By Christy Howard Parsons


            Ballots for the election of International Directors of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association have been mailed and are due to be returned and counted on October 16. As that date looms closer and the stakes remain high, the clash of the opposing sides is building to a crescendo with exchanges of allegations on the internet, in the print media, and in the meeting room itself.

            Each Executive Committee meeting begins with a 30-minute opportunity for TWHBEA members to address the Executive Committee members. Joni Jenne and Virginia Stewart took advantage of that opportunity on behalf of the organization Free The Breeders. [See the text of their presentations as a sidebar to this story.] Joey Manos also read a letter he had sent to Chuck Cadle expressing his opinions of the Sanctioning Plan.

            Joni Jenne, a former employee at TWHBEA, addressed the executive committee first urging the committee to allow both sides to observe the ballot counting. Virginia Stewart read a letter she had written to Sid Baucom in response to his letter regarding the upcoming by law changes being voted upon in the election. Stewart stood up and looked Baucom directly in the eye as she passionately delivered her message.

            At the end of the member forum, the meeting returned to the agenda and following the dispensation of regular approvals of the agenda, minutes, and financial statements, President Jerrold Pedigo began with his remarks.

            “I want to thank everyone that worked so hard on the Futurity. I also want to recognize the success of the World Versatility Show. There was a lot of effort and work in both of these events and I appreciate all the hard work,” said Pedigo. He also commended the Celebration on a successful show.

            Jane Meredith gave her comments as the Executive Vice President. “I also want to thank the staff. This group deliberated for three hours to make the decision to continue with this Futurity and the staff only had 16 days to put it together.” Meredith also commented on the smooth Celebration and she passed out a list of the motions for Executive Sessions during 2007 thus far including who had made the motion for the executive sessions.


  1. Upon motion by Mr. Vaughn, seconded by Mr. Baucom, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  January 10, 2007
  2. Upon motion by Mr. Irby, seconded by Mrs. Zeis, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  February 26, 2007
  3. Upon motion by Jamie Hankins, seconded by Mr. Dean, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  March 26, 2007
  4. Upon motion by Mr. Dean, seconded by Mr. Vaughn, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  Discussion litigation, contracts and personnel issues.  April 30, 2007
  5. Upon motion by Mr. Vaughn, seconded by Mrs. Meredith, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  May 26, 2007
  6. Upon motion by Mr. Wharton, seconded by Mr. Irby, Action was taken by voice vote, to go into Executive Session.  June 25, 2007
  7. Upon motion by Mrs. Zeis, seconded by Mr. Gray, Action was taken by voice vote to go into Executive Session.  July 30, 2007



            Meredith passed out the list to address the complaint that the Executive Committee holds too many Executive Sessions and therefore, “secret” discussions.

            For the record, today’s meeting also ended in an executive session called for by Darren Gray and seconded by Jamie Hankins.

            Chuck Cadle continued the praise of the Futurity in his comments. “I would like to say that we could not have done this without all of your help. Each of you contributed – passing out tshirts, selling tickets, everybody did a great job of finding a role. It was good to see everyone pull together to make it as successful as it could be,” said Cadle.

            Cadle also expressed his new appreciation for the level of detail involved in putting on shows of the magnitude of the Celebration, the Futurity, and the World Versatility show. He expressed a need for TWHBEA to develop more resources and to catalog the information necessary for groups to put on successful horse shows.

            Cadle also invited Gregory Cook, of Cook & Co., the independent CPA firm hired to oversee the TWHBEA election, to speak regarding the election procedures.

            “It is in the best interest of the Association and it will further the objective of the Association to have a fair and impartial election, for me to welcome members of the Executive Committee to observe the election procedures,” said Cook. “Except for the obvious choice of not observing the states where they or their family members are involved in running for election.”

            Cook explained he could accommodate up to 18 individuals in the room and up to 12 more in the lobby to take turns observing the election procedures. Cook explained that the United States Post Office is holding all returned ballots until they are retrieved at 8 am on October 16 when they will be taken to Cook & Co. offices to be separated by state or region into individual boxes. The employees will then be assigned different states or regions to count. Envelopes are stapled to each ballot as they are opened. The ballots are not identified with names, but only with membership numbers. The votes will be recorded on a spreadsheet and then master tallies will be made.

            There was a great deal of discussion concerning whether the Executive Committee could or should waive the conflict of interest inherent in observing the election if they or their family members were running in the election. Jane Meredith and Bruce Vaughn are the only two EC members currently running for election as an international director. Jamie Hankins and Wayne Dean each have a family member running for election.

