by Ashlea Wheelon

LEWISBURG, Tenn.- The Executive Committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) met on Jan. 10, 2009. The meeting served as the kickoff to 2009 with everyone hopeful that it would prove to be as successful as 2008 had been for TWHBEA.

The meeting was called to order by President David Pruett as he welcomed the new Executive Committee. Pruett started off by thanking everyone for their dedication to the breed. Pruett stated his focus would be on improving the awareness of the Tennessee Walking Horse on a local, state national and even international level. He asked the committee to be thinking of ways to assist in the growth of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Pruett also went on to say, “2009 is going to be another tough year. Please try to reduce your already lean budget by another 10-15 percent.”

Senior Vice President Robert Thomas addressed the committee. “It’s a privilege to serve on the committee in a year of more uncertainty than we have faced in my lifetime. I commend you for the job you did in 2008 and look forward to working as hard and moving forward in 2009.” Although new to the executive committee in 2009, Thomas is a former president at TWHBEA.

Administrative/Fiscal VP Mike Inman informed the committee that the financials were not complete (they were not back from the accountants) thus he did not have a lot to report. “No problems to worry about; just year-end takes a little longer,” stated Inman. Inman said TWHBEA had come a long way in a year but must continue to treat 2009 like 2008 even though there is more foundation to stand on.

Reporting for the Breeders division, VP Dee Dee Sale made a motion to continue the first time membership drive to continue to increase and promote new members. The motion passed unanimously. Sale and her committee are also looking at ways to revamp the membership program, especially for those members who have been out longer than a year.

The new IPEDS program will launch the first of February and the committee will be given a chance to try it out before launching it to the entire membership.

Marketing VP Kasey Kesserling was pleased to announce they had revamped all of the marketing materials. There will be new pamphlets and flyers with possibilities of a new logo.

Sponsorship of the Best Of America By Horseback program was discussed and voted to discontinue without further research and statistics being available. Kesserling made a motion to research other ways to support Best Of America By Horseback besides the current sponsorship agreement before the committee.

The 2009 banquet and annual meeting was discussed briefly and everyone was in agreement it was best to keep this in conjunction with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) banquet in December in Franklin, Tenn.

Performance Horse VP Wayne Dean stated he was glad to be back on the executive committee. He discussed the horse show circuit and possible concerns that faced horse shows in 2009.

Reporting on the Pleasure Horse division was Diana McMurtrey. She made a motion based upon her committee’s recommendation that the World Versatility Show not be affiliated. The motion failed unanimously. At that time a motion was made that the World Versatility Show be affiliated with the NHSC, which passed unanimously.

 Chris Bobo, a holdover from the 2008 executive committee, switched his area of responsibility from enforcement to the training division. Bobo understands the importance of the trainers in the industry and stated, “The trainers have an opportunity to really make a difference this year.”

Debra Jack asked the committee to consider member Fran Cole’s request to host a seminar on director liability and responsibility. Cole has been very critical of the committee at the previous two annual meetings. The committee did discuss the option of having her lead the seminar but at this point declined her request.

Christy Lantis is back helping with the youth and has already started making plans for the youth to attend seminars, educational opportunities and retreats. Lantis will also once again head the youth scholarship fund.

The meeting in January was held earlier in the month than normal which prevented the analysis of the financials, which normally consumes much of the meeting. An overwhelming theme of the meeting was to continue the success started in 2008 with regards to the financial stability of TWHBEA. It was also made quite clear the challenge to do that would be even more difficult in 2009.