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Trainers meeting held Tuesday evening




By Sadie Fowler

The annual Trainers meeting took place Tuesday evening at the Celebration’s Blue Ribbon Circle, a traditional gathering of trainers and representatives from the Celebration the eve of the show kick off.
 
Celebration CEO Mike Inman addressed the group first, telling the trainers he anticipated a great show this year with a tremendous turnout. Operations Manager Charles McDonald also spoke, along with Head SHOW DQP Mitchell Butler and WHTA president Billy Young.
 
“I think that if we can use the things that have transpired so far this year as a barometer we will be in good shape,” Inman said. “We are excited for a great show and looking forward to the next 10 days.”
 
Inman encouraged trainers to communicate with officials of their needs, especially concerning the two-and-a-half minute timing on gate calls, which can be a challenge for trainers showing in back-to-back classes. Nothing is different with that time limit, but Inman said he wants to work with the trainers if they are in a crunch thus he encouraged them to communicate with Celebration staff, including himself or Butler, who will be more present in the warm up area.
 
Inman said a corporate sponsor has made it possible for a high-definition screen to be placed in the warm up ring so exhibitors can see action in the Big Oval as it happens, something new to the show this year that should be helpful.
 
McDonald told the trainers he respected them for their hard work, acknowledging the effort it takes to put so many horses through the ring at the Celebration.
 
“It’s a mutual partnership,” he said. “Without you we don’t have a horse show and without us you don’t have a world grand championship…Our industry has been through a tremendous amount as you so greatly know but at the same time we’ve made great strides that will reward everyone going forward.”
 
McDonald outlined the Celebration’s new policy on appearance for anyone entering the ring to assist entries, whether it be for win presentations or timeouts. Any person, including grooms, entering the ring must be 18 and also properly dressed with at least a collared shirt and pants.
 
“If they’re wearing a hat make sure it’s at least forward,” he said, adding at times in the policies like this have not been enforced. “In the future going forward, beginning Wednesday morning, if you slip up and don’t meet requirements we will hold your winnings. No change will take place in the placement but winnings will not be given to that owner, trainer, barn, etc. We are serious about this.”
 
Following Inman and McDonald’s words, Butler went over technical reminders, such as reminding trainers to check their bands (they must be half-inch from cornet band) and speaking to complaints he’s received this year related to flat shod classes.

“We’ve had numerous complaints over the size of shoes on back feet,” he said. “A class shoe size regulation is for both front and back feet and we will be looking for that.”
 
He closed by saying conversations he’s had with the USDA this year have overall been good, predicting a good show as well. He said everything he does is with fair competition and the horse in mind.
 
“You trainers are the only ones who can control this industry,” he said. “The Celebration can’t. I can’t. The only person owners are going to listen to is you. If you take the core of trainers and the core of the industry and those people will stick together you can do anything you want to do. People can’t survive without that core. My point is, right now we are in survival mode, not in ‘growth’ mode, and I get that. You want to pay your bills. But the only way you’re going to grow is if you stick together.”
 
Young closed out the meeting, mirroring the sentiments from the first three speakers and reminding trainers to be mindful of the swabbing that takes place during inspection.
 
Regular business followed, with reports on the Trainers’ Association budget, committees, scholarships and banquet (scheduled for Dec. 2 in Bell Buckle) briefly addressed. Young encouraged trainers to get involved.
 
Young also reminded those in attendance of likely protesters who will be present during both weekends, cautioning trainers to drive by and ignore them. “Don’t do what they want you to do and cause yourself a problem,” he said.
 
Herbert Derickson had the final word and invited all to attend a group prayer on the grounds at 6 p.m. Thursday night that will be led by Tim Brooks.
 

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