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TWHBEA Holds Annual Pow Wow



Posted December 6, 2000
LEWISBURG, Tenn. - The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association board, standing committees, and many of its members convened at its headquarters Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2000. The organization's elegant headquarters is usually home only to its hardworking staff and visitors. But for three days at the end of November and the beginning of December each year, the normally quiet halls are full of people from all over the country. This year, newly elected board member Dr. Frank Jugert came all the way from Germany to attend.

The TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Subcommittee started things off with an all-day meeting on Thursday. Members were given time to rest briefly before the awards dinner Thursday evening at the Franklin Marriott in Cool Springs (coverage of the banquet appears in this issue of Walking Horse Report).

Friday morning's schedule was full with the seven committees meeting until noon. Reports were given by each committee chair at the full board meeting on Saturday.

Director's Forum
Discussion of Operating Plan Dominates

After lunch the Directors' Forum and Parliamentary Procedure Workshop got underway. The meeting provides an opportunity for new board members to be briefed on current issues, to ask questions and to learn about Parliamentary procedure. Since TWHBEA's parliamentarian, Mrs. Margaret Heath, was unable to attend, that portion of the afternoon will be rescheduled.

Administrative/fiscal division vice president Charles Wharton reported that as of Oct. 30, 2000, TWHBEA was $275,000 in the black. With last year's forecast of a year 2000 profit of $2,666, Wharton was pleased to report that the year went much better financially than anticipated.

The bulk of the afternoon's discussion came after Senior Vice President Craig Evans reported on the walking horse industry's continuing relationship with the USDA. Evans gave an abbreviated history of the National Horse Show Commission's operating plan negotiations with the USDA. He ended with a report on the current status of an operating plan to be implemented in 2001.

During his report Evans acknowledged that he and Niels Holch, attorney for the NHSC, have been accused of "lawyerly squabbling" over word choices and their meanings in negotiations with the USDA. Evans said that he understands that some of his and Holch's objections may appear to be over minutiae, but in reality a change in one word can result in significantly different consequences. He cited a section in the proposed plan regarding the USDA's ability to have a letter of warning issued to a DQP. Formerly the section stated that an HIO "may" issue a letter in certain circumstances. In the 2001 plan, it says that an HIO "shall" issue a letter when requested by the USDA. The use of the word "may" allows the DQP an opportunity for notice and a hearing. The word "shall" removes any fundamental due process and and demands that the letter be issued. If two such letters are issued to a DQP, the DQP's license is revoked. Obviously the one-word change can have a significant impact on a DQP's ability to perform their job without the possibility of undue pressure and even on their ability to work at all.

Evans said that in addition to what some may perceive as minutiae, there are several substantive policy changes in the 2001 plan. He cited several examples:

• During negotiations in 2000, the USDA promised joint training sessions and a joint training manual for veterinary medical officers and designated qualified persons beginning in 2001. Yet the USDA's first draft of a proposed operating plan for 2001 did not provide for either. The NHSC considers joint training and a shared manual to be an important point. If VMOs and DQPs are trained together and work from one manual, trainers, exhibitors and owners can be more comfortable in expecting consistency when they take their horses through inspection. Evans said that he hopes that the omission was an oversight.

• Opinions as to penalties for active and inactive scar rule violations vary significantly between the USDA and the NHSC. Evans gave the example of a horse that might have been "sored" 20 years ago. The current owner may have "never touched" the horse, meaning that the horse would not have been subjected to any Horse Protection Act violations in 20 years. The NHSC does not believe the current owner should be punished for mistreatment by a previous owner. However, the USDA's 2001 plan would demand that inactive scars carry the same penalty as active scars.

• Technical violations may include such things as a shoe that is a quarter of an inch too tall or a band that is an eighth of an inch too high. For technical violations, the NHSC would tell the exhibitor that he or she could not show until the problem was corrected. The USDA would preclude the horse from being shown.

• On the issue of conflict resolution, the USDA's proposed 2001 plan states that if the findings of the DQP and the VMO "are the same or similar," then the matter is not appropriate for conflict resolution, which sounds reasonable on the surface. However, Evans said that the NHSC objects to what the USDA appears to define as the same or similar. For example, he said that a DQP may include in his report that a horse "moved his foot," and a VMO may describe the same horse as "exhibiting a pain response." While the language may sound the same, the importance in interpreting the meaning of the two phrases cannot be overstated. The question raised is whether or not palpation alone is enough to determine whether or not a horse is sore. The NHSC notes that veterinarians they have consulted, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, insist that there may be many reasons that a horse will move its foot while being palpated, some of which have nothing to do with pain. To determine whether the reaction is pain-induced, the examiner must look at other behaviors of the horse while its pastern is being pressed. If the horse is exhibiting other behaviors that indicate pain, then it is reasonable to say that he is "exhibiting a pain response." If however, the horse is relaxed, alert and attentive to its surroundings, then it is accurate to say that he "moved his foot" but not to say that he exhibited a pain response. However, the USDA appears to consider these two answers to be the same and thus the matter would not be appropriate for conflict resolution.

