by Linda Scrivner
JACKSON, Miss. – The 79th rendition of the Mississippi Charity Horse Show is one that will be long remembered. Held April 9-11, at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson, the few who took a walk in the Big House were judged this year by Gene “Smokey” Carswell, Newton Parks and Jeff Willis.
Normally the classes are loaded with quality horses, many of them current, former and future world champions. This year numbers were down even before the show began because of uncertainty with the new inspections implemented during the 2009 show season.
The USDA showed up on Thursday and stayed all three nights. Upon their arrival, the USDA walked the stall area and setup their thermography stations in inspection. The USDA contingency consisted of 16 persons, five VMOs, four animal care assistants to assist with inspections, four investigators and three security personnel.
“We gauged the number of people to have on last year’s entries at Jackson as well as we knew with the new inspection protocol we needed to have plenty of people to keep inspection moving,” said Dr. Rachel Cezar, Horse Protection Coordinator with the USDA.  This included having two thermography stations.  Dr. Cezar sent home five of the USDA personnel on Saturday because of the light entry numbers at the show.
The new inspection protocol was in place and thermographic images were taken of each horse as it entered inspection. Horses were given the opportunity to either return to the barn or continue through inspection if given a “not normal” thermography reading. According to Dr. Cezar if a horses tests “not normal” on thermography it does not guarantee that horse will be swabbed but it does guarantee that a VMO will check the horse behind the DQP if the DQP has not already issued a ticket.
Thirty-one of the 66 classes had no horses. Many trainers and exhibitors chose not to subject their horses to the grueling inspections. Twenty horses entered the ring Thursday, 19 on Friday and 20 on Saturday evening. The crowd cheered wildly for the horses that came through the inspections and performed for the crowd. The enormous talent of the Tennessee Walking Horse was evident even though the inspection process was long and tenuous. Numbers were down but the audience returned all three nights to see the riders and their mounts perform, many in solo exhibitions.
There were no violations or tickets written Saturday evening and the 20 horses that showed went through the thorough inspections without a hitch. For the weekend there were eight tickets issued by SHOW DQPs for a total of 12 violations, one of which was as a result of a horse being unruly.  “In regard to the specific breakdown of violations, there were five scar rule violations, five unilateral sore violations, one foreign substance violation and one unruly violation.  In addition, one of the violations from April 9, 2009 was a post-show scar rule violation,” said Messick.
He continued, “I was very satisfied about the manner in which the SHOW HIO inspection process was conducted by the SHOW HIO DQPs.  There was a positive working relationship that existed between SHOW HIO DQPs and USDA personnel.”
There was a total of six cases referred for conflict resolution during the show.  Of the six cases, five of those cases were initiated April 9, 2009 and in those instances the DQP issued a ticket in two of those cases.  The remaining case that was referred for conflict resolution occurred April 10, 2009 according to Messick.
World Grand Champion The Golden Sovereign and David Landrum made two flawless shows, first in the Aged Stallions class on Thursday evening and then on Saturday in the Grand Championship. Many commented on the beautiful stallion with his excellent gaits and flaxen mane and tail.
All of the horses that entered the ring did a good job presenting the positive image of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The Mississippi Charity Show is also known for southern hospitality that is second to none. Each morning there were breakfast buffets in center ring with everyone chatting and watching their friends and competitors ride horses in their early morning workouts while they ate. Bluff Springs Farm, Contender Farms, Master Of Jazz and Morrison Stables sponsored these breakfasts.
Following the show Thursday night, Jimmy and Carol Lackey sponsored a Mexican Fiesta and margaritas. Friday night, everyone enjoyed barbecue provide by M.T. Anderson and Ernie and Melissa Fortenberry. A crawfish lunch on Saturday concluded the show’s well-known hospitality. It was sponsored by Robert and Denise Taylor.
On Saturday morning there was an auction that benefited the show and its charity, the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children When the bidding was complete, $12,500 had been raised to help support this show and to help with the expenses since entries were down.
The blue ribbon tally at Jackson was won by David Landrum Stables with 10 blues. Watts’s Pioneer Stables claimed eight Jackson blues while Edgar Abernathy Stables and Southern Serenity Ranch claimed four blues each. Dual blues were won by Ray Miller and Peebles Stables.