SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration remains committed to having sound, clean horses in the show ring and will keep in place several measures with the health and safety of the animals and participants as well as the integrity of the inspection process in mind.

In consultation with virtually every major group within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and outside organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and American Humane Association (AHA), the Celebration board of directors has approved to continue an overall plan to protect the animals on site, the integrity of the event, and the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the 2007-09 Operating Plan.

The broad-based plan touches on five major areas.

Drug Screening – Random class winners will be selected for drug screening.  In 2008, this screening will also include eye examinations.  Additionally, the use of syringes by anyone other than a licensed veterinarian will be strictly prohibited on the Celebration Grounds. 

Improper Shoeing – Hoof testers will be used to detect evidence of improper shoeing.  In addition, selected flat shod entries will be required to have their shoes removed, inspected, and weighed following competition in championship classes.

Event Integrity – The Celebration has secured a sanctioning agreement with a Horse Industry Organization (HIO) that is a signatory to the 2007-09 Operating Plan.  That HIO will be the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC).  In addition, The Celebration will only employ judges with no HPA violations in 2008.  In 2009, judges employed for the event may have no violations in 2008 and 2009, and so on into the future.  Following the event, the judges, Designated Qualified Persons (DQP’s), and show management will submit to a polygraph test.  The judging panel was announced earlier in July.

Inspection Security – The Celebration will implement an overall security plan for the inspection area that will include identification credentials for trainers, grooms and amateur exhibitors.  Only horses that are eligible and scheduled to compete will be allowed into the inspection area.  As part of this plan, third-party veterinarians providing inspection opinions will be prohibited from the area.  In order to protect owners and exhibitors, a secure area outside inspection will be made available for this purpose.

HPA Enforcement – Several steps will be taken to enhance the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act under the rules set forth by the 2007-09 Operating Plan.  These steps include allowing USDA Veterinary Medical Officers and NHSC Designated Qualified Persons to perform random inspections in the barn area, and enforce the Tennessee Anti-Soring ordinance.

“A great deal of work went into this plan a year ago and we saw their fruits of that labor with the type of horse we saw in the ring,” said Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows.  “We have kept everything in from a year ago and expanded certain sections.  All of these items fall well within parameters of the S.H.O.W. initiative of Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, and Winning fairly.”

Broad-based support for this plan was voiced by many different constituent groups, most notably the United States Department of Agriculture in 2007.  “USDA supports the actions initiated by The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to ensure compliance with the Horse Protection Act, said Dr. Chester A. Gipson, USDA Deputy Administrator.  “Using a drug screening program to detect the use of prohibited substances, placing emphasis on improper shoeing, conducting random inspections of the barn area and ensuring enforcement of the Tennessee Anti-Soring ordinance, are all measures that will protect the horses, as well as the integrity of the show.” 

Gipson went on to explain that the plan put into practice by The Celebration in 2007, and strengthened in 2008, could be the model other shows work from in the future.

“We commend the Celebration’s show management for their consultative and collaborative approach and commitment to having sound, clean horses in the show ring. We hope that the standard set by The Celebration will be adopted by other show managers.”

Here again is a listing of the items included in the plan:
• Continue an equine drug-screening program that will now include eye examinations
• Use hoof testers on flat-shod entries
• Remove, inspect, and weigh shoes on random flat-shod entries after championship classes
• Prohibit use of syringes, except by licensed veterinarians
• Prohibit veterinarians from giving third-party opinions in the inspection area
• Drop girths for inspection
• Select judges with no HPA violations in 2008
• Sanction with an HIO that has signed the 2007-09 Operating Plan
• Judges to submit to polygraph test after the show
• DQP’s to submit to polygraph test after the show
• Show management to submit to polygraph test after the show
• Maintain a secure inspection area
• Allow only eligible horses in the inspection area
• DQP’s and VMO’s may perform random inspections in the barn area
• Enforce the Tennessee Anti-Soring ordinance