            There were also some concerns about respecting individual members privacy as to their vote, especially in states where there might be a small number of voters. Holly Reynolds expressed her constituent’s concerns about profiling of certain states or regions relative to how they voted in the election of bylaw amendments.

            Greg Cook reassured Reynolds and the committee that by law amendment elections were reported on a summary basis, not broken down by state.

            Cook also clarified questions about verifying membership numbers. Cook only verifies membership numbers when there is a suspicion of a problem on a case-by-case basis and in some random selections.

            Jerrold Pedigo answered questions relative to the dates related to the election. May 1 is the date when the number of directors each state is eligible to elect is determined. Members of record as of August 1 receive a ballot. This date was previously September 1 according to the bylaws, but two years ago that date was moved to August 1, to give adequate time to prepare the ballots.

            Kristi Lane confirmed that on August 1, 2007, the staff stayed late to ensure that every membership application received as of that time had been properly recorded.

            There was also a lot of discussion relative to maintaining the confidentiality of the election results until the statement is released publicly. The Executive Committee members observing the election procedure will be asked to sign a confidentiality statement, as well as designating the process as an “Executive Session” to ensure confidentiality. Cook expects the counting procedure to take at least ten hours.  The Committee pledged to get out an official press release regarding the election results as soon as possible this year.

            After the lengthy discussion Marty Irby made the motion to allow any Executive Committee member to observe the election process under Mr. Cook’s procedures, including signing a confidentiality statement. Charles Wharton seconded the motion, and the vote passed unanimously.

            Virginia Stewart’s letter at the beginning of the meeting referred to election irregularities. Jane Meredith asked Gregory Cook to explain those irregularities. Cook declined to answer questions verbally from the floor, but said he would be more than happy to answer any written questions in writing.

            Meredith asked that it be placed in the record that those irregularities had been inadvertently made by Sharon Brandon regarding Charles Gleghorn’s term length and another director’s move from New Jersey to Tennessee. The result was that two additional directors had to be elected from Tennessee in last year’s election than had been called for on the ballot.

            Charles Wharton was the first vice president to give his Administrative/Fiscal Committee Report. Wharton went into more detail describing the financial position as they are now nine months into their fiscal year. The month of August presented a loss of $53,000 that was greater than the revised projection of an $18,000 loss. However, Wharton indicated that the month’s results were not as significant as those of the nine months of the year so far.

            Wharton reported revenues so far this year of $3.2 million, down approximately $90,000 from 2006. Revenues were adjusted during the year for prior year unrecognized revenues of almost $250,000, so without this extraordinary adjustment, revenues would have been even more significantly down.

Expenses were up almost $250,000 from last year, leaving a loss of $463,000 compared to a $123,000 loss last year.

            The most significant revenue losses were in the Voice magazine where revenues are down approximately $343,000.

            Increases in expenses came in marketing, salaries, DNA conversion costs, and other general and administrative expenses.

            Marty Irby questioned marketing expenses that were paid to a public relations firm. The Executive Committee had passed a motion to discontinue spending money with this firm earlier in the year, but the firm had been retained during the Celebration to respond to media requests.

            There were also questions relative to the HIO travel expenses. The expenses in this category were discussed, which primarily included the expenses of the designated qualified persons at the horse shows inspected by the HIO this year. The category also included expenses for Pedigo’s travel to Washington and the AAEP conference as well as other members’ travel to HIO meetings.

            Cadle pledged to use June revenues as his benchmark for holding expenses during the final three months of the year. Typically revenues rise during the last three months of the year, but Cadle is now worried that revenues may not escalate as expected. Cadle plans to hold down costs to ensure that there is no unnecessary overspending.

            Kathy Zeis began her Breeders committee report by expressing her dismay about negative information being disseminated about the Tennessee Walking Horse. “When we talk about each other, we talk about the horse,” said Zeis.

            Zeis asked Nancy Lynn Greene to speak regarding the status of the DNA conversion. “Could we have done a whole lot better on the front end? Yes. But are we getting through it? Yes. We are doing all that we can to get it resolved as quickly as possible,” said Greene. “This is a very manual process. Virtually every case is an exception. If you know of members having problems, ask them to call me directly,” said Greene. “I return all my calls within 24 hours.”

            Jamie Hankins’ report from the Enforcement committee was short as he deferred reporting on “multiple allegations against high level staff” until an executive session was called. Hankins also though made pleas for members to remember their oath of office “to promote every aspect of this horse.” Hankins gave anecdotal evidence of horses selling for $100 a piece and less and said something needed to be done immediately about the price of horses. “It’s not the horse that’s the problem, it’s the people,” said Hankins.

