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NHSC Restructure Becoming A Reality

Policy Board Members Announced

Copyright 2009 WHR

By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The first meeting of the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) in 2009 could prove to be one of the most important days in the history of the Walking Horse industry.  In November 2008 a restructure of the NHSC was approved by the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA), Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) and NHSC.  Since that time, questions have been asked about the progress of that plan.  Dr. Mike Harry put all of that to rest when he unveiled the persons who have agreed to serve on the inaugural NHSC Independent Governing Board.  
The six-person board will include Dr. Harry, AAEP Task Force member, Dr. Doug Corey, past President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Dr. John Henton from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Scott Hopper, Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, Marie Wheatley from the American Humane Association and attorney Ewing Sellers.  The duties of this board will be to set the policy for independent oversight of the NHSC and direct the new CEOs administration of the policy.  One addition to the policy board was approved and that person would be the chairman of the NHSC Board of Directors who would sit on the Independent Governing Board, but not vote on that board.
“The goal of this board is for the inspection of the horses to become more objective and less subjective,” said Harry.  He continued, “The foundation of the policy set by this board will be based on the White Paper.”  The White Paper was completed by an AAEP task force tasked with helping the industry comply with the Horse Protection Act.
The announcement of this new board is a huge first step towards the completion of the restructure, but many important steps remain.  One of those steps was finding a new Executive Director.  Stepping into that role will be Andy Messick, an attorney from Murfreesboro, Tenn. who is also a certified Designated Qualified Person (DQP) with the NHSC.  Messick will replace his father, Lonnie Messick.  A total of 15 people were interviewed for the position by the NHSC.  Messick was one of four finalists to interview with the board during the meeting.  
A CEO is yet to be hired but the search committee of Harry, Henton, Frank Eichler and Frank Neal has been formed and will begin this search immediately.
This new CEO will report to the Independent Governing Board and will be tasked with carrying out the new policy of the board, hire, train and manage regional veterinarians, DQPs and show stewards and appoint chairs of the independent committees.  These independent committees will include regulatory committees, hearing committees and drug-testing committees as well as others.
Many questions still have to be answered but Harry did confirm to the group the intent of these individuals to serve.  “I have shared this with Dr. Rachel Cezar (with the USDA) and she is in favor of this Independent Governing Board.  Any changes in the inspection process would have to be approved by the USDA,” said Harry.  He reiterated many times in the meeting when asked about policy changes, inspections changes, etc., “It has to be approved by the USDA.”
Much of the meeting also focused on the upcoming Designated Qualified Person (DQP)/Veterinarian Medical Officer (VMO) joint training session.  This training will be held on January 31 at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn.  With the recent announcement of the enhanced inspection procedures, the USDA will be asked to answer questions about many of the changes they expect in 2009.  
First and foremost on that list will be the requirement that saddles not be on the horse when coming to the inspection area.  This has come under much scrutiny by trainers, owners and show managers who don’t understand the need for this requirement.  This policy seems to be one, according to show managers, that will impede the progress of the show and make for extremely crowded warm-up areas and more time between classes in order for horses to get ready.
Another problem area is hoof-testing on padded, performance horses and the penalties associated with such a test by itself.  Harry confirmed that this would be an area of discussion during the clinic.  “Hoof testing is not a complete exam,” said Harry.  Cezar has said at past HIO meetings that a failed hoof test exam would result in a bilateral sore ticket being written on the horse.
During the meeting Lonnie Messick gave the board the final statistics from 2008 for the NHSC.  In 2008, 266 shows, sales, etc. affiliated with the NHSC as compared to 251 in 2007.  Entries inspected in 2008 were 50,866 as compared to 50,620 in 2007.  There were 480 violations in 2008, down 25 violations from 2007.  More entries and less violations is a trend that the NHSC would like to see continue in 2009.
When the agenda switched from the “old business” to “new business” so did the members of the NHSC Board of Directors.  Serving in 2009 will be Chairman Link Webb, David Landrum, Steve Hankins and Jamie Hankins from the WHTA.  Serving from WHOA are Frank Neal, Mark Farrar, David Pruett and Bob Medina.
Below is a list of other action items taken by the NHSC in their meeting.

• The Board was reminded that the annual Judges Applicant School is scheduled for Saturday, February 14, 2009 and a DQP Applicant School is scheduled for Saturday, February 28 and March 1, 2009.

• One appeal for Owner Exemption from Liability was heard and the decision of the Independent Hearing Committee overturned.

• The Board was informed that the 2009 Alliance Agreement with the KY-HIO had been received and signed.  This agreement allows NHSC Licensed Judges to judge KY-HIO affiliated shows and KY-HIO Licensed Judges to judge NHSC affiliated shows.

• The Board was informed that the SSHBEA would be meeting on February 9, 2009 and one item to be discussed is the renewal of the contract between SSHBEA and NHSC.  The Board voted to approve the contract for 2009 (same stipulations from 2008) if SSHBEA is willing to do the same.  This agreement allows NHSC Licensed Judges to apply for license with SSHBEA to judge their shows.

• Rules Committee Appointments were discussed. 
          1. It was decided the Pleasure Horse Rules Committee would be comprised of four (4) pleasure horse members from WHOA and four (4) pleasure horse members from WHTA with the Chairman of the committee coming from the NHSC Board of Directors & Alternates.  No pleasure horse rules would be considered by the NHSC Board without a recommendation from the NHSC Pleasure Horse Rules Committee.
  2. It was decided the Performance Horse Rules Committee would be comprised of four (4) performance horse members from WHOA and four (4) performance horse members from WHTA with the Chairman of the committee coming from the NHSC Board of Directors & Alternates.  No performance horse rules would be considered by the NHSC Board without a recommendation from the NHSC Performance Horse Rules Committee.

• Judges Committee Appointments were discussed.  It was decided that four (4) representatives from WHOA and four (4) representatives from the WHTA would be appointed by their respective Presidents with the Chairman of the committee coming from the NHSC Board of Directors & Alternates.

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