by Jeffrey Howard

LEWISBURG, Tenn. – As the tenure of the current executive committee nears its end, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) is beginning to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. After inheriting an association in financial crisis, TWHBEA has now returned to having three months of operating cash in reserves. Mike Inman pointed out, “We haven’t lost one program and we have spent $1.5 million less compared to 2007.”

Knowing they would have to cut expenses and staff, this executive committee has watched every expense and cut in every area possible. Revenue year-to-date is $700,000 less than in 2007, however over $500,000 has been returned in cash accounts at the association. Inman reported the futurity account is fully funded with 66 percent of the show expenses in reserve for next year. He also reported for the first time there is no accounts payable backlog and the total accounts payable are less than $30,000. Year-to-date the association has a $319,000 profit compared to a budgeted loss of $129,000.

David Pruett discussed the recently completed election. “The election is over and our new accounting firm took a little longer but wanted to be sure everything was counted correctly. The return was low and has been low in the past. We need to find ways to increase our membership. It is dropping and it concerns me,” stated Pruett.

Bob Ramsbottom added, “It is clear we have turned the association around and this election proves we are doing the right things. I think this speaks highly of the work we have done and it has been a pleasure serving with each of you.”

Committee reports were brief at the October meeting. Following is a summary of those committees reporting.

The iPEDS committee is hard at work and should have a preview of the new program to roll out in the next 30 days. Sharon Brandon reported the mares have been entered on the stallion reports and said a little over 12,000 have been reported.

Horse Shows
Bill Stricklend summarized the recently completed European championships. The show had approximately 425 entries over four days. Stricklend commented, “They are hungry for knowledge and we (TWHBEA) need to be very active over there. It is very expensive to transport horses over here to compete so we need to give them avenues to show over there.”

Stricklend added, “There will never be performance horses but there are good pleasure horses and the breeding operations need to be expanded.” There are only two to three walking horse breeding farms in Europe. Stricklend also recommended a 2009 European Futurity to be a priority for the next executive committee.

Joyce Moyer began her report pleading for the recently hired public relations firm to answer the negative articles in the horse industry being circulated about the Tennessee Walking Horse. “We need to do more than just respond, we need to put out the good going on and be proactive instead of reactive,” said Moyer.

The Best of America by Horseback program was discussed and several questioned what TWHBEA was getting for the $10,000 that was spent this year on the program. Ramsbottom said, “We need to evaluate how we spend our money and make sure our member services are improved.” Stricklend added, “I would like to see TWHBEA send representatives on the rides to make sure the Tennessee Walking Horse is well-represented by knowledgeable people.”

Mike Inman made a motion asking the following, “I would like for the public relations firm to give us a monthly report of what they did, things accomplished and any plans they have.” The motion passed unanimously.


Darren Gray reported on the clinics at the Celebration and stated, “They started a little slow with the bad weather a factor but built on themselves as they progressed and overall they were great.”

Pleasure Horse

Diana McMurtrey discussed the 2009 World Versatility Show and even though Miller Coliseum will increase its rent by 20 percent in 2009, the pleasure committee felt it needed to stay with the Pleasure International. The Pleasure International will be held July 27, 2009 through Aug. 1, 2009, which would put the World Versatility on July 25-26.

When asked if the World Versatility made money in 2008, McMurtrey responded, “After everything is considered we don’t make money on the show.” Ramsbottom pointed out that the Pleasure International doesn’t make money either and wondered why the Performance International does make money and the Pleasure International does not. “Pleasure horse people don’t sponsor, promote or advertise,” said McMurtrey. Gray added, “A lot of the entries are from people with one and two horses and the entry fees are lower.”

Inman pointed out, “Are they (pleasure horse) aware they are being subsidized by the performance horse? The Voice is disproportionate to the pleasure horse in the space given to it in the Voice Magazine as well.”

Debra Jack reported on the “lively” committee meeting she had regarding the directors’ suspension issue which will be addressed in the 2010 bylaw amendments. She felt that the committee would come forward to have two recommended proposals and allow the membership to vote.

Ramsbottom stated, “This issue doesn’t have any middle ground. A 30-day suspension on a subjective scar rule ticket should not prevent you from serving on a board. Either you are for this or you are not.”

Ramsbottom thought any ticket received by a board member should be turned over to the enforcement committee to investigate and that committee should make a ruling and hand down a punishment.


Christy Lantis pointed out the youth budget was $25,000 in 2008 as compared to well over $100,000 in previous years but still many things were accomplished by the youth in 2008. There will be a youth party the Thursday night of the annual banquet/meetings. Lantis would also like to look at changing the youth parliamentarian position to a youth reporter position.

In new business, Darren Gray was appointed chairman of the nominating committee. Bill Stricklend stressed the importance of TWHBEA having a permanent presence at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. The committee will also explore the possibility of expanding and adding a walking mule registry.

The meeting began and ended with the committee discussing in executive session a personnel issue in the morning and the 2009 proposed budget in the afternoon. Election of the new executive committee will be in December and several new national board members were elected promising continued change in TWHBEA’s future.