by Renee Isaacs

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. – At the Jenny Wiley Convention Center, Jan. 24, 2009, it was a time for commending, congratulating and awarding during the 30th anniversary of the Eastern Kentucky Walking and Racking Horse Association Banquet, founded by Denzil and Janice Allen.

The many officials of the town of Prestonsburg and the long time members had several kind comments they gave in their speeches about the association and the Allens. Special guests who spoke were Randy Polk, Mayor Jerry Fannin, Wendell Wells, Donna Combs, Tom Ware, Gary Oliver and others.

Between the silent auctions, raffles, 50/50 drawing, donated items and the blue book ads, the association brought in approximately $6,000.

The association is very thankful for their new facility at Stone Crest, even thought the move from Archer Park was a difficult decision, it was a great one. Funding options for an indoor facility are being discussed at this time. Mr. and Mrs. Allen were commended again for everything they do for the industry and the association. One of the ways they use their funds is in a scholarship fund. Each year, one or more scholarships are given and this year, only one recipient was chosen, Laken Gullett Ruth. Ruth attends Morehead State University and plans to offer a great deal of her time to the walking horse industry.

Denzil and Janice Allen said thank you to everyone who supported the 30th anniversary awards banquet and were overwhelmed with the amount of effort and support that was brought in. For more information on being a member of this association, you may contact Janice Allen at 606-886-9595.


Looking Back 30 Years

Following his marriage to Janice Allen in the spring of 1978, Denzil Allen moved to Prestonsburg, Ky. For many years, Denzil and his daughter, Renee, had traveled often to Eastern Kentucky to show their horses. A native of Leslie County, Denzil always had a desire to return to the mountains.

He returned to Eastern Kentucky with the experience of exhibiting and serving as a board member with the Kentucky Walking Horse Association. During this period of time, the Prestonsburg Junior Women’s Club was the only horse show in the area which was affiliated with an association that had a published set of rules. Denzil recalled each community horse show would routinely establish there own set of rules the day of the show, depending upon who arrived to exhibit.

Following a show season filled with frustration from the absence of commonly excepted rules governing shows, Denzil began considering the idea of establishing an association to serve Eastern Kentucky.

It was clear that there was a need to establish an organization. Following meetings with Winfred Cheek in Salyersville and Larry B. Pinson in Pikeville, Denzil and Janice discovered that the support for an association was overwhelming. In November 1978, the idea became a reality and the decision was made to form an association. Following an enthusiastic membership meeting, 21 board of directors and officers were elected to serve the newly formed association. Objectives were adopted by the elected officials, which still serve as the cornerstone for the association today. A commitment was made for high point classes to be offered for all breeds that had sufficient presence at shows. The classes would include contests, pleasure, walking, western, gaited, pacing and racking divisions.

The first task for the new board was to develop a show directory. Considering it would be a learning process for many of the exhibitors, the first directory was to provide detailed guidelines for exhibitors, show managers, ringmasters and the judges in addition to establishing procedures for violations and protests. The directory was to provide information for all breeds with basic rules for exhibiting, gaits, tack and attire. Denzil and Janice took on the task to do the necessary research with a goal for the directory to serve as a comprehensive guide and resource for everyone associated with showing horses in Eastern Kentucky.

The second challenge for the new board was to sell the idea to a sufficient number of show managers to affiliate with the association. With the support and determination of the board and officers, 33 shows agreed to affiliate. The association also took on the responsibility of maintaining the show grounds at Archer Park in Prestonsburg, Ky., for local showing purposes. In 1979, the Eastern Kentucky Horse Show Association began its first show season.

From 1979 to 2008, more than 1,000 shows have affiliated with East Kentucky and over $1 million has been generated for local non-profit organizations. Thirty years later, the Eastern Kentucky Walking and Racking Horse Association remains strong with over 165 individual and family members.