LEWISBURG, Tenn. – The International Board of Directors of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) met for the semi-annual meeting on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at their headquarters in Lewisburg. There were also directors that joined via Zoom, which as noted by the leadership of TWHBEA has allowed a lot more participation in the association by its members, especially with committee work.

President Jack Heffington opened the meeting with a summary of the first half of the year pointing out many of the positive happenings of TWHBEA. Heffington also formally introduced new Executive Director Mark Farrar to the directors as Farrar was participating in his first meeting as the new Executive Director.
Farrar was next to speak and gave a more in depth review of the first half of the year and thanked the staff and executive committee for all of their support of him and help in transitioning into the role. Farrar specifically pointed out the additional recognition of the World Grand Champion, Justified Honors. Justified Honors was present at the Tennessee State Capital for Ag Day on the Hill and was a fan favorite with legislators from across the state having their picture taken with the World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse. Justified Honors was also honored with the presentation of the American and State flag that were flying in Celebration arena on the final Saturday night when he showed, along with a state resolution presented by Rep. Pat Marsh.

Farrar also stated a goal of TWHBEA would be to tell a broader story of the Tennessee Walking Horse and to better point out all of the positives within the breed. Farrar also told the stat that almost 700 different stallions were bred in 2021, a number that he thought when joining the association would have been less than half of that number. Tennessee will pick up an 18th director when the new elections are held and Arkansas and Michigan both passed the threshold of 80 members giving each state a director of their own.

The financial state of TWHBEA continues to strengthen as Thomas Derickson, the Chief Financial Officer of TWHBEA pointed out that TWHBEA currently has $1 million dollars in cash. That number is a 31% increase in cash position from just one year ago. The net income of the association sits at $72,000 through the five months ended April 30, 2022. A reduced payroll versus the budget has been one of the biggest factors in increased net income through this point in the year. TWHBEA has recognized $31,000 in revenue from license plate revenue from the state.

David Sisk addressed the changes for the Futurity which will now be spread throughout the class schedule of The Celebration. “Our goal is to make the Futurity back to a true futurity,” said Sisk. TWHBEA is making changes to attempt to bring back the relevance and prestige of the Futurity. Sisk pointed out that all two and three-year-olds will now have a spot to show and earn monies regardless of division.

Tom Kakassy highlighted his committee’s work by giving an overview of proposed bylaw changes that will be voted on at the annual meeting by the general membership. The proposed changes included altering the TWHBEA fiscal year to match the calendar year and adding flexibility to change meeting dates should there be extenuating circumstances. In addition, TWHBEA will propose staggering, two-year terms for executive committee members, extend the president’s term to two years and allowing the secretary to be appointed by the executive committee with no set term.  

In addition, TWHBEA will attempt to clarify and define a voting member. Moving forward, any member that owns a Tennessee Walking Horse and is a member in good standing with TWHBEA will be allowed to vote. Current members who currently have voting privileges will keep those as long as their membership does not lapse and remains in good standing. A last change was to change the title of Executive Director to Chief Executive Officer.

Thom Meek highlighted as part of the Trainers’ report that the new show that was to be funded by the monies from the Trainers’ Directory, a joint effort of TWHBEA and the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association has now resulted in a “United We Stand” horse show at the end of the year in Tunica, Mississippi, which will now be a joint venture of the TWHBEA, WHTA, Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST), and Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. The four groups are coming together for the first time to host a show together.

The Tunica show will be at the end of the year, but TWHBEA is also doing a show in Illinois this summer on July 29th and 30th. Meek also said TWHBEA is working to have a social event on the Thursday night before the banquet weekend in December.

Amanda Wright, who is the Pleasure Horse VP, highlighted in her report the work of her committee with WHTA to add a Two & Three-Year-Old Country Pleasure division in the Riders’ Cup as well as having this class at several shows and on the tentative class sheet of The Celebration. Dale Steinmetz and The Maiden are the sponsors of the new Riders’ Cup division.