68th Celebration Summary from Show Manager:




            We are grateful to the trainers for such a fine job in eliminating the amount of time that is taken for various time-outs.  Although the number of time-outs increased this year, the amount of time decreased.  Careful planning by the trainers as they prepare for the show ring is the main reason that we show improvement here.  Below are time-out summaries for the last four years:


·         2003    79 time-outs                 6 hours and 4 minutes

·         2004    42 time-outs                 2 hours and 46 minutes

·         2005    39 time-outs                 2 hours and 45 minutes

·         2006    55 time-outs                 1 hour and 33 minutes


Length of Show:


            The amount of time in the show ring also decreased, and part of that is due to the subject mentioned above.  This year our performance was under 60 hours, and below is a summary of the past three years:


·         2004    15 Sessions                   65 hours and 28 minutes

·         2005    15 Sessions                   64 hours and 45 minutes

·         2006    15 Sessions                   59 hours and 18 minutes


Thrown Shoes:


            We are proud of a fine job in this area.  Although the number thrown, and the number replaced, were double the 2005 show we are still pleased in this regard.  It is most distracting for both exhibitors and judges when a thrown shoe causes a delay in the performance.  Below is a breakdown of the last three years, and a gentle reminder of how it was in 1995:


·         2004    18 thrown         10 replaced

·         2005    9 thrown           3 replaced

·         2006    18 thrown         6 replaced


Remember this:


·         1995     46 thrown         31 replaced


Lite Shod and Trail Pleasure Shoes:


            At the 2006 show there were four occasions where shoe weight was found to be in excess of the allowable weight.  Two of the shoes weighed were almost double the allowable weight of two pounds.  The Celebrationsm continues to advocate that penalties need to be much more severe in this area.  People are showing in world championship classes at The Celebrationsm with over-weight shoes that are unacceptable.  The only way this can be resolved is to make the penalty of an over-weight shoe be such that people will not be willing to gamble.  We urge the National Horse Show Commission to review this for the sake of our exhibitors who are playing by the rules and doing it the right way. 




            We were delighted with the judging at the 2006 Celebration.   It is wonderful to work with a judging panel that is very sincere and dedicated to “getting it right”.  I certainly felt this from the 2006 panel.  We were very proud of them.


As a show manager it is frustrating to hear people in our industry say that “the same

people win all that time”.  Many of the people to whom they refer do win regularly because they buy the best horses and put them with the best trainers.


            This year it was rewarding to see people win blue ribbons who were so excited about their performance.  I’m confident that every blue ribbon winner was happy but I especially remember the excitement on the faces of people like Carolyn Joseph, Kay Adcock, Brett Jones, Kathy Zeis, Brent Grider, George-Ann Pratt, etc.




            May I share with you what I wrote after the 2005 Celebration? This is the exact wording from my summary of the 67th Celebration.  “There is a great deal of work that must be done in these fall and winter months regarding horses going to inspection.  There needs to be a diligent effort to present horses that are sound and in compliance, and we also need a good, clear understanding from the USDA as to scar rule interpretation.  These two things must happen.  The Celebrationsm will take a firm stand on both of these issues in the coming months.  We believe that a unified effort on our behalf will encourage USDA to work with us regarding the interpretation of the scar rule.  We are dedicated to making the inspection process go smoother at all shows—not just at The Celebrationsm”.                                              


            Does that not still seem appropriate?  Obviously, our industry still has a lot of work to do with regards to the interpretation of the scar rule.  Therefore, it remains an item on the front burner, and it must be resolved.  Owners, trainers, and spectators are frustrated and disappointed at the low number of horses that compete when there are interpretive issues, and we are aware that many efforts are being made to solve this long-standing problem.  It is a difficult task, but it must be resolved.


Postponed Sessions:


            It was so disappointing on the first Friday night and the first Saturday morning that both sessions were postponed and had to be rescheduled.  There were actually two youth classes on the first Friday night, but the remainder of that session was postponed.  The leadership of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, specifically its Board of Directors, did a wonderful job of encouraging people in the inspection area to continue to show horses.  This, for the most part, fell on deaf ears.  I applaud the Board of Directors of the Trainers’ Association for their hard work in encouraging others to show.  I understand why many in attendance did not want to show due to the interpretive issues with the USDA.  Once the show was postponed that night it was obvious to show management that many negatives and unkind remarks would be forthcoming from the media.  We had an onslaught of negative coverage that continues to this day.  We were able to reschedule all of the classes involved and they were held throughout the remainder of the show.  We are most appreciative of everyone involved working with us as we had to rearrange a number of class schedules in order to accomplish our goal of completing the sessions. 


