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Celebration Show Managers Report


by Ron Thomas


Each year we make significant improvements in the number of time-outs required. Credit continues to go to the trainers and grooms for preparing horses in a much more professional, thorough manner before sending them to the ring. We are most grateful for that. Here are time-out summaries for the past five 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

·         2007 - 39 time-outs 1 hour and 1 minute

Length of Show:

The length of time in the ring has pretty well leveled out at approximately 60 hours for 15 sessions, which is about 4 hours per session. We can live with this. The evening performances that start at 7:00 p.m. that are over by about 11:00 p.m. are very adequate. These are the summaries for the past four 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

·         2007 - 15 Sessions 60 hours and 0 minutes

Thrown Shoes:

I continue to be very appreciative of the wonderful job done in this area. Careful attention to resetting just prior to the Celebration, to checking bands, etc., prior to the class is so important in this area. The trainers and grooms are performing extremely well in this regard. The breakdown of the past four years is:

·         2004 - 18 thrown 10 replaced

·         2005-  9 thrown 3 replaced

·         2006 - 18 thrown 6 replaced

·         2007 - 15 thrown 4 replaced

Remember this:

·         1995 - 46 thrown 31 replaced


On balance the judging was very good at the 2007 Celebration. There did seem to be some significant differences in opinion, but the horses leaving the ring seemed to be leaving with the right ribbon.

Horses seemed to be more competitive and harder to place in the show ring every year. More good horses come through the gate. More horses that are similar in gait. The judging difficulty increases every year, in my opinion. I’m very impressed with the judging panel that stands on the edge of the track and tabulates numbers in 166 classes in ten days. It is a real marathon, and the 2007 panel worked very diligently in the right frame of mind in terms of placing the horses where they should go. I was proud of them.


After the 2006 Celebration we were prepared that our attendance would be down. We were right. I’m hopeful that after the success of this 69th Celebration we have a wonderful base from which to work to regain our crowd support. To those who attended this year we say a sincere and genuine thank you. To those who did not attend we invite you back. The product placed in the ring this year by the trainers was wonderful. It was exciting and well received. We want more people to see that.

Actual Paid

2006 - 157,460 230,246

2007 - 141,573 216,253

Number of Horses:

It was rewarding this year to see that 66% of the horses that entered actually came to the show ring. This figure is an improvement over the 60% that showed in 2006. At the 2006 Celebration judges excused 2 horses for bad image. At the 2007 Celebration there were 17 excused for bad image. We are most appreciative of the fine job by our judging panel to eliminate horses, in their opinion, that should not be in the show ring. It is a difficult call. It certainly is not easy. It takes a real commitment to getting the job done right and a lot of courage to excuse horses once they enter the show ring. I applaud the 2007 judging panel.

Entered Showed % Showed

2006 -  4,981 2,975 - 60%

2007 - 4,744 3,122 - 66%


The National Horse Show Commission DQP’s did a very solid and professional job of “holding the line” on horses that should not pass, yet at the same time rewarding the horses that should be in the show ring. The overall success of the horse show definitely starts in Inspection, and we know that. We thank the DQP’s for a wonderful job and congratulate them for working so well with USDA to ensure that the right horses were in the show ring.

We are proud of our working relationship with the USDA and appreciate their advice and support in implementing many of the changes at this year’s show. Dr. Chester Gipson has met and worked closely with us all year and we are most appreciative. Undersecretary Burton Eller likewise worked with us on our plans for this year and his support was most helpful.

Dr. Gipson attended the entire show and his staff of VMO’s and support personnel were very thorough in working with the DQP’s to help protect our horse and make certain that only compliant horses participated.


Any Celebration blue ribbon is special. I am of the opinion that it doesn’t matter if it is the first one or your tenth one. Each one is special. This year I remember with a smile blue ribbon wins by Jean O’Brien, Suzy Johnson, Buddy Stasney, Billy Young’s Three Year Old Championship, and the wonderful amateur blue ribbon ride for Paul Livingston. These are moments that we admire in center ring.


There were many “high moments” in the 2007 Celebration. A few include:

·         Attitude in Inspection

·         Cooperation between NHSC and USDA

·         Drop the Hammer’s numerous wins

·         Balanced media coverage

·         Trainer of the Year, Charlie Green

·         Thirteen entries in the final class

·         Trainers accepting new guidelines and regulations in a positive way

·         Excitement of the crowd on the final three nights


We appreciate the relationship we built with the Association of Equine Practitioners in 2007. This professional organization offered their assistance to our industry, and we thank them for their interest in our great breed. Dr. Doug Corey, President of AAEP, and Dave Foley (and his wife), Executive Director of AAEP, attended our championship show. They were very complimentary of our event, of the attitude and atmosphere, and of the thoroughness of the pre-show inspection process. We look forward to continuing a positive relationship with this organization.


Our sincere thanks to the Walking Horse Trainers Association for the acceptance of our new measures and guidelines that were instituted to do a better job of protecting our horse and promoting the image of its national showcase. Some of the measures were a little frustrating and time consuming, but overall we feel they sent the right message and will continue to protect the horse.

We drug tested 30 horses. These results will be made public soon and we will have a set of guidelines for future years. We pulled shoes on champion Flat Shod winners. No over weight shoes were discovered. We issued a statement that no syringes were to be used on the grounds except by licensed veterinarians. We are not aware of any issues where this was violated. DQP’ and VMO’s on several evenings prior to the show went through the barn area looking for potential problems in an effort to further protect our horse. On many occasions change is not accepted well. We knew there would be some reluctance as these new measures were instituted and the trainers responded in an extremely favorable way. We thank them.


We were unexpectedly hit with terrible weather on the first Friday night. We ultimately had to stop the show and reschedule six classes. Some in attendance felt that we should have stopped the show sooner. If we made a mistake, we sincerely apologize. While no unfortunate issues developed, we always put the health and well being of our exhibitors and horses as a top priority. During the winter months we will develop a policy for stopping the show if unsafe conditions exist. We are presently reviewing policies of other venues to try and develop the most appropriate plan.

Items for 2008:

Earlier in this summary I mentioned that we had some very positive things to use as a springboard for next year. We are delighted that the plans for next year already are well underway and look extremely positive. We need to continue to put classes in the show ring that people want to see. We need to make them exciting. We need to get people on their feet and cheering as they did on the final nights.

We must continue to work to get our elected officials to return to The Celebration® and want to be a part of our blue ribbon presentation. This was woefully lacking in 2007. We need to earn their respect and trust again and assure them that when they come here they can hold their head high and know they have come to a professional event that makes every effort to protect our show horse.

All stalls and box seats were not rented this year…558 stalls and 137 boxes. This amounts to lost revenue of approximately $195,000.00. We spent, over budget, about $50,000.00 for additional security, changes in the Inspection area, drug testing and polygraph expenses.

Any financial loss for us restricts the many things we try to do to improve and upgrade our facility and to market and promote our breed. We are most grateful for our loyal fans who attend this show to see champions crowned each year. We pledge a complete effort to try and encourage everyone to return each year.

It was wonderful to be able to see and feel the excitement of the world championship class when Chip Walters announced that 13 horses were competing for championship honors. The attitude in the arena was great. We will build on that and make 2008, our 70th consecutive Celebration, our best ever.



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