LEWISBURG, Tenn. (Dec 29, 2006) -- The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) is excited to announce national expansion of the Academy program. The TWHBEA Academy Program and the TWHBEA Instructor Certification Program, which are closely linked, were both founded in 2003.  Over the past four years, the TWHBEA has contributed significant monies and human resources to the development and expansion of these two programs for the benefit of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.  According to TWHBEA Managing Director Kristi Lane “The TWHBEA will focus considerable efforts in 2007 and 2008 on expanding the TWHBEA Academy Program and Instructor Certification Program across the United States by working with the Tennessee Walking Horse state associations, by promoting instructors in their local markets, by promoting the Academy and the instructors at all of the trade and equine fairs attended from coast to coast and by funding the development of a national Academy show circuit.”
The mission of the TWHBEA Academy program is to introduce the Tennessee Walking Horse to a larger audience and new participants through a riding program with certified, knowledgeable riding instructors.  The purpose of the TWHBEA Academy is to create an enjoyable and affordable division for the beginning rider.  Students take lessons on “school” horses owned by the instructors and charged out at an hourly rate.  The TWHBEA Academy creates an environment where students can safely and fairly compete with each other at a peer-to-peer level. The security of the students is paramount in this program. 
The first Level I Certification Clinic for instructors was held clinic during the 2003 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration certifying 46 instructors; since then 116 Instructors have been certified.  In 2007 TWHBEA will introduce a Level II and III certification program with a Master Clinician Program planned for 2008.  “We continue to receive significant interest in the Instructor Certification Program and now have Instructors throughout the United States.  Many of our instructors are ready to go to the next level.  The TWHBEA will focus resources on supporting these instructors in developing their student programs” said Kristi Lane TWHBEA Managing Director.
The TWHBEA Winter Tournaments, which is the show circuit for the Academy, has grown considerably over the last 4 years and introduced many new people to the industry.  This year Winter Tournaments will be held in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina.    From the onset of the industry's interest in the Academy concept, TWHBEA's Academy Program has focused on The Winter Tournaments; Academy shows held during the winter months with an Academy Championship at the end of the winter season. “TWHBEA gives credit to David Howard for focusing TWHBEA on the Winter Tournaments.  Mr. Howard recommended that TWHBEA's Academy Committee look into the success of the Saddlebred Winter Tournaments.  Up until the TWHBEA launched the Winter Tournaments, the only thing that had been done with respect to Academy was classes being added at various regular shows” said Jane Meredith, TWHBEA Sr. Vice President.
The TWHBEA Winter Tournaments begin January 13, 2007 with the first show to be held at Tennessee Miller Coliseum.