by Jennifer Condren


LAKE OZARK, Mo. - The Heart of America Walking Horse Association held its annual high point awards banquet on Feb. 16, 2008, at the Country Club and Spa Resort, overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. Rain and brisk temperatures didn’t impede the anticipation or fellowship that comes with the annual event. Many had stories to tell of the recent ice storms and power outages while they enjoyed the amenities of the hotel after spending several days in the dark while others had ice and snow to face on the Sunday drive home.

A Board of Directors meeting was held on Saturday morning with a general membership meeting following in the afternoon with the main agenda being the election of new officers for 2008. President Ted Nichols began the meeting with discussion of the previous year’s shows and began the planning phases for the 2008 season. The new slate of officers elected was the same group that presided in 2007. Ted Nichols will serve as president for a fourth year.  Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid will also repeat his duties as vice-president. Mae Maack will serve as the secretary-treasure for the 2008 business year. Jim Huffman, Jennifer Condren, Glenda Nichols, Eldon Jenkins and Rick Morrison were voted onto the Board of Directors to replace off-going members.

Following the general membership meeting, the HAWHA Futurity held a meeting for any interested member to attend, with the main focus also being the election of officers. Patty Ayers will serve as president, replacing Eldonna Wieberg since she chose not to seek re-election. Laura Conway will continue with the position as secretary-treasurer for 2008. Brad Huffman, Karen Skopec and Anne Hardin were elected into the vacant seats on the Futurity Board. Budgeting, fundraising and promotional materials were major discussions of the Futurity meeting.

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. The Huffmans 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 which sparkled with nearly 75 pieces of crystal and silver 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 a saddle, pictures and advertisement certificates for a silent auction. This kept the shopping enthusiasts busy throughout the banquet while they checked on their bids. This was definitely a successful venture for the Futurity.

Susie Graham presented Floyd Hampsmire with a plaque and words of appreciation for the job he has done spear-heading the DQP program as well as licensing and enforcement. “No one is certain as to how long Floyd has done this job or how many cars he has worn out working for Heart of America,” said Graham. Hampsmire’s wife, Helen, was also recognized and thanked for her support over the years. Hampsmire was very touched by this recognition. Graham also paid tribute to Jimmy Gonz, a HAWHA DQP who was recently lost in the prime of his life. Gonz made a difficult and sometimes tense job bearable and his joking and fun-loving style will be missed by all who knew him. HAWHA made a donation to the Jimmy Gonz Memorial Scholarship Fund as well.

Kim Nichols accepted a thankless job to tabulate the points accumulated during the year for all classes, horses and owners. This is no small job. High point awards were given out in 72 divisions as well as ribbons for second through fifth place. While President Nichols read the placings, Vice-President Dr. Glenn DeGraffenreid had his work cut out for him with the first place presentations.

Dennis Hills announced the HAWHA Futurity High Point awards for each division. Sire of the Year honors went to Harold and Sherry Roberts for City General. Jerry Manes and Margaret and Wade Hickman of Stoutland, Mo., had a very busy summer and their efforts were rewarded with 25 high point awards for horses under their training. Jim Huffman Stables of Ozark, Mo., earned 18 divisional awards. Horses shown under the direction of Ted and Glenda Nichols were also awarded their deserving share of the crystal and blue presentations with a total of eight. 

The Overall High Point Champions were awarded at the conclusion of the banquet. Armed And Proud received this distinguished title for the performance division for the Bill Maack family. Armed And Proud earned the most points in the Amateur Show Pleasure Specialty division with Jennifer Condren in the saddle, trained by Jim Huffman Stables. Winning Design received the award in the park pleasure division for the Manes Stables for the third year in a row. Magic Bomb H was honored with this award for the lite-shod division for David and Jane Turner, also for the third year in a row under the direction of Jerry Manes and Margaret and Wade Hickman.

As the good times of 2007 were recapped with the year-end awards, trainers, owners and exhibitors had the rest of the evening to enjoy the dance. 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.