The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) Board of Directors met on Friday afternoon, October 30th, at their headquarters in Murfreesboro, TN. Seventeen out of 26 board members were present for the meeting.  There was a great deal of discussion and concern from board members regarding the announcement that SHOW will no longer require a WHOA amateur card for exhibitors to compete at their affiliated shows.  Amateur and youth cards have been the primary source of revenue for WHOA since 1991 when they gave up their horse show affiliation program to unify with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association and Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association to form the National Horse Show Commission.

“SHOW is doing what they feel they need to do to succeed, and we should do the same,” said WHOA President Frank Neal.  He pointed out that SHOW made their announcement regarding the amateur cards the day before WHOA’s scheduled board meeting and had not discussed the matter with him until after the announcement was made.  “I wish we could have had time to discuss this as a group before their announcement.”  WHOA Executive Director, Tommy Hall, and Marketing Director, Mark Taylor, met with SHOW officials in late September. 

The WHOA Board of Directors took action on several important items that they feel will enable them to grow and continue to represent the interests of all owners in the industry.

Horse Show Development Program
WHOA will aggressively work to develop horse shows across the country.  WHOA sponsored 28 shows in 2009 and has set a goal of 75 for 2010.  The type of show will depend on the interests of members in that area, but could include academy, novice, versatility and performance classes.  The Board unanimously voted to allow Tommy Hall to affiliate each event with whichever HIO he feels is best for the type of show and the area of the country.  In 2009 WHOA affiliated all 28 shows with SHOW.  The 2010 events will most likely be affiliated with several different HIOs.  A WHOA membership or temporary show card will be required for all riders and owners at their shows.  WHOA will honor licenses issued by the Walking Horse Trainers Association.

Formation of a WHOA HIO
The board voted unanimously for WHOA to apply to be a certified Horse Industry Organization (HIO) with the USDA.  “It is important that we be able to represent our members in Washington.  The owners have a lot invested in this industry and we want to make sure their voice is heard,” said Neal.  “Having our own HIO will also give an economical option for affiliation of some of our smaller shows.”