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Understanding The Issues - Pedigo Interview



Copyright WHR 2006

Editor’s Note:

            This is the second in a series of interviews with Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association President Jerrold Pedigo. As President of TWHBEA, Pedigo expressed a willingness to share his thoughts regarding TWHBEA’s vision for the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The first interview ran in the April 10, 2006 issue of the Walking Horse Report and is available at www.walkinghorsereport.com entitled ‘United We Stand.’

            In this article, we begin the process of breaking down TWHBEA’s HIO Sanctioning Plan into bite size pieces for our readers. This week’s article examines the Statement of Purpose and Intent.

Readers who have questions they would like to see addressed should send those to cparsons@horseworld.net for possible inclusion in future interviews.

 

TWHBEA’s HIO Sanctioning Plan, Part 1

 

Understanding The Issues

           

By Christy Howard Parsons

 

            Show season 2006 has begun and the Tennessee walking horse industry is facing serious challenges. While the horse industry has always been plagued with issues, perhaps never before have there been so many serious challenges from forces outside the industry as well as from within. The United States Department of Agriculture has stepped up enforcement efforts leaving industry leaders to struggle with the issue of where to set the bar for the future of the Tennessee walking horse. Simultaneously, and perhaps not entirely unrelated, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association has elected not to continue as a partner in the National Horse Show Commission.

            TWHBEA presented a proposal to the board of directors of the Walking Horse Trainers Association and Walking Horse Owners Association during their annual meetings in December as an alternative to continuing to participate in the NHSC. The proposal was printed in the Walking Horse Report dated December 12, 2005, but were never officially presented to the membership of the WHTA and WHOA. At that time WHTA and WHOA asked TWHBEA to reconsider leaving the NHSC.

            TWHBEA discussed the matter in January and elected to move forward with their proposal and not to rejoin the NHSC. They continued to develop details of the HIO Sanctioning Plan, and these were released and printed in the Walking Horse Report March 6, 2006 issue. The plan is also available online at www.walkinghorsereport.com and www.twhbea.com.

            There have not been official conversations between the organizations since that time. However, in an interview in last week’s Walking Horse Report, TWHBEA President Jerrold Pedigo was asked whether the WHTA and WHOA had said no to the proposed plan. Pedigo answered, “They haven’t said YES.”

            “They indicated they have some concerns, but we don’t have formal communication, or written specifics about what those concerns are. I would be happy to talk to them or to any other HIO about the plan. This is still tweakable. Tell us what you don’t like about it,” implored Pedigo.

            As a service to our readers, the Walking Horse Report felt it would be beneficial to review TWHBEA’s HIO Sanctioning Plan in segments that can be analyzed in detail. We have asked TWHBEA President Jerrold Pedigo to respond to questions about the proposal. We will examine different segments of the proposal over the next weeks. Readers who have questions about the proposal are encouraged to email them to Publisher Christy Howard Parsons at cparsons@horseworld.net for possible inclusion in upcoming interviews.

If the various organizations are to work together to find a common ground, then they first need to know where they stand.

The excerpts from the plan printed herein, are excerpts from the plan that was printed in its entirety in the Walking Horse Report dated March 6, 2006 and can be found in our archives at www.walkinghorsereport.com entitled ‘HIO Sanctioning Plan,’ as well as on www.twhbea.com.

 

 

Excerpts from the

TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE BREEDERS AND EXHIBITORS ASSOCIATION

HIO SANCTIONING PLAN

 

1.         STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND INTENT

 

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA”) is convinced that the Tennessee Walking Horse industry’s future is limited only by its regional fractionalization and its lack of unified cohesive standards.  In an effort to facilitate assuaging all factions of Tennessee walking horse enthusiasts and to encourage the creation and adoption of national standards for one uniform rulebook, one uniform inspection procedure, and one uniform judging criteria, TWHBEA hereby establishes this HIO sanctioning plan.  TWHBEA recognizes that the prospect of this change may create anxiety and distrust.  But, TWHBEA is confident that the collective wisdom of the industry focused upon the stated goals, in time, will effectuate positive transitional steps into the limitless future of the Tennessee walking horse.

 

To do otherwise, to undertake no effort, is to attempt to maintain an increasingly vulnerable status quo in a world of ever accelerating change and ever evolving standards of conduct until other considerations dictate the future, such as government intervention, a loss of public support, a competitor breed, or a competitor sport.  TWHBEA finds no fault with and does not criticize those who have tirelessly endeavored to raise the industry from its infancy to its current status.  Instead, TWHBEA congratulates and thanks all of those individuals and organizations, and solicits their continued efforts, advice, and support for the industry.  TWHBEA does not believe that it has all of the right answers or has even considered all of the right questions, but does believe that continuing on the same path in the same manner in today’s environment is to ignore reality, to invite destruction and is counterproductive.  TWHBEA’s unequivocal intent is to be inclusive, not exclusive, providing services and benefits to all eighteen thousand of its members, and TWHBEA actively solicits the input of all.