• The USDA also promised a multi-year operating plan beginning in 2001. While the first draft of the proposed plan does say that it is being offered as a two-year plan, there is a caveat. The USDA reserves the right to change the plan at the end of 2001 if it believes the change is necessary. Again, on the surface this may sound reasonable. However, the effect is to open the plan to revisions including major policy shifts at the end of the year, which puts the industry back in the same position it's in now--not knowing what to expect from year to year. The NHSC supports the concept of revising the document as deemed necessary by the parties, but not if the revision is a shift in policy.

Referring to himself, the NHSC, Evans, Heart of America and Western International, Niels Holch said, "We are sort of encouraged by the 2001 plan." He said that in spite of the remaining areas of disagreement, the industry is in far better shape than it has been at this point in past years. All parties have demonstrated a greater willingness to resolve issues quickly in order to execute a plan.

Regarding the possibility of having a plan signed by the beginning of the year, Evans said, "I am cautiously optimistic due to the tenor of the meeting [among the HIOs and the USDA on Nov. 28]...but I've been fooled before." He did say that he believes there will be a signed plan "long before show season is in full bore."

Noting the bad publicity brought to the breed, Vivian Harvey of Texas asked Evans why the NHSC continues to "fight enforcement of the Horse Protection Act."

Evans responded with obvious restraint, "We've never spent a nickel fighting the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. A lot has been spent by individuals on fighting inequitable or nonsensical enforcement of the Horse Protection Act." He noted that the USDA has only $360,000 a year allocated to enforcement of the HPA, compared to the roughly $750,000 a year that the NHSC spends on enforcement. He also pointed out that the NHSC goes beyond enforcing only what the act requires.

Sid Baucom asked Evans if he had an opinion as to which possible president, Bush or Gore, would be better for the walking horse industry. Evans said that he defers to Niels Holch regarding the likely outcome of events in Washington. Based on Holch's opinion, Evans said that Bush might bring an atmosphere more helpful to the industry. He said that the person with the real power to affect the industry will be the newly appointed secretary of agriculture. Until that person is known, it is impossible to predict any likely effects.

Membership Meeting
Standing Committees Report to Members

The annual membership meeting began on Friday morning with President Jim Welch welcoming the group and bringing TWHBEA Executive Director Bob Cherry to the podium first. Cherry's report on TWHBEA activities for the year was followed by reports from each executive committee member on their committee's accomplishments in 2000.

Cherry began his report with some impressive figures. He quoted a recent article in the magazine Western Horseman, which said that since 1983 Tennessee Walking Horses have moved from the eighth largest breed registry to the fourth largest. He also said that according to Equus Magazine the walking horse is second only to Paints as the fastest growing breed in the country.

In a brief overview of the year, Cherry reported that TWHBEA's first time foal registrations were 16,072 for the year 2000 through October. This is an increase of more than 3,000 registrations over last year's figure for the entire year. The 19,184 transfers completed through the month of October is an increase of 2,463 transfers over last year. Other accomplishments for the year to date include the publication of a 254-page issue of the Voice magazine, which is the largest ever produced. Trainer Bobbie Richards was under contract to TWHBEA for the first time this year and conducted 12 extremely popular and well attended clinics across the U.S. and in Canada and Europe. Regional futurities and versatility shows have continued to grow during 2000 both in the U.S. and internationally. For the first time, TWHBEA conducted three regional youth jamborees. They were held in North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. TWHBEA also revamped its Web site and allocated monies for 2001 to install iPEDS Internet software that will make access to much information about horses available to members on line.

Administrative/fiscal division vice president Charles Wharton reported that to date no Horse Industry Organizations have sent in their show records for input into TWHBEA's records except for the National Horse Show Commission.

Breeders division vice president Judy Martin said that as of October, TWHBEA signed a three-year contract with Shelterwood and the University of Kentucky for processing blood typing kits. She also reported that the decision had been made during the year not to limit the number of embryo transfers per mare per year.

Robert Thomas, enforcement division vice president, stated that not one complaint filed this year has needed a committee hearing or executive committee attention. He also said that there were no blood typing complaints that have not been resolved.

The horse show division presented its Emerald Award for the first time during 2000. Vice President Pat Carpinito reported that the award for a one-night show went to the Woodbury Lions Club and the multi-night show award went to the Celebration.

Kathy Zeis made her report as vice president of the owners/exhibitors division. She said that when she ran for office three years ago her goal was to increase the number and availability of clinics and to get them outside of Tennessee. Her committee has done that with clinics this year over much of the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe. The number of participants at a well-attended clinic has increased from 50 to 450 in the last four years.

