Walking Horse Report Publisher Jeffrey Howard recently conducted an interview with Christy Lantis, Performance Horse Vice-President on the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA).  Lantis has been instrumental in planning and organization the Summit, which will be held Saturday May 4, 2013 at the TWHBEA headquarters in Lewisburg, Tennn.

Q.  What is the desired goal of the TWHBEA Performance Horse Summit?
A.  The desired goal of the Performance Horse Summit is to give an opportunity for performance horse industry stakeholders to compare ideas, develop and advance a plan for effective self-regulation, scientific analysis, communication and education.  Ultimately, my hope would be that there is a 'product' of realistic and concrete solutions for effective regulation that removes subjectivity and would be something the industry could rally around, support and implement.  This may involve scientific research, involvement of other groups, and most certainly communication and education.

Q.  Who from inside the industry will be on panels or making presentations?
A.  We have a variety of people involved, and these folks are truly from coast to coast.  We will have a panel for our third section of the agenda, 'Finding the Solution', that will include Ronald Mosely, Kim Widner, Terry Dotson, Wayne Dean, Mike Inman, Sheryl Crawford, and Duane Rector.  Duane will also be presenting in our first section and discussing the status of the horse in the field, and the observations that he has as the former DQP Coordinator for PRIDE.  Dr. Baum will be a part of our second portion of the agenda.

Q.  Who from outside of the industry will be on the panels or making presentations?
A.  We are quite fortunate to have secured both Dr. Ram Purohit and Dr. Raymond Miller.  Both of these gentlemen are well respected in the veterinary science field.  Dr. Purohit is Professor Emeritus, Auburn University, author of the 'Auburn Study' and cosigner of the Atlanta Protocols.  Dr. Miller was also involved in and a cosigner of the Atlanta Protocols.  Both the Auburn Study and the Atlanta Protocols will be included in the Summit materials. 

Q.  What is the cost of the Summit and how do you register?
A.  The cost of the Summit is fairly nominal at $25 for TWHBEA members and $35 for non-members.  We will have a light breakfast and a working lunch, along with handout materials.  The registration fee is to cover those items and other expenses that may arise.    Because of the catering and material needs, we will need people to register and they can do that simply by calling Mrs. Diane White, TWHBEA Executive Secretary, at 931.359.0581.  We are asking people to register by close of business on May 1st, so that we may prepare appropriately. 

Attendees of the Summit need to understand that we have scheduled speakers with an extremely tight time frame.  Because of the time constraints, we will be accepting written questions which will be conveyed to the appropriate respondents during the course of the summit. 

Q.  Will the views of those in opposition to our performance horse and its future be included on panels or as part of the conference?
A.  The speakers and panelists are people that are or have been actively involved in some capacity of the performance horse aspect of the industry.  These people are facing the problems that our performance horse face, as owners, exhibitors, breeders and participants.  Most importantly they all have an interest in and desire to see its success.

Q.  Will any AAEP or AVMA representatives be in attendance?  How about the American Horse Council? 
A.  I have made attempts at contact with all three organizations.  I spoke with Dave Foley, Executive Director of AAEP, and had a very nice conversation and have exchanged a few emails, but ultimately the AAEP declined our invitation.  I have basically played phone tag with Jay Hickey, President of the American Horse Council.  I have not had a response to two or three messages left for Dr. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President of AVMA.  We will be including the recent statements of all three groups and the 'White Paper' in the Summit material and will be discussing the positions of these groups and their recommendations to our industry.  I will be emailing all three of the of these groups and inviting them to provide a written statement for the Summit attendees.  While there will be no official representation, it is very important and vital to the future of the performance horse that we find a way to work with these organizations going forward.  Additionally, an invitation was extended to Dr. Chester Gipson of the USDA, which was declined as he had a prior engagement.  A follow up email was extended with an offer for the USDA to send another representative.  As of this interview there has been no response from Dr. Gipson.

Q.  Will the HSUS be in attendance at the Summit?  Have they been asked to be a part of any panel? 
A.  HSUS has not been asked to be a part of any panel at the Summit.  If HSUS representatives are in attendance it will be as individuals and not in an official capacity. 

Q.  Is the membership of TWHBEA in agreement with the Summit or is the majority opposed to it?
A.  Well, Jeffrey, I can't speak for the entire membership of TWHBEA.  I can tell you that as the Vice President of the Performance Horse Division of TWHBEA I have received more emails that I could possibly count, both in support and against, as have most all of the Executive Board members.  Something that I think is important for our members and the walking horse community as a whole to know is that this is a conversation about ways to improve inspections, make it less subject to human thought process, and most importantly to make certain that our performance horses are sound, compliant, happy and healthy. 

Thank you, Jeffrey, for taking the time to interview me and help spread the word about the Performance Horse Summit.  I look forward to a successful day and hope to see everyone there.