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TWHBEA Undecided; Faced With Tough Times

LEWISBURG, Tenn. – The International Board of Directors of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) held its semi-annual meeting in Lewisburg on Saturday, May 25, 2013. The meeting was called to order by President Tracy Boyd promptly at 9:00 a.m.

The roll was called by Secretary Dee Dee Miller. Of the 73 board members, 40 were present at the time of the roll call and five arrived shortly thereafter. The secretary advised there was a quorum.

The first order of business was approval of the agenda followed by approval of the minutes of the December 1, 2012, International Board of Directors Meeting.

The next order of business was approval of the 2011-2012 yearly audit which the Directors had received and reviewed prior to the meeting.

The next order of business was the President’s remarks. Boyd thanked all the members of the Executive Committee, the International Board of Directors, and the employees of TWHBEA for their loyalty and hard work during difficult times. He thanked Executive Director Ron Thomas for being a calming influence on him in his role as President. He advised that all of the employees had taken a 20% cut in pay and were working a four-day work week. He advised that the Executive Committee was no longer meeting monthly at headquarters and instead were having conference calls. All of this is in an effort to reduce expenses of the Association.

Boyd reported that in his conversations with the constituency of TWHBEA about half think TWHBEA should be a registry only and the other half think that TWHBEA should control all aspects of the industry.

Boyd advised that there had been a strategic planning meeting of the Executive Committee on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. One of the decisions coming from that meeting was that going forward TWHBEA would not recognize any awards to individuals with HPA violations.

The next order of business was the Standing Committee Reports, the first of which was the Administrative/Fiscal/Audit Division delivered by Rob Cornelius. He advised that the Executive Committee had taken $100,000 from savings to pay off the University of Kentucky lab debt, pay the property taxes which were $30,000, and pay all creditors up to current status which was $97,000 total expenditure. He reported that TWHBEA was not broke but they had no excess money and that they were maintaining a month to month break-even status.

The next report was from Mike Hicks, Vice President of the Breeders’ Division. He reported that Ipeds still needs to get more mobile friendly. He reported on the good reception of the Go Gelding and Motivated Mare programs and said his committee was considering doing something comparable for stallions. He reminded everyone of the grace period that ends July 1st with late fees waived on first time registrations and transfers. He discussed diligent discounts for those who register on time. He advised that his committee had discussed a certified breeders’ program which would be offered for a fee. They will work with the Master Breeders to create this program.

The next standing report was from the Vice President of the Enforcement Division, Denise Bader-Keyser. She reported there is one on-going case and one new case which was initially filed incorrectly and has now been resolved. She reported that her committee continues to work on the rule book and that they had just submitted the breed standard to the Executive Committee.

The next standing report was from the Equine Welfare Division. Dr. Linda Montgomery reported one ongoing case which is not cruelty or abuse and said it was being resolved satisfactorily.

The next report came from the Horse Show Division and was delivered by Vice President Pat Stout. She reported on the status of work on the Futurity. She said there will be 27 total classes, 13 of which will be in-hand classes. She advised that a Mare & Foal class has been added as well as a Get Of Sire class. Novice handler classes have also been added. She said the decision had been made to use an HIO that had accepted the mandatory penalties and it would be the WHOA HIO. She further reported that in order to continue the TWHBEA High Point Program, volunteers were needed because of the reduction in office staff hours. She reported that there will be new regional Futurity and Versatility shows with double points.

The next standing committee report was delivered by Vice President Joyce Moyer on behalf of the Marketing Division. Moyer gave a lengthy report of all the positive promotions used during the year. She reported the funds were not available to participate in the Tom Seay America on Horseback sponsorship this year. She further reported that Seay had advised that over 50% of the horses on his rides are gaited horses.

