A FAST video series hit a home run this week in front of an enthusiastic crowd looking for inspiration to walk on with shoulders back, head held high. 

The Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking show horse (FAST) leveled up, exemplifying their goal to promote, protect and preserve the horse, last weekend in Franklin, Tennessee when the videos were unveiled in front of a packed house in attendance for the annual Walking Horse Trainers Association. 

Three videos were shown touching on the important role the horse plays in the lives of countless Tennesseans and countless other families and communities across the country. Sponsored and produced by FAST, plans are underway to make more videos like these and release them as a way to nudge public perception in the right direction, a positive direction.

In order to continue serving as a valuable resource for the industry, FAST needs everyone’s support to continuing making videos and other educational tools available. FAST is asking everyone to watch like, share and donate to the general fund, which is available on the FAST website. 

Saturday’s unveiling

As the video cued up, raw emotion quickly began circulating around the room as viewers watched proudly in awe of the what they saw on the big screen — a story they can finally call their own, and one that captures the essence of what the walking horse is all about, family, fun and community. 

The first video specifically focused on the community aspect of the breed, with the second video’s theme focusing on the future of the breed and the third, the inspection process. All were personal and accurate depictions of the walking horse, putting a face behind the stories often not understood by critics. 

FAST is a leadership arm within the walking horse industry that has revamped its strategy to promote, protect and preserve the Tennessee Walking Horse and the people who love it. Often cast in negative and often unfair light by opponents who’ve targeted the breed for its unique gait, the industry has long struggled with defending itself against critics, mostly because of pure numbers alone.

The industry is comprised of a small number of constituents compared to many other competitive show horse breeds, making it difficult to take on the fight against large, animal rights groups such as the HSUS. By nature, the industry has tried to defend itself but all too often this strategy sets a tone that’s negative and rarely effective.

As a result of this unlevel playing field, the Tennessee Walking Horse has also combatted issues with the general public’s perception, one that has been derived from untruths and inaccuracies fueled by its critics. 

It is FAST’s hope that the industry will join them in a grassroots effort demonstrating a different approach. 

“There’s no better tool than exposing the truth and with that in mind FAST decided earlier this year to take a powerful stance with positivity to showcase the true story of the Tennessee Walking Horse,” said Kasey Kesselring, FAST president and avid supporter of FAST’s video project. “Rather than constantly defending ourselves against untrue stories being told about our horse, we felt the best way to educate the public and leaders trying to do what’s best was to simply show them.”

FAST new role

In addition to supporting projects such as the video series, Kesselring has also support FAST’s mission to position itself as much-needed leaders within the industry by bringing in fresh and skillful eyes to its already seasoned and qualified board. 

In addition to a few new board members, FAST has hired Sadie Fowler of Shelbyville, Tennessee to serve as its director of advancement. Fowler, who does not official begin in her role until early January, applauded Kesselring and the FAST board for their willingness to lead and try a new approach.

“The videos were truly a win-win,” said Fowler, who has a background in media as well as knowledge of the horse. “It’s not only a winning and dignified approach, but the launching of these videos is also, quite simply, the telling of a beautiful story and one that represents the families and faces behind the horse they love and want to protect.”

FAST, who also launched a YouTube channel to showcase these videos for the world to see, is fueled by donations of owners, trainers, exhibitors, community members and horse lovers in general and it hopes to continue in its mission to educate and inform the general public while serving as an efficient resource to the industry. 

To carry on this mission, anyone wishing to support FAST and the horse is encouraged to do contribute to the Foundation by visiting the FAST website (https://www.fastwalkingshowhorse.org). Donors can also reach the FAST website to donate through its FaceBook page as well as YouTube, after subscribing to the channel. 

A push for the positive

In its first official push to the horse community, FAST unveiled three videos on social media Tuesday, Dec. 17 and is asking the small-but-mighty walking horse community to help them with the next step of this important process that will no doubt impact the future of the breed.

“On behalf of FAST and our great horse, we invite you to watch, enjoy, LIKE AND SHARE this special video produced by FAST with help from many other special friends,” Fowler said. “Subscribe to our channel, like, share, like again and share again!”

Fowler said it is FAST’s intent to inspire and boost morale within the industry while gaining strides the industry needs to succeed. Coming up at FAST, a Gala will take place as well as a horse show and other fun and inspiring events and the video also serves as a way to drum up excitement for the year to come. 

“We want these videos to inspire you to use your voice loudly and proudly as we aim to share the positively wonderful and true story of our great horse,” said Fowler, emphasizing the need to share the videos. “If you're from Tennessee, and especially if you're not, please SHARE this important video with whomever you can. Whether it’s with your neighbor, your business associate, your political representative, or all of the above, we need to get the real face of our story out there in front of the general public. It’s the only way to truly inform and combat the negative critics.”

In addition to sharing and spreading the good word, FAST requests anyone who is able to support the production of videos like these and other useful and educational tools to visit their page at http://www.fastwalkingshowhorse.org/donate/. At the top, right part of the page, click on the icon that says “donate” and from there donors can select a specific category for their donations, ranging from horse shows to legal funds to a general fund, which is what funds these videos. 

Kesselring led the efforts of these videos with help from several folks, some of whom are acknowledged in the social media buzz and some who worked behind the scenes on the beautifully done technical aspects of the production. 

An ‘A team’ effort

Kesselring also applauded Jeff Speaks and Jeff Terhune, who have put forth great efforts in Washington to develop FAST’s new strategies to lead the industry toward better days while lifting a veil and exposing the often unheard story behind the beautiful and diverse horse.

Terhune met with a group of friends at FAST recently and said it was only a short year-and-a-half ago that he began working on behalf of the walking horse industry. He had a lot to learn as he studied years and years of history, challenges, battles and opinions about the horse, but it didn’t take him long to form his own. 

“I've met incredible people from all walks of life,” said Terhune, speaking about what inspired his idea to create the videos. “These riders, owners, trainers, and supporters have created a community built on trust, compassion, and friendship. Their story deserved to be told.”

Both passionate supporters of the breed, Allison Thorson and Kyle Bush were also instrumental in the production of these videos, offering up their skills as actors and narrators in many parts. 

To see the videos, click on the following links:
TWH Community

Our Horse, Our Future
TWH Inspection Process