(Copyright 2006, Walking Horse Report) 


            The Report has attended meetings and had multiple conversations with officials both inside and outside the industry during the past several months.  One of the key items in these discussions has been an enhanced inspection process for the upcoming Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

            To begin with, earlier this spring Dr. Chester Gipson and Dr. Todd Behre met with the Celebration board to discuss procedures and possible changes at this year’s show.  Last month the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association sent the Celebration a list of recommendations for consideration this year.  Several weeks ago, the National Horse Protection Society presented recommendations to Dr. Gipson and forwarded them to the National Horse Show Commission.

            While the Commission has just released their plans for the 2006 Celebration (see article and editorial on this page), it was safe to assume that there would be an enhanced horse and personnel identification system in place to meet the human traffic challenges and allegations of switching horses last year.  Suggestions included creating an alleyway where the horse, the people accompanying him and chain carts would lead directly into the actual inspection area. 

            The USDA has also let it be known that they will no longer be staying away from the “back side” of the Celebration grounds.  Plans call for Dr. Behre or one of his representatives to learn more about what is going on in the barn area where the horses are being prepped to show.  This individual will be accompanied by a Designated Qualified Person and security.

            The USDA will require custodians of horses seen wrapped in plastic, standing on “jacks” or “blocks”, horses having trouble standing or walking normally, or not meeting other reasonable criteria to bring their horses to the designated inspection area, or possibly be swabbed for foreign substances or inspected on the spot.

            The USDA has also let it be known that they were pleased with TWHBEA’s recommendations with regard to personnel in the warm up area, limited articles on chain carts, plastic wrap and the disallowing of modifications to the horses’ limbs and or equipment without the direct supervision by a DQP.

            Based on this and other factors, there is a strong feeling among industry officials that many of these recommendations will be included in the 2007 Operating Plan.