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            The Florida membership held its annual business meeting and awards banquet on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2007. Among the issues on the agenda was an open dialogue concerning the TWHBEA HIO initiative and separation from the National Horse Show Commission. TWHBEA Directors representing the membership Darren Gray, Laurie Wilson and Diane McMurtrey were able to offer the membership their insights based on the information they have received in addition to what the membership has been able to read in the Voice Magazine and the Walking Horse Report.
            After much discussion and careful consideration, the membership responded in unison that it wishes to affiliate its horse shows for the 2007 show season with the National Horse Show Commission.
            While it has been reported that the intent of TWHBEA’s creation of its own HIO was to establish a uniform national high point program, the perception continues to be that it is attempting to polarize the industry by detaching itself from other organizations that have historically worked collaboratively with TWHBEA to collectively provide the resources necessary for our industry to grow and prosper. Concurrently, while we applaud TWHBEA for their efforts of proposing its own HIO, it would appear that in doing so the desired results have not been fully realized; rather, the industry appears to not only be under contained scrutiny by the USDA but also by the membership we serve and the general public.
            Meanwhile our perceived deficiencies in holding ourselves accountable with regard to the fair and humane treatment of our horses have become fodder for public interest and an unwanted embarrassment for the industry. The ongoing rhetoric posted on the Internet chat rooms and in news print only continues to suggest that we are incapable of achieving an adequate consensus of direction on how we should proceed, in unity, to respond to the concerns of the USDA and our unilateral desire to restore stability within the industry. While it is up to the board of directors and executive committee of TWHBEA to ultimately generate the direction of TWHBEA on this matter, I might suggest, on behalf of the FWHRA membership, that you consider tabling TWHBEA  HIO for 2007 and redirect resources, energy and dialogue into supporting and assisting the National Horse Show Commission with reaching the desired level of effectiveness that is expected by the USDA for the betterment of our breed.
            The efforts of TWHBEA in working on the HIO document deserve merit and recognition as a step forward in bringing to the surface for the industry the need to reevaluate our present oversight techniques and accountability measures. Furthermore, tabling TWHBEA HIO initiative should not be seen as a defeat of any kind; rather the efforts of any group or organization to participate in furthering the breed in a positive direction can only be considered a worthy effort and in this case, a reunification with the NHSC is not abandoning a plan but pursuing a different venue to achieve the same desired results. The TWHBEA HIO in its current form may contain positive concepts that could be utilized by the NHSC as it works to achieve the expectation set forth by the USDA.
            As TWHBEA prepares to embark on a new year and the appointment of a new executive director, we look forward to the leadership setting forth an immediate agenda that will encompass the generation of a five year strategic plan developed with the input of constituents representing the leadership of TWHBEA, the NHSC, WHOA, WHTA, the Celebration and general membership that will serve as a guide to set realistic and critical goals accompanied by on going benchmarks that will ensure the security of the industry into the future.
            Once again, we appreciate the efforts of TWHBEA in this matter and it is our sincere desire that reunification with the NHSC will serve as an important catalyst for a very successful 2007 show season.

Kasey C. Kesselring
President, FWRHA

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