My husband and I are small-time breeders and thoroughly enjoy the Walking Horse Industry and attending the Celebration each year. We have watched as the industry has made great strides in the areas of presenting sound horses and improving our appearance as far as the excellent grooming of horses and riders. We like to encourage others to try Walking Horses and attend the shows. I believe we have to be constantly aware of the image we are presenting and increase our numbers in order to grow and compete with other breeds.

Almost every time we show pictures, etc., of performance horse to “outsiders” of the industry, we get negative reactions to two things: chains and the poor posture of some of our riders. I realize action devices are necessary and explain that the horses are thoroughly inspected for tenderness and if there’s any indication at all, severe penalties are levied. This usually satisfies their concerns. But for the life of me, I cannot come up with an excuse for the deplorable posture of some of our riders. When you see the absolutely excellent riding skills exhibited by riders of other breeds such as freezians and lipizzaners, how can you justify someone slumping their shoulders and sticking their chin out like a turtle? Whatever happened to “sit up straight”?

Thank goodness we have some excellent exhibitors, both professional and amateur, and youth like Lindsey Landrum and Sara Womack who are setting such excellent examples. But one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel and this is what happens when we try to introduce someone to our breed. We certainly go to extremes to avoid “bad image” from the horses, but we may be “swallowing a camel” by ignoring the bad image these riders are causing. It could easily be eliminated by extending “bad image” to include the exhibitor. This would stop it immediately and our breed would be much the better for it.

If anyone else agrees with me, please write a letter to the editor or express your opinion to our industry leaders.

Thank you.

Wanda Perkins
2467 Lone Valley Road
Campbellsville, KY 42718
Phone: (270) 465-8571