By Christy Howard Parsons

Copyright WHR 2006

            A full house of Walking Horse trainers convened at the Marriott Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee for the annual meeting of the Walking Horse Trainers Association.

            For the first time in a long time, the office of President was a contested election. The nominating committee nominated Mack Motes for President, Mickey McCormick for First Vice President and Link Webb for Second Vice President. They also nominated Joel Weaver, Bill Cantrell, Jamie Hankins and Chad Williams for the four remaining board positions.

            Wink Groover was nominated from the floor for the office of President. Nominations from the floor for the other board positions included: Steve Dunn, Jamie Bradshaw, Herbert Derickson (who declined), Bobby Richards, Michael Daniels, Steve Hankins, Johnny Puckett, Charlie Green, Joe Fleming, Mike McCormick, Robby Black and Dick Peebles.

            The election committee chaired by Bobby Richards which also included Chris Bobo, Carlyle Johnson, Jeff Willis and Mike McCormick counted votes under the direction of the Winnett Associates Certified Public Accountant Amanda Scott. Sixty-three proxies were accepted in advance of the election. Nine proxies were not accepted as they did not quality as valid proxies with the appropriate seal.

            Steve Aymett chaired the nominating committee which also consisted of Chad Williams and Benny Johnson. The four board of directors who had terms expiring were Bill Cantrell, Link Webb, Jamie Hankins and Mack Motes.

            When the votes were counted it was Wink Groover who won the leadership position for the WHTA for the year 2007. Mickey McCormick and Link Webb were uncontested and will serve as First and Second Vice Presidents. Joel Weaver, Bill Cantrell, Jamie Hankins and Jamie Bradshaw will serve in the four remaining board seats.

            Both Motes and Groover had addressed the membership with their comments.

            Motes first addressed the trainers saying that while he did believe the DQP program needed to be improved, that the government had raised the bar, particularly on the scar rule enforcement, during 2006. Motes explained the importance of the Operating Plan, and the need to carefully negotiate a new Operating Plan for 2007 and beyond. The President of WHTA will serve as the Chairman of the Commission in 2007, and Motes pledged to improve the communication between the government and the NHSC.

            “If we can, we need to get the industry to unite, but we don’t want to lose our voice in the industry,” furthered Motes.

            Motes also addressed the rumors that the NHSC could be decertified by the USDA. “We have received one letter of warning in the last ten years from the USDA. We haven’t received any communication about decertification,” he explained.

            Groover also addressed the trainers. He indicated that while he agreed with Motes on 90% of what he said, that he felt strongly that the Trainers Association had to be changed. Groover proposed having districts across the 32 states where trainers are registered to get more representation from across the country.

            “There are two things that are here to stay,” said Groover. “The Government is here to stay. The law will never be taken off the books. And second, the public. It’s the public that puts pressure on the government. We have got to present a horse acceptable to the public or we’re gone,” said Groover.

            In other business, David Landrum was proud to announce that the NHSC had been self-sustaining in 2006. After the TWHBEA pulled out of the NHSC, WHOA and WHTA reorganized the NHSC and neither organization had to make a financial contribution in 2006.

            Landrum highlighted the other successes of the WHTA during the year including purchasing the new building and setting up the young trainers group as well as hiring Charlie Terry to head the Advisory Committee.

            Benny Johnson reported on the work already being done on the 2007 National Trainers Show. Spencer Benedict reported on the scholarship committee.

            TWHBEA has withdrawn their $5000 contribution towards the scholarship. However they have given the WHTA $5000 for sponsorship of the National Trainers Show.
            It was announced that the Rider’s Cup had been a huge success in 2006 with over $64,000 being paid out to 27 trainers. Joel Weaver won the competition and will receive a check for over $13,000 at the banquet on Saturday.

            Landrum’s closing comments centered on his conclusion of his term as president. “I have enjoyed being your president for the last few years. I did the best I could. I’d like to ask the new board to do their best to keep the trainers on the forefront.”

            Leigh Bennett spoke on behalf of the Advisory Committee and thanked the trainers who responded to the letter they sent out soliciting comments in October. “We appreciate your comments and want to hear your voice.” Other members of the Advisory Committee include Link Webb, Wink Groover, Mack Motes, Allan Callaway and Justin Jenne.

            Jamie Hankins was also recognized for his service to the WHTA by working directly with the TWHBEA Executive Committee.

            Lonnie Messick reported on the status of the National Horse Show Commission. “We had a good year. We had an increase in affiliated shows. Our number of horses checked was down slightly. We were good financially – we are self-supporting. We had a new judges clinic in late January, a joint DQP and VMO training in February,” said Messick.

            As far as the Operating Plan, he explained, “We are hammering out an Operating Plan to be presented to Dr. Gipson and his team on December 18. Mack Motes and representatives of the ten HIOs met together to tray to come up with a plan.”

            Messick explained that whatever plan they present, that the USDA will come back with the official plan and that the NHSC can sign it or choose not to sign it.

            In new business, Herbert Derickson recommended that veterinarians be included in the inspection process in 2007.

            Allan Callaway also addressed the trainers asking for more involvement from individual trainers. “We sent out over 700 questionaires and only received 24 back.”

            The meeting was a lengthy one, and had to be adjourned to be reconvened after lunch to announce the results of the vote.