By Jeffrey Howard

The major focus of the January 12 Executive Committee meeting was to approve a 2008 budget for TWHBEA that would begin the reemergence of TWHBEA’s financial comeback.  Goal accomplished.  

The budget was approved and it does include significant cutbacks on expenditures and programs as well as major adjustments to expected revenues.  The budgeted revenues for TWHBEA in 2008 are $2.8M, which includes Voice revenues, as compared to slightly over $5M in 2007 (a complete budget will be posted on WHR online and print editions).

Other highlights of the meeting included the signing of the National Parks Service agreement, the official welcome of Stan Butt as interim Executive Director and the confirmation of the 2008 National Futurity as the beginning year of what will make the National Futurity a “true” futurity instead of a sweepstakes.

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The new Executive Committee followed Mike Inman’s lead in approving the 2008 budget and focused on the change in philosophy, which was best described by Inman as “a departure from a need to know mentality to a need you to know mentality.”  This will be accomplished by each month’s financials being posted on the TWHBEA web site for all members to view. 


Christy Lantis pointed out “I really like us having it on the web site and it is what our membership wants.”  Inman continued “we have nothing to hide and I want them (membership) to know.  Our members deserve to know.”  Inman did warn the committee with this increased exposure will come increased scrutiny of each area of the association.  “Familiarize yourself with your area because you will now get questions and you need to be able to answer these questions.” 


One area of concern was the allocation of $25,000 for a forensic audit, which Inman said was not an indicator that one would be done but that the possibility of a limited one made him budget this amount.  As the discussion of the budget concluded Moyer stopped the committee for a second to address Inman, “your volunteer services are greatly appreciated.”  Inman concluded the discussion with a popular phrase of his, “this (the budget) is the science, now comes the art (of carrying it out).”


One other budget area addressed was the closure of the NWHA lawsuit and the HIO Sanctioning plan.  These two expensive issues were put to rest and taken as part of the past year’s financials and won’t be carried forward into the 2008 budget.  The total amount spent on the HIO Sanctioning Plan was $235,955, $155,662 in 2006 and $80,293 in 2007.


Stan Butt was at his first meeting as Executive Director and addressed the committee saying “thank you for the confidence you have placed in me.”  He also thanked Chuck Cadle for his help in getting him up to speed, “Chuck has been a very willing help.”  David Pruett also thanked Chuck Cadle, “Chuck will be leaving us and has been an asset to this organization and we wish you (Cadle) the best in your future endeavors.” 


As Cadle leaves the organization, one of his goals came to fruition with the signing of the National Parks Service agreement.  Cadle also pointed out in his closing remarks “I feel I have left the accuracy of the financial position of TWHBEA better than I found it.”


Stan Butt pointed out some immediate action items he and his staff will undertake which included a monthly check of the national board to make sure they are all under compliance of TWHBEA policies of inclusion.  He also pointed out the importance of emphasizing the Tennessee Walking Horse Foundation as a part of TWHBEA.


During Joyce Moyer’s marketing committee report, she gave a detailed account of the National Parks Service agreement and its final push for signing.  This is an important arrangement for TWHBEA as it provides an exclusive arrangement for the Tennessee Walking Horse as part of the National Parks Service. 


She also had the deal with Tom Seay and Best of America by Horseback formalized and signed.  This sponsorship of this program will be $10,000 and will include tremendous exposure for TWHBEA and the Tennessee Walking Horse.  Seay will be riding a Tennessee Walking Horse in all of his appearances in 2008.  Other highlights of her report included a National Parks Youth Trail Ride which would be a nationwide event for youth of America to participate in on June 7th.  Many marketing opportunities exist for Moyer and her committee around this ride.


Bill Stricklend began his lengthy Horse Shows report announcing that the major goal this year is the Futurity.  Changes to this year’s futurity will include the beginning of the “true” futurity with the 2008 crop of weanlings, these weanlings will have to be nominated in 2008 or they will not be allowed to join the program in following years. 


This new program will be introduced gradually as in 2008 yearlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds will all be able to be nominated but in 2009 only weanlings, two-year-olds and three-year-olds will be allowed which will make the 2011 Futurity the first graduating class of true Futurity.  Another change in the 2008 Futurity will be the adding of the division Park Performance.


Stricklend reported that his committee will approach the Celebration about having the 2008 Futurity as part of its show and use the same judges and DQPs with the 2008 Futurity serve as qualifying for the applicable World Grand Championship classes at the 2008 Celebration.  He did point out that this was contingent with the Executive Committee being in agreement with who the Celebration affiliates with in 2008.


