TWHBEA Hosts Third Industry HIOs Meeting
Copyright WHR, 2007
by Linda Scrivner
          MURFREESBORO, Tenn.- Jerrold Pedigo, President of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), led the third cooperative meeting of Tennessee Walking Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) Saturday, Jan. 27, in Murfreesboro. Two representatives from each organization were asked to participate by Pedigo as they addressed the issues facing the industry.  
          Those attending were Donna Benefield and Carol Smithson from the Horse Protection Commission, Frank Neal and Wink Groover from the National Horse Show Commission, Duane Rector from the Kentucky-HIO and Jerrold Pedigo and Craig Evans from TWHBEA. Kristi Lane, TWHBEA acting manager, and Linda Scrivner of the Walking Horse Report were also in attendance.
          Pedigo welcomed everyone and opened with a recap of the previous meetings held Dec. 17, 2006 and Jan.15. Pedigo said that the goal was not to push the TWHBEA Sanctioning Plan but to evaluate the show services and how well the HIOs are accomplishing them.
          “We want to have meetings with the HIOs because of your direct contact with show services. The question is how can we all collectively do these jobs well. At the last meeting we discussed the relationships, where we were and our goals. The last third of the meeting we talked about the Sanctioning Plan,” Pedigo said.
          Pedigo continued, “This third meeting is to talk about what we can do to change the public relationship with our horse. Another subject discussed at the last meeting was judging. Western International brought up judging. Some HIOs license judges and some do not. Some use other means to obtain judges. Our plan does provide for a Director of Judges. Donna Benefield’s HPC does not license judges.”
          Benefield then spoke, “We felt that we don’t need to be everything to everyone. The USDA expressed that they would prefer that HIOs would only do inspections. We feel that the industry should make the rules to show by. I feel that the regular rulebook should be under the registry. Judges should also be under the registry. My organization is not breed exclusive. Not having judges and a rule book has not been a handicap.”
          Pedigo then asked Benefield, “Is it important to the industry that we have consistent judging?”
          She replied that it was vital. She said, “The industry goes where the man in the center of the ring goes. What he ties is what people strive for. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on the man in center ring.” Benefield also said an organization should only send a regulatory section of their rulebook that pertains to the Horse Protection Act to the USDA. “If you send your whole rulebook to the government then that becomes part of what you must enforce by your HIO.”
          Carol Smithson said that the judges are important to elevate and improve the industry. “We must improve the judging and what they tie.”
          Benefield said that before they joined the Sanctioning Plan that they only had to deal with non-compliant horses. “We didn’t go by anyone’s rules. We had no regulations over the size of shoes or pads and that sort of thing. We just worked with show management and the associations. If they asked us to watch for certain things and if we found a problem, we referred that to show management or the association. Varied rules in the industry have caused problems, some rules are extreme.
          Pedigo then asked Neal if judging was important. Neal said that both the judging and the DQPing are important. Neal asked Benefield if she was going by TWHBEA rules and penalties. Benefield replied that they agreed to follow TWHBEA’s penalties and rules. Evans also said that now any show she DQPs must use TWBHEA’s licensed judges.  
          Duane Rector commented that actually HPC was a contracted service for TWHBEA under those circumstances. Pedigo explained that their sanctioning plan would allow for a consistent uniform process for the entire industry.
          Groover said that he was not comfortable entering discussions with this group as long as TWBHEA has their HIO. “They are in conflict with the NHSC. I will be glad to discuss if you don’t have an HIO. For 30 minutes all we’ve talked about is your HIO and Sanctioning Plan. The only issue is with your HIO. If you drop your HIO, then we might sign. You are taking our membership money and are directly in competition with the other HIOs. We’re already in competition in the academy shows.”
          Evans said that they only had their HIO in case of an emergency, when another HIO could not send someone. TWHBEA has an HIO because they want a seat with the government and a voice there.
          Rector then added, “Kentucky feels like we have one problem already. All of us are paying our TWHBEA memberships and you are in direct competition with us. Why should we join your plan and send you additional money? We need it to survive. Kentucky is for promoting the walking horse and that is what TWHBEA should be doing instead of asking us to come into your program and pay you more.”
          Evans then said, “If everyone joined on and TWHBEA is excluded from having an HIO, how would we be in competition?”
Groover commented, “Pull out and you might get people in.” Evans replied, “We can’t consider it.”
          Pedigo then summed up the discussion thus far. “We are all in agreement that we (TWHBEA) should have a seat at the table with the government and a responsibility to the welfare of the horse. The only way, by law, is to have a HIO. We don’t want TWBHEA in the physical inspection but we must have a seat at the table. We want those that come into our sanctioning plan to inspect horses. How do we get where we don’t offend you?”
          Neal spoke up, “You’re not the only one that cares about the welfare of the horses. Why when you had a seat at the table with the Commission, did you leave?”
          Several reasons were discussed with both sides given.
          Pedigo then said, “TWHBEA should represent all areas of our membership. We want to develop and make the mechanics available and useful to all of our members. All organizations within the industry have the desire and welfare of the horse and the industry at heart. We want to provide the same services to all.”
          Rector said, “Wink and Frank are members. We are TWHBEA.”
