by Linda Scrivner

            SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The National Horse Show Commission met Monday, Feb. 26, 2007, with the following NHSC board members present: David Pruett, Frank Neal, Jaclyn Smith, David Landrum, Steve Hankins, Link Webb, George Greenup, Wink Groover, George Ann Pratt, Kim Bennett, Chris Bobo, Rollie Beard and Scott MacGregor. Lonnie Messick, NHSC executive vice president, and Rachel Reed, secretary/treasurer, were also present.
            Following the approval of minutes, Wink Groover welcomed the Board of Governance that wished to speak to the Commission. This group consisted of Neal Holland, Steve Aymett, Ron Thomas, Charles Gleghorn and Jackie Brown. Neal Holland began the session by saying, “This committee wants to thank the Commission for what you’re doing and we are here to assist and help you with the industry issues”
            Charles Gleghorn spoke next to the Commission. “My connection to the industry goes a long way back. We are at a time in our industry that if we go forward, the time is now, not two days or a week, but now. The Commission holds the key. They have a reputation that we must work on. It’s not what we are, it’s what people perceive. There are lots of things wrong with the process of the DQP programs. We don’t have the credibility that we need in this industry. We need an enforcement arm that doesn’t have horses.
            “When TWHBEA pulled from the Commission, they blew their opportunity because they had no place to go, no plan in place. When they pulled out, shows had to come to us. The industry needs to better itself. We’re at the most critical position since I’ve been in this industry. We must show our horses, we must start now. We can’t wait until next year or next month.
            “We need representation in Washington and it needs to be a group effort, all or none.”
            Ron Thomas related that he echoed Gleghorn’s comments. “I want to thank the Commission for what they’ve done. I’ve been there and it’s a hard job. The Board of Governance is a group of people that are trying to support the industry. Our message is what can we do to help the Commission and this situation. It’s serious and we’re worried. If you see an opening or give us direction we will try. The Celebration is being more proactive. We enforce the rules that are given us. We’re here offering our support.”
            Thomas continued, “We need more independence in the inspection process. We need to depend on veterinarians and other people to help.”
            Neal Holland summed it up, “Thank you for what you’re doing. We want to be a part of it.”
            Wink Grover said that they understood their suggestions. “We need to know how you want to fix it. We don’t think we’ve failed. We have several new programs started to improve the situation.”
            Gleghorn said they suggested that the Commission could contract and put compliance outside of the Commission.
            Steve Aymett suggested that the Commission should research what other horses groups do and what commissions run their enforcement. Vets could be liaisons to help see up enforcement programs. The suggestions are based upon what other breeds do.
            Holland said, “We should use suggestions from equine practitioners across the country.”
            David Pruett commented that the Commission was working to improve with their new Veterinary Advisory Board and an Oversight Committee to review the practices and programs of the NHSC and to consider new issues or programs. “We are getting the wheels rolling but we’ve just started. There’s no better time than now.”
            Groover next replied, “If you have a plan to put in motion, I’m open.”
            Aymett replied, “We don’t have one now. “ 
            Holland said, “It doesn’t need to be yours and ours. We want to go together. We don’t have direct lines to solve the problems.”
            Groover explained that they were meeting March 19, 2007, with AAEP to work on a plan. Wink Groover and Dr. John O’Brien will attend. They had received a letter requesting that HIOs attend this meeting.
            Landrum commented, “We’re on track. You all represent a group that can help us. We need held and guidance. We’re willing to change and we need everyone’s help. We need help with the scar rule and we need an operating plan. We welcome your help. It’s a crisis time and we all need to reach out together.”
            Gleghorn said they would come back to the Commission with a proposal. Jackie Brown said that they would be glad to assist in any way. “We’re happy to be a part of this. We’ll work on a document tomorrow and see you again at the meeting Wednesday.”
            Messick next gave an NHSC report. He said that there had been nine shows or sales in 2007 that included 1,157 horses. There were 19 violations. The USDA was present at one of these; The Kentucky After Christmas Sale. He announced that all 2006 appeals were finished Feb. 2, 2007, and that there would be a scar rule clinic on March 3, 2007, at White Pine, Tenn. There will be some representation there. On March 12, 2007, there will be a scar rule clinic in Mississippi.
            At that time the board voted for executive session concerning an appeal. Following the executive session, committees were formed to finalize the members on the Veterinary Advisory Board, the Show Management Advisory Board and the Oversight Committee. The committee for the Veterinary Advisory Board is David Pruett, David Landrum and Jaclyn Smith. The committee for the Show Management Advisory Board consists of Frank Neal, George Greenup and Steve Hankins.
David Pruett made the motion to include one trainer, one WHOA member, a representative from the Celebration and a member from the Board of Governance to be included on the Oversight Committee. The motion carried. The committee to find members of the Oversight Committee is David Pruett, Frank Neal and Link Webb. The Oversight Committee will consist of seven individuals from various industry organizations including a veterinarian, an attorney and a representative from a different breed.
            Neils Holch next presented an overview of the final operating plan that had been presented back to the HIOs by the government with his positive and negative points on the plan. (See separate story in this issue.)
            Following the presentation, Link Webb asked why the probation part that had been in the plan that was approved by all HIOs and presented to the government had been taken out. Without probation, a trainer or owner’s record would never be wiped clean. An offense 20 years later would be a second with higher penalties even though that trainer or person has not had a violation during that time.
            Holch said that the government had pulled the probation based upon the comments at the listening sessions. Also he related that FOSH, HPC and NWHA pushed the government to pull the probation. Holch then read the letter that he had sent to the government explaining what the various HIOs had requested even though consensus had agreed upon the plan sent. At that time there were 10 HIOs, now there are 11. Don Bell has formed a new HIO, the United Mountain Horse.
            At this time, Holch felt that no one had signed but that Donna Benefield had told him that she was going to sign. He also felt that the organizations that had opposed the probation would also sign.
            NHSC then went into executive session that lasted until 4:15 p.m. The NHSC will have another meeting Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 28, 2007, following a luncheon meeting.