By Jeffrey Howard

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2009 Annual General Membership meeting of the Kentucky Walking Horse Association (KWHA) was highly anticipated and well-attended.  The Embassy Suites in Lexington hosted a standing room only crowd as the election was on the minds of most members as the meeting approached.

Industry chat rooms had been a popular place for members to express their opinions and beliefs and it only further heightened the scrutiny of the election.  A nominating committee of Don Campbell , John Jackson, Jamie Hankins, Kenny Smith and Dan Grigson worked hard to formulate procedures that would ensure a fair election. 

Before the general membership meeting, the KWHA Board of Directors met and approved the election procedures (click here to see story from Board of Directors meeting).  The goal was to speed up the election process without compromising any integrity.  After all was said and done, mission accomplished by the KWHA.

The membership was tasked with electing 11 members to serve two-year terms and one to serve a one-year term.  The one-year term was to finish the term of April McQuerry, who was removed from the board late in the 2008 year. 

After all the votes were counted and verified, the following 12 members were elected to the board (vote counts in parenthesis):

Courtney Luttrell (315)
Billy Howard (222)
Jared Scott (219)
Spencer Benedict (209)
Joe Herald (205)
Tom Ware (205)
Travis Wiley (203)
Ray Perkins (201)
Laurie Herchenroeder (193)
John Tudor (181)
Billy Joe Hayes (172)
Lisa Newsome (168)

Other members receiving votes were Gary Oliver (165), Bill Carmichael (157), Earl Rogers, Jr. (156), Andy Reynolds (140), Lisa Evans (139), Smokey Carswell (115), Bob Stannard (108), Jessica Hayes (101), Rodney Young (95), Nancy Short (87), Danny Hughes (85), Lee Arnold (74), Chucky Poynter (59) and Mike Conyers (56).

After the election for the board members, the members filed back to the election tables to cast their votes for the officers.  The only contested office was President with both Joe Herald and Denzil Allen running for the post.  Both of the candidates were presented by the nominating committee.  Joe Herald won the election and was joined in office by 1st Vice President Spencer Benedict, 2nd Vice President Billy Howard and Treasurer Allen McQuerry.

Before the election was held Allen McQuerry gave the treasurer’s report and informed the membership that the KWHA had a balance of $40,333.  McQuerry said, “When I came in (office) we were in a negative,” so the positive balance at the end of the year was a win for the association.  A reimbursement of $51,629 had been received by the KWHA in the last quarter of the year as well as a refund from a lawsuit in the amount of $8,100.  The reimbursement was a result of the monies stolen from the KWHA.

Earl Rogers, Jr. asked the membership to contact their representatives and support the “slots to the track” bill that will be before the Kentucky House of Representatives.  This bill would increase funding in the KEEPS incentive as well as provide additional funding for education and healthcare.  The bill would also remove the tax on horse feed, horse equipment and automobiles, a much needed relief in the current economic downturn.

Nicole Carswell and Donnie Bray encouraged the members to seek and promote the academy program, which allows youth to learn to ride without having to own a horse.  “Lessons are a great way to build your business and introduce new people to the industry,” said Carswell.  “There is no reason the academy program in Kentucky shouldn’t be as big as the one in Tennessee,” concluded Carswell.

The KWHA elections provided a change in leadership which was well-received from those in attendance.  The opportunity to serve is only the beginning as change is tough in any organization.  The tasks facing the new board are large and confidence needs to be regained in the KWHA.  The Tennessee Walking Horse is now the number one non-race breed in the state with over 38,800 horses compared to 36,900 Quarter horses. 

That speaks volumes to the popularity of the breed and optimism for the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse in the state of Kentucky.