Skip to content

TWHBEA Names Unity Committee



Lewisburg, Tenn. - On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011, the boards of directors of four industry groups, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, Walking Horse Owners’ Association and The Celebration, met to discuss issues related to the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse in the show ring and to discuss unification within the performance horse division. A result of this meeting was the decision to form a “Unity Committee” consisting of three representatives from each of the attending groups. The Unity Committee will have no official decision making power and will gather information and then report back to the groups.

At the first meeting of TWHBEA’s newly seated Executive Committee, which was held December 3rd, the Association’s representatives were selected by unanimous decision. Those selected include TWHBEA President Marty Irby, Enforcement Vice President Christy Lantis and Performance Horse Vice President Tom Kakassy. Each of these individuals brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the committee.

Marty Irby

The Irby family made its first step into the Tennessee Walking Horse world in 1955, when Dr. L. E. Irby, a veterinarian and Marty’s grandfather, accepted a walking horse mare named Sunset Sue E. as payment for a bill owed by a friend. Marty actually owes his very existence to this long ago transaction, for it was the Tennessee Walking Horse that brought his parents together.

Marty began riding performance horses at the age of three. He made his first show ring appearance aboard Carbon Princess at the 1983 Trainers’ Show in Atlanta, Georgia. Many shows followed with horses such as Pride’s Ringleader, Royal Copy, Sun’s Glory Bound, An Echo Of Ebony and Delight’s Cuttin’ Up. Since his years in the juvenile ranks, Marty’s interest and passion for the breed has only grown.

An avid horse show fan, Marty also cultivates an interest in breeding. The Irby family has been deeply involved in the breeding side of the industry for decades, having produced nearly 9,000 Tennessee Walking Horse foals since 1955. In 2003, after 19 years of showing, Marty won his first world championship aboard the Irby bred and raised FDR. A short time later, he was hired as the Director of Sales & Marketing for Waterfall Farms, one of the premier breeding farms in the industry.

Marty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of South Alabama. In 2003 he served as the Chairman of the Mobile County, Alabama, Young Republicans. He was a founding member of the Bedford Cancer Foundation and, in 2010, he served on the foundation’s board. An AAAP licensed judged, Marty has served TWHBEA on several committees including Pleasure Horse, Horse Shows, By Laws, Breeders and the steering committee for the Sire Summary. He was elected as TWHBEA Vice President of Marketing in 2007 and 2010 before taking on the role of President in 2011.

Today, Marty resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he manages and operates Quality Exterior Company, which he jointly owns with his two best friend who are both avid Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiasts.

Christy Lantis

The daughter of a professional field trial dog trainer, Christy grew up riding and owning Tennessee Walking Horses. She began showing at the age of 13 and rode her first performance horse under the direction of Russ Thompson. In addition to riding and showing, Christy enjoys breeding Tennessee Walking Horses. She serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the West Coast Walking Horse Trainers' Association and is a director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Foundation.

Christy is a former director of the board of the Tennessee Walking Horse Association of California and the Hesperia Christian School Board. Professionally, Christy manages the Assessment Appeals and Special Properties divisions of the San Bernardino County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder. She is married to David Lantis and has two teenage stepdaughters, Kristen and Jeni. The family currently owns five Tennessee Walking Horses, including their World Champion It's Chavez, whom they bred and raised.

Tom Kakassy

Tom Kakassy has been involved with horses since the age of eight, when he started on hunters and jumpers at a riding school in Chicago. With a move to North Carolina, the lifelong involvement between the Kakassy family and the performance Walking Horse began.
 
Starting with Nolen Stables, where Mack K’s Reflection was ending his show career, the family moved on to train RWC Delight’s Proud Merry at home, tying second to Hill’s Perfection; showed RWC Papa Joe K. through Kellett Stables and Billy Gray Stables; and in the Seventies had Ebony’s Caroline,  WC Impala at Midnight, Magic Satin, Delights’ Royal Son, Ebony’s Lady Luck, Black Jack’s Bluebonnet, and dozens of other horses, primarily amateur owned and trained.

Brother Mike moved to Brentwood and has owned WC Secret Weapon, WGC Papa Joe’s Secret, I’m All Fired Up, I’m Ritz and Dangerous, and many others;  father Joe Kakassy had horses with most or all trainers in the Carolinas until his demise in 1996; Tom owned and trained WGC  Pride’s Winning Edge, I’m Pushing Gen, Flashy Sky, Call of the Wild, Sweet Hard Cash, and many others. He currently works padded and flat shod horses at home and enjoys trail riding as well.
 
He believes that the performance Walking Horse is the most talented equine athlete on earth.

Tom has for 30 years been a private attorney in Gastonia, North Carolina, with involvement in various equine issues including contracts and HPA issues. He lives with wife Rita, also active in the horse business and the manager of Walkin’ K Farms.

 

More Stories