LEWISBURG, TN – Wherever Midnight Sun is tonight, he is most likely shedding a tear over the curtain of darkness that has settled over the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder’s and Exhibitor’s Association.
This past week,  in an action resembling the Stasi action of an authoritarian state, a fanatical group of Big Lickers, disregarding any sense of balance regarding the interests of the Sound horse and the Big Lick sore horse, engineered a coup takeover of the Nominating Committee which had proposed a “balanced” slate of Officers, and replaced it with another Nominating Committee which then put up a gang of folks,  many of them with Horse Protection Act citation histories, and thumbed their noses at the rest of the United States watching this spectacle.

The Nominating Committee was properly chosen by the Executive Committee on September 27, 2013. It consisted of Joe Rankin, Stephen Brown, Spencer Benedict, Mike Hicks and Linda Montgomery. Linda Montgomery then resigned from the Nomination Committee to run as VP – Training/Equine Welfare.

Chairman Joe Rankin of Jackson, Mississippi, then attempted numerous times to contact Tommy Hale to serve on the NC. According to Rankin, Hale didn’t respond to e-mails and telephone calls from him and Committee Vice Chairman Stephen Brown, so Rankin went to the next name on the list which was Bill Adams to serve in place of Tommy Hale. Rankin let TWHBEA Executive Director Tracy Boyd know he had replaced Hale with Adams, and Boyd approved of the action.  The Nominating Committee’s work had to be completed by November 15.   Rankin scheduled a conference call of the five person committee on November 11.   Tommy Hale who had been unavailable before then happened to appear and join the conference call on November 11, so there were then six persons participating, rather than five.

Rankin,  acting on the authority given him by the Executive Committee and with the approval of Executive Director Tracy Boyd,  conducted the conference call and the five person Nominating Committee,  utilizing Adams, not Hale,  selected the following “balanced” slate of persons for the Executive Committee positions.

President Marty Irby – HPA CITATION HISTORY
Sr VP Rick Wies
Secretary DeeDee Sale
Admin/Fiscal Rick Chovan
Marketing Joyce Moyer
Performance Ford Gates
VP Pleasure Jessica Hiebak
VP O/E Int’l Denise Bader – ((Husband – HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Trng/EquineWelfare Linda Montgomery – (HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VPBreeders David Williams
VP Youth Julie Dillion
VP ByLaws/Enf Ann King

Following the November 11 conference call and above Nominations,  Big Lick Trainer and HPA Violation Citation offender Spencer Benedict protested to the partisan Big Lick sore horse President Rob Cornelius that since Tommy Hale suddenly appeared available, he should serve on the Nominating Committee, rather than Bill Adams, and the “balanced slate” chosen by the legitimate Nominating Committee should be thrown out.  President Cornelius,  who has turned over the decision making at TWHBEA to the Big Lick PSHA/TWSHO David L. Howard crowd,  overrode the word of Executive Director Tracy Boyd and ordered Boyd to ask corporate counsel Jacob Mathis to write a letter, “hint hint”.  Here’s the November 13, 2013 letter. Ironically, it is dated the same day as the ‘invited witnesses” testified before the United States Congress about horse soring.


(Left to Right - Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson;  TWHBEA President Marty Irby;  John Bennett, DVM;  Donna Benefield; Teresa Bippen and American Horse Council President Jay Hickey)

(Left to Right – Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson; Former TWHBEA President Marty Irby; Ron Dehaven, CEO AVMA: John Bennett, DVM; Donna Benefield; Teresa Bippen and American Horse Council President Jay Hickey)

Rather than lend themselves to the outcome which President Rob Cornelius



desired which required reconvening the Nominating Committee and allowing the “absent, then present”  Tommy Hale to participate in place of Bill Adams, Chairman Joe Rankin and Committee member Stephen Brown, both long time TWHBEA members, resigned in protest. One said he “hoped that the Executive Committee could be somewhat balanced in an effort to resolve the current and very serious issues facing our industry. The slate we proposed was weighted more by the performance voice but did include the pleasure voice. It appears to me that what the Association prefers is for the EC to be composed of all one side. I feel that until we can unite as one supportive body , we are doomed to failure and most likely a complete shutdown of our industry.” Another said, “TWHBEA has become a dysfunctional organization, we did what we were told to do. The time to ask a lawyer would have been before you advised us what to do. This along with Friday due dates when the office closed on Friday or for that matter why the office closed on Fridays all adds up to dysfunction. I hereby resign from the nominating committee.”

After Rankin and Brown resigned, Bill Adams and Mick Salm took their places, and then by a 3 – 2 vote,  the sore Big Lickers ramrodded a slate of Big Lick nominees on the once proud TWHBEA members who on October 15, 2013 voted landslide 63% to 37% in favor of HR 1518, Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, to remove the stigma of soring from the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.

63% "YES"  - HR 1518

63% “YES” – HR 1518

The Bill was debated before Congress in a Energy and Commerce Hearing in Washington, DC on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Informed sources say that since the Congressional Hearing, more than 10 new Co-Sponsors are now behind HR 1518, and the number of Co-Sponsors is now 235 members of Congress. Further, the HR 1518 Bill has the votes to be approved by the Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is expected to move to the House Floor and be passed by an overwhelming majority before the Christmas recess.

The Sore Big Licker Slate Edicted By TWHBEA President Rob Cornelius Includes:
President Steve Smith
Sr. VP Walt Chism
Secretary Dee Dee Sale
Admin/Fiscal Christy Lantis
Marketing Joyce Moyer
Performance Ford Gates
VP Pleasure Jessica Hieback
VP O/E Int’l Denise Bader – (Husband – HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Trng/EquineWelfar Linda Montgomery – (HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Breeders David Williams
VP Youth Sherry White
VP Bylaws/Enf Tom Kakassy – HPA CITATION HISTORY

This fanatical Big Lick throwback crowd appears hell bent on sealing the fate for the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed which is desperately struggling to achieve its true potential and destiny free of the stigma of soring and pads and chains which have tormented it for 60 years.

Midnight Sun left the grounds about a year ago, and it now appears many Sound horse members of TWHBEA are considering doing so, meanwhile the Big Lick interests could really care less.