LEWISBURG, TN – TWHBEA Executive Director Tracy Boyd gave his notice this week, and will be out the door at TWHBEA by the end of the year.
Here is Mr. Boyd’s December 10, 2014 resignation letter:
Tennessee Walking Horse
Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association
the Official Breed Registry
December 10, 2014
Dear Steve, Executive Committee, Members and Staff:
Recently, and quite unexpectedly, I was presented with a tremendous career opportunity; one that has the potential to benefit my family for years to come. With the best interest of my family in mind, and for that reason alone, I am announcing my resignation as executive director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, effective December 31, 2014.
I remain humbled that the 2013 Executive Committee entrusted me with this position and it has been the pleasure of my life serving our members and representing the greatest horse on earth – the Tennessee Walking Horse.
I wish to thank all the members of the 2014 Executive Committee for their efforts on behalf of the Association, and particularly you and Walt for your fine leadership. It was a pleasure working with each of you and I appreciate the confidence you showed in me and the support you gave me.
I regret that I will miss the opportunity to serve the newly elected 2015 Executive Committee, but I am confident that under your continued leadership, along with Charles as Senior Vice President, TWHBEA will continue on the road to financial recovery. I have the utmost personal respect for each of you gentlemen and the highest regard for your business acumen. TWHBEA is in good hands.
And to our hard-working and loyal staff, I extend my deepest and sincerest appreciation for your efforts on behalf of TWHBEA, but most of all for your friendship and the kindness you’ve shown me. I am forever grateful to each of you.
God Bless each of you and long-live the Tennessee Walking Horse and TWHBEA.
Tracy Boyd was elected President of TWHBEA in December 2012 as the Marty Irby candidate to represent the interests of the Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse crowd.
Then Irby went Sound, and Boyd joined with him in May 2013 in endorsing the PAST ACT to remove the pads and chains from Tennessee Walking Show Horse.
Here is Mr. Boyd’s May 27, 2013 Public Statement:
A Statement from TWHBEA President Tracy Boyd
This past weekend, I made perhaps the toughest decision of my life. A decision that carries potential ramifications for many of my friends. It carries potential ramifications for immediate family members as well. I, along with six other members of the Executive Committee, voted to support H.R. 1518, better known as the Whitfield Amendment. That was on Saturday morning. Before lunch, our vote was not ratified by the TWHBEA Board of Directors. Presently, TWHBEA has taken no official stance on the proposed legislation.
Let me be clear”¦ I love all facets of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. I support the performance division. How then, you say, can I support this legislation? As president of TWHBEA, I represent the oldest and largest membership driven organization in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. TWHBEA, being an international organization, is also the most widely recognized “brand” representing the Tennessee Walking Horse.
I have always said, “The future of the padded show horse is in the hands of two groups”¦ the trainers who train it and the owners who own it.” Unlike the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), for example, who controls all aspects of the Quarter Horse industry, our industry is not set up that way”¦ primarily due to the regulatory issues involving enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
TWHBEA has no say over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no control over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no authority over the padded show horse. TWHBEA, does however, bear the brunt of the criticism aimed at the padded show horse. Our membership numbers are directly affected by the controversy. The group with the least input takes the hardest hit. Why? Because as the breed registry and the largest membership driven organization, we are the face of the breed and are perceived as its ultimate authority in the world equine community.
For many years, the padded show horse drove the market and TWHBEA benefited. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when our industry was breeding 25,000 mares and registering 14,000 foals, it was largely due to the padded market. Breeders were breeding for that $15,000/$20,000 yearling. Horses were selling. New people were coming into the breed. In 1997, TWHBEA hit the 20,000-member mark and in the early 2000s operated under a 5 million dollar budget. We had some 25 or 30 employees. We were the second fastest growing breed in America and the fourth largest breed registry overall.
Today, we have fewer than 10 employees. We’ve gone to a four-day work week and cut our staff’s salaries by 20 percent. We are down to 8,300 members. Breeding production levels are at 1950s numbers. It is clear to me that what our industry is doing is no longer working in today’s world. Times have changed. The world, through technology, gets smaller and smaller every day. We can’t hide any longer. It is clear to me that our past has finally caught up with us and the image currently conveyed by our performance horse is no longer accepted in 2013.
TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and the brutal emails I have received tell me why. It is our reputation. It is soring. It is our image. My responsibility lies with TWHBEA and its 8,300 remaining members who represent all 50 states and many foreign countries.
