At the TWH sale down in Lexington, KY last weekend, I picked up a free copy of one of the TWH publications. There was an article about the TWHBEA's first executive committee meeting of 2010, and I found a comment from Performance Horse Vice President, Ty Irby, quite interesting.
The article stated that Ty Irby "emphasized that horse show development is critical, especially outside of Middle Tennessee." The direct quote from him was "we are selling to each other because there is no market for the breed outside of Tennessee."
No market for the breed, Mr. Irby? Really?
Granted, the economy is in a slump so many people simply are not buying horses. That much was obvious at the sale. There were some very nice, sound, beautiful horses going for under $1000.
But his comment about there being no market for the breed just shows how serious the problem of the TWHBEA's collective rectal-cranial impaction really is.
They've been focusing so much on shows - especially giving the spotlight to the padded/"performance" classes - that they seem completely oblivious to the fact that most of the TWH owners outside of Middle Tennessee want nothing to do with the Big Lick Freak Show.
There absolutely IS a market for the Tennessee Walking Horse outside of Tennessee. It's just that the demand is for naturally-gaited, flat-shod horses for trail and recreational riding. The average TWH owners have no use for high-stepping padded horses that need to stop and "blow out" frequently and can't make sudden turns because it will trip over all the junk attached to its hooves.
Membership is dropping. A lot. In the past four years, TWHBEA memberships have gone from 18,457 to 10,942. It just baffles me that the leadership at TWHBEA seems so bent on continuing to support and promote Big Lick that it will sacrifice all else and run the whole organization into the ground.