Copyright WHR 2007

By Christy Howard Parsons

The future of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association hung heavy in the air as the newly elected TWHBEA National Board of Directors convened in Lewisburg on Saturday, December 1, 2007 to elect their leaders for the 2008 fiscal year.

The nominating committee of Wayne Dean, Kathy Zeis and Ronnie Vincent presented a slate that included the following: David Pruett (TN)(President), Bob Ramsbottom (TN)(Senior Vice President), Mike Inman (GA)(VP Admin/Fiscal), Dee Dee Sale (TN)(VP Breeders), Chris Bobo (TN) (VP Enforcement), Bill Strickland (AL) (VP Horse Shows), Dee Cantrell (AL) (VP Marketing), Darren Gray, (FL) (VP Owner/Exhibitor), Connie Hess (VA) (VP Performance Horses), Diana McMurtrey (FL) (VP Pleasure Horse), Jamie Hankins (KY) (VP Training), Debra Jack (BC) (VP Member At Large Bylaws), Christy Lantis (CA) (VP Member at Large Youth), and Nancy Lynn Green (TN) (Secretary/Treasurer).

Of the nominated slate of officers and directors, only Darren Gray and Jamie Hankins had served on the 2007 Executive Committee.

A slate of opposing candidates were prepared in advance to represent the opposite viewpoint. The candidates nominated from the floor were Jerrold Pedigo (TN) (President), Dr. Donald Longest (VA) (Senior Vice President), Charles Wharton (TN) (VP Admin/Fiscal), Beverly Best Brown (AZ) (VP Breeders), Barney Denney (KY) (VP Enforcement), Pat Stout (TN) (VP Horse Shows), Joyce Moyer (OH) (VP Marketing), Bruce Chalfant (WA) (VP Owner/Exhibitor), Martha Branson (GA) (VP Performance Horses), Karla Massey (MS) (VP Pleasure Horse), Harolyn Groves (WV) (VP Member At Large Bylaws), and Holly Reynolds (VP Member at Large Youth).

Marty Irby also nominated from the floor Sharon Brandon (Secretary/Treasurer).

Because he was running unopposed, Jamie Hankins was voted in by acclamation with Walt Chism abstaining from the vote.

After a short break, the ballots were handed out by roll call. 103 ballots were handed out, and John T. Bobo clarified that proxies were not accepted and that only present directors were allowed to vote.

Each contested candidate was given the opportunity to speak for three minutes. Jerrold Pedigo began as the candidate nominated from the floor for President. Pedigo said “I care deeply about this horse, this breed and this Association.” Pedigo pledged to serve the entire membership, not any one segment. “I have struggled with the decision to run again, but I want to help. I offer my services and talents to you,” said Pedigo.

David Pruett followed, “2008 can be the beginning of the greatest time in our history”. Pruett pledged changes within the Association “I promise there will be a live voice out there answering your calls. We have to restore confidence in our Association. I will conduct a full investigative audit of your Association. This needs to be a year of change.”

Dr. Donald Longest spoke about his candidacy for the position of Senior Vice President. “I am not under the control of anybody but myself,” said Longest. “I stand for the horse. We should be his support.”

Bob Ramsbottom was the candidate from the nominating committee for Senior Vice President. In 2004 Ramsbottom was named the TWHBEA Performance Horse Ambassador. “It is the process of communication that makes or breaks an organization. Now is the time to streamline this Association. Let’s put aside our personal agendas and work together for the promotion of the Tennessee Walking Horse.”

Charles Wharton thanked the Association for being allowed to serve them in the past. He was nominated from the floor to continue in the position of Vice President Administrative/Fiscal. Wharton spoke of simpler times, when issues were resolved in private and disagreements were courteous. “With me, what you get is what you see. I support every aspect of our industry. If you, like me, support sound horses and a unified industry, and want a person in this role with over 40 years of financial experience, then I ask for your vote.”

In his conclusion, Wharton suggested that the voters consider voting for one slate or the other as opposed to a divided slate of officers that ends with an executive committee that is stalemated.

Mike Inman was nominated by the nominating committee for the position of Vice President Administrative/Fiscal. “Focus on the art of the business, if we don’t get that going right, the rest of this is immaterial. Add to that the desperate financial situation we are in, and this is a very daunting task. We are fighting for our financial survival,” said Inman.

The nominee from the floor for Vice President Breeders was Beverly Best Brown. “I know how to execute a program. I understand the breed. I understand the gait,” Brown explained.

Dee Dee Sale addressed the directors as the slate’s nominee for Breeders Vice President. “I’ve been on this committee since 2004. Projects I have worked with are the Go! Gelding program, which gave out its first payout at the banquet last night…Goals for 2008 would include continuing the research going on in the breeders subcommittee and work on IPEDs to make it more useable and marketable. We need to extend the TWHBEA website and give more timely information.”

The enforcement position was sought by Barney Denney from the floor nomination. “My goal is to treat everyone fairly and equally and to expand this horse into areas where he doesn’t currently exist,” said Denney.

