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Celebration Forms Horsemen's Leadership Council



The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC) has appointed a Horsemen’s Leadership Council that will report to its Board of Directors.  The council will work with the Veterinary Advisory Committee to improve and advance the programs and protocols put in place at last year’s Celebration.  The VAC and committee continue to work on the certification of an independent HIO that utilizes objective, science based inspection protocols to ensure the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse via  a predictable pre-show inspection.

The members of the committee are Terry Dotson, Frank Eichler, David Howard, Jeffrey Howard, Mike Inman, Steve Smith and Duke Thorson.  Dotson owns Winding Creek Stables in Kingston, Tenn. and is the current chairman of the board of directors of the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA).  Eichler owns Rising Star Ranch, the largest breeding operation in the industry and has served as an advisor to the SHOW HIO and its executive committee since 2009.  David Howard started Dabora, Inc., the publisher of Walking Horse Report over 40 years ago and has served on the TWHNC board of directors since 1997 and was chairman of the board in 2014.  He retired from the TWHNC board of directors in January of this year.  

Jeffrey Howard is the current publisher of the Walking Horse Report and has served on the board of the Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse (FAST) and PSHA.  Inman is a long-time owner in the industry who retired from the show ring in 2012 to become Chief Executive Officer of the Celebration where he continues in that role.  Inman also serves on the board of PSHA and is past-president of FAST.

Smith is the current President of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) and owns Ravenswood Farms in Franklin, Tenn.  Smith and his family have been showing, breeding and raising Tennessee Walking Horses for over 50 years.  Thorson recently built Thorsport Farm in Murfreesboro, Tenn. that closely resembles his other ThorSport Farms in Sandusky, Ohio and serves on the board of directors of the Walking Horse Owners’ Association and PSHA.

“The Celebration board felt it was advantageous to bring together a committee that represents several different industry groups’ opinions and to continue to work on those items that have been championed for several years now in different groups and organizations.  This committee does not replace our Celebration Advisory Committee made up of owners and exhibitors and the Celebration has and will continue to meet with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association on concerns or items of interest they may have to make our show a success,” said Celebration Chairman Pat Marsh.

The committee has been meeting in an unofficial capacity since late 2014 and this announcement by The Celebration formalizes their role.  The committee has been the point of contact for Tom Blankenship, the spokesperson of the VAC who submitted the application for the independent HIO, the Walking Horse Equestrian Federation, on February 11, 2015.  Blankenship and Smith accompanied Dr. Doug Corey, past-President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) in Washington, D.C. to submit the application for certification.  Dr. Corey has agreed to serve on the board of directors of the Walking Horse Equestrian Federation if it is approved by the USDA.

The committee has continued to work with and provide funding for Dr. Jerry Johnson, Dr. Phil Hammock and Dr. Robert Hunt, who comprise the current VAC in the development of blood testing protocols as well as other objective inspection protocols.  The VAC has enlisted the help and counsel from some of the equine veterinary community’s best including Dr. Bruce Howard from Versailles, Ky., Dr. John O’Brien from Bowling Green, and Dr. Scott Stanley from the University of California, Davis.

Another area of research for the VAC has included the highly subjective scar rule.  Blankenship and the VAC are working with Dr. Lynne Cassone, a Veterinary Pathologist with the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.  The VAC’s objective is to define a tissue rule that is science-based, trainable and enforceable on a more consistent basis than today’s current subjectively enforced scar rule.
 

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