The Final Class:


            The industry is saddened that we do not have a 2006 champion, but I assure you that no one is more disappointed than The Celebrationsm staff and The Celebrationsm Board of Directors.  Unmanageable crowds, threats of violence, and unsavory people and attitudes cause for many problems at any event where large numbers of people are involved.  Our show had already been stopped on two occasions.  The Celebrationsm had been forced into making several quick decisions in very heated moments regarding the 68th annual World Championship Show.  As the events unfolded in that final class there were a number of issues that indicated that either all horses were coming, or none were coming.  The Celebrationsm did its very best to verify whether or not this was true.  No one will ever know what exactly happened, but I do know that the conditions in inspection were certainly not good.  Had the three horses that passed inspection been able to get into the ring no one will ever know what might have happened when they tried to exit the ring.  The atmosphere surrounding inspection late that Saturday night was very hostile.  We will always regret the fact that our final class was not held.  That is history and we must now learn from it and move forward.  We must take an unfortunate incident and turn it into a positive regarding the interpretation of the inspection process concerning the scar rule.  This must be resolved, and we cannot move into another show season without a complete understanding with USDA regarding this issue.




            Although many questions persist regarding the 2006 Celebration there are several that continue to surface.  Let’s look at them: 


            #1  Why was the show postponed on Friday night and Saturday morning?


            Answer:  The show was stopped on those two occasions because the trainers would not take horses to inspection.  They indicated until the interpretive issues over the scar rule were more clearly understood that they were not going to attempt to show.  Show Management had no alternative at that point except to reschedule the two sessions involved.  Therefore, as to why the show was stopped, it was simply because the trainers were not willing to take their horses to inspection.


            #2  Why weren’t the Pleasure Classes and Youth Classes allowed to be held on the first Saturday morning?


            Answer:  The angry and agitated mob of people in The Celebrationsm Plaza that morning had convinced the leadership of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association that there would be many ugly, nasty scenes if the show were to go on prior to them reaching some resolve over the inspection process.  We were asked by leadership of the trainers to postpone the Saturday morning session until these things could continue to be addressed.  Later that day the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association held a meeting at their office in Shelbyville to determine what would be done that night.


#3  Do we know which trainers, or group of trainers, actually stopped the show?


            Answer:  The Celebrationsm is making every effort to determine which group of people were responsible for the show being stopped.  Our main concern in trying to determine the group involved so that we can find a way to ensure that it does not occur again.  As previously mentioned, the Board of Directors of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association did a wonderful job of encouraging their members to show.  Others in the trainers association came forward and encouraged people to show.  There was merely a ground swell of support by many individuals that overwhelmed these requests to show horses.  Our intent in trying to determine who they were is so that we can find ways to lead these people in the right direction if issues like this happen again. 


#4  Why were so many people in inspection?


            Answer:  Each year we address the issue of who is allowed in inspection, and how do we determine who should be there.  This is an extremely difficult issue to resolve.  We are already making plans to restrict even more people that will be in the inspection area beginning with the 2007 Celebration.  Once the issue became so heated on the first Friday night it seems that many people gained entry to inspection by coming through two of the back doors before they could be properly guarded.  By that time the crowd was extremely large and boisterous.  We are optimistic that the plans we have in place for next year will give us better control of the people in inspection.


            #5  How bad was the scene in inspection surrounding the final class of the 68th annual Celebration?


            Answer:  I was in center ring managing the horse show; therefore, I did not personally see the issues unfold in the inspection area.  Three Celebration Board members were present as were various other trainers and industry leaders.  My information regarding the scene in inspection came from Charles McDonald.  He is trained as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Bedford County, he understands riot control and crowd problems, he is very competent with the issues regarding unruly people, and I trust his judgment.  He informed me that although the crowd was not as large as the previous Friday night it was extremely unruly, people were agitated, and that there was much yelling and screaming regarding the final class.  He was being told that either all of the horses would show or none would show.  The decision had already been made that the five horses that did not qualify for the class were not going to be allowed to show.  We would have welcomed the remaining three.  Much confusion comes over the issue as to whether or not they were willing to show.  Charles indicated to me that because of the crowd issues that there was no way he could get to the three people to discuss the importance of them coming down the chute because State Troopers were escorting various officials out of the Inspection area. 


            #6 Who actually stopped the show?


            When informed by Charles McDonald that either all horses are coming, or no horses were coming, there was no decision to be made.  The five horses that did not pass inspection were certainly not going to be allowed to compete; therefore, we were under the impression that the other three were not showing.  Much like the first Friday night, when told that no horses were coming there was simply no show left to be held.


2007 Show:


            Plans are well underway for our 69th Celebration, and we look forward to a wonderful event.  If issues mentioned above are resolved the future of our horse is extremely bright.  We have a wonderful animal that underwent a most rigorous inspection process at the 2006 show.  Over 92% of the horses were allowed to compete.  It will be extremely rewarding if we can increase that number substantially with the 2007 show.  The Celebrationsm continues its effort to crown World Grand Championssm and make The Celebrationsm a showcase that everyone in our industry can be extremely proud of as we endeavor to present our horse to a national audience.