Chris Bobo was the candidate from the nominating committee and he was deeply moved by the nomination as both his grandfather and uncle have previously served as President of TWHBEA. “It pains me that the valuable programs of this Association have been hijacked in the name of supposed “unity”,” said Bobo. “My responsibility is with you, the breeder.” Bobo also clarified that he had never had a HPA violation.

Pat Stout addressed the crowd as the nominee from the floor for the Vice President of Horse Shows. Stout served in that position in 2007. Stout talked of expanding the horse show circuit and working to create a level playing field. “To achieve that we must have honest judges and DQPs,” said Stout.

The candidate from the nominating committee was Bill Strickland from Alabama. He was previously Vice President of Horse Shows as well as Vice President of Breeders. Strickland is also a county commissioner. “I don’t spend money I don’t have,” said Strickland. “I am disturbed about some of the issues that are in our industry today.”

Joyce Moyer was honored last night as the TWHBEA Pleasure Horse Ambassador, and today she was the nominee from the floor for the Vice President of Marketing. She has also previously been a Vice President of Youth. “This is an international organization. I will help it to be international.”
The candidate from the nominating committee was Dee Cantrell. “My platform rests on three critical issues. We must have improved and enhanced communication across all boundaries. We must rebuild relationships and we must reestablish sustainability,” said Cantrell. “The financial constraints will not allow us to follow marketing initiatives as we have in the past, but there are many ways to market the horse at no cost.”

“Tomorrow is ours to win or lose,” she warned. “We must make the turn immediately to survive.”

Bruce Chalfant addressed the directors as the candidate for Vice President Owners/Exhibitors from the floor. “I work with Associations professionally and have for the last fifteen years,” said Chalfant. Darren Gray was the nominee from the slate for the Owners/Exhibitors and served as Vice President Pleasure Horse in 2007. He pledged that he would work with everyone.

The candidates for Vice President of Performance Horses were Martha Branson and Connie Hess. Martha Branson from Georgia said she agreed to run because she was concerned about the problems facing the industry . “We need to be unified in any and every way,” said Branson.

Connie Hess, the nominee from the nominating committee, said she was most interested in “presenting sound horses, consistent inspections, and most importantly restoring financial stability to the organization.” She continued, “this is not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us.”

Karla Massey from Mississippi was nominated from the floor for the Vice President Pleasure Horses. She stressed that there needed to be one rule book, but that she would love to see the HIO go away. “We shouldn’t be in the business of picking up the horses feet,” said Massey.

Diane McMurtrey was the Pleasure nominee from the nominating committee. “We will have to tighten our belts and we won’t be able to sustain all the programs we are currently pursuing, but I promise to do my best to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse.”

Harolyn Groves and Debra Jack were nominees for the Vice President At Large Bylaws. Groves explained “my most beneficial qualification is a thorough knowledge of this industry and of this horse.”

Debra Jack from Canada said “I believe I can bring a high level of expertise to this position. Bylaws should be a consistent tool, not a weapon. I am deeply saddened by the continuing rift in this organization.”

Holly Reynolds, the 2007 Vice President At Large Youth, was nominated from the floor to continue in that position. “As a parent, I have insight into the unique needs of our youth,” said Reynolds. She also explained that revenues from her division in 2007 were up and her expenses were down, despite accomplishing all of the stated goals for the position. She also said that she felt the youth would benefit from the consistency of her leadership, after many changes in the TWHBEA staff serving the youth.

Christy Lantis was the nominee for the Youth Vice President from the nominating committee. “I have a passion for the children in this industry. I am concerned about the youth programs being depleted,” said Lantis.

For the position of Secretary/Treasurer, former Secretary/Treasurer Sharon Brandon was nominated from the floor. Brandon resigned in March of 2007. “I feel like I still have a lot to contribute to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry,” said Brandon.

Nancy Lynn Green who is currently serving in Brandon’s former position as an employee of the TWHBEA, was nominated by the nominating committee for the position of Secretary/Treasurer. Like Chris Bobo, she has a heritage that is filled with former officers of the TWHBEA.

Following the speeches, the ballots were collected by a roll call.

After the votes were counted by Greg Cook and the Election Committee, John T. Bobo returned to announce the results of the election. The following were elected to serve as the 2008 Executive Committee: David Pruett, Dr. Donald Longest, Mike Inman, Dee Dee Sale, Chris Bobo, Bill Strickland, Joyce Moyer, Darren Gray, Connie Hess, Diana McMurtrey, Debra Jack, Christy Lantis, and Sharon Brandon. Jamie Hankins was also elected earlier by acclamation.

Following the announcement of the election results, David Pruett assumed the gavel. Jerrold Pedigo congratulated the new Executive Committee. Pruett also thanked the retiring Executive Committee.

The time and agenda of the next board of directors meeting is May 24, 2008.

There was no old business brought up. Under new business, Tracy Boyd made the recommendation that the membership meeting and board of director meeting be held on different days so that time constraints were not always such a problem in the annual meeting.

Dr. David Ranson suggested that the new Executive Committee revisit the budget that had been approved earlier in the day. David Pruett said that the Executive Committee would look into the budget.

Walt Chism made the motion to adjourn the board of directors meeting.