by Mary Howard

This year the Walking Horse Report turns 50. It seems like only yesterday that David and I started out on this journey that would end up defining our lives. I wanted to build a family. He wanted to build a business. We both just wanted to do it together.

When David first began the Walking Horse Report, we lived in Chattanooga and had Christy (3) and Jennifer (1 ½ years old). That first issue was dated August 16, 1971. It started on our dining room table but after a couple weeks, David said we needed to move to Shelbyville.

So he brought me to Shelbyville, introduced me to Bill Tune, said “buy a house” and off he went to an all-day meeting with the Commission. I bought a house. We moved to Shelbyville in January and I started working half days doing the billing, payroll, deposits, taxes, etc. This was way before computers and we did it all by hand.

Back then, we mailed the paper from the Shelbyville post office. We had stencils for each subscriber and
their address and we manually put them in zip code order. Then we put each individual paper into a manual machine to stamp the name of a subscriber on each copy. We gathered the papers by zip code and tied them in bundles and put them in the correct mail bag to be sorted for the post office. We had to take them to the post office before 6pm on Friday, which was always a challenge.

Back then we had a couple of people who did the paste up and layout of each page and we sent the pages to Pulaski Web to print, then we went back to pick it up the next day to distribute at horse shows and prepared the mailing.

In the beginning David did all the selling and writing and travelled to every horse show. I went to as many as I could but I did not know anyone in Shelbyville so I had no one to keep the kids. We took the kids to Chattanooga to our parents (by then we had Jeffrey too) so that I could go to the multi-day shows.

I still have pictures of the surprise baby shower that the trainers’ and owners’ wives gave for me when I was pregnant with Jeffrey. Karen Callaway, Dianne Holcomb (Gayle‘s mom) Norma Gallagher and several others welcomed me into the horse business. We made so many good friends in the horse business and they are still friends 50 years later.

I did try to learn how to ride horses when we first moved to Shelbyville, but when I got pregnant with Jeffrey, I gave it up. I was certainly not a born rider. Admiral King was my instructor, if any of you remember him.

Many of you will remember the Little Red Barn on the corner of the Celebration grounds (where the Blue Ribbon Circle is now). I worked in the little red barn passing out papers and taking subscriptions. Back in the early days most people renewed their subscription when they came to the Celebration so I got to see lots of the trainers and their wives and was very good friends with the owners as well. There are too many names to put in this story because I could write a book about all the people that are part of my life because of The Walking Horse Report. The original investors are interwoven in my life still today, even though many of them have passed. Randall Rollins, Bob Gallagher, Dr. Bob Womack (his son Rick is now my son-in-law). I have traveled the world with the Rollins and the Terrys, and Peggy and Florence and I still go on trips together.

I have always enjoyed being a part of the Walking Horse Report and working for the company. We have
had some outstanding and loyal employees and several are still there. Sarah Coffee (Burks) came straight out of college to work for the Report although I think she actually started while still in college. She has always been an avid supporter of the Walking Horse Report. Janie Hugh was a dedicated editor of the Report. Her whole family was so close to us and was such a big part of the Report. Her husband (Buddy Hugh) taught Christy to ride. Robert Carter was also very young when we started and he has worked day and lots of nights over all these years and is still there. He is a gem. Elaine Stacy worked day and night for 45 plus years and has just recently retired. Linda Scrivner started with the Report when she was a teacher in Missouri and then came to Shelbyville and has worked full time ever since. What would the Report be without Steve Morrow? He has worked every job in the company and knows where every bolt and screw is, plus he used to do the
pasting of the copy on The Report in the early days. We are going to have to have one big retirement party when all of these wonderful employees decide to finally retire. They have always been a friend to David and to me as well as loyal and dedicated employees. At one time we had about 50 employees. We worked hard, but we had lots of fun times and parties. I am grateful to every one of them.

In later years, I moved on to more of David’s new projects in real estate and banking. I stayed busy all the time but still worked in the office half days because by then I had grandchildren and since all three of the kids worked for Dabora, I was in high demand to babysit and pick up children from school and daycare. David and I loved having everyone in the family so involved and were so proud of them and their work ethic. David was also very involved in the Celebration Board. I loved being involved with everything.

David always encouraged me to start my own business but I loved my job at Dabora and it was always such a big part of my life. I remember so many events and the hundreds of people and friends we knew so well. The Walking Horse Report started it all and is still going strong.

It has been an unbelievable 50 years and I still feel very much a part of it!