The Future of Our Breed

My Fellow Members:

Today marks a very special 77th annual Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association Annual General Membership Meeting, and our annual awards banquet dinner. I have looked forward to today’s events for quite some time, and believe our annual meeting will be full of members from all segments, and areas within our breed. I am thankful to have the opportunity to conduct the meetings of today, and hope each person will be able to speak their mind, and let us where they believe TWHBEA, and our breed is headed.

In recent weeks, our well known breed representatives Skyjacker’s Mountain High aka “Tuff” and Tracy Pinson captured their second Extreme Cowboy Race Non Pro World Championship and received an invitation to compete in the Cowboy Up Challenge at the renowned Calgary Stampede in 2013. On top of all that, Tracy was inducted into the Extreme Cowboy Racing Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed on very few people in the industry.

Repeating their title from 2009, Tuff and Tracy topped an extremely competitive field of 28 entries in the Non-Pro division of the EXCA World Championships at the Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Texas. Horses from all over the US and Canada including Quarter Horses, Arabians, Standardbreds, Paints, Spotted Horses, Mustangs, etc. competed in seven different divisions to garner World Championship titles. I congratulate Ms. Pinson, and “Tuff,” and thank them for representing our breed so positively in this venue. We need more people and horses with the talent, dedication, and ability this team has honored our great breed with during their competitions.

Earlier this year, while judging the German Championship, I observed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, participation, and excitement regarding the pole bending and barrel racing events. Have you ever considered participating in timed events with your Tennessee Walking Horse? If you haven’t then I suggest you research this area, and give consideration to its growth in the future. Our breed is so versatile, and diverse that it can grow in every area of competition and throughout the trails of the world.

Over the past 77 years our breed has gone through many phases, perhaps today we are closer to where we started than we have ever been. Perhaps today we have opportunities many don’t realize, and avenues for promotion and utilization that most have never considered. The future of our breed is very bright, no matter what area or direction or breed moves toward in order to thrive and flourish. I have no doubt that whatever happens, our breed will prevail.

We have a great show horse both on the rail and in timed competition. We represent a breed that no other horse can remotely come close to. As a whole, we have bred a horse that is gentle, kind, loving, talented, and athletic. Our horse is far better than most give it credit. Our horse has survived despite the division and the people who have held him back for decades. Our horse is something that we should be honored to have been graced with, and something that we should love and treat with kind stewardship.

We have made great strides in protecting the welfare of our horse, but we still have some length to our journey. We must continue to create new programs that reward people for doing the right things, and new programs that benefit the longevity of our breed and soundness of our horse. If we can show the world what a truly great and naturally talented animal we have produced in all divisions, and prove to the world what we have bred over nearly 100 years, then our breed will grow larger and faster than we have ever seen it. It will grow around the globe, and we will have the most famous horse on earth.

I ask you to consider the promotion and positive impact of all facets and divisions of our breed, and ask you to watch, think, and make deliberations based on fact, science, and the welfare of our horse. Far too often we have been our own worst critics and we have failed to spread the word about our breed’s versatility, and our breed’s ability to provide a smooth ride to people of all ages. No other breed can do what our horse can do.

Today, two of the committee meetings at TWHBEA I participated in were our Horse Show and Welfare Committees. Both of these groups came up with tremendous ideas for the longevity, welfare, and promotion of our great breed. I was excited to see so many people involved, and so many people working to come up with new ways to better our great horse and association.

My letter yesterday spoke of the generation of change. I am proud to see more and more positive change occurring in our breed every day, and am encouraged that our members will keep moving in a forward direction for the betterment of what we all have dedicated so much time, energy, and hard work toward protecting. Please voice your ideas for the future to our committees, and today during our General Membership meeting. Now is the time. Now is your time. Now is our horses’ time to shine and rise above the ashes of a tarnished past into a clean and pristine era that will take our horse and our association to the next level.

For a bright tomorrow,

Marty Irby, President


The Breed Registry Since 1935





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