LEWISBURG, TN – it’s 9:00 A.M. on a Friday morning, one day before the Ides of March. Several people enter a building at 2950 North Ellington Parkway. Each person takes a seat at a long table. There are no donuts on the table. The wealthy President has eliminated donuts for the Officers while the employees have taken approximately a 20% pay cut.
The group is congenial and seems to be glad to see each other. Ironically, the majority of the people attending the meeting have been cited for breaking a federal law called the Horse Protection Act. This includes the President, Steve Smith, along with the Show Horse Vice-President, Ford Gates. Gates actually said on Facebook, that ‘we never need to admit that we “fix” a horse. One of the persons present, Tom Kakassy, Chairman of By-Laws and Enforcement Committee, has brazenly said, “I Am A Proud HPA Violator”
The building where this meeting is taking place is the headquarters of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. It was founded by MIddle Tennessee farmers in 1935.
The persons at the table are the breed registry’s Executive Committee.
At one time the statue of legendary natural gaited Tennessee Walking Horse Midnight Sun stood in front of the building. Midnight Sun was hauled off over a year ago because the breed association could no longer afford to keep him there.
It should be noted that Midnight Sun did not do the “Big Lick”, and he was not sored.
It is fair to say an intense controversy has swirled around TWHBEA and the Tennessee Walking Horse breed for more than a year now.
Simply put, the overall problem is soring, and the immediate problem is that the group of people seated at the table stubbornly supports the sore Big Lick Tennessee Walking show horse. They give lip service that they are against soring, but it rings hollow based on their actions, past and present.
They hold to a demented belief that the rest of the United States will stand by and allow them to continue a 45 year period of institutionalized soring and cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses. The soring activities which have criminal penalties associated with them are done in the erstwhile name of “Sport” and family entertainment. Prayers are offered before the events take place, and the Flag of the United States is ceremoniously displayed.
There is a proposed law now before Congress called the PAST ACT , Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would essentially eliminate soring by removing the pads and chains which facilitate it.
Over 60% of the United States Congress supports the proposed law.
The United States Senate Commerce Committee approved the PAST ACT two weeks ago.
The law is endorsed by the country’s leading veterinary groups, the AVMA and the AAEP, along with noted equine organizations, The American Horse Council and United States Equestrian Federation., and other equine breeds such as The American Saddlebred Association and American Quarter Horse Association.
Even the Tennessee Walking Horse Breed Association’s own membership voted 63% landslide for passage of the PAST ACT to remove the pads and chains and eliminate soring of Tennessee Walking Horses as evidenced by “The Map”.
Yet, the group at the table cannot perceive how they and the Tennessee Walking Horse breed are presently viewed by the outside world. Actually, one of the people, Tracy Boyd, can perceive it because he made a public statement a year ago explaining his position.
Boyd was widely quoted as saying he endorsed the PAST ACT as written, and gave cogent reasons supporting his position. Boyd is no longer a policy maker, rather he is an aparatchik of the sore Big Lick crowd at the conference table. A lot of people wonder what he is even doing there since his personal views appeared to differ with the present policy.
Middle Tennessee’s two leading newspapers, The Tennessean and the Chattanooga Free Press, have editorially endorsed passage of the new law, the PAST ACT which would remove the pads and chains.
Here are the people in the meeting.
STEVE SMITH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ““ 7 HPA CITATION HISTORY
President Steve Smith ““ (HPA CITATION HISTORY)
Sr. VP Walt Chism
Secretary Loren Anderson
Admin/Fiscal Christy Lantis
Marketing Ashley Wadsworth
Performance Ford Gates (HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Pleasure Jessica Hieback
VP O/E Int’l Denise Bader ““ (Husband ““ HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Trng/EquineWelfare Linda Montgomery ““ (HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Breeders David Williams ““ (Employer Has HPA Family Citation History)
VP Youth Sherry White – (HPA FAMILY HPA CITATION HISTORY)
VP Bylaws/Enf Tom ‘I’M A PROUD HPA VIOLATOR” Kakassy ““ HPA CITATION HISTORY
A balding middle aged man accompanied by a senior citizen seem to be in charge of the meeting.
