(The Walking Horse Report received this news release from the Walking Horse Advocates)

Owners and Trainers Vote to Remove Themselves from Policy-Making Decisions in Favor of Independent Oversight & Regulation

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (March 24, 2009) – In a historic vote, the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA) agreed with the Walking Horse Trainers Association (WHTA) that the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) should be dissolved and all its duties transferred to the independent horse industry organization (HIO) known as S.H.O.W.

For more than 30 years, NHSC has served as the voice of owners and trainers in the regulation of walking horse competitions, including all judging and inspection policies. The vote by the WHOA board of directors represents a dramatic change in tradition and direction for the walking horse industry. The decision by WHOA follows a unanimous vote by the WHTA board of directors that the NHSC be disbanded in favor of a purely independent organization, effectively removing owners and trainers from the rule-making process for the industry.

S.H.O.W., which stands for Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections and Winning fairly, will become the implementation vehicle for a plan that was approved by both WHTA and WHOA last fall for an independent governing board to take over the oversight of walking horse competitions. According to the plan, the independent governing board would be comprised of equine veterinarians and an animal humane organization with no ties to the Walking Horse industry.

“After careful consideration, much soul-searching, and a countless number of conference calls, our board decided to follow the Trainers Association’s lead and recommend that the NHSC be dissolved,” explained Frank Neal, president of WHOA. “By removing both the owners and trainers from policymaking, we’re allowing an unbiased party to come in and set the ground rules for what is best for the horses and our industry.”

This is the first time since the Horse Protection Act was passed in 1970 that industry members are removing themselves from all policy-making decisions including enforcement, DQP training, judging, the industry’s rule book, and more.
 “I am certain this was a very difficult decision for the Owners Association, and we are pleased that we are all on the same side in the decision to move all responsibilities from the NHSC to S.H.O.W.,” said Link Webb, president of WHTA. “We are confident this is in the best interest of everyone involved for the Walking Horses and are ready to get the ball rolling.”

S.H.O.W., a USDA-approved HIO, was originally created in 2006 by the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration with the purpose of monitoring its own competition. However, it was discarded, and the Celebration reconnected with the NHSC.

On Monday, March 16, members of the NHSC met in Shelbyville and unanimously voted to dissolve its organization pending the Celebration’s acceptance of the new responsibilities.

That decision was followed by the Celebrations’ unanimous vote on Thursday, March 19, to move forward with activating S.H.O.W. and transferring all responsibilities from NHSC to the HIO. “It is our intention to get S.H.O.W. activated as soon as possible and with the cooperation of the NHSC, WHOA and WHTA that will happen very soon.  We are committed to the showing of sound horses and compliance with the Horse Protection Act,” commented Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows.

WHTA has postponed the annual Trainers Show, which typically serves as the unofficial kickoff of the walking horse show season, while changes to the rule-making process have been up for debate. However, the NHSC has remained in charge of oversight at various other competitions that have taken place so far this year and will continue to do so until the transition is complete.

For regular updates, or for more information on Walking Horse Advocates, please visit www.walkinghorseadvocates.com.

Contact: Virginia Tharpe
Gish, Sherwood & Friends