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Letter to the Walking Horse Industry from TWSHO

Dear friend of the Tennessee Walking Horse:
Anyone who owns, rides or enjoys watching walking horses knows that the industry is facing some very serious challenges.  From some USDA inspectors who are on record saying they hate horses and go to horse shows only to shut them down, to the Humane Society’s obsession with using its millions to eliminate the industry altogether, the walking horse industry is under attack by powerful and clout-heavy forces.
And now, the U.S Congress jumped on the bandwagon.  Just a few weeks ago, members of congress proposed Humane Society-supported legislation that would amend the Horse Protection Act to ban action devices, pads and weighted shoes, as well as eliminate the HIO inspection process.  This legislation could move after the November elections and the bill already has 43 co-sponsors.
Regulators won’t work with us, the Humane Society is trying to end us, elected officials are questioning us, and the press and the public don’t believe us.  Meanwhile, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association, groups with which in the past we have worked to protect the horse, recently called for ban on action devices and pads supporting the abolishment of the performance horse.
To fight those intent to putting an end to an industry we all care so much about, and therefore protect the horse and the sport, we need to work together to create and implement a plan that maximizes all of the energy, time, people and resources we have because we do not have a penny or a minute to waste.
Internally, our industry is too disconnected and uncoordinated.  We are reinventing the wheel each time we do something that one of us has already done.  We are wasting resources running several different organizations and entities.  And we are confusing the press and elected officials every time our communications are off message.  We will not get past the obstacles we currently face doing things the way we have always done them and if we do not address this right now, there will be no industry left to speak of in the near future.
Yesterday, the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO) held a meeting with leaders from the industry and proposed a plan, the goal of which is to work as one organization with one voice and one agenda.  We proposed a structure as a starting point for a discussion.  By the end of the meeting, most of the people in the room agreed, we need one organization with a diverse board representing interests from organizations throughout the industry.  Over the next month, TWSHO board members will be talking to the various organizations in the industry to propose a path forward and also to listen and we expect that there will be many more conversations within the industry.  We are hopeful that soon, we will decide, together, on a path forward that not only protects the industry but in the long run, helps us thrive.
If you have questions about the meeting or the proposed plan, have comments about or ideas, please email or call any of us on the TWSHO board.  And talk to others who were in attendance as well.
TWSHO Board of Directors

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