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An Editorial By David L. Howard

Copyright 2006 WHR

When rumors don't square with the facts, throw out the rumors.

It is always risky to respond to rumors but there seems to be some confusion about the Walking Horse Trainers' Association designation of the Walking Horse Report as their official publication, and it is time to set the record straight.

Several of our staff members have had to respond to untrue statements about our company and its employees and we would like to address these comments directly and clear the air.

First of all, the Walking Horse Report is very proud of our 35 year relationship with the Trainers' Association. We were there the day it was founded and helped the first President, Vic Thompson, draw up the necessary documents. That relationship has remained strong throughout some challenging times for the Association and the industry.

Last year the Trainers' Association approached The Report and asked us to join them in a partnership on the Riders Cup program. This program was a follow-up to the old Mascup Program which had been abandoned after being poorly managed.

We agreed to assume responsibility for the program, design the necessary software and computer programs and hire an individual to input the results, tabulate the points and handle the day to day administration. The overall cost amounted to approximately $45,000 and was funded totally by The Report.

In appreciation, the Trainers' Association named The Report the Official Publication of the Walking Horse Trainers' Association and granted us exclusive rights to pass out our publication at their show and convention along with being the exclusive source of the official standings for the Riders Cup.

It is important to remember that the Trainers' Association, not The Report, controls the designation of Official Publication and makes the rules governing its activities. The Trainers certainly asked for input in designing the program but the final decisions and rules are written and enforced by the Trainers' Association and we must live within those rules or lose that designation.

Unfortunately several of our competitors did not follow the rules last year and the Trainers' Association had to call them to task to stop these violations. Midway through the 2005 show season everything seemed to be back in order but at the Trainers' Convention in December the rules were again deliberately violated. This year when the Trainers' Association wanted to continue the relationship with The Report, it was mutually agreed that the rules and regulations for the “Official Publication” needed to be in writing and enforceable so as to avoid a repeat of the violations of 2005.

The Report met several times with Association representatives during January and February but with the challenges brought on by the withdrawal of the TWHBEA from the Commission, the Trainers were unable to finalize the program guidelines.

The Association then requested that The Report send them a confidential letter in the form of a request that outlined how other sponsorship programs are designed. They further requested that we meet with the full board and go over the letter before finalizing the program for 2006. The Report was invited to the February Board meeting and we sent the requested document.

Unfortunately, the Association did not have a quorum and we were told that the matter would have to be addressed at a later time. The letter from The Report was distributed to those who did show up, for their private consideration prior to the next meeting, when it would be discussed and finalized.

Regrettably, and in violation of their ethical responsibilities, a Board member sent the letter to our competitors and they began using it to say The Report was making demands of the Trainers' Association, including prohibiting them from being able to sell advertising at the Trainers' Show. They knew full well that the letter in question was a privileged communication between The Report and the Trainers' Association and that no demands had been made nor had the Trainers made any such decision.

Subsequently, all publications, including The Report, were invited to appear before the Trainers' Board the day before their show and were informed of the rules governing the Trainers' Show. The Trainers' voted to continue to prohibit other publications from distributing their publications at the show, exactly as they did in 2005.

For the record, there were no changes made to the policies the Trainers' Association established last year and those spreading these false rumors know better. All publications were allowed to take pictures and sell advertising and anyone making statements to the contrary is simply not telling the truth.

In order to avoid this kind of false information and rumors being spread, we have requested and the Trainers have agreed, to provide us with a letter outlining what the designation “Official Publication” means and to make it public.

As stated earlier, the Report and Trainers' Association have a long history and working relationship. We have traveled arm in arm to Washington, D. C. on countless occasions and The Report has been the leading donor and fund raiser for our elected representatives at both the state and Federal level.

During the many industry splits The Report has consistently stood with the Trainers' Association and made sure their position was publicly known despite the fact that the Association had no means of communication of their own.

And our financial support of the Trainers' is second to none. We have provided all of the Association's advertising free of charge since our founding and, through our sister company World Champion Horse Equipment, have donated thousands of dollars in blankets, saddles and horse equipment to their shows and auctions. We have donated over $210,000 during our 35 years of participation in the industry.

Yes, we are proud of our relationship with the Trainers' Association; Yes, we are proud of our record of support; Yes, we are proud to be their Official Publication and do not take this privilege lightly and, most importantly, we recognize and appreciate all that the Association and their individual members have done to make the Walking Horse Report the publication it is today.

We regret the necessity to address these rumors when the industry faces so many other truly significant challenges but a lie unchallenged becomes the truth. The most powerful negative force in the horse industry is rumor and gossip and it must be challenged and the people responsible for it exposed.

We learned a long time ago that you can't keep people from making untrue comments about you, but you can keep them from being right. The Report intends to continue its support of the Trainers' Association and looks forward to being the Official Publication of The Walking Horse Trainers' Association.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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