Copyright WHR 2007

By Christy Howard Parsons

After hours of conversation, both in and out of executive session, the TWHBEA Executive Committee took no action on the Futurity, meaning that the show will go on, on Wednesday, August 21, as originally scheduled.

This year’s Futurity has been in jeopardy all season, as the TWHBEA program had to affiliate with a member of TWHBEA’s controversial HIO Sanctioning Plan. This means the show could not affiliate with the National Horse Show Commission, who it has traditionally affiliated with. As the TWHBEA HIO Sanctioning Plan has progressed, there is a new rule book in place, along with newly licensed judges and newly trained inspectors.

TWHBEA had hoped to affiliate the National Futurity with its own HIO and to use their new rule book, but to use the Celebration’s NHSC judges and to have the event continue as a qualifying class for the Celebration.

Chuck Cadle gave his report on the recent negotiations regarding the Futurity.

“As late as July 18, I had conversations with Ron Thomas to confirm this was to be a co managed event between TWHBEA and the Celebration. On July 19, I received a call from Ron saying he was not going to manage the Futurity. He said someone from our [TWHBEA Executive Committee] conference call had apparently called Wink Groover and that Wink Groover, Link Webb and Ronnie Spears had come to Ron’s office with issues. He also mentioned he had had a conference call with his judges before making the decision to reverse his commitment,” explained Cadle.

“Since that time I’ve talked to Craig Evans and to Kristi Lane and we are concerned that we will not be able to pull off this show operationally. We have talked a number of times and it is our recommendation to postpone the Futurity due to operational issues.”

Jerrold Pedigo elaborated “The week of July 9th David Howard and I talked on the phone. It was understood at that time that the Futurity would be on Wednesday night with our sanctioned HIO DQPs, our rule book, and guest judges as the Celebration judges. David wanted to clarify about the judges so he called a conference call with Ron Thomas, Craig Evans and myself on the 17th. We discussed the commitments that were made. They had hired the judges with the understanding they didn’t know what HIO the Celebration would affiliate with. They understood they may be judging outside the NHSC. Further they understood they were to judge the Futurity,” explained Pedigo.

“Later that day or on the 18th, we confirmed these arrangements with the TWHBEA Executive Committee in a conference call. Then on the morning of the 19th Connie Nixon called to arrange another conference call. All the issues were discussed again, but ultimately Ron called Chuck Cadle and said they were not going to fulfill their commitment,” said Pedigo.

“But why?” asked Jane Meredith.

“I can’t tell you their reasons,” explained Craig Evans. “For reasons they deemed appropriate.”

Meredith persisted “They made a commitment and then totally reversed? There had to be some logic for that.”

“Listen,” said Craig Evans. “No one was more hurt by this than Jerrold and I.”

Sid Baucom brought the issue to the current situation. “We have advertised the Futurity for Wednesday night. People can’t afford to come to a separate Futurity without some notice. I am aware some people are being intimidated and many won’t show at the Futurity no matter when it is, but we have to have the show. We’re going to have a show with diminished enrollment no matter when it is. If I were a trainer and judge and made my living based on it and my license would be lifted if I judged, I probably wouldn’t judge. But it is a mistake to let intimidation prevail. If they won’t judge it, then we have to get someone who will judge. Whatever we decide, we need to run an ad and advise people what we’re doing and why,” said Baucom.

“People around the country think we’re nuts already. I certainly hope we still hold it on Wednesday night, or we’ll lose more by not holding it,” said Baucom.

Jamie Hankins agreed. “I promise you you do. I support the licensed judges we have in the Sanctioning Plan. We knew the rule book issue would come up. We knew the judges would lose their license. Now the twist on this will be that the trainers cancelled the Futurity. The trainers agreed to the TWHBEA DQPs, that was never the issue. It was always going to be the rule book and the judges.”

“Ron speculated that someone in this meeting contacted Wink Groover and that was why Groover and Ronnie Spears and Link Webb were in his office,” said Cadle.

“I have the utmost respect for Ron Thomas,” said Hankins.

“He was disappointed to have to call me,” said Cadle.

