SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association held their annual Celebration meeting on Tuesday August 25th inside the Calsonic Arena. A good crowd attended and was greeted via a Zoom visit from Dr. Betty Goldentyer and Dr. Aaron Rhyner from the United States Department of Agriculture. Goldentyer thanked the trainers for making the Zoom visit available and wished them good luck at the upcoming show. She was pleased with the precautions being taken in inspection due to COVID-19 to keep everyone safe. Rhyner walked through some of the protocols, including wearing a mask in inspection, that would be required by the USDA personnel at the show.

Rhyner also spoke regarding the joint effort with the HIOs to partner in a swabbing initiative that SHOW, Kentucky and American Horse Services all voluntarily agreed to conduct. Those samples taken by the HIOs will be sent to Texas A&M for analysis and the results by horse shared with the HIOs. The pilot program will begin this fall. Training has been ongoing for the HIOs.

Rhyner also addressed the new compressed rubber pads that some of the farriers have been using. Rhyner and others from USDA are still analyzing the material to make a determination if its use falls within the regulations. Rhyner did inform the trainers that radiographs will be taken during the show and any abnormalities will result in post-show pulling of the shoes.

Other guest at the meeting included Jeffrey Howard from the Celebration’s board of directors, Mike Inman, Chief Executive Officer of The Celebration and Tim Hatfield from the SHOW HIO. Howard updated the trainers on the PAST Act and its status in Congress along with inviting the trainers and their owners to the Mitch McConnell fundraiser on the final Friday night of The Celebration.  

Inman updated the trainers on some of the protocols for COVID-19 compliance and took questions regarding the multiple warm-up areas and the access to and from the Calsonic Arena and inspection station. Inman thanked the trainers as well for their support of The Celebration and the increase in entries at the 82nd annual show.

Hatfield urged the trainers to make sure their measurements on their shoeing and packages met regulations and urged them to not rely solely on the farriers but to do the measurements themselves prior to bringing the horses to inspection. Hatfield also spoke to SHOW’s intent to be in the barn areas to conduct barn walks and encouraged the trainers to bring their horses to inspection in the same good condition they have been all year.

President Bill Cantrell welcomed Jimbo Conner as well who introduced a new show to be held in Sevierville on April 8-10, 2021. Conner spoke to the beautiful area of the state that would be a great attraction for visitors with plenty of activities to do. Cantrell also mentioned the move of the Trainers’ Show from November into the spot vacated by the cancellation of the North Carolina Championships in Asheville, October 8-10, 2020. The Trainers’ Show will be in Calsonic Arena.

The Riders’ Cup is fully sponsored again in 2020 with all of the performance and pleasure divisions having a sponsor. The full payout won’t be determined until the final show of the year but the shortened season could have a negative effect since entry fees are what fund the program in addition to the sponsors.  

The WHTA’s sale will happen again in 2020 but due to COVID-19 will only be one day this year. It will be held Saturday September 5th at the old Wiser Farm location. Kenny Lawrence said roughly 40 colts were cataloged but that the Trainers would allow late entries to run through the sale so he expected more than 40 colts to be available for sale.

The WHTA’s scholarship recipients were also announced with $2500 going to both Bryce Way, son of trainer Chad Way and Morgan McCormick, daughter of trainer Mickey McCormick.  Cantrell also informed the membership that they WHTA was waiving the mandatory two-meeting requirement in 2020 due to COVID-19.