A long discussion centered around the regional futurities and whether the previously approved motion to mandate stallions pay a full stud fee for nomination in 2008 with half going to the National Futurity and half being split among the participating regional futurities was feasible for 2008.  Concerns centered around a “subject to buy in from the regional futurities” provision in the motion approved by the 2007 Executive Committee. 


Holdover members of the 2007 Executive Committee, Darren Gray and Jamie Hankins didn’t remember the motion that way and transcripts of that meeting didn’t state the motion in that manner.  That left the committee in a tough spot with the resolution being a meeting with the regional futurities as soon as possible to gauge their interest in the new program.  At that point the committee will determine if this new fee structure will go into place in 2009.


Horse show development is an important goal of TWHBEA, yet budgeted monies don’t allow for TWHBEA to financially support the development of new shows in 2008 as in previous years.  One potential problem comes from shows that signed up under the old program in 2007 which allowed the show $1,000 in its first year from TWHBEA, $750 in the second and $500 in its third. 


The  committee could only identify two potential shows that will continue under this plan and will honor their monetary commitments to those shows.  As for new shows in 2008, TWHBEA will assist them with a show management packet and this assistance could include a person at the show if the circumstances allow.


Germany has also contacted TWHBEA about putting on a futurity in 2008.  Stricklend is gathering the costs and will report back to determine its course of action.  Also the WHTA has asked TWHBEA for a $10,000 sponsorship of its 2008 show.  The Executive Committee could not commit to this level of sponsorship as there is no budget allocation for sponsorships in 2008 but did commit to help in the creation of the program covers for WHTA as a show of goodwill.


As part of Dee Dee Sale’s breeders’ report she cleared up a policy which says a horse can be owned by a man and wife but it only qualifies one for membership on the National Board.  Sale also asked the committee to open a new Lifetime Membership program for 60 days beginning on March 1, 2008.  This program is similar to the one in 2007 and allows a lifetime membership for $695.


Diana McMurtrey’s Pleasure Horse report focused on the 2008 World Versatility Show and its movement in 2008 to Miller Coliseum in Murfeesboro, Tenn. as part of the WHOA International show.  The World Versatility Show will be held on August 1st and 2nd and will include 25 classes. 


As part of the agreement with WHOA to hold the show in conjunction with WHOA’s International, WHOA asked for a $5,000 sponsorship from TWHBEA and it requires a $2,000 facility rental.  Again this presents a problem for TWHBEA, but the committee agreed to the move and will ask members for sponsorships and donations.


Christy Lantis discussed the Youth Committee and its initiatives and announced that the TWHBEA summer camp will now be held in partnership with the WHOA summer camp.  She also announced the first clinic which will be on mare and foal care at Waterfall Farms during the 2008 Trainers’ Show on March 22, 2008.  The clinic will be conducted by David Williams of Waterfall Farms.


Kathy Zeis addressed the Tennessee Walking Horse Foundation and its importance as a part of TWHBEA.  The foundation is a 501C3, which allows donations to be tax exempt, whereas donations to TWHBEA are not tax exempt.  Monies donated to the Foundation can’t be used for all TWHBEA programs nor operating expenses but can be used for education which would include the Academy program and any clinics. 


The bylaws of the Foundation require a 9 person board and the current board only has 4 active members, Kathy Zeis, Charles Wharton, Jerold Pedigo and Jane Meredith.  Zeis reported that Wharton asked to resign from the Foundation board which left her needing 6 new members.  She filled these spots upon a vote from the Executive Committee to include, Debra Jack, Dee Dee Sale, David Pruett, Christy Lantis, Jack Heffington and Janice Fostek.


A visitor to the meeting was Distinct Benefit Solutions, which focuses on medical benefits for association members that are under or uninsured.  This program was presented as a potential benefit for membership to TWHBEA and would allow its members to take advantage of lower medical costs including prescription drugs.  The committee took the matter under advisement.


The only item in new business was the creation of a search committee to find a new Executive Director.  This committee will look at the contract with the firm that helped in the previous search to see if any provision would obligate them to help in this search as a result of Chuck Cadle’s short tenure.


The January meeting was a long one which lasted 10 hours, included a 4 hour executive session and could be best described as the “new beginning” of the 2008 Executive Committee.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be held on February 23.