennessee Walking Horse itself for the next ten years,” concluded Holmes.

Charles Wharton asked Irby to consider an amendment to his motion to allow input from the entire board of directors by a certified letter. Irby declined to accept the amendment.

“We’ve sat here long enough. We want to know today,” argued Tracy Boyd.

Jack Doss responded angrily. “Do you know the problem with us? We are selfish. We are full of pride. And everybody wants their own little game. Anybody that tells me that he is interested in the horse in here, is lying bigger than hell. I don’t know how many thousands of dollars have been spent in the last six months, but we’re further apart today than we were at the end of the Celebration. We don’t have any credibility. We have credibility in our own little group. But out here on the highway, we don’t have any credibility.”

After the question was called, the vote was taken by roll call. The motion failed with a 36 to 32 vote against the motion.

Bob Ramsbottom tried to followup with a motion to remove the funding for the Sanctioning Plan. Bobo responded that the motion would be out of order due to that power being delegated to the Executive Committee.

Walt Chism returned the discussion to his questions regarding show records. “Is it the position of this committee that to keep show results from other HIOs would be in violation of the Sanctioning Plan?”

“Yes, I believe it would be,”said Pedigo “I would suggest that the Executive Committee get counsel as regards to that and find out what we can and can’t do. I think we hear this board loud and clear.”

Sally Fleck pointed out, “I don’t really want the plan abolished, but I think we have to do something to get the plan to allow us to use our programs. That’s what I would ask you to do.”

Billy Strickland brought up the issue of the sponsorship of the Celebration. “am I to understand, that if we sponsor the Celebration that we would be in violation of our agreement to the HIOC?”

Pedigo responded, “I can’t say that today for sure. I think it would violate the spirit of the agreement. I think we are obligated to support sanctioned events. If the Celebration chooses an HIO not affiliated with this organization, I think we will have to evaluate and review that.”

Dee Dee Sale added, “We have Celebration clinics planned, it’s an olive branch. Your sponsorship of $25,000 should be a no brainer.”

Moving onto new business, Barney Denney proposed two motions that passed unanimously that TWHBEA put out positive press releases on the Tennessee Walking Horse and that they work to expand into other markets and other countries.

With this the meeting adjourned.