SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) held their first 2010 general membership meeting on Tuesday, March 16, prior to their National Trainers’ Show. The meeting was held at the WHTA headquarters in Shelbyville, Tenn.
2010 President Winky Groover called the meeting to order and in a departure from the norm opened the meeting with prayer. The minutes of the December 4, 2009, meeting were approved. Several politicians asked for time before the membership and thanked them for their support of the industry and what the industry means to the economy of Shelbyville, Bedford County and Tennessee. Those in attendance included Henry Feldhaus, running for County Mayor and Lou Ann Zelenik and Jim Tracy, running for Tennessee 6th District Congress.
Jeffrey Howard, Publisher of the Walking Horse Report, spoke next about the Riders’ Cup changes. A new Riders’ Cup Committee has been formed of Joe Fleming, Charlie Green, Edgar Abernathy and John Allan Callaway. A major change in 2010 is that all WHTA members are in the program. They no longer have to pay the $50 to participate. There is no fee but they must fill out an application by May 1, 2010. Another change is that all HIOs are eligible to participate. Horse shows will pay an affiliation fee of $100 and $10 per entry. There will be no required increased prize money in Riders’ Cup classes.
Most shows will be single point shows. If they have two or more judges, the show will be double-point shows. The National Trainers’ Show, the Celebration and the Fall Celebration Show that will be held October 14-16 will be triple point shows.
First place will continue to award 200 points dropping 10 points with each corresponding placing with 10th place garnering 110 points. In the past, other entries received 100 points but this year 50 points are awarded to entries for showing. In 2009, there were five divisions. This year there will be 10 divisions plus a miscellaneous category that will receive points. This year they will need 10 sponsorships for $2500.  Howard concluded with, “We help administer the program but it’s your program and you make the rules and determine its success. We hope the pot will be up around $100,000 with the help of the sponsorships and these changes.”
A SHOW update was then made by Dr. Stephen L. Mullins and Tony Edwards. Dr. Mullins said that the new SHOW rule book was on line and could be printed off. Dr. Mullins spoke of the meeting with the USDA and said that overall the meeting went well. SHOW will not use the recommended penalties in the USDA Points of Emphasis but will rather be using the SHOW penalties in the rule book.
The penalty protocol said if HIOs implemented the recommended protocol, the USDA would not initiate a federal case against the violator, however the USDA retains primary jurisdiction to pursue cases when it deems appropriate . The Points of Emphasis required all HIOs to enforce the HPA and HPR and provides specific documentation of the Act and Regulations if there are any questions.
To view the entire USDA Horse Protection Program 2010 Points of Emphasis click here.
Johnny Puckett asked about the 5% rotation hoping that some clarification should be given if the horse appeared fine in every way. Mullins said that the USDA considers them sore and in violation of the HPA. He said it was similar to an old scar, the rotation could be old, but the USDA still considered it sore. Dr. Jim Baum, said that it wasn’t in the HPA and if the horse in sound in every other way, what can be done. He cited an incident last fall on a dish footed horse, the other wall was displaced and it was not a rotation but called one. Dr. Mullins said that was out of his hands and would be decided by the USDA.
Tony Edwards spoke next and said that the SHOW DQPs would check exactly like last year. “We had good shows at the end of 2009 and good shows so far this year,” Edwards began. If the VMOs take information on a horse, Dr. Mullins or Tony Edwards will re-check the horse. Edwards said, “We can’t help what they do. Raising cane doesn’t help.”
Benny Johnson, Show Chairman of the National Trainers’ Show said that he felt checking behind the VMOs when they find a violation is good. If they (SHOW) are involved, the USDA might not write them (the entry in question) up.
Dr. Baum said that he thought it was good to check behind VMOs and to document as much as possible. It was asked if the show could hire additional vets and they said they could if that was what the trainers wanted.
Johnson gave his horse show report. “This is not new, we’ve had this since 1973. Bring your horses right and we can have a great show. The trainers don’t need to get in the VMO’s faces and it wouldn’t be allowed.” He stated that the show was paid for but that sponsorships were very tough to get. Johnson said that they had changed the class sheet and added four specialty classes. The reason given for this change was to allow more entries.
Johnson emphasized, “Do your best, let’s have a great show.” Groover continued, “Thank you Benny for all you do. We need to have a good show. There’s no reason for illegal shoeing or foreign substances. Bring the cleanest horses you’ve got. Know that your horse will check and lead. We need absolutely no sore horses. If we have no sore horses, the scar rule will take care of itself.”
Edwards said that the scar rules were the same as last year.
Wayne Dean gave the financial report. He said that our CDs were down and that he had distributed a balance sheet showing assets and liabilities.
Dan Waddell reported on the Horse of the Year. He said that this year a nominating committee would send out five horses and from that list trainers would vote on those. Waddell said the nomination of five horses could change to a different number.
Bill Callaway spoke about the Public Relations Committee and that everyone should check on the new website: It has several nice features and links to other websites that have been traded out with others.
The Seminar and Clinic Committee came up with several questions that might be asked in regard to HPA enforcement and asked for advice from attorneys. A sheet was available with six questions and the advice that was given for those that wanted it. The trainers were reminded that in the Points of Emphasis that anyone who provides false information may be subject to a criminal penalty.