Copyright WHR 2007

By Christy Howard Parsons

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association Executive Committee held their monthly meeting on April 30, 2007 in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The full agenda was highlighted by eleven bylaw changes that were considered and voted upon by the Executive Committee.

Proposed changes by members had previously been brought to the bylaw committee that met twice to review the changes and to recommend some of the changes to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee only considers the bylaw changes that were approved by the bylaws committee. The Executive Committee then votes upon these changes and any that pass with the Executive Committee’s approval will be voted upon by the full National Board of Directors.

The first proposal had been submitted by Kathy Zeis and included a proposal to stagger the terms of the Executive Committee to provide more continuity. The by law committee accomplished this objective by changing the one year term to a term the length of the remainder of the time the individual was elected to the board. For instance, if a board member was in the first year of his three-year term, he could spend three years on the Executive Committee. A national board member who was in the last year of his three-year term would only spend one year on the Executive Committee. This would effectively stagger the terms of the members serving on the Executive Committee.

Vice President By Laws Sid Baucom proposed the motion. Jane Meredith seconded. The motion passed with a 7 to 5 vote with Kathy Zeis, Jamie Hankins, Wayne Dean, Bruce Vaughn and Marty Irby dissenting.

The next two proposals were considered together as they addressed aspects of the same issue. The second proposal eliminated the election of the office of Secretary/Treasurer (previously held by Sharon Brandon) and filled the office by appointment instead. The third proposal provided the appointment be made by the Executive Director with the concurrence of the Personnel Committee. After some discussion the motion was amended to allow for the concurrence of the full Executive Committee. These two motions passed unanimously.

The fourth proposal extended the term of the contract for the Executive Director to a term not to exceed three years. Previously the term had only been allowed to be one year. This motion also passed unanimously.

The fifth proposal substituted the President for the Directors for the authority to appoint a secretary for the annual meeting. This was to aid in the ease of administration of the meeting. Sid Baucom made the motion and Charles Wharton seconded. The motion passed with one dissent from Marty Irby.

The sixth proposal failed to pass the bylaw committee.

The seventh proposal was to change the maximum number of directors from one state that serve on the Executive Committee from five to four. Effectively, this would limit Tennessee to only four members of the Executive Committee where currently there are five members serving on the committee. This limit of five directors from one state affected the December 2006 election and has also impacted the election in other years. A great deal of discussion centered on the availability of interested persons to serve from areas further away. While there was a general opinion that there is a lot of talent all across the United States, Jerrold Pedigo finally posed the question to the Committee, “Does it improve the Executive Committee or does it limit good qualified candidates who are willing to serve?”

After heated discussion, the motion failed unanimously with Charles Wharton and Jane Meredith abstaining from the vote.

The next several proposals did not pass the bylaw committee. However the next proposal to come before the Executive Committee was to add experience requirements to candidates seeking election to the Executive Committee. The proposal would require a national board of Director to have served at least five years as a Director at any time and have attended at least two annual meetings to run for the Executive Committee. Sid Baucom made the motion and Charles Wharton seconded.

After discussion the motion failed 6 to 6 (Holly Reynolds was absent from the meeting). Voting for the proposal were Pat Stout, Charles Wharton, Jane Meredith, Sid Baucom, Jack Haefling and Jerrold Pedigo. Voting against the proposal were Darren Gray, Kathy Zeis, Wayne Dean, Bruce Hankins, Jamie Hankins and Marty Irby.

There was also a proposal that to be eligible to run for the office of President, that a candidate would have to have been on the Executive Committee for at least one year at some time. Sid Baucom made this motion. Jane Meredith seconded. This motion also failed with the same 6 to 6 vote count and with the same directors voting for and against.

A final proposal came out of the second bylaw committee meeting which strengthened the requirement that persons serving a suspension be removed from the Executive Committee. Currently the rule reads that any member currently serving a USDA or TWHBEA Sanctioned HIO suspension be removed or precluded from running for the Executive Committee. The proposal was that any member who had served a suspension within the past three years commencing Dec. 1, 2010, from any HIO would be precluded from serving. Sid Baucom made the motion and Darren Gray seconded the motion. Again, much discussion followed. The motion passed 7 to 5 with Kathy Zeis, Wayne Dean, Bruce Vaughn, Marty Irby and Jamie Hankins dissenting.

