SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, working closely with the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, has developed new timeout policies for the world championship show that will shorten the program while remaining fair for exhibitors.

In addition, new guidelines for class workouts will be implemented.

Following the 2003 show, Celebration officials received considerable feedback from fans, exhibitors, trainers and owners that performances were lasting too long, particularly in the evenings.

After researching every class, it was found that 79 timeouts were called during the 2003 Celebration for a total of 6 hours, 4 minutes and 25 seconds. Timeouts called were heavier on preliminary class nights than on the three traditional championship nights.

Breakdowns of timeouts found that 23 were called for tail braces, 22 for thrown shoes, 6 for breast straps, 6 for action devices, 6 for stirrups, 4 for broken bands, 4 for broken bridles and 9 for various other equipment problems.

“It’s not realistic to think we can go through a show with 185 classes and over 5,000 entries and not have any timeouts,” said Celebration CEO Ron Thomas. “We know there will be equipment failures. We wanted to find ways to streamline the process and still keep the integrity of the show and the safety and health of the horses paramount.”

The joint effort between the WHTA and The Celebration has produced the following guidelines to be used at the 2004 Spring Fun Show and Celebration.

Timeout Duration – Timeouts will now be limited to 6:00 (excluding thrown shoes). In the past, exhibitors could have two timeouts totaling 10:00. That has been reduced, except in the case of thrown shoes.

Thrown Shoes – Exhibitors in preliminary classes will have the option of replacing thrown shoes under previous timeout rules (10:00 duration) or be excused with the understanding that the excused entry has qualified for championship competition.

Lost Action Devices – Lost action devices will now be replaced with action devices available from the show farrier in center ring, eliminating timely searches for the lost device.

Equipment Breakage – The Celebration will now have an inventory of certain key pieces of tack available in center ring to replace broken equipment (breast straps, girths, stirrups, etc.). This should shorten the timely process of acquiring replacement tack.

Class Workouts – In preliminary competition, classes of 24 or fewer will be tied. Judges will have the option of small workouts to determine a class winner.

“The new thrown shoe rule is of particular importance to all parties involved,” said WHTA President David Landrum. “While the Celebration farrier does a great job, being able to spend the necessary time to correctly replace a shoe without time constraints and still qualify for championships allows us to make sure our horses are safe and healthy.”

Landrum also indicated that he felt all of the additions were positive and should expedite the horse show.

Both groups feel the new “workout” guidelines will be positive.

“Our judging panels do a great job to make sure each entry is judged fairly,” said Thomas. “This directive gives them a little clearer roadmap which should also help move things along.”

“Working together (with the trainers) to make our show even better is very gratifying,” Thomas continued. “It’s in the best interest of all of us to keep things streamlined and continue to improve what we already believe is the World’s Greatest Horse Show.”

The 66th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is slated for August 25-September 4 while the 34th annual Spring Fun Show will be held May 27-29.