Moving the Tennessee Walking Horse Futurity to Murfreesboro could end up costing horse owners who were hoping to qualify for the Celebration in August.
On Saturday, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA) announced that this year's Futurity will be held in July in conjunction with the World Versatility Show at MTSU's Miller Coliseum.
The competition showcases the young horses that owners hope will be future competitors, but TWHBEA President Marty Irby stated that they would not issue refunds to nominations made, even if those nominations were made with the idea of qualifying at the National Futurity for Celebration championship classes, according to the Walking Horse Report.
Concerned members and exhibitors of TWHBEA contacted the trade journal saying they felt they "were not properly notified of the potential move and that the nomination forms had no mention of a possible date, location or rule change."
The Report also stated that several TWHBEA members are exploring their options to force a refund.
Horse Show Vice President Tracy Boyd made a clarification to the Report saying TWHBEA voted not to issue refunds because in 2010, the association's horse show committee recommended to its Executive Committee and a motion was made to move the Futurity.
That motion in 2010 failed, but another motion passed to put futurity participants on notice that a move in the future would occur, Boyd said.
Boyd also explained to the Report that in 2007, the Futurity did not qualify for Celebration championship classes and no refunds were issued in that year, so precedent had been set by the TWHBEA Executive Committee not to issue them.
"We are concerned and sensitive to the concerns of our customers and don't know how many complaints we will receive," Boyd told the trade journal. "If we get a number of those complaints, the Executive Committee very well may revisit the refunds being issued to those customers."
According to the Report, Boyd's horse show committee voted 13-0 in favor of moving the futurity, citing reasons such as TWHBEA saving $6,000 by having it in conjunction with the World Versatility Show, "hiring their own judges and also creating a better identity for the horse show itself."
"This move allows TWHBEA to showcase all aspects of the Tennessee Walking Horse, from barrel racing to a performance horse in one event," said Boyd.
Boyd was also quoted saying that he was told "only four horses in 2011 used the National Futurity as their lone qualifier for a championship class at The Celebration and in 2010 that number was only seven," the Report said.
According to a press release from Lewisburg-based TWHBEA earlier this week, the decision behind the move to link the two shows "was spurred by financial reasons and a desire to showcase, at one venue, everything the Tennessee Walking Horse has to offer."