by Jennifer Maack-Condren

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. - Hollywood had its Academy Awards over the weekend as did the Heart of America Walking Horse Association with its annual high point awards banquet. The festivities and meetings were held on Feb. 21, 2009, at the Inn of the Grand Glaize overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Early morning snow and brisk temperatures did not impede the anticipation or fellowship that comes with the annual event.

A Board of Directors meeting was held on Saturday morning with a general membership meeting following during the afternoon with the main agenda being the election of new officers for 2009. President Ted Nichols began the meeting with discussion of the previous year’s shows and began the planning phases for the 2009 season. The new slate of officers elected was the same officers that presided in 2007 and 2008. Ted Nichols will serve as president for a fifth year. Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid will also repeat his duties as vice-president. Mae Maack will serve as the secretary-treasurer for the next business year. Coby Coffman, Floyd Posenke, Andrea Patterson, Harold Roberts and Tony McKnight were voted onto the Board of Directors to replace off-going members.

The main focus of the meeting was moving locations of the HAWHA Spring Show to a new location and consolidating to a two-day show. A committee was formed to discuss options and begin the planning of the show.

Following the general membership meeting, the HAWHA Futurity held a meeting for any interested members to attend with the main focus being the election of officers. Patty Ayers will repeat her duties as president. Laura Conway will continue with the job of secretary/treasurer for 2009. The major area of discussion for this meeting was returning the Futurity to a one-show affiliation as opposed to the current three show affiliation for the 2009 show season and will be revisited at the HAWHA fall show. The main reasons discussed for this change was the decline in futurity entries over the past few years and the current economy.

With the necessary meetings adjourned, it was then banquet time. Jim Huffman Stables hosted, in what has become a pre-banquet tradition, a hospitality room open to anyone wanting to socialize prior to the dinner. Jim and Donna Huffman go to a lot of work to put this together and it is always well attended.

 Mae Maack and her volunteers did an excellent job in setting up the banquet room as it sparkled with nearly 85 pieces of crystal including trays, vases, bowls and service pieces to be presented to the high-point winners. President Ted Nichols welcomed new members and attendees to the banquet. Show dates and the HAWHA Spring Classic were discussed. The HAWHA Futurity had gathered numerous horse-related items such as saddles, pictures and advertisement certificates for a silent auction. This kept the shopping enthusiasts busy throughout the banquet checking on their bids. This was definitely a successful venture for the Futurity.

Mae Maack was given a token of appreciation for her countless hours of dedication as the association secretary-treasurer from President Nichols. Kim Nichols has no small job, as she tabulates the points accumulated during the year for all classes, horses and owners. High point awards were given out in 72 divisions as well as ribbons for second through fifth place. President Nichols and Vice President Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid took turns reading the placings and presenting the awards. A good job was done by Hayley Miller and Shelby Hill who assisted with passing out the ribbons to the members throughout the presentations.

Patty Ayers announced the HAWHA Futurity High Point awards for each division. Sire of the Year honors went to Steve and Karen Skopec for Shadow Of Skywatch. Jerry Manes and Margaret and Wade Hickman of Stoutland, Mo., had a very busy summer and their efforts were rewarded with 19 high point awards for horses under their training. Jim Huffman Stables of Ozark, Mo., under the direction of Jim Huffman earned 18 divisional awards. Horses shown under the direction of Brad Huffman were also awarded their deserving share of the crystal and blue presentations with a total of 13.

The “Best Picture” equivalents, Overall High Point Champions were awarded at the conclusion of the banquet. My Cash At Midnight received this distinguished title for the performance division for Jim and Donna Huffman. My Cash At Midnight earned the most points in the Four-Year-Old Amateur division with Donna Huffman in the saddle and trained by Jim Huffman Stables. Winning Design received the high point award in the park pleasure division for the Manes Stables for the fourth year in a row. Jim and Donna Huffman returned to accept the Lite-Shod High Point award for Generating Cash, also owed by Donna Huffman and trained by Jim Huffman.

As the good times of 2008 were recapped with the year-end awards, trainers, owners and exhibitors had the rest of the evening to enjoy the music and dance floor. Dave Barton and the Hard Livin’ Band entertained the crowd with their mix of country, pop and rock songs. Dave Barton has had walking horses for several years but who knew he had this kind of talent.