By Jeffrey Howard

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) recently announced that it will move the National Futurity from its traditional date of the Wednesday night of the first week of The Celebration to be held in conjunction with the TWHBEA World Versatility Show in July at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  The 2012 National Futurity will either be held on Thursday, July 19 or Sunday evening, July 22, 2012.

The Walking Horse Report confirmed with TWHBEA President Marty Irby that TWHBEA would not issue refunds to nominations made even if those nominations were made with the idea of qualifying at the National Futurity for Celebration championship classes.  Horse Show Vice President Tracy Boyd clarified that by adding that TWHBEA voted not to issue refunds because in 2010 the horse show committee of TWHBEA recommended to the Executive Committee and a motion was made to move the Futurity.  That motion failed but another motion passed to put futurity participants on notice that a move in the future would happen.

Also Boyd pointed out that in 2007 the Futurity did not qualify for Celebration championship classes and no refunds were issued in that year so precedent had been set by the TWHBEA Executive Committee not issue refunds.  Current TWHBEA Executive Director Ron Thomas was the Celebration CEO in 2007 and Irby was on the TWHBEA Executive Committee in 2007.  Boyd added, “We are concerned and sensitive to the concerns of our customers and don’t know how many complaints we will receive.  If we get a number of those complaints, the Executive Committee very well may revisit the refunds being issued to those customers.”

Boyd’s horse show committee voted 13-0 in favor of moving the futurity and he cited reasons such as TWHBEA saving $6,000 by having it in conjunction with the World Versatility Show, hiring their own judges and also creating a better identity for the horse show itself.  “This move allows TWHBEA to showcase all aspects of the Tennessee Walking Horse, from barrel racing to a performance horse in one event,” said Boyd.

Boyd also stated that he was told only four horses in 2011 used the National Futurity as their lone qualifier for a championship class at The Celebration and in 2010 that number was only seven. 

“I know the timing of this announcement is not the best and looks as if it is tied to the Unity Committee and its recent turmoil but I can assure you my committee acted in good faith and has been dealing with this issue for some time,” said Boyd.

This latest move by TWHBEA was not a unanimous vote by the Executive Committee which met Saturday, February 4, 2012, the day after the Unity Committee met in Shelbyville, Tenn.

The Walking Horse Report has received multiple emails from concerned members and exhibitors of TWHBEA that feel they were not properly notified of the potential move and that the nomination forms had no mention of a possible date, location or rule change.  The Report has learned several of those members are exploring their options to force a refund.