          Pedigo said, “If we had a contractual agreement that we wouldn’t compete, it would work.”
          Rector replied, “Don’t ask Kentucky to sign a contract. There was a backlash in Kentucky from joining NHSC. It’s hard for HIOs to cooperate and work with you after all that’s happened. We feel like Kentucky doesn’t have a voice in this.”
          Pedigo next said, “It’s always a struggle to have one HIO because of regional differences. We want you to continue to prosper and grow.”
Neal asked, “Why do you need for others to sign on if you have a seat at the table with the government? Why sign on if we all agree on the same idea? You can come to the table.”
Groover agreed, “We all want the same uniform standards.”
Evans said, “It’s a huge benefit to have uniform standards wherever you go, Oregon to Florida. We need the same rules, same inspections and the same judging.”
Neal added, “The industry agrees that we need sound horses. Why not have all HIOs come to NHSC? You’ve made no effort to try to get back in. You had a seat at the table. If a stronger effort had been made by TWHBEA, we might have been better off. More money has been spent fighting each other than need be.”
Pedigo responded, ”I went every time someone asked me. I talked with Tom Blankenship. TWHBEA didn’t vote to not go with the Blankenship plan.”
Evans added, “Blankenship spoke to TWHBEA about a super commission, a concept not much different than the Sanctioning Plan.”
Pedigo also mentioned that it was a benefit to have one list of judges.
          Rector then said that they don’t see a problem with this. “Now we license both Kentucky and NHSC judges and make them aware of the difference. We each train our own. I want to bring up financial responsibility again. You want to make another rule or hire another person instead of solving the problem. You have Nicole Carswell hired for clinics. This is a wonderful idea. TWHBEA can have these clinics and invite Senators and their children to the clinics. Let them ride and see these horses perform. It doesn’t cost any more money.”
          Benefield added, “We must put forth the effort to eliminate the sore horse and to get back good public opinion. Wink has said that he’s going to do his best and he will sincerely try. We need to remove licenses of DQPs that are not doing their jobs. At the Celebration, horses were given the gate by the judges if they were not acceptable and there were many positive remarks about it. The public was pleased. They are asking for that. It’s a lot easier for a judge to let a horse stay in than send it out.”
          Wink agreed, “All the more reason we don’t need to go through all this. We need to be encouraging each other. The breeders need to say what NHSC needs to change but we shouldn’t have to battle for life. TWHBEA is dangling money to get shows. We need to straighten the industry out. We’ve got to put a new horse in the ring. Your HIO is killing us because we’re having to fight you. We’re making changes but it’s all about competition. The breeders are wrong for having an HIO.”
          Neal inserted, “The executive committee postponed the Futurity decisions until after the general membership meeting.”
          Wink continued, “Anyone not on board (with TWHBEA) can’t DQP the Futurity. My horse can’t show at the Celebration if it’s different DQPs and judges at the Futurity. You’re holding the Futurity hostage to get the Celebration. I’m not paying my futurity fees until I know if I’m qualified. You’ve created this problem and you’re trying to help the industry?”
          Pedigo suggested that they let the attorneys work out an agreement. Smithson returned, “It’s the Celebration’s decision.”
          Groover added, “A decision that I should know before I pay my Futurity fees. You’ve created an umbrella and an HIO and that has created all these problems. If all joined up, it’s going to be really competitive because each wants all the money for their own HIOs.”
          Pedigo replied, “It will be equally shared by all. The larger the HIO, the more you benefit.” Wink answered, “It doesn’t work in the government and it won’t work here.”
          The differences in rules in different areas were discussed, including bands and shoe weights for plantation horses. Groover said those differences can be solved if they have uniform agreement about what a horse should do.
          Rector said, “It is a never-ending struggle and we must balance it out where areas can have their own rules and it won’t fly to have one set of rules. We can have a uniform horse but we can have other differences.”
          Evans said that one set of rules was much better. “The Arabian breed had two organizations and were going down the tube, but they merged to save their breed.”
          Pedigo commented, “We have all agreed that TWHBEA should have a voice on all areas. We can have our attorneys talk and work out things.”
To which Neal replied, “Why attorneys? The Executive Committee can simply say you don’t need judges and DQPs, just the HIO to keep your seat with the government.”
          There was much discussion about various ways to unify. The Sanctioning Program was discussed again with the reminder that the HIO Committee, made up of HIOs that joined, would be directing the judges and the DQPs as well as their directors. Groover explained that the 70 percent vote on the HIO Committee would make it impossible to make changes.  
          At this time, this reporter had to leave to be at another function. Several of those present were contacted for comments after the meeting.
Pedigo commented, “I appreciate the HIOs committing to on going discussions for solutions that will benefit the entire walking horse industry.”
          Groover said, “I told them to get rid of their HIOs and being in competition with us, then we’ll come back to the table and be more than glad to listen. I certainly wish we could work out something. This division is not good for the industry.”
          Duane Rector said that there was open, honest and frank discussion from all sides at the meeting.
          Donna Benefield commented, “I was very pleased to have the participants in this meeting that we had. And no problems are ever solved without dialogue. So the fact that the different individuals representing the various organizations came to the table is a positive step for our industry.”