by Sara Engel


            LEWISBURG, Tenn. – The annual TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Committee meeting was held in conjunction with the other TWHBEA committee meetings in Lewisburg, Tenn.  The meeting began promptly at 10am with Pleasure Vice President Darren Gray calling the meeting to order in front of a packed auditorium. He stated how excited he was to see so many people attending. Roll call was the first item on the agenda.  Next, Gray thought it was appropriate to take a moment to go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves since there were so many in attendance.  Some special guests were on hand including Jerrold Pedigo, Dr. Doyle Meadows from MTSU, Pat Stout, Sid Baucom and Craig Evans.

            Previous to this committee meeting occurring, there were several sub-committees that met.  Their reports were given to the general pleasure committee.  Marietta Gambrill was the first to give her report from the Versatility Sub-Committee. A huge concern of the sub-committee is that several versatility rules that had previously been adapted in the Versatility Rule Book were left out of the TWHBEA main rule book.  It was suggested that a committee be formed to get the rules changed back to what they were intended to be in the first place.  Evans stated that he thought there was no difference in the rules and that they had been copied exactly.  It had been brought to his attention though that it had been done inappropriately.  He is unaware of how the change occurred. Evans did confirm though that even though the rules where changed and/or left out of the rule book unintentionally, they are still rule changes; therefore they must go through the proper channels.  It was at that time that Gambrill made a motion to suspend the necessary six month comment period to change these rules back.  It was immediately seconded and brought to a unanimous decision of the committee. What this means is that after the 2008 Pleasure Horse Committee has been selected, they would form a committee to evaluate the difference in the Versatility Rule Book and the TWHBEA Rule Book and give those differences to the HIO committee for corrections. Gambrill then made another motion to have the 2008 pleasure vice president expedite the rule changes as soon as possible instead of having to hold another meeting or conference call.  This motion was as seconded and passed unanimously.

            The next topic of interest that Gambrill brought up from her sub-committee was the use of bell boots, splint boots and polo wraps in western riding, reining, obstacle driving, barrels and poles for leg protection. With little discussion, this motion was brought up in front of the committee by Gambrill, seconded and passed unanimously. Anne Kukendahl then came with the additional motion that the six month comment period also be waived for this issue. It was seconded, and once again a unanimous decision was reached.

            The final item on Gambrill’s committee report was the subject of the due date for versatility point books.  Currently standing right now, the books were due in the office on November 15 to have the points counted.  Evans had brought up the point in the sub-committee meeting that people needed more advance notice so that they could make proper arrangements to attend the awards banquet. Gambrill brought the recommendation from the sub-committee that the final dates that versatility books could arrive at the TWHBEA office be changed to November 1st.  Then, any shows that are held close to November 1st will have up till November 15th to fax in their information for those points to be included.  Anything received after that final date would be included in that next year’s point totals.  Gambrill once again brought the motion to the floor.  It was quickly seconded and passed with a unanimous decision.

            Lori Puckett of TWHBEA was next to have the floor with a power point presentation that covered several different topics to aid in the expansion for the versatility program.  The first topic to be discussed was the TWH Over Fences classes. It was discussed to allow riders to show more then one horse in designated over fences classes. The comment from the audience came that the rules state that you can current show more than one horse in a class, but the same horse cannot be shown by two different people.  The next topic that Puckett brought up was that TWHBEA wants to divide competition by skill levels.  This allows for continued growth within the division by encouraging new participation and it also offers additional judging criteria by division. By separating some of the classes in the TWH Over Fences division, it will give different skill level horses the appropriate classes for them to participate in, instead of green horses having to compete against more advanced horses.  The proposed addition classes that were to be considered were Hunter Hack, Green Working Hunter, Working Hunter (very similar to the current TWH Over Fences classes) and Jumping. In the Hunter Hack classes, the horse would not be required to jump and the main judging aspect would fall upon the gaits of the horse.  Then, in the Green Working Hunter classes, jumping would be brought in.  These classes would be for those horses that are new to jumping and/or have never won in a Green Working Hunter class previously.  The concept of the Jumping class came for those horses that can jump over fences but at the same time that horse does not obtain the skill to keep their gait while covering the course. Jumping is seen as a mathematical class and it will be judged on if the horse clears the fence. It will not matter what the horse looks like going over the fence. After some discuss on the topic, Pat Stout made the motion to have the expansion plan put into effect.  Once again, after a second motion was made from the committee, it was voted on and passed unanimously.

            Dr. Doyle Meadows took a moment to speak to the group about the benefits of expanding divisions.  He stated that by increasing the number of classes and fixing what is broke about the program, it would allow those horses and riders to fit into categories that best suit them. 

