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Bledsoe Letter to Burton Eller



April 13, 2007
 
Deputy Under Secretary J. Burton Eller
United States Department of Agriculture
Marketing and Regulatory Programs
 
Dear Sec. Eller:
 
I apologize for being late responding to your email questioning my thoughts about the Trainers Show.  As you know, immediately following that specific show I canceled (postponed) the show in Wartrace planned for presentation on May 19, 2007.  As a result of the AP earlier article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, followed by the March 23rd article in the same newspaper, over $10,000 corporate sponsorship money from Atlanta area businesses became unavailable for this year's show.  Because I endeavor to gain funding from sources other than the horse showing public, loss of this amount of funding was disastrous for this small show.  As a result of the critical circumstances surrounding the presentation of any showcase featuring the TWH, I felt cancellation (postponement) was necessary. 
 
Considering the Trainers Show from the aspect of the exhibitor, it was a limited success simply because there did occur a showcase for the horses.  Exhibitors enjoy the exhibition of the horses as an avocation, but many exhibitors also view the exhibition of horses from a business aspect.  That the showcase occurred can be considered positive because it did occur.
 
From the aspect of the trainer, there should exist a fair degree of skepticism due to the fact that serious negotiations were required in order for the event to happen.  Everyone must understand, the trainers cannot negotiate each and every showcase so the horse shows might occur.  Certainly understood is the fact that rules and regulations cannot routinely be altered, eliminated and/or changed so that a show might be presented.  In addition, the turn-down ratio at this specific show must be considered disastrous.
 
Considering this show from a show management position, it was a failure.  Three factors must exist for a show to be successful:  1. extensive pre-show fundraising,  2. large horse entry numbers, and  3. large spectator support base (always dependent upon the horse count numbers).  The greater number of industry shows presented utilizing the TWH as a fundraising vehicle are charity events.  Without a large horse count and the subsequent spectator support base, these shows will fail - no matter how extensive and successfully the pre-show fundraising efforts might have been accomplished.  Bottom line, without great numbers of horses participating - any horse show promoter working for a charitable entity will definitely realize far greater success planning a bass tournament or a golf tournament.  The Jackson, MS show currently being held will be unsuccessful as a charity event should there be no more horses entered in the remaining two night's competitions.  There exists no "spin" that can project this show to be a success considering the fact that 66 horses competed in 22 classes......and if this entry rate continues throughout the show.
 
Interestingly enough, because of my industry involvements I must consider a horse show from each of these perspectives - owner/exhibitor, trainer (my son), and show promoter/manager.  That shows must continue in order to secure any future what-so-ever for our industry is the bottom line reality. 
 
The Cullman, AL horse show promoted by and for the Cullman County Chapter, American Red Cross, March, 30, 2007 was a screaming success.  This show was 100% funded by the business community with the exception of the donation of the TWH filly for the raffle.  There were great numbers of horses and spectators.  The community participated as spectators.  The filly raffle secured $5,000, an amount far exceeding the current average market value of yearlings that is so depleted because of the precarious industry situation.  Over $23,000 was raised for the Red Cross group.  USDA did not attend the Cullman show.  The general opinion of knowledgeable individuals was the horses appeared to be totally in compliance with HPA.  One horse is said to have been excused from competition by the judge.  I have asked for no information regarding the inspection turn-downs. 
 
Please inform me what steps you advise so our industry might hope to survive?  What might I do to assure a future for our horse?  Whatever can secure a future for the remaining industry shows?  Thank you in advance for your kind and immediate response to my questions.  I sincerely hope to be able to assist this industry to which I am inextricably tied.
 
Respectfully, 
Sarah Lynn Bledsoe

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