Following receipt of several telephone calls informing me that Mr. Cadle had sent a letter to the editor of the Walking Horse Report in response to the comments I presented to the Executive Committee earlier in the week, I first reminded myself of a childhood lesson my parents taught me….son, do not allow your emotions to overcome your sense of discipline.  Though I desired to release a subsequent immediate rebuttal, it was more important to me that Mr. Cadle understand the purpose of my comments so I picked up the phone and called him.


Reminiscent of our prior discussions, Mr. Cadle and I engaged in a lengthy, mutually respectful conversation by telephone concerning the contents of our published remarks, and it was my intent not to respond publicly with any comments Mr. Cadle had not already heard directly from me.


Serving as s CEO of a not for profit educational organization, I understand the importance of the allegiance to the organization which we lead and the board of directors to which we must be accountable.  I respect his need and desire, personally and professionally, to respond to my remarks.  I also made it clear that the timing of his entry into the industry presented with serious governance concerns given an executive committee and a board of directors nearly split in its opinions and support of certain initiatives of the breeder’s association.  In most cases, interested candidates for such a position would run for the nearest exit knowing what a volatile position they could encounter with their own professional careers.  I recognize both his perseverance and loyalty to the breeder’s association and his commitment to its sanctioning plan.  We have engaged in dialogue over a number of issues involving youth initiatives and hope to be able to work in collaboration in the future in bringing those ideas to reality.  I believe Mr. Cadle is genuine in his desire to promote the values of the sanctioning plan and the breed in general; however, my issues are not with the substance of the initiatives rather on my ability as a state association president or as the leader of an organization vested in the walking horse as a youth program to sell those initiatives…namely the sanctioning plan.  Before getting to that, let me respond to a few other issues in the response.


Mr. Cadle is correct that he corresponded with me several times in response to an inquiry I made concerning the availability of certain TWHBEA programs to our membership as a result of possible conflict with the TWHBEA sanctioning plan….most notably the Youth Medallion program and the versatility program.  Having received conflicting information on several occasions, I desired to have a letter from Mr. Cadle that I could use to pass on to inquiring members concerning the status of the versatility program regardless of affiliation; he did provide that letter and it was helpful in extinguishing rumors that the versatility points would not be recognized by TWHBEA if they were earned at non TWHBEA sanctioned events.  The Youth Medallion class was determined not to be available to non TWHBEA sanctioned shows though at the spring FUN Show, this issue was reignited because the class sheet indicated a Youth Medallion class, however the show was affiliated with the NHSC.  It was later determined that an error had occurred and this should not have happened.  I stand firm that my telephone call and voice mail to Ms. Lane was not returned.  I also stand firm that the substance of my email following my in person meeting with Mr. Cadle on March 14th did not receive a complete response.  Mr. Cadle is correct that he responded to a portion of my inquiry, the remainder remains unanswered though I do know that Mr. Cadle presented my written inquiry to Mr.  Pedigo at the next scheduled executive committee meeting because my program manager was a visitor at that executive committee meeting when the inquiry was presented.  I emailed Mr. Cadle to thank him for presenting those questions to Mr. Pedigo; however, I did not receive a subsequent response.  As for the three emails in May concerning Academy related programs, these emails also contained updated information on the TWHBEA sanctioning plan. 


I will state again that my position on the matter of the TWHBEA sanctioning plan/HIO has little to do with the substance of the plan with the exception perhaps of governance issues of the plan and the fact that the plan was originally presented largely as a TWHBEA plan as opposed to a unified industry plan which I believe are issues being considered or already addressed by Mr. Cadle and the HIO committee. 


The sanctioning plan only serves a valuable purpose if I can sell it and get others to buy into it.  Presently, I have been unsuccessful in attempts to get others to buy into the program for largely the same reasons that I consistently hear from others, inside and outside of Tennessee, and which I articulated in my comments to Mr. Cadle in March.  There are two main areas of concern:


1.      Issues surrounding the intent and credibility of the individuals originally championing the TWHBEA sanctioning plan….most specifically Mr. Pedigo and Mr. Evans.  I have met Mr. Pedigo only once at the last executive committee meeting and have never formally met or been introduced to Mr. Evans.  I know neither individual personally or professionally so am not willing to lend a judgment about either or support a judgment about either.  Rather, in an effort to educate myself and be in a position to respond to questions regarding one’s inhibition of supporting the TWHBEA sanctioning plan, I was consistently presented with these questions to which I could not respond making it difficult to sell the TWHBEA sanctioning plan.  These questions were posed in my email to Mr. Cadle and the response I received to those questions was accurately reported in Mr. Cadle’s excerpt as printed in his response.  It was my opinion that that was the degree of response I could anticipate receiving which is why I no longer presented those questions in subsequent emails to Mr. Cadle.  In his defense, he cannot personally answer these questions nor can I ascertain the degree of cooperation he might receive from those who could:

a.       Is it true that Mr. Pedigo, on behalf of TWHBEA, allegedly sought to partner with WHOA to have WHOA conduct programs and horse shows for the breeder’s association?

b.      Is it true that the alleged partnership when presented to the WHOA leadership by Mr. Pedigo and Mr. Evans allegedly turned into a plan not to partner but to dissolve WHOA within a certain time period?  In doing so, this would dissolve 1 of the 3 party relationship (WHOA, WHTA and TWHBEA) that would govern the NHSC.

c.       Is it true that those individuals, who were also serving in leadership roles with the NHSC at that time, allegedly denied that initiative when confronted with the issue at a subsequent NHSC meeting?

d.      Is it true that the efforts of Mr. Pedigo and Mr. Evans while in leadership positions with the NHSC to bring about desired change with the NHSC to assist in restoring the public image of the Tennessee Walking Horse and establish confidence with the USDA were allegedly unsuccessful prompting it to allegedly err on the side of the betterment of the industry as a whole and dissolve its relationship with the NHSC and allegedly establish a new sanctioning plan under the TWHBEA umbrella?

e.       Is it true that Mr. Pedigo and/or Mr. Evans allegedly approached an NHSC executive to inquire about their interest in serving as the coordinator of the DQP program for the TWHBEA HIO?  If true, would it not appear contradictory to make such an overture to an individual in a leadership position with an organization you find necessary to separate with because it is failing to take necessary steps to preserve the integrity of the breed?


