A letter to the Editor:

After reading and listening to the many comments in this industry on the perceived roles of the various groups and organizations, I find that many people perhaps do not understand the structure and the functions of these industry organizations and how they arrived at the positions they are in today. We seem to have a serious ambivalence among us as to just what we want TWHBEA in particular to be and how it should interact with the rest of the industry.

I have been in the Walking horse industry for 40+ years.  I have seen TWHBEA go from the only game in town to an organization which, according to some in the other competing organizations that have been formed, can and should function from a Motel 6 rented room.

TWHBEA is a government recognized organization empowered by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1935 to maintain the stud books and to record the pedigrees of the Tennessee walking horse, an animal that has been selectively developed to have the ability to perform the unique gaits, the flat walk and running walk. Just as an aside, this fact puts them in direct conflict with the most powerful lobby group in this country HSUS whose CEO Wayne Pacelle has said “"We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding."
— Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President, Animal People News.”

Along with the accuracy of the registration paperwork, TWHBEA’s mission statement and bylaws include the ability to govern the entire TWH industry from the rail to the trail, to protect the welfare of this breed and to ensure its survival into the future. It is structurally set up to be the mother ship, with the sails manned by members.  TWHBEA (and WHOA) are currently the ONLY member driven organizations in this industry where the stake holders can directly influence the course of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

TWHBEA is an international membership driven organizational structure that DEMANDS fiscal accountability and operational transparency. Guaranteed in the bylaws is the ability of every member to review the fiscal accounting statements, the minutes of the meetings, attend Committee meetings, International  Board meetings and Executive meetings,  and  to DIRECTLY influence policy through their vote and in turn the votes of their elected representatives.

And yet we hear two divergent camps screaming at TWHBEA to either “shut up and just register horses” and then in the next breathe excoriate them for doing just that, and not doing “something” about the current state of the industry. Where are these voices coming from? Are they actual members, and if so are they involved by their participation in the actual policy making boards and committees of THWBEA, or if not that, even as little as bothering to vote in an election. I am constantly hearing “they, they, they, in referencing what TWHBEA does, yet in all truth the words are WE, WE, WE, that must be used, for TWHBEA is the “WE” that have not turned our backs on the breed in its entirety.

As with the rest of society we have reflected within the industry a philosophy of both “not my fault” and  “I’m picking up my marbles and leaving”. Understand, TWHBEA in its very core is likened to the United States Government, the structure is sound but it will only function as well or as poorly as we the citizens of both this country and TWHBEA demand.  It is all inclusive. To abdicate membership in TWHBEA is akin to renouncing citizenship in the US.

Where else within this industry is it guaranteed in the very bylaws, that YOU have a VOICE. 
Where else in this industry is there an organization that MUST respond to YOUR VOICE.

To those who are not happy with that response, look into the mirror because it is YOUR  response.

Membership gives you that VOICE and that response.

Denise Rowland
Shelbyville, TN