The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association held its first general membership meeting of the year at the Blue Ribbon Circle Club on the eve of its National Trainers’ Show. New President Jamie Hankins presided over the meeting and updated the membership on happenings throughout the first part of the year.

Hankins introduced the new office manager of the association, Melanie Bryant, who has been in place since earlier this year and will attend her first Trainers’ Show in her new role.  Wayne Dean updated the membership on the finances of the association highlighting three accounts with positive balances.  The sale account contains just over $25,000, the horse show account has approximately $228,000 and the operating account has $17,000.  The horse show has commitments for $64,000 in sponsorships with $50,000 of that already collected.

The Riders Cup account is just getting up and going for the 2021 show season and currently only seven of the 23 categories are sponsored.  Hankins urged each trainer to look within their own barns for potential sponsors of the program which has been so well-received by horse shows and paid out substantial winnings to trainers over the years.

Hankins welcomed guests Thom Meek, Jeffrey Howard and Tim Hatfield who all updated the membership in their respective areas.  Meek, who is the trainers Vice President at TWHBEA will focus on the creation of a new joint venture Trainers’ Directory and continue to push clinics which Meek mentioned might be best done by allowing trainers to conduct those clinics in their own areas rather than always having the clinic in a singular location.

Howard updated the trainers on the current legislative and regulatory landscape passing along information from industry lobbyist Jeff Speaks.  Currently no new legislation nor any new rule has been put forth although the industry should expect movement in both prior to the end of the year.  In addition, Howard impressed upon the trainers the need for all horses to pass the USDA/HIO swabbing protocols in 2021.  “We are requesting scientific, objective testing which the swabbing is and we must show our compliance in this area in order to move forward and defend our horse,” said Howard.

Hatfield updated the membership on the inspection process and changes for 2021.  The horses will walk a slightly different pattern as part of the figure 8, will be required to have their numbers with them prior to inspection and will continue to be swabbed on a random basis.

Hankins finished the meeting by again urging the members to endorse the swabbing and meet the requirements of the prohibited substance testing.  The trainers have purchased additional swabs that a custodian can require for a second swab in case they want to appeal the findings of the original swab.  The swab must be conducted at the same time, will cost $150 to be paid at the time of inspection and will be sent to the same lab as the original swab at Texas A&M University.