Craig Evans elaborated “The NHSC said back in May or June that they would not pull the judges’ licenses if they judged the Futurity under the NHSC Rule Book. Independent of that the Executive Committee decided to have the Futurity as a qualifying event - that was what you wanted. Understanding that it is solely the Celebration’s authority to make any show a qualifying event - Lewisburg could be a qualifying event if they wanted it to be. They told us they wanted it to be a qualifying event. They said the Celebration judges knew there was a risk they would lose their licenses. Ron Thomas was going to manage the horse show,” explained Evans.

“It wasn’t contingent on anything or anyone’s approval. Where it went awry, I’m not sure. I heard stories but I don’t know. They made a straight up offer to you [Executive Committee]. Not one person said no. We accepted their offer. We had, at least in my mind, an agreement. Then we got a phone call that said they were not going to honor their commitment. I believed he would manage the show, no matter what. It never occurred to me that wouldn’t happen. The only question in my mind was whether the Celebration judges would actually judge,” explained Evans.

“I called Wink. Someone reported to Wink I said that if a judge did something I didn’t like, I’d pull him out of the ring. What I said was the sanctioning plan says the Director of Judges can confront the judge and if the behavior doesn’t reform, then the Director of Judges in conjunction with show management can remove a judge. The response I gave was straight out of the Sanctioning Plan, not what was reported to Groover. I called Groover and clarified what I said and told him we would conference in however in this room had told him that. He said that wouldn’t be necessary and that the Celebration needed to pick a side,” said Evans.

The committee then discussed the possibility of using Celebration personnel for various positions such as organist, judges card input, etc. It was suggested to use Celebration personnel wherever possible, but Cadle was nervous about counting on the Celebration. “How do we know they won’t change their mind the night before?” asked Cadle.

Craig Evans said “Ron and David are honorable men. Based on factors and considerations I don’t understand they broke a commitment.”

As the discussion proceeded with what to do about the Futurity, three options were mentioned. To attempt to put together a judging panel and staff to hold the show as scheduled, to postpone the show until some time in the fall, or to cancel it altogether and refund the money. The last option was mentioned only briefly as the committee members felt that would kill the Futurity program altogether.

There was a lot of discussion about if anyone would show at the show whenever it was held. “The Futurity will be as successful as our National Championship Show last Thanksgiving. Two trainers may have told Jamie Hankins they were coming, but they won’t be there,” said Charles Wharton.

Jamie Hankins, Kathy Zeis, and others insisted there would be horses at the Futurity. When Horse Show Vice President Pat Stout was asked her opinion, she responded,

“At first, as you might expect, I was angry. Then I started calling around and asking people if they were coming. Some said they were. I’m real tossed with all this. We are getting threats from all angles, whether you call them threats or whatever. Why in the world are we having all these problems. I don’t know if it’s trainers, NHSC, I don’t know who it is. But from what we’re hearing down here is we’re having problems talking to our judges with the threats,” said Stout.

Jamie Hankins asked if she was referring to threats of violence, like those against the Celebration?

“Not that kind of threat. Just the normal kind of black balling that goes on down here. This is having an effect on the people that we are trying to pull into this. Whatever we call it. Staff has looked into this. They didn’t feel they could put it on,” said Stout.

“Our other option was to do something the end of October. We’re damned if we do. We’re damned if we don’t. There’s been so much negative publicity. I want the Futurity to expand and have more classes. This year we’re not going to be able to get it. I’m real tossed too as to what we’re going to be able to accomplish with the hearsay that’s going on. I don’t know which way to go,” said Stout.

Bruce Vaughn responded “I’ve been waiting for the announcement of who’s judging. From my state in Ohio, they are looking to see who’s judging the futurity, not when it’s going to be. I think they are waiting to see the announcement of who’s judging.”

“When we thought we had the Celebration judges, we thought it was a done deal. Now the staff has been contacting people who could judge it well, and they are reluctant to do so,” said Stout.

“Those are your judges. You tell them they have to judge or you’re going to pull their license. You need to tell them that the Celebration judges agreed to judge it and lose their license. They aren’t going to be allowed to , so these people need to. You pick three of your 75 judges and judge the darned thing,” said Jamie Hankins.

Wharton responded simply with a question to Kristi Lane. “Kristi - can you pull it off?”

