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WHOA Focuses On Strategic Direction And Finances

By Linda Scrivner

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) Board of Directors’ Meeting was held Thursday, May 27 at the Tennessee Miller Room in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
President Frank Neal opened with his report where he stated that WHOA has been extremely active in a number of shows. Previously, the board had given their unanimous support that this was the direction WHOA needed to go and could provide the most benefit.
He reported that WHOA didn’t have as much money as needed but that they would survive. He felt the shows had been well-attended but that a couple of rain outs had hurt the total numbers.
Tommy Hall explained that the cancellation of the Lewisburg Show was from a financial position. When the USDA arrived, the majority of the trailers left and since there were no entries at 5:45 when the show started at 6:00, the show was canceled. Dr. Mullins explained to the USDA that the show was called off for financial reasons. Hall reinforced that given the country’s economic climate and WHOA’s financial status, all of WHOA’s actions had to focus on the financial stability of the organization.
Hall also stressed that the largest show of the year is the one held at Womack Stables on Saturday, May 30, and that they did have padded classes and encouraged everyone to go. This follows the Fun Show and the versatility classes start at 10:00 a.m. with the rail classes starting around 1:00 p.m.
Hall said that most shows have been successful with an average of 100 entries. The WHOA Performance Show in Lebanon had 80 entries and a show is considered successful with 100-120 entries during these economic times. The recent Waterfall WHOA Versatility Show had 201 entries.
Neal explained that the combination of the WHOA International Championships back into one show was because of its financial impact on WHOA. There was a potential $40,000 to $50,000 loss if the two shows were not combined so the decision was made to have the show in July as it had been in the past.
Neal also gave the HIO Report and stated that as of May 26, 2010, both WHOA and PRIDE were certified HIOs. They are ready for their DQP Training combined with the USDA. The USDA had expressed that they wanted a joint training for WHOA, PRIDE and International and that they would give them a date when they could do it. They said that it would probably be in Bowling Green, Ky., which was centrally located. He announced that Andy Messick would be the DQP Coordinator and they would affiliate WHOA shows only. “The key for WHOA is to help provide shows. We must have horse shows to keep the industry going and they must be across the board with both padded and flat shod horses,” Neal continued.
Harolene Willis gave the academy report and emphasized that this program was continuing to be successful and that along with the versatility program, each continue to bring new people into the industry. She also highlighted that participation was up in the 11 & Under divisions.
Willis thanked the sponsors of the program and spoke to the importance of introducing new youth to the Walking Horse industry.  Willis concluded by asking for more support and participation from the members of the board.
Tommy Hall gave the financial report and said that they must work on different ways to generate revenue, since previously the amateur card sales had provided such a large portion of the overall revenue. The shows are the best way to bring in money this year since the membership is down. He encouraged everyone to help in every way possible.
Lynn Womack said that her parents, Dr. Bob and Mrs. Womack had always supported WHOA and that she would like to donate $5000 in their memory and would like to challenge other owners to do likewise so that shows will continue to replace those that are falling by the wayside due to finances.
Neal donated an additional $5000 to WHOA, and David Pruett also donated $5000 in Dr. Womack’s memory. Don Hancock next donated $1000, followed by some other donations.
Neal and Hall emphasized that the one night shows are going to the wayside and show managers are saying that they can’t afford to continue. They encouraged owners to support these shows and go to horse shows when they are available.
Mark Taylor pointed out the  WHOA shows had been scheduled on dates of shows that haven’t been held or had been canceled. Sis Osborne said that the performance classes included in the versatility shows have been successful with many people happily winning their first blue.  This is an excellent place for exhibitors to practice for larger shows especially with their younger horses. Seventy-five percent of the WHOA shows this season have included padded horses.
Neal also reiterated that WHOA, WHTA, TWHBEA and SHOW continue to meet monthly to work together for the betterment of the industry. Many agreed that unity was an important task as the industry continues to tackle its challenges.
Betty Denton brought up that the shows that were not affiliating with any HIO were moving the industry back. Kim Bennett said that we were at the bottom of the cycle since the economy was a big factor in all breeds.
Dee Dee Sale made her Youth Committee Report and their Youth Camp money was also short. They had combined the two camps into one and that it was important to keep the camps. She hoped that everyone would encourage youth and to also give child sponsorship donations for the camp. Last year they had 13 children sponsored, this year they have six or seven but youth still remain interested but can’t afford to go. They have 15 to 20 paying kids and getting children up on a walking horse for the first time is a big positive for the industry.
Mark Taylor also impressed upon everyone to help with donations and that even $100 child sponsorships is a big help to the camp and its youth. Tommy Hall thanked Montverde Academy and Kasey Kesselring for providing their facilities to make the camps possible.
Virginia Stewart suggested members donate their frequent flier miles/points to help put on WHOA shows in various locations that required air travel.
Hall announced that the Horse Show Committee would work on the judges and the classes for the International Championship and that the performance classes would be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with pleasure classes interspersed. The date of the show is July 25-31, 2010 and will have about 200 classes. The show will start at 5:00 p.m. with the weanling and yearling, model and game classes will be in the morning sessions. Hall also asked for help with the Budget and Finance Committees.
The board then individually voted on five of the WHOA logos from the logo contest. The top five selected by the board will then put on the website for everyone to vote on. There were many fine entries.
Ron Thomas had previously been contracted to help with sponsorships for WHOA.  Thomas did receive one 10,000 sponsorship for WHOA. Mark Taylor advised the board that he and Hall had approached Dabora, Inc. regarding an increased sponsorship of WHOA.  Taylor left behind a sponsorship packed with Jeffrey Howard and Christy Parsons of Walking Horse Report and World Champion Horse Equipment.  Dabora, Inc. reviewed the packet and agreed to a $35,000 sponsorship deal with WHOA.
The specifics of the sponsorship were discussed amongst the board members. Hall and Neal both said that these two (Walking Horse Report and World Champion Horse Equipment) had been sponsors of WHOA for many years and were the only media that had offered sponsorships.  Although other media had been contacted in the past, Walking Horse Report is the only one to step up and help with sponsorship.
After reviewing and discussing the sponsorship, the board voted unanimously to accept Walking Horse Report and World Champion Horse Equipment as a premier sponsor. They again asked that others encourage sponsors and memberships for WHOA.

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