SHELBYVILLE, TN –  Last week the  Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA)  Boyz announced the judges for its upcoming 46th Annual National Trainers’ Show.
Jamie Hankins
Dean Byard
Paul Robbins
It takes place  on March 13 – 15, 2014 at the Calsonic Arena on the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration grounds.

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As previously reported here, “Judge”  Dean Byard of Nashville, Tennessee,  has a rather colorful history including some assorted criminal convictions.  He has spent time in the Tennessee Correctional system.   Please note that in the above picture,  “Judge” Byard is standing next to Ex PSHA Chairman Terry Dotson and WHTA 1st VP Bill Cantrell.

So you might ask yourself  WHY,  during these times of turmoil and white hot public scrutiny,  would the Walking Horse Trainer Boyz choose Dean Byard to judge its annual premier event – the National Trainer’s Show?

The answer is simple – “The Culture Of The Big Lick”.

To understand, please come with me down the rabbit hole to the “Culture Of The Big Lick”,  and I will attempt to connect the dots so you understand how the Trainer Boyz made the choice of “Judge” Dean Byard.

In taking this journey,  it’s important to realize that the “Culture Of The Big Lick” is    a world unto itself.  It’s one in which things take place in some kind of suspended twisted state – far away from the normal values,  folkways and mores of society.  It’s a strange dream like sphere where things don’t make sense to normal people, but it makes perfect sense to those who are part of the  “Culture Of The Big Lick”.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Trainer Boyz who live in the “Big Lick Culture”:

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Mickey McCormick – President  w/  24  HPA citations  wearing color coded 6 oz chains around his neck last week in Washington  ‘splaining soring to Congressmen.
Bill Cantrell1st VP, in picture with “Judge” Dean Byard.
David Landrum
– 2nd VP – multi HPA violator – rents barn from TWHBEA President Steve Smith – co-owner of KY After Christmas Sale – Franklin, TN riding academy proprietor.
Jamie Hankins – One of 2014 Trainer’s Show Judges
Winky Groover – Big Lick spokesperson who does  a good job of spinning it
Link Webb – Current HPA Citation Leader with 39 citations.
Wayne Dean – Recently resigned as TWHBEA Director due to pleading guilty to HPA charges

Mr. Dean Byard has a sister who is married to Rev. Steve Murphree who is a Baptist preacher and lives in Shelbyville.    Mr. Murphree has served as “Chaplain” of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration for the past eight years.  During this time,   Mr. Murphree has ministered unto the Big Lick brethren (but not the horses). He calls it a “Ministry of Presence”.    Murphree also preaches a lot of Big Lick funerals.    Last year at the Celebration,  Murphree and his wife provided cases of  water to the barns during the sweltering days.   And they gave away free food the first night of the Celebration feeding about 250 folks.

“Smiles on ‘cue

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

By  DERRICK HILL  ~ For the T-G


Don Pratt, Ed Brown and Mike May enjoy the barbecue.
(T-G Photo by Derrick Hill)  [Order this photo]

Horses can wait. For one night, barbecue was the star of the show at the Celebration grounds.


About 240 people attended the barbecue.
(T-G Photo by Derrick Hill)
“Steve Murphree, chaplain of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, welcomed exhibitors and fans with the first-year event Monday night.      “I just got to thinking it was something we could do,” Murphree said. “We had some generous folks with donations that helped provide everything to pass out — some food along with some smiles.”
Murphree, who has served as Celebration chaplain for eight years, has been providing water and ministerial services since his appointment. During the morning shows, Murphree and his wife Dianne distribute cases of water to the various barns and to anyone else who may need a quick refreshment.
Tam Brogdon helps Jack Burrahm.
(T-G Photo by Derrick Hill)
“It’s what I call a ministry of presence,” Steve said. “We are just here if anybody needs anything. We’ve had opportunities when people have needed something while they are here. We have been able to share with them or pray with them.”
 Several members from Murphree’s and other churches joined together to make the night a success. Bill Farmer of Clarksville provided the barbecue.  “We didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Murphree said. “My wife helped put all this together and cooked some 14 gallons of green beans. I’m real happy with the people that have turned out just by word of mouth.”