She responded “Sure. We can. Is it the best thing to do? I’m not sure. If the people in this room would come forward and help put it on, I’d feel a whole lot better.”

Pedigo then went around the room soliciting each person’s involvement and how they could help to serve a role at the Futurity.

After lengthy discussions, the committee went into Executive Session to resolve the issue with this reporter out of the room. For almost two hours, the debate continued, only for no action to be taken. Jerrold Pedigo clarified that by not taking an action, the Futurity would move forward as scheduled on Wednesday night.

Look for an upcoming announcement of the judges for the Futurity at

There were many other issues addressed in the July meeting including the recent letter sent by the Humane Society of the United States attacking the Tennessee Walking Horse as a fundraising vehicle.

The meeting began with Pedigo electing not to make introductory comments. Senior Vice President Jane Meredith, however, had prepared comments that she passionately delivered. Meredith began with a nostalgic review of her involvement in the Tennessee Walking Horse business.

“This is my 42nd Celebration - I’ve been coming here since 1966. I spent every summer between the ages of 13 and 20 in middle Tennessee . . . My idols weren’t celebrities, they were the people in this industry. I grew up wanting to look like Judy Tillett. The industry was more friendly then,” began Meredith. “Preach Fleming was like a second father to me. Irene Spears was in my wedding.”

“I first became a volunteer when I was asked to prepare a statistical report entitled the Sore Horse Study Report to rebut statements being made at the time by Jerry Pfister. Later when I was elected my objectives were to promote the performance show horse. At the time, I used to get nasty emails from some pleasure people about shoving the performance horse down people’s throats,” Meredith continued.

“When I served on the unity committee, I got a fresh perspective. I learned that our industry had marginalized people. We created our own enemy. We didn’t consider what others wanted. It’s how FOSH [Friends of Sound Horses] was created. It’s how NWHA [National Walking Horse Association] was created. Perhaps naively I assumed on the unity committee that if we came together, we could stop ambiguous and unfair inspections,” said Meredith.

“When we developed the Sanctioning Plan, perhaps we did a poor job selling the plan. But no one can criticize the plan itself. It’s why it becomes about the personalities. Because you can’t criticize the plan,” explained Meredith.

“Look at the Michael Vick example in Atlanta. It’s all over Fox News. They have convicted this man before he has even been tried. Fox News has received more email about this case, than about any child abuse case they have ever covered. The reality is that the anti-slaughter legislation is going to pass and the department is going to get $5 million. Then there will be a lawsuit to force the Department to more stringently enforce the Horse Protection Act. Then there will be pictures of us on Fox News,” warned Meredith.

“We can’t fight that. We have to put aside sabotaging each other,” said Meredith. “This has been a rough two years. I’ve learned a lot about myself. But the best past has been serving with Charles Wharton and Jerrold Pedigo. These are men of integrity. People say we are doing this for the power. What power? Is anyone of us able to be tied any better? I’m counting down my Executive Committee meetings. But I want the performance horse around when I’m 70. We want the same thing! If we don’t come together, we aren’t going to have an industry. Somehow we have to reach a consensus. I ask you all to give it some thought and to have respect for one another in the decisions we have to make today,” concluded Meredith.

President Jerrold Pedigo responded to Meredith’s comments saying he too was interested only in performance horses when he was elected.

“It’s not that I didn’t care about other’s horses - their trail horses or pleasure horses - I just didn’t know what they thought or what they needed,” said Pedigo. “The unity committee changed my entire idea. I think it would be beneficial for every member of the executive committee to meet in some manner with all these other organizations. The unity committee and the HIO work when serving on the NHSC opened my eyes,” said Pedigo.

Meredith reiterated. “My husband asked me if I would do this over? I’ve lost friends - I’ve been disappointed in some people. I do apologize for being naïve in thinking we all want unity. This means so much to me. But if we don’t figure out a way, we will never survive.”

Chuck Cadle next asked the committee to approve the appointment of Nancy Lynn Beech as registrar and to sign a resolution approving her ability to sign registration papers. With no discussion, the motion passed unanimously.

While the resolutions were signed, Sid Baucom gave copies of Lee Iacocca’s book “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?” to members of the Executive Committee [and to this member of the press]. “Pass this along to your father as well, Christy,” said Baucom. “It will be good for his soul.”