Sadly, we have no more friends outside our industry. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) no longer supports us. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) no longer supports us. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) will not recognize our padded show horse. The American Horse Council, whom we’ve cultivated a close working relationship with for many years, has turned away from us, declining our annual sponsorship this year. The World Equestrian Games refused our sponsorship and returned it to us. The Kentucky After Christmas Sale had no performance horses this year. Last fall, the University of Tennessee featured a flat-shod horse rather than a padded show horse to perform at its annual homecoming football game. All of this breaks my heart.
I believe our modern-day padded show horses are cleaner than they’ve ever been. The problem is that nobody outside our industry believes it. And when you’ve lost the public you have lost it all”¦ and we have clearly lost the public.
For two years our industry has known that Congress would attempt to take our pads and chains unless we provided an acceptable alternative. How did we know that? Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator for Animal Care at USDA-APHIS, told us so. He told TWHBEA, he told the Trainers’ Association, he told the Celebration and WHOA. Since that announcement the padded horse leadership’s response has been to paint the chains and implement an ambiguous swabbing program. Now the padded leadership is threatening to suspend the licenses of trainers who show under compliant HIOs. Anything beyond that”¦ “Hell No” was the answer. “No compromises!”
I understand that the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) may be working on proposed legislation to the Whitfield Amendment. I first heard this in January and have heard it again recently. I hope so. My understanding is that versions of the Whitfield Amendment will continue to be introduced in Congress year after year until something gets passed. It is not going away. So I applaud PSHA if they are working on an alternative. I hope they come up with something soon.
I want the performance division to survive. I believe in the need for the division. I only know that it can’t and won’t survive as it is currently presented. This to me is obvious. The padded show horse’s survival lies at the feet of the trainers who train it and the owners who own it. If I lose some friendships over my vote then so be it. But I hope and pray that the trainers who train padded horses and the owners who own padded horses will find a way to put a horse in the ring that the public can support. Until then, we will remain alienated from the mainstream equine world. It’s as simple as that.
In order for this industry to grow and attract new people, strong, bold, drastic action is needed. A different direction will be required. I just hope our industry will choose the direction rather than have it chosen for us. We all know that the pads and chains alone do not harm the horse, that is no longer the point.
For most of us, our show industry is more about people and families than it is about winning blue ribbons. It’s about the people, the fellowship, the family fun, the friendly competition. Let’s not lose sight of that.
No matter what happens with the Whitfield Amendment, proposed legislation or future versions”¦ the pads and chains do not define this breed.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is the greatest breed in the world. We all agree on that. Just imagine the possibilities that exist for us if we could rid ourselves of this black cloud, this stigma once and for all. Forty-three years is long enough.
I’m sorry to those I’ve offended and hope that one day you will forgive me.”
Then Mr. Boyd got fired from his job at Baskin-Irby Construction in June 2013.
Then Mr. Boyd was hired as Executive Director of TWHBEA in June 2013 when TWHBEA Executive Director Ron Thomas took early retirement.
The interim TWHBEA President replacing Tracy Boyd was Loyd “Buster” Black. By this time Marty Irby had fled Middle Tennessee. Black provided little or no direction for TWHBEA or Mr. Boyd.
In September 2013, the Opinion of the TWHBEA members was solicited by TWHBEA Horse Show VP Pat Stout, and controversy flowed from it.
The TWHBEA members voted 63% landslide “YES” to pass the PAST ACT, and the votes were counted and verified by Cook & Co. CPA of Arab, Alabama.
A witch hunt ensued regarding Pat Stout which resolved in December 2013 when the Executive Committee under which it all took place exonerated Pat Stout from any wrongdoing.
Two days later, Steve Smith was elected President and the Pat Stout “witch hunt” roared back to life.
Mr. Boyd was retained by the sore Big Lick crowd as Executive Director, although he was chastised for knowing about the Opinion Poll of TWHBEA members being conducted, and providing the TWHBEA membership list to TWHBEA Horse Shows VP Pat Stout.
During Mr. Boyd’s 2014 year as TWHBEA Executive Director, over 20% of TWHBEA’s members quit the breed association.
And the organization is suffering serious financial strain with the drastic loss of members combined with all time lows for foal registrations, mares being bred and horse transfers.
Nephew Eugene hears Mr. Boyd is going to work for Manna Pro.