Copyright 2009 WHR

By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) Board of Directors unanimously voted today to dissolve the NHSC and turn over the assets of the NHSC to SHOW, the Horse Industry Organization (HIO) of The Celebration, Inc.  The NHSC board consists of Chairman Link Webb, David Landrum, Steve Hankins and Jamie Hankins from the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA).  Representing the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) are Frank Neal, David Pruett, Mark Farrar and Bob Medina.
The meeting began with Medina participating via a conference call.  There was a question raised regarding his physical presence being required to vote.  After a brief discussion and review of the bylaws, it was determined that Medina would be allowed to participate via conference call and cast his vote.  Alternates were on hand and would have been able to sit in his place.
Several questions were raised by Farrar including the timeline for the transfer to take place, the status of contracts, the status of suspensions and how to dissolve a corporation in Tennessee.  Per the contract question, all horse shows that have affiliated with the NHSC will still be affiliated and after the transfer will become affiliated with the SHOW HIO.  Those horse shows that would like to change affiliations will be allowed to do so.
Also, the contract with the Kentucky HIO that allows the sharing of judges of both the NHSC and Kentucky HIO will have to be renegotiated by SHOW.  Landrum informed the board that the Kentucky HIO is willing to continue this agreement with the new HIO.
After the parameters were established the new business came to the floor and the members of the NHSC had a very intense discussion.  “We need to make sure we do this correct.  We have been here a long time and we need to be careful how we do this,” said Landrum.  “The NHSC has been here a long time and done its job,” said Webb.  “However it is time for this industry to make a change,” concluded Webb.
Steve Hankins joined in, “It is very important that we have lots of communication with the new HIO so that WHTA and WHOA are kept informed of the progress.”
There has been some confusion on the dissolution of the NHSC before SHOW has agreed to assume the responsibilities of the NHSC.  “It is my understanding that SHOW will not vote on this until all of our groups (WHOA, WHTA and NHSC) have decided this is what we want,” said Webb. 
“There is no assurance to this day that SHOW will agree to do this,” said Neal.  The Celebration board has met once in an information session and has also participated in some capacity on the WHOA conference calls and meetings.  It is assumed in the industry that SHOW will begin work immediately to activate its HIO and be affiliating horse shows as soon as possible.
Medina made one last plea to the board to keep the judging and rule book under “NHSC (B)” and allow the functions of the HIO and compliance to move to SHOW.  This idea was rejected by the other members of the board that felt it was best SHOW assume all responsibilities.  “We either need to do it all or none,” said Webb.
The next topic was that of the monies and how they would be distributed after dissolution.  The NHSC has a checking account with $71,118 and a CD with $40,000.  Neal and the others felt that monies contributed by WHOA and WHTA should be returned to those respective groups.  All affiliation fees should be transferred to SHOW.  Year-to-date 73 horse shows and sales have affiliated with the NHSC.
The NHSC board felt that a $5,000 amount should also be transferred to SHOW as seed money in addition to all affiliation fees.  Past due amounts from 2007 and 2008 will become the property of WHOA and WHTA once they are collected.  The past due amounts from these years totals almost $30,000.
Kim Bennett raised the question of assets loaned to the NHSC and whether they would be transferred to SHOW.  It was agreed that no assets not owned by the NHSC could be transferred.  Bennett also asked about show records.  “It is my assumption that the show records would go to SHOW,” concluded Webb.
A short recess was taken and upon the return of the members the final motion was made to dissolve the NHSC by Medina and seconded by Landrum.  It read as follows:
“I make a motion to dissolve the NHSC effective on a date specified by Dr. Meadows in a notice to WHOA President Frank Neal and WHTA President Link Webb.

I further move that all employees of the NHSC become the employees of SHOW at the same salary and benefits effective on the same date of Dr. Meadows’ notification. 

I further move that all records, equipment and all other assets and supplies of the NHSC other than the excess cash over amounts paid by future show affiliations less $5,000, other than all accounts receivable arising from shows already completed become the property of SHOW for a payment of $1 by SHOW on the same date of Dr. Meadows’ notification. 

I further move that all liabilities of the NHSC including the lease on its office be assumed on the effective date of Dr. Meadows’ notification. 

I further move that all contracts arising out of any show affiliations will be assumed and honored by SHOW effective on the date of Dr. Meadows’ notification.  And until the notification date, the NHSC will perform all the necessary duties to all shows that affiliated with the NHSC. 

I move that upon dissolution of the NHSC that any funds remaining in the NHSC be divided 50/50 between the WHT and WHOA.”
The vote was taken by roll call and all eight members voted in favor of the motion.  “This is tough to give up.  I have been here a long time and remember the days in the basement.  We probably need a prayer session that we have done the right thing, but I think we have,” said Landrum.  He continued, “We don’t need more HIOs, we need to pull together and take a new direction.  If you think this business isn’t hurting, then you aren’t in the same position I am.  We are shrinking in credibility and market share and I can promise you that whether this is right or not, the intent is to do the right thing.  This can make WHOA, WHTA and TWHBEA stronger organizations.  We can all focus on what we do best.”
Neal gave his summary as well.  “I’ve always thought the NHSC was doing a good job.  It’s had its faults over the years as will the new one (HIO).  This isn’t my livelihood but it is scary to me to think how this has been done without everyone sitting at a table and hashing it out.  However the makeup of the WHOA board is a lot of your (Trainers) customers and this is what we have voted to do.   When the board votes 19-6, I have to vote the wishes of the board.   I hope it is the right thing because if it is not, this could be the beginning of the end for the padded horse.  You have given up a lot, almost everything and I hope you will be able to live with it.  Anything I can do to make it work better, I am happy to do it,” said Neal.
Webb joined in, “There are no guarantees.  At this point the industry is not going anywhere for whatever reason.  Every day for the last two years I have heard the same thing, the trainers need to get out of the compliance of the industry.  I think we are making the right decision and taking a hell of a step.  We took a hell of step in the 1970s when we started checking the horses and today we make this step to help the industry strive more.  If we will stand together as WHOA and WHTA it will make us stronger.”
A historic day is upon us and the industry will enter into another phase of its long and successful history.  The Tennessee Walking Horse is one of the greatest breeds in the world and today’s vote is taken in an attempt to gain the attention and credibility this horse deserves.  As many stated in the meeting, there are no guarantees and this signals only the beginning, but therein lies the key phrase; this is the beginning.
The industry finds itself at a crossroads and the trainers and owners have made some very difficult decisions they feel will position the industry to move forward.  This next transition period may be difficult, but decisions such as today’s are best made for the long-term success of the breed.
The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration will now vote to decide its course of action as well as the timeline for the transfer.  It is assumed that the Celebration will vote to take on the task of activating its HIO, implement an independent oversight board and move the transition along as quickly as possible.