By Sadie Fowler

LEWISBURG, Tenn. — Members of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association met at 10 a.m. Saturday May 25 at the TWHBEA headquarters in Lewisburg, Tennessee for routine business and committee reports. The meeting served as one of two annual meetings where directors provide committee reports for the general membership of the organization.

Approximately 40 members showed up for Saturday’s meeting, held in conjunction with the Spring Fun Show weekend of events, in Shelbyville. 

David Williams, president of the association, opened the meeting promptly at 10 a.m., thanking folks for attending. Williams’ opening comments were followed with three new directors being officially sworn in followed by brief comments from Rory Williams, TWHBEA’s executive director, who told members things are generally in good standing at TWHBEA’s headquarters.

“We are currently in a positive place with our registry, our staff, website updates and building maintenance,” he said. “We are making building repairs as we can afford them.”

Rory Williams reported a note of concern regarding registry transfers, which currently stand at 157 for the month of May, which is the worst number compared to the same month in previous years that he has ever seen. 
“We have one month to get them,” he said. “In the past, I have seen them down 160 and we’ve managed to complete them, so it is possible.”

The next order of business came with David Williams reminding the group that 32 people are either terming out of their board seats or facing re-election, so it is imperative that TWHBEA members communicate the need for participation in the months to come. The cut-off date for anyone’s declaration of directorship is Aug. 1. 

Standing committee reports followed and took up the majority of the nearly two-hour long meeting, with Keegan Meadows kicking off these reports with his brief updates on the Owners/Exhibitors/International committee. One of his highlights, met with applause from attendees, was that Mexico just welcomed its first born and bred Tennessee Walking Horse that is registered with TWHBEA.

The next brief report came from Margo Urad as she spoke on behalf of the Bylaws committee with her primary comments expressing her appreciation for those who sign up and put forth their efforts into supporting the association.

“When you sign up for this It comes with responsibility, and I appreciate those of you being here on a holiday weekend,” she said, adding that she had little news to report in regard to complaints among her committee, and when there’s no news, it’s usually good news.

Ashley Wadsworth and Delaine Freeman Smith spoke on behalf of recent marketing efforts at TWHBEA, with news of TWHBEA’s participation in the upcoming Wilson County Fair serving as the exciting highlight for their division. Wadsworth encouraged members to let her know of any marketing needs or opportunities for positive public relations.

“We need to get the horse in front of people,” she said. “Please let us know if you have anything to promote and we will be here to help.”

Wadsworth also explained her committee’s recent purchase of an advertisement on Google that, with search engine optimization in mind, puts positive news about the walking horse as the number one item when the term is entered on a Google search.

Denise Rowland joined TWHBEA after last year’s election, when she became the vice president overseeing the Admin/Fiscal/Audit division. Her comments exceeded most of the other reports in terms of time, with her topic being titled “The good. The bad. And the goals.” 

Rowland said TWHBEA had recently completed its implementation of QuickBooks for accounting purposes. Overall, things are looking up in this department, she said, with her goals for next year to have the department in good shape so that members can compare apples to apples in terms of accounting and finances. 

Other updates: The Voice Magazine is now being published in house, which is projected to save about $12,500 annually. She said TWHBEA has also officially changed banks to allow for more modern banking.

See a breakdown of financials related to the last fiscal quarter in a side bar that follows this story.

Overall, Rowland said there’s work to be done to continuing progressing this department forward, but in general, they are in better shape than they were a year ago. 

“My outlook is we will break even at the end of the year,” she said. “I would like to do better than break even, but that is where we are at at this point … We need to empower our income and spend smart … We are already working on next year’s budget.”

Stephen Smith reported briefly on news regarding inspections at horse shows, explaining that his mission remains to incorporate and bring forward objective and scientific testing in order to save the breed. 
Discussion surrounding upcoming grants came up briefly, specifically grants that will help TWHBEA preserve and digitalize their records. 

There are currently 674 lifetime members of TWHBEA and attendees at Saturday’s meeting were reminded of the importance of updating the TWHBEA office with the knowledge of anyone’s passing or estate planning issues or updates of TWHBEA members.

Carrie Benedict provided updates on the Breeders’ division, specifically talking about the iPeds and the Futurity, which will take place Wednesday evening prior to the Celebration. This year will mark the first year of a transition planned toward adding classes at the Futurity, the Jackpot, as well as bringing back some prestige to the event that has been lost in recent years. 

“We want to jazz it up to get it back to being the premiere show it should be,” she said.

Chris Hazelwood, also new to the Board this year, reported briefly on updates regarding the Youth committee, which he said it was an honor to represent the small but passionate group of kids. He spoke about bringing back some Youth Medallion classes, which encourages exhibitors to canter. His goal was to add these classes, in both pleasure and performance, to eight shows and he’s already surpassed that goal with 15 shows committing to the addition of this class. He said sponsorships are needed. 

The second portion of Hazelwood’s report focused on the All Youth and Halter Show, which he believes helps youth learn worth ethic as it relates to the horse business.

“We want to arm our youth with the tools they’ll need for the future,” he said. “We focus a lot on that … things like teaching them to conduct an organized meeting. We want to see our kids work and be equipped with basic skills.”

Finally, Hazelwood reported news of the inaugural Quiz Bowl at this year’s Celebration, with more details about this to follow in the near future. Updates on this and other deadlines related to scholarships will be available on the THWBEA website. 

Jim Heiting spoke briefly about the Equine Welfare division, stating the following: “I believe we need to support and enforce equine welfare in every instance as it relates to violations of the Horse Protection Act.”

New business closed out the meeting with brief discussion about ways to coordinate the annual TWHBEA banquet and December meeting so they are more in line with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association holiday banquet and meetings. Rowland encouraged members to share any ideas with her for ways to improve that weekend in December and add some fun to the event as a whole. 

The next Board meeting for TWHBEA will be Dec. 7, 2019 at the association’s headquarters in Lewisburg, Tennessee. 

TWHBEA by the numbers

The following figures have been reported by the TWHBEA Admin/Fiscal/Audit committee as they relate to financials from December, 2018 through April, 2019.

Membership and registration $293.126.68
Building rental $5850
G & A ($169.764.03)
Employees ($229,726.45)
Marketing $6988.92
Gift shop ($1,138.36)
Vacation? $4735.90
Pleasure $5406.15
Voice $22097.22
Performance 0
Futurity $87.86
Futurity horse show $6960
Net income ($55,571.92)