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Friday Evening Celebration Performance Postponed

Copyright 2006

By Christy Howard Parsons

Celebration Chairman John T. Bobo announced at 8:45 p.m. this evening, that the remaining classes from the Friday evening performance were being postponed, to be rescheduled at a time to be announced later. He reinforced that tomorrow morning's slate of classes would be held as scheduled in Calsonic Arena at 9:00 a.m.

The United States Department of Agriculture Veterinary Medical Officers, accompanied by Dr. Todd Behre, were present on the grounds on Thursday evening observing the National Horse Show Commission's Designated Qualified Persons' inspection process. Tonight, the VMOs were aggressively inspecting horses after those horses had been inspected by the DQPs.

Conflict arose on a number of horses which were inspected and not allowed to show and Walking Horse Trainers Association officials and Celebration officials met with Dr. Behre to attempt to resolve the conflict. Initial discussions were between Celebration Board members John T. Bobo, Charles McDonald and David Howard and WHTA Board Members David Landrum, Allan Callaway, Benny Johnson, Jimmy McConnell and Billy Gray and NHSC Director of Horse Protection Lonnie Messick and the USDA's Dr. Todd Behre.

Subsequently all WHTA Board Members were called into these discussions. With a great deal of pressure from the professional trainers in the inspection area, the WHTA officials asked the Celebration to delay the horse show after class 47, in an attempt to continue to resolve the conflict.

As the discussions continued, the USDA VMOs left the show grounds while the conflicts were further reviewed.

Discussions yielded a proposed solution which was for industry representatives to photograph each horse as they were inspected by the NHSC to be examined by the USDA VMOs at a later time and USDA VMOs would remain absent for the remaining classes of Friday's evening performance to let tensions cool. This proposed solution was presented to the hundreds of trainers and exhibitors who were standing inside the warm up ring in Calsonic Arena by David Landrum, Mack Motes, Mickey McCormick, Link Webb, Benny Johnson and other members of the WHTA Board as well as Celebration officials Charles McDonald and David Howard. David Landrum and Link Webb both encouraged trainers to show the remainder of the evening under this proposal.

The proposal was met with displeasure from many trainers and arguments erupted between WHTA Board members and trainers. The WHTA Board reconvened the members of the audience with professional trainers licenses in the main show arena where a microphone was brought in to more clearly address the situation. Arguments continued between the trainers on either side of the issue as the show continued to be delayed.

As it became apparent that the matter was not going to be resolved in a timely manner, the decision was made to postpone the remainder of the performance and Celebration Chairman John T. Bobo made the announcement over the microphone.

Celebration officials are continuing to meet at this hour in hopes of bringing this issue to a resolution.

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