Skip to content

Letter to the Editor from David Shaw



Letter to the Editor

January 19, 2011


Let Them Walk On

The New Year has begun. 2011 ushers in new opportunities for progress, perseverance, and promotion. A 35-year member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors Association, I for one anticipate huge strides in taking the walking horse to new and exciting levels!

Thirty-five years is quite a long time, but there are many more who have been actively involved in the walking horse world longer than me. Still, I have witnessed disappointments, changes, yet progress through it all. From my vantage point I see three key areas that we must focus on: philosophical, political, and promotion.

To be victorious it is imperative to know what the enemy is thinking! Victors are not second guessers that always rally from behind. Being familiar with some of today’s religious thought, it is most important to understand the philosophy or mindset of the opposition.

Here in the buckle of the Bible belt we often take things for granted and fool ourselves thinking that everyone draws philosophical water from the same well! Not true!!! One of the basic philosophical tenets of those who oppose us is actually founded in Eastern religions such as Hinduism. Animals are sacred and equal to man is their CONVICTION! Eating meat is forbidden because the spirit of grandpa Moses may have resided in that cow! No exceptions are tolerated!

We southerners take a pretty liberal interpretation of the Bible. We hold it to be valid and true; THE guidebook of living and dying. Our philosophy is at the other end of the spectrum! God created all things including humans, animals, and plants, but NOT on an equally valued scale! Man is preeminent for he is created in the image of God with ability to make moral decisions of right and wrong, good and evil! Man is a living soul destined for eternity! Animals or plants were not created with this ability or responsibility so Christ’s death on the cross was to save mankind. God did entrust man with authority over all other creation and holds him accountable for his stewardship. Loving and caring for all God’s creation is foundational in our philosophy.

If we are as committed to our basis of belief as our opponents are, there is no room or need for compromise! Sitting at roundtable discussions with them profit very little! Our goodwill has already kicked us in the backside! When I see our leadership trying to reach out to pacify those who despise our great horse with all its magnificent capability, I see an exercise in futility. We must respect the fact they are free to differ with us, but that does not necessitate surrendering our philosophical foundations or traditions. Yes, we love our walking horse, but we are the master and trainer. We can compete in shows and exhibitions all over the world. We are responsible caregivers! To me, inviting members of Animal Rights proponents into our inner sanctum is only giving them more information and bias used to betray that trust in their inordinate alliance with governmental leaders and media propaganda.

Issues are compounded when government thinking tends to accept some of their erroneous thought radical animal activists are bedfellows with radical environmentalists. As animal rights proponents believe they should mother and protect animals equal to them, so radical environmentalists think man is sole destroyer of our planet and they should save Mother Earth! They would turn back the clock a thousand years if they possessed the power to do so! It becomes clear, then, that when government rules and regulations wed erroneous philosophy that give animals rights equal to that of man, we definitely adhere to vastly different precepts and values!! We MUST boldly and unashamedly stand our ground here, for if we compromise or cave in at this level, we greatly undermine and weaken our solid foundation of truth!

Having said this, it is my conviction that we cooperate and comply with government mandates in every reasonable possible way as together we seek the very best in loving reasonable care in training and showing our beloved Tennessee Walking Horse! It is also our responsibility to elect representatives in both industry and government positions that are committed to sound protection and superb promotion of the most beautiful show horse in all the world! Yes, even the proud high stepping performance horse!

We must continue to believe in and promote the high stepping performance horse! All other ways our multi-talented horse can compete has a rightful place, but I eagerly anticipate watching those proud powerful stake horses enter and compete in the show ring! I still believe that the high dollar performance horse keeps the value of all walking horses at the highest price our economy sustains.

Thirty-five years is enough to witness many methods and ways shortcuts in training were utilized to achieve a “big lick”. Utilizing humane compliant training methods and diligent consistent saddle time, trainers have given us a show ring performance horse that still gives the spectators that spine tingling thrill! Let our resolve be unwavering in presenting clean compliant horses as the rule and not the exception!! Let enforcement within our industry be swift, fair, equal, and certain. It has been said: “Rules without penalty is mere advice”!

I express my gratitude to those who have sacrificially given of their time and money to keep the walking horse industry alive and well. I realize there are still differences of opinion within our industry as to which is more important…the pleasure horse or show horse. The answer does not have to be either or, but both and!!! It is my conviction the time has come for walking horse lovers having no need to hang their heads in shame or glare at each other in disdain! Every one of us has the power to positively promote the world’s greatest horse --- the Tennessee Walking Horse!! Let us hold our heads high, let us walk with class and grace, let us be gentle in spirit, and let us be powerful in purpose as the horse we love! May we always hear the ring announcer call to the riders, “take a deep seat and let your horses walk on”!

David A. Shaw

More Stories

  • Celebration releases tentative class schedule for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration recently formed a committee to review and recommend changes to the Celebration’s class schedule. The committee has met over the last couple of months and reviewed past schedules, participation levels, industry trends and other criteria to come up with an initial class schedule. Read More
  • Make plans to attend the National Trainers' Show

    Make plans to attend the 53rd Annual National Trainers Show scheduled for March 18-20, 2021 at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn... Read More
  • TWHBEA offers Youth Medallion Program for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association is proud to once again offer the Youth Medallion Program for the 2021 show season... Read More
  • Southern Championship relocates for 2021

    For many years the Georgia Walking Horse Exhibitors Association has sponsored and operated the Southern Championship Charity Horse Show... Read More
  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More