            The next topic brought forth before the pleasure committee brought a lot of discussion and at times, very passionate discussion. Puckett brought of the recommendation that the unofficial dressage patterns that TWHBEA currently gives out should be included in the rule book and posted online.  As it stands right now, someone must call into TWHBEA and request a pack containing the dressage patterns. Currently about five to 10 emails or calls are received each year requesting this material. One of the main opinions for the committee and public was that by placing them in the rule book you were making them the official patterns of TWHBEA. It was also brought up that these patterns were adapted from other horse breeds and it was not an easy task to transform them into patterns that work with walking horses.  Simply replacing the work “trot” did not work. A flash drive from the audience containing many different dressage patterns for waking horses was offered. After many comments and concerns were heard from the crowd, Gray brought the meeting back to order and it was decided to move on since this was not a topic that truly needed addressing at this exact time.

            The final recommendations that Puckett had from TWHBEA was in regards also to dressage.  The #2 dressage pattern from the American Quarter Horse Association was shown to give people another option of a pattern for shows.  This was to help ensure that a horse is not anticipating the pattern. Passing from the pleasure committee was the acceptance of the new dressage pattern, and the rule that “a horse would be disqualified upon the fourth simple lead change and/or failure to change leads (recommended change).” The reasoning behind the rule change is to stop rewarding horses for not doing what is accept of them. With the current rule standing, a horse can place first in a class even if they did not complete one proper lead change.  Diane McMurtrey made a motion for these two topics.  The motion was seconded, passed and will go out for the appropriate six month comment period.

            McMurtrey then briefly made her report from the Trail Sub-Committee.  She stated that there were 11 rides held this year with attendance ranging from 15 to 150 at each ride. The sub-committee wished to encourage the Voice Magazine to increase the coverage they have of the TWHBEA trail rides.  McMurtrey made the motion from her sub-committee pertaining to the trail ride distance program.  Currently the longest distance award is set at 1000 hours.  Her recommendation was to increase the number of distance awards and also to allow for awards to be given out after 1000 hours.  It was decided that these addition awards would be given in 500 hour increments. This motion was also passed unanimously by the pleasure committee.

            Next to speak before the committee was Chuck Cadle.  He made the announcement that effective today, November 30, 2007, TWHBEA has signed a partnership with the National Park Service.  This is a monumental occasions since TWHBEA is the first official breed to enter into a partnership with the National Park Service which consists of 391 parks nation wide.  This partnership was joined into to help not only preserve the culture of horsemanship among our nation’s park rangers, but to also educate the recreational trail rider. The main objectives of this plan are to explore opportunities to further enhance youth programs for TWHBEA and Junior Rangers, restore cultural heritage and provide up to 15 educational events each year.  TWHBEA will be providing information for the parks, and they will in turn print pamphlets that are to be distributed at parks nationwide.  Another point of importance is that park officials will now be riding Tennessee Walking Horses.  Other equine breeds are encouraged to join up with the NPS, but since TWHBEA is the first breed organization to sign a partnership, they have a say along with the NPS on who can join.

            The final sub-committee to present their report was the Promotion Sub-Committee. Joyce Moyer was very precise and encouraged everyone to put the fun back into their horses.  She stated that it was everyone’s job to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse breed, not just the Vice President. “If we don’t promote and market the breed, we won’t have an industry,” stated Moyer. In the Promotion Sub-Committee meeting, a brainstorming effort was used to come up with ideas on how and where to promote the breed. Many great ideas were discussed.

            Old business was the next portion of the agenda.  Brought up was the Versatility Rule Books once again.  This time it was mentioned that these books are not being printed anymore.  The bother some people because they really relied on them at horse shows.  Even though the rules of the classes are currently listed in the TWHBEA rule book, it was impossible to carry this book around during the show.  The smaller Versatility Rule Book was easy to fit in the back pocket allowing for quicker, more convenient accessibility. Also discussed was that some of the information contained in the smaller rule book was not included in the larger book.  This included previous Supreme Champion winners. Moyer brought up the motion to reinstate these smaller books into print for those wanting them.  It was seconded and passed.

            The final topic that was brought up under old business was the issue of versatility points and how they are calculated under the sanctioning plan.  As it currently stands, an exemption was allowed by the HIO-C to allow those shows that do not affiliate with TWHBEA to still have their points counted.  Those shows that do affiliate with TWHBEA though are given double points.  That exemption is currently on a year-to-year basis and it was deemed to be carried into 2008. Many concerns from the crowd came because some areas do not have shows that affiliate with any HIO.  These shows tend to be open shows where multiple breeds participate. In the end, nothing was brought to a motion and Gray ended the discussion.

            In the final few minutes of the meeting new business was addressed.  The TWHBEA Academy Program is working on expanding for 2008. (More details available in the Performance Committee story.) A brief overview is that they are planning on having 35 to 45 shows for the 2008 season in approximately 15 different locations across the United States.

            Darren Gray closed out the meeting by once again thanking everyone that came, and he expressed that, “it has been a ‘pleasure’ to serve this year.”