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TWHBEA Welcomes New Executive Committee



LEWISBURG, Tenn. – The January Executive Committee meeting was held Monday January 25, 2010 at the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association headquarters.  The January meeting is the first full meeting of the newly elected executive committee each year.

There was quite a bit of turnover in the executive committee in 2010 but President David Pruett was back for his third consecutive term.  Pruett welcomed all of the committee members and thanked them for their dedication to TWHBEA.  “We have a lot of work to do and we have our hands full.  We are a team and all work together,” said Pruett.

Listed by Pruett also were his goals for 2010.  He mentioned increasing membership, encouraging more breedings, registrations and transfers, looking for additional revenue sources and working more closely with directors and encouraging more participation from those directors.  Other goals included preparing TWHBEA for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, working with local and state associations and working with all entities in the industry for the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Executive director Stan Butt reiterated some of Pruett’s remarks and placed his emphasis on membership.  Butt pointed out the May 1 deadline for membership to determine directors for each state and issued a goal of 12,000 members by May 1.  Membership at TWHBEA has taken a significant hit over the last four years.  In December 2005 TWHBEA had 18,457 members.  In December 2009 membership was down to 10,942 members, an almost 41% drop.

Butt has played a significant role in the USLGE funding TWHBEA has received from the government for international marketing.  In 2010 TWHBEA will receive $48,000 for international marketing.

A point of emphasis for TWHBEA is to grow the Go Gelding program, a point based program for geldings in the industry to earn points, prize money and increase value geldings.  Sixty-one geldings participated in 2009 with $3,005 awarded.  The 2010 prize money will increase to $5,000 and TWHBEA hopes to have 100 geldings participate.

Committee Reports were brief in January as each member was just beginning to get started with their new responsibilities.  Each vice president made the nominations for their committees during the meeting.

The admin/fiscal report, given by Rob Cornelius was short as the year-end audit has not yet been completed.  Cornelius did report that TWHBEA showed a profit of $4,063 in the fiscal year ending November 30, 2009.  For December, revenues at TWHBEA were $104,000 versus the projection of $106,000.

Jack Heffington gave a brief breeders’ report and pointed out some very disturbing numbers for TWHBEA.  In addition to the 42% drop in membership at TWHBEA, Heffington pointed out the significant drops in registrations and transfers.  Maybe the most alarming number is the number of mares bred in 2009.  The stallion breeding report in the 12 months ending September 30, 2009 showed 9,231 mares bred.  The report for the year ending September 30, 2003 had 27,493 mares bred.  That is a 66% drop in six years, or a total of 18,262 fewer mares bred.

For fist time registrations, TWHBEA uses a formula for forecasting of 42% of stallion breeding report number.  That would mean less than 4,000 new foal registrations, based on the 9,231 mares bred from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009.

The marketing committee at TWHBEA will be busy in 2010 headed by Marty Irby.  Irby expressed the need to prepare TWHBEA for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  Also, Irby pointed out the need to promote the 75th anniversary of TWHBEA, which takes place in 2010.  “We have an opportunity for 500,000 horse people to be within three hours of the heart of our business.  We may never get this opportunity again and we need to capitalize on it,” said Irby.

Owners/Exhibitors Vice President Stephen Brown stated his committee was looking into adding clinics to the WHOA Pleasure show in August.  These clinics would be in addition to those at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Performance Horse Vice President Ty Irby issued a warning to the committee that horse show development was a dire need in the industry, especially in the areas outside of Middle Tennessee.  Irby pointed out that “we are all selling to each other” because of the contraction of the breed in areas outside of Tennessee.  Bruce Vaughn pointed out that this problem began many years ago when the American Horse Shows Association eliminated Walking Horses from its shows.

Training Vice President Wayne Dean thanked TWHBEA and the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association for sponsoring the Youth Challenge program in 2010, a class that encourages youth canter classes.  Dean asked for new materials to promote the program as well as new applications.

In Rick Weis’ pleasure horse committee report he brought up the need for the TWHBEA Versatility rule book and whether TWHBEA should have this or not.  It was the recommendation of the executive committee to keep the rule book.  Butt went even further, “many of our members think we should hold the rule book for the industry, not the HIO.”  He added, “When we gave the rule book to the National Horse Show Commission, it was the understanding if it dissolved we would get the rule book back.”

When the NHSC dissolved in 2009, the rule book was given to SHOW, the HIO of The Celebration.  SHOW assumed all of the operations of the NHSC and is currently re-writing the rule book for 2010.

TWHBEA is looking at another challenging year with reduced budgets and declining figures.  TWHBEA relies heavily on memberships, registrations, and transfers.  Each of these numbers is at alarmingly low historical figures and trends continue to be worrisome.  They have done a good job the last couple of years controlling expenses and keeping TWHBEA financially viable, but numbers such as 42% and 66% scare even the most bullish of people in the industry.

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