            Pat Stout reported as Vice President of Horse Shows on the current status of the horse shows. TWHBEA has sanctioned over 40 horse shows. “Things are going very well,” said Stout. “We have several more to go yet this year.”

            There was some discussion about the attendance at the National Futurity, and there were some complaints about the judging at the Futurity. “That two-year-old performance class was a disgrace,” said Jamie Hankins. “If that’s what you’re training them to do Craig, then you’re doing it wrong. Ray Charles could have tied that class.”

            “An honest person who doesn’t know is as bad as a crooked person who does know,” Hankins continued with agreement around the table from Craig Evans and Jerrold Pedigo.

            Marty Irby reported on his marketing committee. He said he would be presenting a new program for the Voice at the next Executive Committee, but he said that the Voice performance was improving.

            “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see this month. We had a good response after the Celebration – over 50 ads,” said Irby. Irby asked Kristi Lane to report on the America By Horseback program.

            “We’ve had 13 rides this year and we’ve received very positive feedback. This is a very expensive sponsorship. It has a long-term payoff. We are not seeing the generation of new members after every ride, but we are getting lots of emails and lots of interest in the breed. It’s an expensive sponsorship and not one we can sustain given our current levels of transfers. There may be other ways we can work in conjunction with the program in some way,” explained Lane.

            Bruce Vaughn reported as Vice President of the Performance Horse.  “We should be very happy with our partnership with the Celebration. The HIO did the best job I’ve seen in years inspecting horses. Attendance was disappointing, but it was a good show this year. My guess is we’ll see better attendance next year.”

            Vaughn expressed his disappointment in phone calls that are being made regarding the upcoming TWHBEA election. “I take a personal affront when calls s ay if you don’t vote for a particular person, you are voting for the sore horse. I have a member call me that was very upset that the horse was being denigrated,” said Vaughn.

            A great deal of discussion continued about the phone calls being made. There were lots of reports of phone calls being made out of Toronto and Ontario by telemarketing firms. Apparently some phone calls are automated messages and others are personal phone calls.

            Prior to this year, TWHBEA’s policy was to release membership lists of individual states to members seeking election in that state for purposes of soliciting votes. TWHBEA’s policy was not to allow the entire membership list to be obtained. Kathy Zeis challenged that policy and asked TWHBEA to provide her with the entire list. Upon review of the Tennessee statute, TWHBEA attorneys advised that any member could request a full membership list, not to be used for commercial purposes, but for membership purposes and for influencing an election.

            Accordingly Kathy Zeis, and later, Lori Northrup were given copies of the full membership list.

            Zeis has not shared her list with any other organization including Free The Breeders, leading to the conclusion that the telemarketing calls are being generated by organizations led by Lori Northrup. No phone numbers were released on the membership lists, but access to phone numbers via the internet look up services is relatively simple.

            Darren Gray continued the committee report with the Pleasure Horse Committee.

Gray reported that the World Versatility Show went well with almost 500 entries participating in the three-day event, considerably larger than last years almost 300 entries.

            Gray reported that there was still money in the budget for sponsored trail rides. He also reported that the awards for the versatility and distance programs will be given at the TWHBEA banquet. The deadline for these points is November 15.

            Wayne Dean reported as the Training Vice  President. Dean questioned the commercial that ran on the jumbotron during the Celebration for TWHBEA which did not include a performance horse in it. Kristi Lane responded that the commercial was almost ten years old, and that we did in fact need to budget for a new commercial.

            Sid Baucom elaborated “We should give emphasis to the performance horse especially at this time.”

            Chuck Cadle continued that thought. “I think we have to educate people about the performance horse. Other HIOs throw rocks at us and the  NHSC about the performance horse. We need to improve the education about the discipline. People call and ask questions. They don’t understand the chain. We need to educate the public,” he said.

            Jane Meredith agreed. “I really fell like the performance horse brochure is under-utilizied. Ben Lee said the brochure was instrumental in helping educate the Gulf Coast community about our horse.”

            “A lot of people think that a horse that can step over a limb has been sored. They don’t think a horse should pick his foot up at all. One way to demonstrate that a horse doesn’t have to be sore to do that is to use the old Joe Webb shoe. He used to demonstrate that with his old stallion. He’s start out with just a plate on, then we started elevating him. It’s a good way to do it. As you build up the shoe, the horse’s gait increases. Sometimes you have to show people,” explained Baucom.

