Skip to content

Help them walk on: Support the Celebration

reposted from the Times Gazette
written by Sadie Fowler

I don't know if it's because I have a child who's getting old enough to enjoy the horse show in small bits and pieces, or if it's because the weight of the world seems to be lying on the walking horse industry's shoulders -- or maybe both -- but I'm feeling especially drawn to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration this year.

In the weeks leading up to the show, as much work as there is to be done, I enjoy seeing regular faces from out of state come to town, preparing to show their horses. I've enjoyed getting to know some of these folks over the years, and the excitement they feel as the show draws near each year is contagious.

Equally, visits to the horse show grounds leading up to the show (and during it) -- the sight of friendly faces in the Celebration office, the scent of the donuts as a hot and fresh batch is delivered to the newsroom, the sound of morning announcer Mark Farrar enthusiastically calling winners' names while I'm walking around the barn area -- are all welcome parts of the year in my book.

Years of controversy surrounding allegations of abuse, the good trainers vs. the bad apples, and the outright battle between the industry and humane organizations alleging abuse have taken their toll on this industry.

Anyone who thinks The Celebration is not facing seriously troubled times is simply not tuning in to reality. And anyone who feels these troubles won't affect you, your family or your business might want to think again.

As a once "horse crazy" little girl who moved to this area because of horses, I have come to know many people connected with the industry over the years. These are good people, and for this reason, I choose to believe -- I trust -- that industry reform has taken place. And there are many qualified people from within that continue to fight for reform every day.

Let me share with you words recently shared to me by a friend, and horse show exhibitor, who traveled from many miles away to attend this year's show. In speaking about the state of the industry, this prominent owner/exhibitor said, "If I thought for one minute that my horses were being abused I would pull them out of that barn so fast it would make your head spin."

The next day, I saw young exhibitor Allison Thorson make three victory passes on horses she trains herself. She wins all the time. I can assure you she is not abusing her horses.

Yesterday, I heard of a young boy who has heart issues living out his dream as he showed in the Big Oval. In Wednesday's Times-Gazette, we shared memories of an 87-year-old man who got to ride the legendary Strolling Jim two weeks before he won the first World Grand Championship in 1939.

These are the stories that matter right now, and everyone in town should be talking about them.

But they're not. Why? Because there is a disconnect between our community and the horse industry that is doing nothing but damage to all parties involved.

Is The Celebration perfect? No. Could they perhaps be doing more to engage the local community with components to the show such as a kids zone, pony rides, entertainment, meets and greets? Yes. Are they trying to get to that point? I do believe so.

Resources are an issue for The Celebration right now, and although the event might not be perfect, the show is still a very enjoyable family night out. Trust me, I took my 3-year-old Tuesday night and she had a blast watching the horses "run" around the ring, the "princesses" pass out ribbons, and the endless (and inexpensive) supply of junk food like fried Oreos, donuts, and ice cream she got to indulge in.

Bottom line: Everyone needs each other right now. The horse show, for the economic factors alone, is vitally important to our community -- the community where our children attend schools, enjoy sports, bands, civic clubs (all things directly affected by the show). But beyond that, it's just cool. What other small town can you think of that has sustained an event such as the Celebration for 75 years?

Have you forgotten? Do you disagree?

If so, I ask you to give it one more try. Take the family out this weekend and help our show walk on.

-- Sadie Fowler is the editor of the Times-Gazette and may be reached at

More Stories

  • KY-HIO new penalty structure and drop in fees

    The Kentucky HIO realizes that civic organizes that put on horse shows sometimes have difficulties raising money to keep their shows afloat. Therefore, we will offer a refund of $2.00 per horse instead of the $1.00 refund we did last year. Read More
  • KWHA Ladies Auxiliary elects 2018 officers

    The Kentucky Walking Horse Association Ladies Auxiliary held they annual meeting at the Four Points By Sheraton in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday Jan. 13. The annual meeting consists of all new member joining on that day to kick off the new year... Read More
  • 2018 KWHA Board Of Directors & Officers

    The Kentucky Walking Horse Association held their annual general membership meeting on Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky... Read More
  • Obituary - Martin Galen Brumbaugh

    Martin Galen Brumbaugh, 84, of Hickory, North Carolina passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at his residence. Read More
  • KWHA recognizes Carmichael

    Read More
  • TWHBEA expands budget goals on breeding of 2017

    TWHBEA, the breed registry and oldest association in existence for the Tennessee Walking Horse sees light in the future horizons. Expanding the budgetary goals of the association is a bold step forward in 2018... Read More
  • WHTA Newsletter

    Happy New Year! 2018 will be a very special year for the Walking Horse Trainers Association. We will celebrate our 50th Anniversary for our Association and our National Trainers Show. Working together will make this a successful year. Read More
  • KWHA Banquet and Meetings will go on

    The KWHA Banquet and Membership Meetings will still go on this weekend despite weather. The hotel has agreed to block off additional rooms at the same rate to those who wish to stay upon arrival... Read More
  • ThorSport Hosts American Farm Bureau Tours

    ThorSport Farm of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, hosted four tours for the American Farm Bureau Convention. The convention was held in Nashville and featured speakers such as United States President Donald Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue. Four tours were held at ThorSport farm on Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 with 220 viewing the facility... Read More
  • Beverly Lamp and Justus Carter Marriage

    Beverly Lamp and Justus “Bub” Carter, both of Bell Buckle, were united in marriage on the evening of December 31, 2017, at Justus Carter Training Facility in Bell Buckle... Read More