Cadle also presented a complaint of a member who was not aware that he could pull his own blood, who was very upset and asking for a public apology from the Committee.

Cadle announced that 68 people have applied to run for election in the December election. Applications are due by August 1. Kathy Zeis asked that after so many errors in last year’s election, that the CPA firm Winnett Associates of Shelbyville, be hired to oversee the December election.

According to Cadle, TWHBEA’s current auditor has already signed an engagement letter to oversee the elections.

“A lot of things went wrong,” said Zeis. “I don’t believe there was any collusion, but errors give people the opportunity to talk. We don’t need to go through this again. I’m not running. I wouldn’t run and I couldn’t run. But I do believe in treating every member the same. And I charge you to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” she said, apparently indicating Chuck Cadle.

“I just hate that we are not all on the same page. I want to hold my head up and be proud of this Association,” said Zeis.

“I agree with Kathy. There needs to be a lot of attention to detail to hold this election according to the letter,” said Pedigo. He also clarified some of the errors made in the previous election and that he had asked Sid Baucom to oversee the election since he was actually running in the election.

“We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward,” said Jamie Hankins.

Kristi Lane explained that the staff was already getting negative feedback on the election process. Craig Evans clarified that candidates who were denied eligibility would protest that was not how things had been done in the past. “Our bylaws have not changed. Just because they were not verified in the past doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to now. It doesn’t set a precedent,” said Evans.

Wayne Dean expressed his displeasure with the bylaw that interpreted a husband and wife to be ineligible because the bylaws require a horse to be in one name. He pursued the issue to implement a bylaw change in the next cycle, which would be in April 2008.

Craig Evans clarified the misconception about the requirements for owning a horse according to the bylaws. A person on the board of directors in their third year who has a 59 day gap of not owning a horse, who corrects that on the 60th day, can continue to serve out their term. However, he or she is ineligible to run for reelection because they were not owners continuously during the preceding year.

TWHBEA plans to release information regarding the bylaws so there is a clear understanding of who is eligible to run in this year’s election.

At the conclusion of Cadle’s comments, Wayne Dean and Chuck Cadle clashed swords in the meeting regarding Chuck Cadle’s phone call to the mayor of Lewisburg regarding the Lewisburg Horse Show, a horse show that is managed by Wayne Dean.

Kristi Lane next presented her comments including a ringing endorsement of the Best of America by Horseback program which is now airing three times per week on RFD TV. She also announced recent promotions for lifetime members to receive tickets to the 2007 Celebration and new or renewal members to receive discounts at National Bridle Shop.

Lane also asked for support of the World Versatility Show scheduled to begin on Thursday starting at 9 am.

Charles Wharton gave the administrative/fiscal report which showed some improvement in the month of June, but still nearly a $300,000 loss for the year.
“We have to exercise more care than we have in the past,” said Wharton. He specifically mentioned Executive Committee travel expenses and plans to have an approval policy in place by next month’s meeting for approval of EC travel expenses.

“We may have to downsize,” said Wharton. “We are looking at limiting expenses without cutting services.”

Wharton also made a motion that severence arrangements be made subject to the approval of the personnel committee. This motion passed unanimously.

Kathy Zeis gave a brief breeders report that included her pleas for owners of possible adult maximum sabino horses to submit to a study that could prove beneficial in developing greater resistance to allergies and improved immune systems in horses. Sabinos have naturally stronger immune systems with lesser inflammatory responses, and scientists hope to find a way to pass these traits along.

Jamie Hankins said there was an enforcement meeting scheduled today for after the Executive Committee meeting, but otherwise had no report.

He did offer personal comments in response to Meredith’s introductory comments. “I make my living training both [performance and pleasure horses]. We all owe it to one another to support the whole horse,” said Hankins.

The executive committee did also discuss the letter that has been sent by the Humane Society of the United States attacking the Tennessee Walking Horse as a fundraising vehicle. Copies of the letter were passed out to the Executive Committee [See a copy of the letter at] No decisions were made about how to respond to the letter, but there was a consensus that a response was needed. The Report will continue to follow up with TWHBEA and other industry organizations for a response to this letter.