By Christy Howard Parsons, Publisher

Copyright 2005

The Walking Horse Trainers Association Board of Directors voted on Thursday, December 1, 2005, to ask the TWHBEA to rejoin the NHSC for one more year to secure a new Operating Plan with the USDA. The organizations within the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC), the WHTA, TWHBEA and WHOA, would then work together toward the proposed unification plan presented by the TWHBEA to the WHTA at their meeting yesterday.

In the general membership meeting on Friday, December 2, 2005, the general membership unanimously supported the board’s action. The actual motion in the Board of Directors was made by Mack Motes and seconded by Benny Johnson. The motion stated: The WHTA will ask the TWHBEA to continue in the current structure of the NHSC until the next Operating Plan is signed and we will continue to work towards the TWHBEA conceptual unification plan in good faith.

In the general membership meeting, Wink Groover made the motion that the membership accept the motion made by the Board. Vicki Self seconded this motion and the membership voted unanimously to accept that decision.

Leigh Bennett also made a motion that the WHTA would continue with the NHSC until this membership voted to do otherwise. This motion also passed unanimously.

WHTA members of the Executive Committee of TWHBEA including David Landrum, Jamie Hankins and Spencer Benedict will negotiate with the TWHBEA in their meeting in the morning to attempt to work out an acceptable solution. However, the election tomorrow will change the composition of that Executive Committee and David Landrum and Spencer Benedict will no longer be on the TWHBEA Board. Jamie Hankins, if elected, will continue to serve on the TWHBEA Board.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the NHSC will remain intact through the end of this year, December 31, 2005. The current Operating Plan with the USDA will expire on December 31, 2006. Negotiations for a new five year Operating Plan are already underway.

Mack Motes explained to the membership the key issues regarding a new operating plan. The four issues he outlined briefly include, the importance of keeping the one year probationary period, the need for owner liability limitations, enhanced penalties that are accounted for separately rather than cumulatively, and the scar rule issues.

“Some of you may not like it [the Operating Plan], but without it we couldn’t show these horses. Without it, you could never get a fresh start,” said Motes.

“The most important thing is to have an Operating Plan for as long as we can have it – three years or five years. We have one year to get this done before the Operating Plan expires. Negotiations have been moving our direction until this. This is not the time to be splitting our industry,” furthered Motes.

Motes cautioned about moving too quickly. “Some points in the plan have merit. Some points have questions. If they [TWHBEA] want to do what is best for the industry, then they’ll give us a year to get the Operating Plan signed. That is what is best for our industry… You should all read the Operating Plan. It’s long, but it’s necessary. This is not a life or death situation to tear up the NHSC right now,” said Motes.

There were questions regarding why the TWHBEA wanted to do this right now. Problems with the current Commission were cited including the need for a unified rule book and the ability for all HIOs to use the same judges. It was also explained that the Executive Committee was mandated by their National Board to begin a National High Point program and that to do so would require a unified rule book and unified judging.

Leigh Bennett protested, “I made that motion at the TWHBEA and it was never about point. It was about keeping accurate show records from all the HIOs specifically Kentucky so that our breeding records were accurate.”

Landrum explained that the High Point issue was a critical one for the TWHBEA.

Bennett continued, “Then they’re not telling you the truth.”

Joel Weaver asked the question on everyone’s mind, “What if they decide not to rejoin?”

Landrum answered by saying that he and Benedict and Hankins would be asking them to reconsider. “If they choose not to, the NHSC will go forward. It may have to be tweaked some. We may have to talk to Kentucky about joining, but we have to have a course of action.”

The vote on the Executive Committee to disband the NHSC was a 7-3 vote. In an earlier vote, David Landrum, Jamie Hankins, Spencer Benedict and Sid Baucom were in favor of keeping the current NHSC. Leslie Perry, Charles Wharton, Larry Lowman, Jane Meredith, Kathy Zeis, Dee Dee Sale, Jack Doss, and Edye Whitmeyer voted to disband the NHSC. In the final vote, Spencer Benedict and Sid Baucom were not able to stay on the conference call, but Dee Dee Sale did vote with David Landrum and Jamie Hankins to maintain the NHSC. Thus the WHTA board is optimistic that the TWHBEA will work with them.

Wayne Abee was intrigued by the idea of having a single judging pool whereby judges could work for any HIO.

“The key is if all HIOs join in. If all HIOs don’t join, those benefits don’t apply. You still couldn’t judge,” explained Motes.

The question was asked about where WHOA stood after they were presented with the plan yesterday. Kim Bennett said that while it was not a formal meeting, that the consensus of people who were there felt that WHOA would be interested in continuing forward with the WHTA and to make whatever modifications necessary to continue the Commission.

Joel Weaver asked how long the NHSC could survive without the financial support of the TWHBEA. Landrum answered “We fund it equally one third each. We could continue. We might have to tighten our belt, but we could continue and be solvent. We would also talk to other HIOs about joining.”

There were questions related to the specifics of the plan about the vote; about the 70% requirement to approve; about why TWHBEA needed their own HIO. About who would “own” the NHSC Rule Book.

Wink Groover answered these questions with his comment, “That’s why we need a year to discuss what we think before we decide. This is what they have proposed as of today. It doesn’t say this is what they are going to do.”

The WHTA Unification Committee to negotiate with the TWHBEA will be Link Webb, Jamie Hankins, Knox Blackburn, Mack Motes and David Landrum.

Bobby Richards spoke “Let’s don’t reinvent the wheel, let’s revamp what we have.”

Mack Motes went further. “Why didn’t they come back in good faith and give NHSC the opportunity to fix the thing. They had 4 members on the Commission. They were the chair all year.”

“We need to sit down and look at this thing line by line. It would be childish to enter an agreement we don’t yet even understand. I lived through the time when Breeders and WHOA affiliated horse shows. When that changed, it was a hard time, there were a lot of bad feelings. We don’t need to go back through that time again,” continued Motes.

Joel Weaver said, “They can affiliate all the shows they want. If we [the trainers} don’t show our horses, they can’t have a horse show.”

There were other significant discussions in this annual membership meeting.

Bill Cantrell proudly announced that the WHTA bought a building on Hwy 231 in Shelbyville for its headquarters. The former funeral home is located across from Kroger. The funeral home and an adjacent piece of property were purchased for $492,500. The building itself is 3600 square feet and is laid out similar to the building that had been drawn for the WHTA. It is expected that the WHTA will have a grand opening sometime in March prior to the Trainers Show.

Knox Blackburn announced the results of the Riders Cup that is paying out $61,000 in monies to 25 horse trainers. Blackburn thanked the Report for its help in putting together the program and keeping the points. He also thanked the trainers for participating and encouraged more of the shows outside Middle Tennessee to get involved including North Carolina and Kentucky.

Benny Johnson reported that plans are underway for the 2006 National Trainers Show that will be held March 22-25, 2006.

The WHTA joined with the TWHBEA to give out five $2000 scholarships this year to deserving recipients.

Finally the new board of directors was elected. David Landrum, Allan Callaway, and Mickey McCormick will continue as officers, respectively President, First Vice President and Second Vice President.

Six names were on the slate for three director seats. Bill Bobo, Jerry Collier and Billy Gray were on the slate as returning directors. Jamie Bradshaw, Jeff Givens and Brock Tillman were new candidates. The three elected directors were Bill Bobo, Billy Gray and Jeff Givens.