Further connecting the dots, one of the persons at Rev. Murphree’s “gratis” barbecue was Tam Brogdon.   To show you that the Big Lick is the tie that binds,  it is interesting to note Brogdon’s Big Lick connections, and prior service on the “Unity Committee” which was formed in late 2011 – to once again present that hard to find “one voice” to speak on behalf of the Tennessee Walking Horse.   Of course the real one voice,  David L. Howard  who  likes to operate hidden behind the green curtain..



In 2011,  David L. Howard had the idea of a “Unity Committee”

TWH groups form unity committee

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“Four groups representing the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry have selected members of a new  “unity committee”  that is to focus on thefuture of the business.
Two weeks ago, the boards of directors of four industry groups — the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA), Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA), Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) and The Celebration — met and agreed to form the committee to discuss issues related to the future of the breed in the show ring, as well as  unification within the performance horse division.
Changes opposed
The group stated that it  objected to any reduction of pads and action devices for walking horses, also opposing proposed mandatory penalties by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Three representatives from each of the groups were selected for the committee. It will have no official decision-making power; members will gather information, then report back to their respective groups.
The  Celebration  appointed Chairman of the Board Henry Hulan and board members Jim Allison and  David Howard  to the committee, it was announced in a recent press release.”
David L. Howard’s goal has always been to have one group speak for the Tennessee Walking Horse business that he controls.  The “Unity Committee” blew up when Howard got crossed up with TWHBEA President Marty Irby.   Following which, in 2012 Howard had son Jeffrey invited chosen Big Lickers to be on the Board of TWSHO (Tennessee Walking Show Horse Owners).  This group provided the face for the Big Lick which sued the USDA over the mandatory minimum penalties which to this day have not been enforced.   139 violations are sitting on the floor at APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea’s office that Howard’s Celebration’s S.H.O.W. HIO refused to upload to the HPA database.   Then in 2013, David L. Howard formed PSHA (Performance Show Horse Association)  with the charade of again stampeding Trainer Boyz in forcing them toshow only at S.H.O.W. HIO (ONE HIO).  Then in 2014,  Howard’s idea was having APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea play ball on certifying Independent Inspection Services, LLC HIO  with Howard’s guy Doyle Meadows and take the place of being decertified S.H.O.W. HIO.
But I digress.
“2011 UNITY COMMITTEE – Trainers’ three
WHTA  selected  Jamie Hankins,Link Webb  and Chris Bobo  as representatives. The association said they would “bring a wealth of leadership experience and industry knowledge to the committee.”
Hankins is the current President of the WHTA and has been a multiple term director for both the WHTA and the TWHBEA, serving a number of terms on the TWHBEA Executive Committee as Horse Shows Vice President, Trainers Vice President and Enforcement Vice President. He has also judged nearly every major show in the industry including, on several occasions,  The Celebration.
Webb,    the son of a Tennessee walking horse trainer, is a multiple-term director for the WHTA and has also served as its second vice-president and president for two years. In 2008, he directed Santana’s El Nino to the World Grand Championship and is the owner/operator of Webb Stables in Lewisburg,
Bobo, a third generation Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, is a trainer and business manager for Bobo Farms in Shelbyville. He has served as a director for both the WHTA and TWHBEA, also sitting on the TWHBEA Executive Committee as enforcement vice president and trainers vice president.
TWHBEA’s picks
During the first meeting of TWHBEA’s newly seated Executive Committee, President  Marty Irby, Enforcement Vice President  Christy Lantis  and Performance Horse Vice President  Tom Kakassy  were unanimously selected for the unity committee.
The Irby family has been involved in the Walking Horse industry since 1955, and Marty began riding performance horses at age 3. He has served TWHBEA on several committees including pleasure horse, horse shows, bylaws, breeders and the steering committee for the Sire Summary. He was elected as TWHBEA vice president of marketing in 2007 and 2010 before taking on the role of president in 2011.