 

 

            In last week’s interview, Pedigo made it clear that the seed that started the ball rolling (giving notice to the NHSC) was the vote two to three years ago of TWHBEA’s National Board to accept and add to TWHBEA’s show results all show results from shows affiliated with any HIO, not just the NHSC. This motion actually violated the then current NHSC contract that prohibited its members from doing business with any other HIO. This led to the TWHBEA Executive Committee reviewing the existing NHSC contract in its entirety.

            “We started out addressing that one issue,” said Pedigo. That led to other questions.

            During this time industry issues were also raising concerns among Executive Committee members about their participation in the NHSC. The USDA stepped up enforcement efforts. Specifically at Fayetteville, Belfast and Wartrace last year, horse shows were seriously affected by the USDA presence and the perceived or apparent difference between the VMOs and the DQPs. While some owners railed against the government actions, others were dismayed by pictures that were shown by the USDA of serious violations of the Horse Protection Act.

            “The Executive Committee began to feel a need to distance ourselves from the inspection process overall. For a host of reasons, we felt we could not remain in the current NHSC structure. We were being called upon to defend negative attacks like the recent Equus article,” said Pedigo.

            The statement of purpose in the HIO Sanctioning Plan hints at these host of reasons. “To do otherwise, to undertake no effort, is to attempt to maintain an increasingly vulnerable status quo in a world of ever accelerating change and ever evolving standards of conduct until other considerations dictate the future, such as government intervention, a loss of public support, a competitor breed, or a competitor sport.”

            I asked Jerrold Pedigo to expand upon the reasons that TWHBEA felt they must take action.

            “I don’t know that there is any one factor. I do know that we are not perceived as we would like to be. It is not just the Equus article. There are a host of things that happen that remind us the world does not perceive our horse in the same way that we do. We have to take steps to educate the public that we are putting a sound horse in the ring. We have to go beyond the call of duty to overcome our past,” explained Pedigo.

            “There’s just not one incident that you can point to. It is a continual realization. Our world is ever changing and our product has to change with it. We cannot sit back and not conform to how it is changing,” explained Pedigo.

            “I have been going to the Celebration for 40 something years,” furthered Pedigo. “I saw Betty Sain win from the 23rd row of the west grandstand. The whole place erupted to see a woman win the stake for the first time in that big oval. We have come so far. We present such a fine product today. I wish that many of our detractors could have that knowledge to see where we have come from. They’d have a much greater respect.”

            As an example of the negative pressures from the outside world, Pedigo released information that Tucker Saddlery, a longtime sponsor of TWHBEA distance riding programs, had recently made a significant increase in their sponsorship of the Tennessee Walking Horse, but pulled out entirely after being inundated by negative emails and phone calls from their customers who would not continue to support Tucker if they chose to sponsor Tennessee Walking Horses.

            “Tucker wanted to play a bigger role. We signed a multi-year deal worth thousands of dollars for them to become a corporate sponsor of Nicole Carswell and the Walk This Way tour. After the announcement was made both by TWHBEA and Tucker, Tucker received emails and phone calls, half a dozen of which they forwarded to us, denouncing Tucker saddles due to the fact that Tucker had affiliated with an organization that supported sore horses. This is just one example, but it’s a strong message,” said Pedigo.

            “We have to adjust what we are doing so that nationwide the public can see the steps we are taking to eliminate sore horses. We have got to use our resources to put out the good things that we do. A lot of what is perceived as negative is not. We have to educate the public,” explained Pedigo.

            “We need to continue to improve our product, and we have made giant leaps. Today we have bred a more talented animal than ever existed in the past. Our trainers are more educated and more talented to present an animal we can all be proud of. Of course, there are always some who want to cheat, and we want to eliminate that.

            TWHBEA elected not to respond to the negative article in Equus. “The Executive Committee reviewed the article, reviewed the facts reported in the article, and then made a determination as to what facts could actually be challenged. Our conclusion was that only a few corrections or modifications could be claimed by us. Based on this, we chose not to respond with an ad as we were fearful that an ad would bring additional attention to the initial article,” said Pedigo.

            WHR subscriber Thomas Kakassy did respond to the Equus article and he received a written response from Equus indicating that his was one of a very few responses received in defense of the Tennessee Walking Horse as opposed to the large number they received in support of their article.

            “TWHBEA does not believe that it has all of the right answers or has even considered all of the right questions, but does believe that continuing on the same path in the same manner in today’s environment is to ignore reality, to invite destruction and is counterproductive.  TWHBEA’s unequivocal intent is to be inclusive, not exclusive, providing services and benefits to all eighteen thousand of its members, and TWHBEA actively solicits the input of all,” according to the statement of purpose in TWHBEA’s HIO Sanctioning Plan.

            In an effort to solicit that input and to facilitate the flow of information among the various organizations, the Walking Horse Report will continue to present the details of TWHBEA’s HIO Sanctioning Plan, as well as to examine the viewpoints of the National Horse Show Commission and the National Horse Protection Society.

            Next week’s article examines the HIO Committee which would govern the industry in TWHBEA’s Sanctioning Plan.

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