The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) held their annual International Board of Directors’ meeting on December 3, 2022 at their headquarters in Lewisburg.  Breeders’ Chief Executive Officer Mark Farrar summarized the year which he has been leading for the last 11 months.  Farrar pointed out that TWHBEA has now accomplished the goal of having $500,000 in reserves which will allow future profits to be invested into the organization and its programs.

Farrar acknowledged the work that came before this executive committee in helping to achieve the goal of the reserves.  Farrar also talked about new staffing positions that will come on line in 2023 and recognized the 57 years of service from Gloria Rambo who recently retired and will be honored at TWHBEA in a reception on December 13, 2022.  Farrar also pointed out the 30 years of service of Paulette Ewing.

Kasey Kesselring gave the financial report highlighting the nearly $1.2M in current assets at TWHBEA.  Current liabilities sit just under $500,000 leaving TWHBEA in a relatively strong position compared to recent history.  Through 11 months of the fiscal year, TWHBEA posted a net income of $200,185.  The four main areas of revenue come from membership ($270,000), transfer fees ($185,000), registration fees ($178,000) and DNA/Identity verification fees ($156,000).  

In Farrar’s remarks he pointed out that some of the 2022 numbers were right at or just below 2021 however when discussing registrations, memberships and transfers, each of these are currently running above their five-year averages.

David Sisk addressed the board and pointed out that most of the feedback on the new format of the Futurity was positive.  Nominations were up significantly in 2022 and over $44,000 in prize monies were paid out.  The beginning balance for the 2023 futurity will be $25,500.  There will also be a change to the online auction which will be moved to the spring with proceeds going toward the futurity payouts.  

Amanda Wright pointed out some of the accomplishments of the pleasure horse committee which included adding the two and three-year-old country pleasure division to the Riders’ Cup program and adding Youth Flat-shod Horse of the Year and Youth Pleasure Exhibitor of the year to the annual awards banquet.

The World Versatility Show had 422 entries in 2022 which was an 89% increase over 2019 which was the last time dressage classes were included.  The show was also held at Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Thom Meek highlighted in his report the ongoing and growing relationship between the trainers and TWHBEA.  The two groups hosted the Unity Reception at the new Humble Baron at Uncle Nearest Distillery on Thursday night to kickoff the weekend.  The joint venture directory, which was a success this past year, will now be done in the spring prior to the Trainers’ Show which will allow for more information to be included in the directory.  TWHBEA and the Trainers’ teamed with FAST and Celebration to host the United We Stand horse show in Tunica in November and the proceeds of over $75,000 will go directly to the industry’s legal fund.

Dee Cantrell highlighted the many contributions and accomplishments of the youth.  Cantrell, who has volunteered in the industry in many different roles for 55 years spoke from the heart and urged everyone to remember the importance of the youth and how they can help shape the future of the industry.  Cantrell challenged TWHBEA to continue to unite the industry and fill the leadership role.

A main agenda items at the meeting is the election of the 2023 Executive Committee. For the first time in many years, the nominating committee’s slate was approved in full by the directors with no contested positions.  The 2023 executive committee will be:
President – Jack Heffington -  1 year
Sr. Vice President – Amanda Wright – 1 year
Admin/Fiscal – Joyce Moyer – 1 year
Breeders – David Sisk
Bylaws/Enforcement – Tom Kakassy
Equine Welfare – Bill Strickland
Marketing – Melanie Lawrence – 1 year
Owners/Exhibitors/International – Denise Bader -  1 year
Performance Horse – Lance Messenheimer
Pleasure Horse – Lyn Montgomery
Trainers – Thom Meek – 1 year
Youth – Chris Hazelwood
Secretary – Kasey Kesselring (appointed by executive committee)

In one of the new bylaws amendments previously approved by the membership of TWHBEA, the new executive committee will serve in two-year terms and have staggered terms with 50% of the executive committee being elected each year.  The terms of those elected in this cycle were decided in the first executive committee meeting held after the directors meeting.  Half of those elected this year will serve a one-year term and half will serve a two-year term.

Other bylaw amendments this year included changing the title from executive director to chief operating officer for the role Mark Farrar currently holds.  In addition, TWHBEA will now use the calendar year in their reporting instead of the just completed fiscal year.  TWHBEA also amended the bylaws to allow more flexibility of the date of the annual meeting in December, allowing TWHBEA to be more accommodating with other industry banquets and meetings.  The secretary will now be appointed by the executive committee and have no set term.

TWHBEA also amended the bylaws to include two types of membership and redefined voting members.  Starting in 2023 only those members that currently own a registered Tennessee Walking Horse will be allowed to vote.  Those members that currently have voting privileges but do not own a registered Tennessee Walking Horse will be grandfathered in and will not lose their voting privileges moving forward unless they allow those current privileges to lapse.