In other business TWHBEA had an invited guest, Cindy Schonholtz, President of the Animal Welfare Council, to present her position on the horse slaughter bill. Schonholtz took great care to identify the difference in animal rights organizations and animal welfare organizations. As an animal welfare organization, she presented a detailed presentation regarding the concerns of the unintended consequences of passing the horse slaughter bill. She concluded by asking TWHBEA to help with the Unwanted Horse Coalition. “Do not let outside forces utilize emotion to pass legislation that is ultimately bad for the horse.”

Jerrold Pedigo updated the Executive Committee on his meetings with the Celebration regarding their efforts to restructure the NHSC. He indicated he had met with Chairman David Howard and other members of the Celebration on two occasions to discuss the Celebration’s structural concepts.

“Mr. Howard told me that they were looking into their alternatives for what would be best for the Celebration. He made it very clear that as chairman it was his responsibility to do what was best for the Celebration,” explained Pedigo.

“Later that day (Thursday, April 19) they were going to propose to the NHSC that a new board be created, a new structure for the NHSC. I believe there would be 3 members on the board from the Celebration, 3 owners…, and 3 independent representatives from organizations like AAEP, HSUS, etc. They were going to talk to the trainers and to WHOA, although I don’t believe they have talked to WHOA yet,” said Pedigo.

“It was all mostly concept at this point, but this board would have total control over the HIO. There was still some question as to whether it would stay as the NHSC or a newly created HIO. The new structure would give the oversight board total authority. The WHTA and WHOA would be in advisory roles. When I met with them they didn’t know how it would be received, but I do understand it has been received positively,” said Pedigo.

“I asked them about the Futurity and I asked them to become sanctioned under our TWHBEA HIO Sanctioning Plan. They would not commit, and they made it clear that the Celebration is going to take control of their own destiny. They asked me to put the Futurity request in writing and I did receive a response. Mr. Howard and I have since talked in person and clarified a lot of what we said in those letters and we had a much better understanding of one another’s positions after we talked,” continued Pedigo.

Later Pedigo answered additional questions about the Futurity. “I talked to David as late as 7:30 this morning. I believe we will be able to have the Futurity on that Wednesday. He tried to reach all his board members before we talked this morning, but he was unable to do so in time for this meeting. I think we will be able to get it worked out though. They would provide the services for it. We would use our inspection service for the Futurity. I’m not sure if it would be a qualifying event – but certainly that is on the table as a possibility,” answered Pedigo.

“ I expect the Futurity and the Celebration to go hand in hand this year, but out of a respect for the whole Celebration board, I cannot officially say that yet. I feel good. I met with David Howard, Ron Thomas and John Bobo, but out of respect for their board, I have to wait for their decision,” said Pedigo.

See the related story, A Point Of Clarification by the Celebration.

There were many questions from the committee. Charles Wharton asked “Craig, do we know if there is any buy in from the Department?”

“The department is going to work with everyone who makes a sincere effort,” answered Craig Evans.

“But would the USDA work with us under this structure?” continued Wharton.

“I think so,” said Jamie Hankins. “It moves us out of the fox guarding the hen house.”

“I think they will be supportive of it,” concluded Evans.

There was also a strong positive response. “ I am encouraged. Let’s not argue on any points. As far as the Futurity, anything we can do to compromise we need to do. We need to encourage the Celebration to move further. This could be the compromise we’re after,” responded Sid Baucom.

Darren Gray was also supportive. “I think the Celebration is taking a positive step in the right direction.”

Sid Baucom asked to reserve any decision until the full Executive Committee could be convened for a decision. Marty Irby took that one step further and made a motion that the issue come before the full Executive Committee. The motion passed unanimously.

Under the Presidents’ comments, the issue of the Dixie Plantation and the Midnight Sun statue was also discussed. Apparently the Dixie Plantation is not pleased with the revenue being generated by the replica Midnight Sun statues that are given to donors of $5000 to the Plantation. Pedigo explained that TWHBEA had met all of its commitments according to the contract, but that in the end the revenue results were not what the Dixie Plantation expected. At Pedigo’s request, the Dixie Plantation provided their potential solution for TWHBEA to lease the statue for $12,000 per year, figured as a 6% rental on a statue worth in excess of $200,000. Some discussion followed, but Craig Evans proposed that the decision be reserved for the Executive Session.

Pedigo also addressed the NWHA lawsuit, but also saved that discussion for Executive Session.

Jane Meredith complimented the TWHBEA staff in her comments for their hard work in the academy championship program as well as “ the internal turnaround of this organization.”

New Executive Director Chuck Cadle began his remarks by saying he had 3 or 4 things to say out of Executive Session, but that the balance of his comments would be made in Executive Session.

