By Jeffrey Howard

As we approach Memorial Day and the kickoff to the summer show season, Walking Horse Report will begin the countdown to our official 50-year anniversary. That official date, August 16, 1971, is a special one to our family and we will celebrate all summer, culminating with activities at The Celebration.

Like many of you, our family resides in Shelbyville because of the Tennessee Walking Horse. My parents were from Chattanooga and my father worked for The Voice prior to being approached by a group of investors to start Walking Horse Report. Clearly that decision was a game changer and not only changed the place our family called home but also changed the course of his career and thus that of my sisters and I.

The Walking Horse Report was also just the beginning of the life of Dabora, Inc. which has grown into other equine publications, what once was World Champion Horse Equipment and now into a line of social publications across Tennessee and Kentucky. So to have the opportunity to celebrate 50 years of the publication that started it all is so very special to us.

My family has been so fortunate to make relationships in this business over the last 50 years, many of which continue to this day. I know my mom and dad had some of their closest friendships with their customers and friends in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. That has continued to this day as I consider some of my closest friends those people that I have met as part of this industry.

In addition to friends, our family has been blessed to be able to be around and learn from some of the smartest people we know. The horse industry provided my father with his mentor, the late Randall Rollins, and has provided us with the opportunity to learn from business people that have made such an influence on how we operate our own business. To be able to have a successful business combined with the opportunity to get to know such people makes us so humble and appreciative.

My sisters and I never thought we would come back to work for our parents, in fact I think we told them as such. I can remember my dad just smiling and knowing that even though I thought I had it figured out he knew I didn’t know much at all (he said that a little more colorfully and blunt). Christy, Jennifer and I all ended up coming back and even though we have all quit on multiple occasions, this year marks an anniversary that we can all be proud of and appreciate the tough times in working in a multi-generational family business.

Also, as many of you know and especially those that can remember all 50 years, my mother has been the steadying force in our family and this company for all 50 years. Even though today she doesn’t take on an active role, she still reads the Report every week, is in the office regularly and continues to talk to Christy and I about the challenges and how those mirror so closely ones that have been faced previously in the 50 years.

One thing that will definitely be missing from this summer of Celebration will be my father. I can’t tell you how much I wish he was here to see this milestone. This is his creation, his legacy and his company. He deserved to be here to experience this anniversary and we all know that he is still a part of what we do as my sisters and I regularly feel his presence in not only our business but in our lives altogether. He was a huge figure to us and a big figure in this industry and the Tennessee Walking Horse, The Walking Horse Report and The Celebration meant more to him than most anyone realizes.

We will definitely be remembering him as we go through this summer and especially on that August 16th date. As you may have noticed the Walking Horse Report print edition has a new commemorative 50-year anniversary logo and we will continue to brand items over the coming months with the 50-year logo. We will have a small gathering of those special people that have been around for all 50 years with my mother on August 16th and will sponsor the after show entertainment on the last Friday of The Celebration which will feature Lost Saints. I encourage you to look them up on social media as they are definitely a special treat.

There will also be special features in upcoming issues of Walking Horse Report and I know my sister Christy will be writing the 50-year feature during The Celebration dailies. I even think my mother will write her first editorial in the 50 year history of Walking Horse Report.

As a family, we would like to thank you for celebrating with us. It is because of you, our friends and our customers, that our business is what it is and how we have thrived over these last 50 years. We owe each of you our sincere gratitude and I can promise you our family appreciates what this community, this horse and all of you have meant to our business.