Lantis grew up riding and owning Tennessee walking horses, began showing at age 13 and, in addition to riding and showing, enjoys breeding the horses. She serves as secretary/treasurer for the West Coast Walking Horse Trainers’ Association and is a director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Foundation.
The family currently owns five Tennessee Walking Horses, including their World Champion It’s Chavez, whom they bred and raised.
Kakassy started on hunters and jumpers at a riding school in Chicago at age 8, and became involved with performance walking horses after his family moved to North Carolina.
He owned and trained WGC Pride’s Winning Edge, I’m Pushing Gen, Flashy Sky, Call of the Wild, Sweet Hard Cash, and many others. Kakassy currently works padded and flat shod horses at home and enjoys trail riding as well. He is also a private attorney with involvement in various equine issues including contracts and Horse Protection Act issues.
WHOA’s choices
The Walking Horse Owners Association picked  Tamela D. (Tam) Brogdon  of Panama City Beach, Fla., Duke Thorson of Huron, Ohio, and Kim Bennett of Alvaton, Ky., for the committee.
“This group exemplifies the diverse background and demographics of the Walking Horse Owners Association membership. They will represent the interest of the owners of the industry well,” said Tommy Hall, executive director of WHOA, in a press release.
Brogdon rode her first performance walking horse at age 12, growing up owning and trail riding walking horses and showing throughout the 1970s and 1980s as a juvenile along with the rest of her family, mostly in the Georgia and Alabama circuit. Her family owned several notable contributors to the industry including Pride’s Generator, Ebony’s Miss Dixie — the very first amateur 2-year-old World Champion — and the family’s beloved Sweet Georgia Brown.
She graduated from Auburn University and entered the United States Air Force as an officer, flying as a C-130 aircraft commander for six years with the 815th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Air Force Reserve Unit at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. She had the unique honor of being the first female pilot to ever guide an airplane through a hurricane.
Brogdon later was hired by American Airlines, was promoted to captain on the Boeing 727, flying internationally for her entire career. After returning to the show ring in 2007, she enjoyed many successes — the pinnacle being her World Grand Championship spotlight ride this past year aboard her charismatic gray stallion Bourà ©.
Thorson grew up in Minnesota where he owned his first Tennessee walking horse as a youth. Duke and his wife Rhonda own ThorSport Racing which competes in the NASCAR Truck Series and the ARCA series on a national basis.
Duke, Rhonda and daughter Allison own 19 walking horses and attend over 35 walking horse shows per year in over 13 states. They are members of several Walking Horse associations throughout the country.
Bennett is a third generation horsemen, born and raised in Western Kentucky, working with Tennessee walking horses at the stables of Ellic Bobo. He graduated from MTSU as one of the first graduates of its Equine Science program.He worked with a number of stables over the years, and his family currently owns 27 Tennessee walking horses including brood mares, flat shod and performance show horses, breeding stallions, and pleasure horses.
Bennett has judged horse shows from the Carolinas to California, including both the Celebration and the International two times each, serves on the National Board of TWHBEA representing Kentucky, and has served as president of WHOA.”
So back to “Judge” Dean Byard who is judging the 2014 National Trainer’s Show.
Byard was chosen by the Walking Horse Trainer Boyz.

The present Trainer Boyz are the successors of Vic Thompson, one of the Founders of the  WHTA.  For the most  part,  the Trainer Boyz are likeable liars who have built the “Culture Of The Big Lick”, but there is a  dark side to the Culture.

It’s the soring and the inherent corruption in a system noted by the USDA Office of Inspector General Audit.   The Trainer Boyz are aided and abetted  by their customers who pay the bills.

The Trainer Boyz are  ultimately manipulated by David L. Howard who is at  the top of the pyramid and who ultimately profits from the racket they like to call an “industry”.

Vic Thompson

Vic Thompson


That was 1969.

It’s now 2014.

The more things change,  the more some things stay the same.



  1. What a cast of characters, including a man of the cloth that doesn’t minister to the subject of what all this is about, the TWH. Monsters all of them.

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