            Pedigo explained that Bobby Richards does a similar performance, stepping up the shoeing right in front of the audience from flat shod to limited performance to performance.

            “He’s pretty sport at each level too,” said Craig Evans.

            Sid Baucom did not have a report on the bylaws at this time. Holly Reynolds gave her report for the youth.

            She reported that over 400 kids participated in the all youth day at the Celebration including judging contests, public speaking contests and creative contests.

            Chuck Cadle explained that he is currently working on using equine assisted education programs to take advantage of grant money from the No Child Left Behind program to create enriched learning opportunities particularly for troubled children, foster children, etc.

            Holly Reynolds suggested that there might also be grant money available for program for returning veterans.

            Reynolds expressed a desire for her position to grow from just the youth representative to a  larger special interests representative including the senior population.

            “We need to look this year at addressing the growing population of aging baby boomers,” said Reynolds. “They have bad knees, bad backs, arthritis – we have the breed that stands to capture the largest segment of this market.”

            Jane Meredith suggested Dr. Hill who won at this year’s Celebration just shy of his 90th birthday as the poster child for the campaign.

            Jack Haefling next took the floor with the owners/exhibitors report. Haefling reported on progress in pursuing an international expansion program, grassroots programming with the National Association of County Officials, the National Park Service and National Forestry Service relative to trail riding, and the Southeastern Conference of Trails.

            Haefling also updated the Executive Committee on the University of Tennessee gait study. Cadle reported that those wanting to donate to the study could do so on a website at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Matthews of the University of Tennessee will be invited to the next Executive Committee meeting to discuss the study.

            The next item on the agenda was the selection of the nominating committee. Five candidates are selected. The Executive Committee nominated eleven candidates – Rick Chauvin, Wayne Dean, Don Longest, Rhonda Martocci, Ronnie Vincent, John Martin, Tommy Hale, Kathy Zeis, Christy Lantis, Mick Salm and Sid Baucom for the candidates.

            The Executive Committee voted once and clearly elected Rick Chauvin, Don Longest and Kathy Zeis with seven votes each. They voted again to break the tie for the remaining two positions and elected Wayne Dean and Ronnie Vincent, each with six votes. The alternates will be John Martin and then Mick Salm.

            The election committee was selected next. Mick Salm, Kristi Lantis, Joe Dietz, Dan Holmes, Tommy Hale and Don Beatty were nominated from the floor for the three-man committee. Don Beatty and Tommy Hale were elected on the first round of ballots. Kristi Lantis was elected to serve in the third position on the next round. Joe Dietz and Dan Holmes will serve as alternates.

            In new business, Marty Irby addressed Sid Baucom’s letter that was printed in the Walking Horse Report, and later sent at TWHBEA expense to all members.

            “I mean no disrepect, Mr. Sid, but I was alarmed when I saw your letter on the Walking Horse Report site, but I was very upset when I received it in the mail at TWHBEA’s expense. Can any Executive Committee member send a letter at TWHBEA expense at any time,” questioned Irby.

            Pedigo responded. “No, it can’t be done for any reason, but I do want to say it came to management’s attention that there was misinformation about the bylaws being proposed and we felt the need to correct the misunderstanding of the bylaw amendments,” explained Pedigo.

            Baucom clarified, “I didn’t request that it be sent out to the membership, but I had no objection of it going to the membership.”

            Irby also questioned Baucom on the statement in the letter that supporters of Free the Breeders had boycotted the Voice. Baucom responded that his information was according to Stan Butt who had presented in a prior Executive Committee meeting that trainers had boycotted the Voice magazine. Baucom explained that the Free the Breeders ads clearly claimed that the Walking Horse Trainers Association and Walking Horse Trainers Owners Association were supporters of Free the Breeders.

            Charles Wharton, Jamie Hankins and Marty Irby each expressed their high personal regard for Sid Baucom and Irby continued, “it just struck a nerve with me.”

            Baucom responded. “I understand that and honestly Free the Breeders struck a nerve with me. What is being circulated is absolutely false… I will admit I was rather inspired when I wrote the letter. I was perhaps imprudent when I did that. And for that I do apologize. I think Free the Breeders is a part of the political process and I’m in favor of that process. But this misunderstanding is clearly in the Free the Breeders brochure and I’m not in favor of misinformation.

            Irby asked if he could write a letter in response to Baucom’s letter, pay for it himself, and send it to the entire membership. Pedigo and Evans both responded that he could in fact do that.

            At this point in the meeting, it was adjourned to Executive Session at the request of Darren Gray and Jamie Hankins to discuss the NWHA lawsuit and various personnel issues.