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Celebration Releases Attendance and Compliance Numbers



Historic Reforms Improving Horse Safety - Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner sees “Bright” future for Tennessee Walking Horse

SHELBYVILLE, TN – After the final numbers were tallied for the 2012, Celebration officials today announced that weekend attendance was up 7% and overall attendance was better than expected. In addition, the implementation of historic safety reforms contributed to the overall success of the event by improving the compliance rate with the Horse Protection Act. The overall impact of this year’s event has left the industry with a sense of optimism for the future that was echoed by Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson.

“We observed among Walking Horse leaders a renewed resolve to reform the industry and protect all horses.  This resolve brightened this year’s Celebration and poised the breed for a strong future of the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry.  The Tennessee Department of Agriculture supports the strengthened reform efforts.”

Despite the continued economic downturn and negative publicity centered on a few bad trainers, the overall attendance number of 165,000 was better than expected and the weekend attendance increased 7% over last year. While attendance numbers are not at the levels they once were, attendance levels this year show an Industry beginning to bounce back. Additionally, there was an increase in horse entries after the pre-entry period bringing the total entries in line with previous years.  In 2012 there were 2080 entries and in 2011, 2198.

“Without a doubt the 74th National Celebration was considered a success among our sponsors, exhibitors and the community.  People are more encouraged now than they have been in years. The reforms being implemented are having a positive impact. The horses are safer and the appreciation for the natural athleticism of the magnificent Tennessee Walking Horse is growing,” said Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration CEO.

The Celebration Board of Directors implemented historic reforms and enhanced safety measures aimed at ensuring the safety of the horse at the 2012 Celebration. Of the 2,293 inspections, SHOW HIO found 43 sensitivity/scar violations and another 13 technical violations that are unrelated to a horse being deemed sore.  The horse safety measures were successful in garnering a 98.1% compliance rate with the Horse Protection Act, significantly better than the 93.6% achieved last year. The higher compliance rate is an indication that horse safety reforms are working as anyone who sores a horse knows not to show up at The Celebration.  At this year’s Celebration those suspected of wrongdoing were stopped in the inspection process, or through the swabbing initiative, and punishments were issued swiftly.

“I commend those in the industry committed to reform and punishing horse abusers. We have implemented the most aggressive safety reforms in the business and we are imposing serious punishments for those who break the rules,” said Stephen Mullins, President SHOW HIO. “We are making real progress and we will not stop until we rid the sport of all the bad apples that cheat and harm horses.”
This year’s Celebration had the most stringent inspection process in The Celebration’s history. For the first time ever swabbing results were made public during the event and violations were punished severely by suspending trainers’ licenses, disqualifying horses, removing ribbons, trophies and prize monies.  The immediate and harsh punishments imposed by the industry are another example of how serious the industry is about reform and ridding the sport of anyone who abuses horses.

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