If I knew the answers to the questions, I could have much more adequately extinguished any mistruths and redirected energies towards the substance and value of the sanctioning plan as opposed to a debate over the personalities of the individuals championing the plan.  At present, and in some circles, I cannot get past the discussion of the people to get to the plan.  One may suggest that this is not an adequate reason not to support the plan; however, selling change of any kind means being able to provide some level of comfort to those individuals who are experiencing anxiety over that change that it is being done with good intentions for positive results.  Presently, there appears to be too much doubt concerning the individuals and the matters leading to the establishment of a new sanctioning plan, not the plan itself.


2.      The availability of TWHBEA programs (Youth Medallion, GO Program and Ipeds with complete show records) being unrecognized by shows not affiliated with an HIO who has not signed on to the TWHBEA sanctioning plan.

a.       I attempted to articulate in my remarks that the TWHBEA has long been viewed as a breed registry and an organization designed to promote the breed.  The most recent initiative to engage in animal welfare and protection initiatives as a sole entity is not just an initiative requiring a change within the breeder’s association but also the entire culture of the walking horse industry who have not perceived that to be the breeder’s association’s purpose.  Is it not my opinion to suggest that the breeder’s association is wrong for engaging in this process; however, it has been my opinion to implement this change slowly and without an abrupt change to the organization’s programs that have been positively received by the membership in the past i.e.  Youth Medallion, GO Program, Ipeds with show records.  Instead, a portion of the membership has perceived the lack of availability to these programs outside of TWHBEA affiliated shows as a deliberate attempt to penalize those who did not affiliate under the TWHBEA sanctioning plan by withholding those programs.  While I understand that the breeder’s association’s response to this will likely be that it would be in conflict with their sanctioning plan, there are many who will perceive this as nothing more than a good old fashion “power play.”  Regardless of the truth or accuracy of the conflict with the sanctioning plan, this is difficult to sell.

b.      My comments regarding TWHBEA’s exempt status had nothing whatsoever to do with establishing impropriety or disorganization rather establishing, as an example, how the industry is viewed externally versus how it views itself.  I suggested that this may be an area to consider not because it is doing something wrong but because there is an internal perception problem from within the industry that is contributing to the failure of the TWHBEA sanctioning plan to prosper. 

c.       In my opinion there are still a sizeable number of members who still do not understand the need of the TWHBEA to abandon its relationship with the NHSC as a means of solving concerns over the NHSC’s efforts or lack thereof to initiate measures to secure the industry’s confidence in the eyes of the public and the USDA.  In the past, the response given on this issue is a quotation from the TWHBEA charter and by-laws; however, establishing a new sanctioning plan may appear incongruent to those who perceived that TWHBEA’s partnership under the NHSC to be serving the same purpose of fulfilling those obligations under the by-laws.


In each of my communications with the breeder’s association, I have consistently supported the sanctioning plan in theory and am for any initiative that promotes confidence in our breed both internally an externally.  I have never suggested that TWHBEA abolish its sanctioning plan, but have twice expressed my desire to the association to decentralize the plan from the breeder’s agenda and restore confidence from within by refocusing on member services formerly the hallmark of its existence….registry, blood typing, programs, Ipeds, Voice magazine and financial strength.  In doing so, it may become feasible to implement slow but measurable efforts to build consensus toward support of the sanctioning plan that may yield increasing support. 


My “report card” suggestion was not meant to assess the success or failure of the sanctioning plan in this seven month period; rather, to assess the progress of other equally as important areas to the framework and long term viability of the association by examining indicators….membership, finances, Voice magazine, registry, blood typing, programs, Ipeds and governance.  Quite the contrary, my interest was to suggest not the success or failure of the sanctioning plan but the potential effects of the sanctioning plan on other important areas of the breeder’s association.  Whether we agree or disagree with the need for a TWHBEA sanctioning plan, there are other programs of equal importance to which this membership is eager to see improve that are frequently dwarfed by the increasing and heightened attention given to the sanctioning plan.


In closing, I am not against TWHBEA or its personnel; I am for the Tennessee Walking Horse.  I view my membership much the same way TWHBEA views its sanctioning plan….to quote Mr. Cadle “it gives them a seat at the [USDA] table.”  My membership gives me a seat at the [TWHBEA] table and I do support TWHBEA’s objectives, I simply do not agree with how they have been promoted and because of that, I am finding it increasingly difficult to sell those objectives on behalf of TWHBEA.  You will not find me on the circuits of the internet under disguise or at the local watering holes for good gossip; my opinions are in the open, agree or disagree, and I welcome professional and respectful conflict; it forces us to learn and to grow and to hopefully come to a better understanding of not just our differences but on the common ground we can use to build toward unity. 


Kasey C. Kesselring