At this time, Moyer invited Keith Dane, Director of Equine Welfare for HSUS and TWHBEA Director from Maryland, to speak. He advised that HSUS would like to give TWHBEA $20,000 to be used to promote the use of registered Tennessee Walking Horses in other venues such as Gymkhana, Dressage, and multi-breed games. He reported that this grant has not been formalized and is in the works and that he hoped that when it is finalized there could be a joint press release with HSUS and TWHBEA.

The next committee report, the Owners & Exhibitors Division, was delivered by Steve Brown on behalf of Vice President Jason Bachert who was unable to attend. He reported on the USLGE grant of $96,000 in 2012 which funded some of the overseas travel for marketing purposes.

Before her committee report, Vice President of the Performance Horse Division, Christy Lantis, requested that President Boyd advise the Board of Directors of the decision of the Executive Committee prior to the Directors’ meeting. Boyd advised that the Executive Committee had met that morning and passed endorsement of the Whitfield Amendment (H.R. 1518).  Lantis stated “Given this position taken by the Executive Committee, the status of my division is not certain at this point.”

Next Rick Wies, Vice President of the Pleasure Horse Division, delivered his report. He thanked his committee for their hard work. He advised that Western Dressage and Equine Agility classes had been added to the versatility program. He reported that the World Versatility schedule was out and that sponsors were needed for the show. 

In his Training Division report, Wayne Dean only addressed the Academy Program. He said TWHBEA had dropped the ball on this program in the past but was actively working to increase participation in it this year.

Dr. David Mullis, Member at Large-Bylaws, advised the group that he had had a quorum on every conference call of his committee. He advised that many items of the daily operation of the Association were included in the Bylaws and did not need to be. He reported that a streamlined Bylaws had been recommended to and submitted to the Executive Committee and they will take action on those recommendations.

Member at Large-Youth Caroline Hoffman reported on the many activities of the TWHBEA Youth Program including shows and summer camps.

Included in the standing committee reports was the report from Executive Director Ron Thomas. Thomas summarized very well the difficult decisions facing the association.  As part of his report, Thomas informed the board that TWHBEA has fallen below 8300 members (TWHBEA had 8,296 members as of meeting time on Saturday).  Thomas reported the problems that exist with funding a 17,300 square foot building when only having 8 employees.  The building costs TWHBEA $185,000 to maintain.  At this point, TWHBEA will remain in its headquarters.

He also advised that the fate of Voice Magazine had not been decided yet although he had been given some latitude by the executive committee to look at options. Currently, The Voice is a member benefit that is costing TWHBEA $120,000 to $130,000 per year.

Another issue facing TWHBEA is that of members with HPA violations.  With regards to whether those with HPA violations could serve TWHBEA, again the issue has not been decided.  TWHBEA is also looking to see whether it should allow awards and accolades to be given to those with HPA violations.  TWHBEA is also looking at whether to recognize World Champions and World Grand Champions from non-compliant HIOs, a decision centered around whether to recognize those being crowned at The Celebration.  Given the subjective nature of those violations, TWHBEA is still wrestling with these decisions and nothing is definitive as of now.

Thomas reported that breedings were down significantly. Finally, he reported that the American Horse Council (AHC) had requested TWHBEA not be a sponsor of AHC and that they are not welcome at the AHC Annual Convention.

With the Standing Committee Reports completed, the next order of business was old business. Tom Kakassy, Director from North Carolina, made a motion that the Board of Directors agree not to ratify the decision of the Executive Committee to support the Whitfield Amendment and he outlined his reasons for this. The motion was seconded by Curtis Rosemann, Director from Arizona. This opened the floor to a very lengthy and heated debate on both sides.  Finally, a question was called on the motion, the motion was restated and Kakassy asked for a roll call vote. The motion carried with a vote of 27 for, 17 against and one abstention. The Board of Directors overruled the Executive Committee’s decision to support the Whitfield Amendment.

There being no new business, Boyd advised the group that the next meeting would be Saturday, December 7, 2013, at TWHBEA Headquarters. A motion was made, seconded and passed to adjourn at 11:58 a.m.

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