The younger man takes a seat at the head of the table and, with a self perceived arrogance, calls the meeting to order precisely at 9:01 A.M.
The TWHBEA Executive Director Tracy Boyd presents the most recent Financial Reports which indicate the fiscal health of the organization:
TWHBEA MARCH 2014 MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS
6,359* Eligible To Vote Members – 7,460 Total Members (Incl. Youth/Promo Non-Voting)
*In September 2013, 6,950* Eligible To Vote Members number was VERIFIED with 8,153 Total Members (Incl. Youth/Promo Non-Voting.
There has been a 8.50% decrease (591 members) in Eligible To Vote Members in 7 months, or a projected 14.50% (1,008 members) Annual Decrease In Members for 12 months, from September 2013 through August 2014.
Many TWHBEA Members are waiting to see IF the PAST ACT becomes law before making their decision to leave the breed registry.
If the PAST ACT does NOT become law, the TWHBEA members exodus could be 20% (1,390) OR 30% (2085), or higher, within the next 5 months.
That would put the TWHBEA Members at 5,560 to 4,865 by September 2014.
TWHBEA President Steve Smith and Sr. VP Walt Chism appear to be riding on the back of a famished Bengal Tiger that is just waiting for them to get off so it can eat them.
There will a point when TWHBEA will soon no longer be a financially viable proposition if things continue on their present course.
MEMBERS RENEWING RENEWAL INCOME
MARCH 2012 897 $49,300.00
MARCH 2013 713 37,725.00
MARCH 2014 632 33,985.00
30% LOSS $15,315.00 DECREASE – 31% DECREASE
FIRST TIME FOAL REGISTRATIONS*
MARCH 2012 $19,070.00 719 (169-FREE)*
MARCH 2013 8,618.00 218 (50 FREE)*
MARCH 2014 12,080.00 211 (43 FREE)*
37% LOSS 31% LOSS
MARCH 2012 $22,670.00 548 (132-FREE)*
MARCH 2013 13,272.00 504 (140 FREE)*
MARCH 2014 17,710.00 484 ( 57 FREE)*
22% LOSS 12% LOSS
MARES BRED FOALS REGISTERED
2008 9,869 –
2011 8,341 –
2012 7,600 3,915
2013 5,920 4,154
COMPARISON 2008 VS 2013 60% LOSS
TWHBEA HAS 33% LESS CASH ($180,000.00) FROM MARCH 2012 TO MARCH 2014
TWHBEA CASH MAP – APRIL VOICE MAGAZINE – THIS CHART IN THE MAGAZINE DOES SHOW CASH ON HAND FOR MARCH 2012 – THE ONE PROVIDED TO THE DIRECTORS DOES NOT
CASH ON HAND:
MARCH 2012 – $553,000.00
MARCH 2014 -373,000.00
$180,000.00 LESS CASH ON HAND
CASH DOWN 33% IN TWO YEARS
$373,000.00 TOTAL CASH ON HAND – MARCH 2014
– 42,358.00 FUTURITY RESERVE
$330,642.00 ACTUAL CASH ON HAND – MARCH 2014
TWHBEA CASH MAP – DISTRIBUTED TO DIRECTORS – DOES NOT SHOW THE BALANCE ON HAND FOR MARCH 2012
All of this data continues to prove that as long as the sore Big Lick stigma hangs over the Tennessee Walking Horse breed, the future is dim. The reality of the soring has adversely affected the value and image of the entire Tennessee Walking Horse breed.
In 2014, the Public will no longer accept the soring and it will no longer patronize the Tennessee Walking Horse business until the pads and chains are removed, and the USDA takes over enforcing the Horse Protection Act.
Mares are being not bred, and horses are not being registered or sold.
Breeding horses is a pipeline business, and the pipeline is nearly empty.
It will take time to fill it back up, but as long as the Breed Registry is being guided by people on Steve Smith’s Executive Committee with HPA Citation Violation records, the outlook and future is bleak.
Nephew Eugene loves to read. He spends a lot of time at the library. So far he has not been able to find a book on:
“The Best Way To Get Off The Back Of A Hungry Bengal Tiger And Survive”.