by Linda Scrivner

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The 2009 Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) Convention was held Friday, Feb. 13 and Saturday, Feb. 14 with annual meetings and two awards banquets. The meetings were held Saturday at the Double Tree Hotel and both banquets were held at the James Union Building on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

Tommy Hall, executive director, and his staff did an excellent job organizing and planning the meetings and festivities. The meetings were successful and productive while the banquets were well attended with over 200 people the first night at the Versatility High Point, the Register of Merit and Academy High Point Awards Banquet. Two hundred and fifty attend the Saturday night National High Point Awards Banquet. Hall was extremely pleased with the numbers at the meetings and the banquets. The Saturday meetings consisted of the Pleasure Horse Meeting and Register of Merit Meeting beginning at 8 a.m., followed by the Youth Meeting, the WHOA Owners’ Forum and Membership Meeting, the Board of Directors Meeting and Luncheon and concluded with the USDA Update with Dr. Rachel Cezar and Dr. Chester Gipson.

The food was wonderful at both banquets. Hall stated, “The Friday night banquet was the largest number thus far with over 200 in attendance. Overall, we were very pleased with the meetings and the attendance. We were also pleased with the 240 that were in attendance Saturday evening. We were very happy with this year’s convention.”


Banquet winners highlighted the convention. On Friday night guests enjoyed a delicious buffet while many awards and honors were bestowed on the hard working exhibitors and their horses.

Mark Farrar welcomed those in attendance and introduced some honored guests. Bill Reed gave the invocation. Dee Dee Sale, director of Walking Horse Owners’ Youth Association, said that this year there would be two WHOA-TWHBEA Youth Camps at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. There will be a Summer Day Youth Camp on June 10-13, 2009, for Day Campers 11 and Under and a Summer Youth Camp on June 14-19, 2009, for Campers 12-17 with 30 in each group.

Harolene Willis received an appreciation award for her hard work as academy chairman. Deborah Williams and Architecture LP were honored for being a diamond sponsor of the Academy Program. TWHBEA and WHOA were silver sponsors. Waterfall Farm, S & S Buggies and Midland Farms were bronze sponsors. Backward S Ranch and Floyd and Beverly Sherman were 2008 ribbon sponsors.

Additional appreciation awards went to Vic Gernt who hosted a versatility show at Cookeville, to Debbie Stewart for helping with the Foley Show, Larry Starnes for helping with the Brownsville, Ky., Show, James and Eve Durant of Pensacola, Fla., Womack Stables for hosting the Murfreesboro Show, David Mesimer for the Concord, N.C., Show, Louise Hasler for the Peoria, Ill., Show, Rising Glory Farms of Lewisburg, Tenn., Laura Maune of Dallas, N.C., and for Mr. and Mrs. John Wright and Danny Reagan for helping with the versatility shows.

The Triple Crown Challenge Awards presentations were next. This was a new award. There were high point awards earned during the 11 days of the TWHBEA World Versatility Show, the PWHAT Championship and the Pleasure International. The winner was given a lifetime membership to WHOA, TWHBEA and PWHAT. Those honored were Jenny Jackson, John Kuzlyk and Leslie Birk.

Jack Greene captured the moments on film as this year’s high point winners were announced. The Versatility High Points Awards were presented first, followed by the Register of Awards and the Academy High Points Awards. They announced the last few world grand champion equitation riders had started in the Academy Program.

The awards were closed with a big thank you to all who participated. The first of the evening’s festivities was brought to a close with many heading toward the silent auction to view and bid on the wide selection of items.