Dear David and Christy,

            I am wiring this letter to vent my frustration with an industry that I have loved dearly for the last 35 years. It appears to me as a lifelong owner of the walking horse that after so many years our horses are cleaner, in better shape and farther behind as a marketable breed than ever before. Let me give your readers a look at what the future will be if we don’t start running this industry as a business. The one night horse show that is run by charities will drop the horse and replace it with a tractor pull that will net the show profits whether the government shows up or not. There will be three to four shows a year- the Trainers" Show, Fun Show, Celebration. Because the trainers at this point will no longer be able to charge for all the one night horse shows and the winnings, they will have to raise the training to $1,000 to $1,200 a month. A handful of trainers will have the majority of horses, a handful of owners will have the best horses and a lot of trainers and owners will leave the business. Hard to believe? Look to the gaited and Saddlebreds.

            In my opinion, we have the opportunity for the first time in years to make this breed a showcase for the equine industry. Case in point. Phillip Morris was one of the most sued companies in America at one point by government, state and individuals. This company turned a negative into a positive by helping people quit smoking with ads, kits, the internet, etc. What happened? The lawsuits are stopping or are being settled in their behalf and the company and the stock is doing better than ever before. We have that opportunity. Our horse is the most protected in the world. Government inspected. No other performance horse performs 15-20 years. We don’t have leg injuries like racehorses as well as terminal injuries. The same with steeplechase horses. Barrel horses cap their hocks causing raw exposed hocks. The list goes on. We have a horse to be proud of. How do we market this horse? We start in our barns eliminating anything that you wouldn’t want someone from the street to walk in and see. Work internally on a more pleasing action device than a chain. We know the six-ounce chain doesn’t hurt the horse but perception does count. Become more professional and eliminate the conflicts of interest in the Commission. Use the advisory board as was brought up using non-trainers and advisors. The one organization that was established to promote the walking horse and had the money to do so in the past is the Breeders’ Association. Due to bickering and infighting this fine organization is fast losing money and becoming a registry for a part of our industry-the flat shod and plantation horse instead of the entire industry. The Breeders’ Association should do what it is designed to do and only that: register horses and market the walking horse. If this can’t be done, we have to have some money center to use for the promotion of the horse.

            Christy, David, I could go on for pages but we need leadership. Every strong company is run by a strong CEO and board. If this industry, from trainer to owner, is able to objectively look internally at ourselves and truly eliminate our own hurdles, the government will go away, our horse will excel and my family will continue to enjoy our friends.



Mike Kakassey