He first addressed the sponsorship by General Motors. GM has agreed to provide a truck for the Walk This Way tour at a cost of $10,000 to $16,000 as well as to provide membership discounts on GM trucks to TWHBEA members. Cadle also expects to finalize an additional sponsorship program for the year 2008.

Cadle also addressed his current invoice from Niels Holch in the amount of $2400. He stated that after some research he found there was no existing contract with Holch and that he did not see sufficient value from the services Holch provided.

Pat Stout responded by proposing that TWHBEA do away with Niels Holch as their lobbyist. Others made comments as well.

Craig Evans responded by defining the history of Niels Holch and what his function had been through the NHSC. “When TWHBEA voted not to renew the NHSC contract, Niel’s situation became precarious.”

“It was never my understanding that Niels was TWHBEA’s lobbyist or that we engaged him to work on the Slaughter Act. It’s not fair to him,” continued Evans.

“I think this is a management issue, not a governance issue. This should be Chuck’s decision,” concluded Charles Wharton.

Cadle also addressed the Tennessee Backroads presentation that had been received by Larry Lowman. The $2500 expense was not included in the 2007 budget, as it had not been a line item in previous budgets. Cadle recommended to discontinue the program. Marty Irby proposed working with the Tennessee Backroads program in some lesser role. After more discussion Irby proposed to give Cadle the authority to handle the negotiation.

Committee meetings were relatively quick. Darren Gray did give an extensive report on the upcoming World Versatility Show. He said some sponsors had been secured already including Craig Evans who had been the first sponsor and the Celebration who contributed $1000. Gray explained that many more sponsors were needed. The show has been moved from Miller Coliseum to Calsonic Arena. It has been expanded to a three-day format and now includes a day of rail classes that had previously not been included in the show.

“We hope to raise $10,000 or more, enough to host another fall versatility show,” explained Gray.

Sid Baucom inquired as to whether versatility riders can accumulate points from shows from all HIOs. Gray answered that yes, the program had always allowed all shows that follow the TWHBEA Versatility rules according to their show bill and hire licensed judges to submit their points. The HIOC voted to allow this program to continue.

This is unlike the Go! Gelding program that the HIOC determined could not accept points from non-sanctioned HIOs.

Gray also reported on the Best of America By Horseback program that includes Tennessee Walking Horses as part of the trail rides and includes 90-120 second interviews with Walking Horse enthusiasts as well as TWHBEA commercial spots. The program will air the end of June.

Charles Wharton reported on the financial condition of the Association. He cautioned that revenues were down due to registry and advertising revenue being down and that expenses were up due primarily to registry bloodtyping and DNA issues. He reported that TWHBEA showed a loss of $300,000 in the first quarter of the year.

Wharton has not revised the 2007 budget as of yet, but with the expenses from the NWHA lawsuit now approaching $500,000 (which is being amortized over five years), Wharton warned, “We are going to have to be extraordinarily careful with expenses and capital expenditures in 2007.”

Wharton had additional information from his report, but reserved the balance for the Executive Session.

Kathy Zeis reported on the DNA conversion from the Breeders committee. She said that the blood at Shelterwood had proven to be between 20-25% “bad” rather than the projected 10-15%. Kristi Lane reported that all transmissions between the University of Kentucky and TWHBEA are now being done electronically. Lane reported that currently TWHBEA had received 3,690 new foal registrations compared to 4,575 at this same time last year. TWHBEA has received 5,653 transfers compared to 5,855 last year, but down 30% from the budget projection.

The issue of any recourse against Shelterwood for the bad blood was reserved for the Executive Session.

Zeis also asked the committee to extend the amnesty period for color changes on papers to extend from 5/31/07 to 5/31/08. This motion passed unanimously.

Pat Stout reported from the Horse Show division on the first TWHBEA show held in Texas. She said the show committee had been pleased with the help they received from TWHBEA including post cards sent to surrounding stables to solicit their participation.

Stout reported that there are currently ten more shows scheduled in 2007 in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, California and Utah. She also said two regional futurities had affiliated – Upper Cumberland and Midwest (Missouri).

Marty Irby and Kathy Zeis indicated they were working together to develop a breeders recognition program. Irby’s committee is also putting together a package of membership benefits breaking the membership levels into five categories (basic, expanded, lifetime, young adult and youth).

Wayne Dean then made the motion for TWHBEA to enter Executive Session. Bruce Vaughn seconded the motion.

After Executive Session, President Pedigo indicated that no action had been taken during the Executive Session. When the open portion of the meeting reconvened, there was some discussion about setting the times for the committee meetings at the semi-annual TWHBEA meeting in May before the motion to adjourn.