Jerrold Pedigo brought the report from the performance show horse committee and provoked the most impassioned discussion of the afternoon. Because so many canter classes have been eliminated from show rosters, Pedigo's committee has established a medallion class for youth 17 and under. The committee will attempt to get at least 12 shows to add a medallion class that will include the canter in the coming year. The committee will provide ribbons and the medallion for each event. Anyone who participates in a canter class during the season will be allowed to participate in the championship at the TWHBEA National Futurity held just before the Celebration. There will also be a high point award winner who will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. Each year's winner will also have his or her name engraved on a plaque to be displayed at TWHBEA headquarters and will be recognized at the annual awards dinner.

Discussion from the floor was very positive regarding adding canter classes for youth in performance classes. However, several people expressed a desire to see canter classes added in the pleasure division and in adult classes as well. Tina Singleton was adamant in her position that adults also be encouraged to canter. Pointing out the inherent danger in cantering compared to the flat walk and the running walk, Singleton said that it was "low" to expect the young people to canter and not the adults. Several other people remarked that TWHBEA and others advertise the walking horse as three-gaited and consider that to be one of its strongest selling points, yet there are fewer and fewer canter classes at shows.

Pedigo responded that his committee had to start somewhere and they believed that it was better to go to horse show management and request that they add one class and not several in the beginning. He also said that his committee is the performance show horse committee and that adding canter classes to pleasure divisions would be up to that committee.

Robert Smith (Washington) suggested that canter clinics be added to the clinic schedule.

Executive committee member Nancy Lynn Beech addressed the possible difficulty in getting show management to add new classes to already full slates. She asked Ron Thomas, CEO of the Celebration who was in attendance at the meeting, to take the issue before the Celebration board of directors. She stated her belief that if the Celebration adds more canter classes, other horse shows will follow suit because they will be assured of participation.

Pedigo finished his report by saying that his committee has also committed to trying to add two or more novice classes to the show schedule for the coming year. Their intent is to continue to develop the market for horses who are very good show horses, but who may not be "one of the greats."

Dr. Alan Bachert is vice president of sales and promotions and made the report for his committee. He said that the committee has had displays and literature at 32 venues and 23 states this year. They also plan to have the commemorative garden completed on the TWHBEA headquarters grounds by this time next year. In addition, literature on the walking horse, TWHBEA and the walking horse trail and parkway will be placed in 3,400 hotel rooms between Chattanooga and Murfreesboro. They will also create a new billboard for posting outside of Atlanta during the coming year.

Member at large youth, Nancy Lynn Beech, reported that the Youth Activity Book has been revised and 15,000 copies have been distributed to 4-H groups and public and home schools. The committee also awarded nine scholarships this year. A scouting patch was created and can be earned by scouts who use a Tennessee Walking Horse in their projects.

Bob Cherry returned to the podium to report that in the election of new board members, 16,070 ballots were mailed and 26.4 percent were returned. Oklahoma had the largest rate of return with 52.21 percent and Ontario, Canada, had the lowest at 4.55 percent. There will be no board member from New Mexico this year because no one ran from the state and those who were write-ins were not qualified candidates.

Jim Welch ended the morning session by introducing the new board members (a complete list of new members was published in the Nov. 6, 2000, edition of Walking Horse Report, p. 14 and on the Internet at www.walkinghorsereport.com).

National Board of Directors Meeting
New Executive Committee Members Seated

The first item on the afternoon's agenda was the swearing of the oath of office by the newly elected board members.

Chair of the nominating committee, Carroll Benedict, expressed concern in his report from the committee that for the 13 positions open on the board this year only 22 nominations were received.

Trainer Whitey Whitehead (Ohio) spoke from the floor and made a motion that dues for TWHBEA membership be raised from $60 to $100. He suggested that if possible, the increase be made retroactive for new members for the year 2000. He cited the possibility of high lawyer's fees if negotiations with the USDA regarding an operating plan are protracted. Tommy Howell (Tennessee) seconded the motion. The motion and the second were rescinded after both Welch and Evans pointed out that this was not the proper venue for consideration of an increase in dues. The matter should be studied by the administrative/fiscal committee and a recommendation be made from them for consideration by the board.

To close the three-day series of meetings, four new members of the TWHBEA executive committee took their places on the dais. The four new members are: Paula Andrews, owners/exhibitors vice president; Sid Baucom, member at large bylaws; Jane Hardy Meredith, enforcement vice president; Ann Kuykendall, pleasure horse vice president. Rotating off the board were Pat Carpinito, Marietta Gambrell, Kathy Zeis and Robert Thomas. The rest of the executive committee members remained the same, though there was a change in duties. Jim Welch remains as president; Charles Gleghorn remains as past president; Craig Evans remains as senior vice president; Charles Wharton remains as administrative fiscal vice president; Judy Martin remains as breeders vice president; Jerrold Pedigo remains as performance show horse vice president; Nancy Lynn Beech remains as member at large youth; Steve Aymett remains at trainers vice president; Dr. Alan Bachert remains as sales and promotions vice president; Charles Hulsey is now horse show vice president.

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