by Jeffrey Howard

A goal of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association has been to bring stability back to the official breed registry, both financially and with its customers. Announcements of better than budgeted financial performance and Sharon Brandon agreeing to accept the position of Registrar were both steps toward accomplishing this goal. Also, this Executive Committee addressed in its April meeting changes needed to the bylaws of the association.

Mike Inman gave the financial report and pointed out the $175,000 difference between the budgeted loss of $114,00 year-to-date and the actual $61,000 gain year-to-date. Highlighting this positive gain were the registrations and memberships being up $38,000 over budgeted figures. “This is the result of the amnesty program. It is my understanding that we had one day of $78,000 in registrations,” said Inman.

This is significant because all trend lines in memberships and breeding have been down over the past three years. “The reverse of this trend in registrations in 2008 is proof that the amnesty program was a good thing and a risk worth taking,” concluded Inman. Christy Lantis also pointed out, “This amnesty program also helped in protecting the integrity of the registry and our breed.”

Joyce Moyer said, “I was thanked over and over at the Equine Affair for us doing this program. We have set a precedent for other breeds.”

Inman also pointed out two other advantages to the amnesty program and its success. In the short term, it brought goodwill for the members and should result in a willingness for those members to donate money to the registry. In the long term, these newly registered horses will now be transferred throughout their lives and bring in additional revenue from transfers and new members.

Inman did point out that lean revenue months are ahead, again based on trend lines. “April, May, June and July are months that registrations are typically down and we have forecast for this,” said Inman. “We have gotten the association to where we can run our operations on the cash flow we are generating and we hope donations can help build our reserves,” said Inman.

David Pruett welcomed back Sharon Brandon as registrar (see TWHBEA news release in this issue). “We are happy to have you back and appreciate your willingness to serve,” said Pruett.

Brandon will be continuing the pay from her post-employment benefit from the previous executive committee, which results in a donation of much of her time in the role of registrar. “This is a very generous donation by Mrs. Brandon,” said Inman.

“Thank you for the confidence you have placed in me and I will do what I can to make you proud,” Brandon said. Inman pointed out that this will not add any payroll over the next seven months and when the finances allow a new full-time registrar will be employed. At the time of Brandon’s departure from the role, her seven months of post-employment benefit will be reinstated.

Highlighting the committee reports was Debra Jack’s bylaw committee. Jack pointed out that some of the requests she received were more of a policy change than bylaw change and would be addressed in the May policy meeting. One such action was the ability of the existing Executive Committee to enter into contracts, their terms and basis for signing. Proposed bylaw changes to go before the national board were the elimination of proxy voting, members must be 18 years of age to vote, marriages are not partnerships in ownership of horses, thus allowing either party in the marriage to be eligible for election, moving the annual general membership meeting and board of directors meeting to two days instead of one on the first weekend in December and electronic notices to Executive Committee members should serve as proper notice to those members who elect that type of correspondence.

One amendment that didn’t pass the vote of the executive committee was the eligibility requirements of potential national board members as it relates to Horse Protection Act suspensions. Jack’s committee recommended that any member who has served or is serving a 30-day suspension from any USDA certified HIO during the six months preceding the Aug. 1 eligibility date be deemed ineligible. The committee discussed this and the general consensus was that the 30-day suspension that is currently in the bylaws is far greater in its punishment for eligibility than the original intent of the bylaws. The group concluded what constitutes a 30-day suspension today and what constituted one when the bylaws were written were far greater and the motion failed.

The committee amended the motion to read that any member, as of Aug. 1, who is serving a suspension of greater than two months from any USDA certified HIO should be ineligible. Again the discussion focused on the fact that being ineligible for a national board seat is a one-year punishment for an offense that the government is saying is only 30 days, two months, etc. The motion again failed.

As for the amendment applying to current directors serving and their eligibility to continue to serve upon receiving a suspension, Jack’s committee came back with the recommendation that any director receiving a 30-day suspension or greater from any USDA certified HIO or the USDA during their three-year term would be immediately terminated. This motion, for the same reason as the above eligibility amendments, failed to receive a second and didn’t come to a vote. Inman summarized, “Good people won’t serve under these restrictions or people will play with the ownership of horses, both of these are bad results.”

Stan Butt, who has had his interim tag removed from his Executive Director position (see TWHBEA news release in this issue), updated three initiatives going on right now at TWHBEA. The 2010 Games are developing a breed pavilion which TWHBEA will participate in. This will allow TWHBEA more time until a deposit is due and the overall cost will be less than the previous tradeshow costs. The alliance partnership with the American Association of Equine Practitioners will have to be approved by the board of the AAEP at their July meeting, at which time TWHBEA hopes to become an alliance partner of the AAEP. The iPEDS show records are going to be updated in a joint effort with Walking Horse Report.

“We appreciate the Report for working with us and offering to get our show records up-to-date,” said Butt.

In other committee reports Diana McMurtrey addressed the World Versatility Show and that Quarter Horse judges would be used as well as walking horse judges. Bill Strickland addressed this by stating, “It sends the wrong message with having judges that aren’t licensed walking horse judges.”

McMurtrey told Strickland that most walking horse judges can’t judge versatility and thus that is why Quarter Horse judges were used for these classes. The committee still had a problem with the use of judges that weren’t licensed walking horse judges and directed McMurtrey to only use walking horse judges. After a brief break later in the meeting, McMurtrey announced that Bill Strickland and Dee Dee Sale would judge the World Versatility Show.

To address the concern of the lack of knowledge to judge versatility by most licensed walking horse judges, a new committee was formed. Mike Inman, Dee Dee Sale, Diana McMurtrey and David Pruett formed the versatility certification committee, which will meet with the NHSC to set up versatility clinic dates.

Darren Gray is making the Go (Gelding) Program open to any HIO affiliated show, whereas it was only applicable to TWHBEA affiliated shows. He also plans to take the program internationally in Canada and Europe.

Joyce Moyer updated the marketing efforts that took place at the Equine Affair, which ran adjacent to the Sound Horse Conference in Columbus, Ohio. She informed the committee that Tom Seay was at the Equine Affair and addressed the Sound Horse Conference on behalf of TWHBEA and received much praise for his efforts.

“I received a note of thanks from Keith Dane for the good work being done to promote sound, natural walking horses,” said Moyer.

The April meeting was the last before the semi-annual meeting in May. The meeting included three executive sessions and many announcements from the executive committee. These announcements included the new $45 associate membership, members receiving one free registration or transfer, Stan Butt becoming permanent Executive Director and Sharon Brandon becoming Registrar (see TWHBEA news releases in this issue).