(Copyright, 2006, Walking Horse Report) The National Horse Protection Society (NHPS) has voted to form the Tennessee Walking Horse Advisory Committee. The action was taken last week during a teleconference meeting. The NHPS and the Advisory committee are scheduled to meet Thursday, March 16.

Tom Blankenship, NHPS attorney, stated, “It is felt by the NHPS that each of the members selected to serve on the Committee represent the necessary integrity, forthrightness and foresight in our industry to be a significant asset in dealing with the current issues and in developing long-term solutions and goals.”

Individuals serving on the Committee will be Steve Aymett, Knox Blackburn, Jackie Brown, Charles Gleghorn, Neal Holland, Jr., David L. Howard, Bob Medina, Frank Neal and John O’Brien, Jr.

The Advisory Committee will review the current regulatory performance by the National Horse Show Commission, consider opinions expressed by the leadership of other regulatory committees of various breed disciplines, and develop programs and initiatives addressing issues currently being faced by the industry. The Committee is also being asked to determine ways to enhance the credibility, transparency and effectiveness of the regulatory process.

The NHPS was formed at a September 27, 2005 meeting of the former Show Horse Support Fund (SHSF), which includes representatives of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and two representatives of the SHSF.

The first meeting of the newly formed Advisory Committee will address organizational matters, but it will also be a working session to deal with pressing industry issues. “I realize this is short notice for the first meetings but there are issues facing the industry that are of paramount importance,” Blankenship said.

Although little has been publicly announced, the NHPS has been active since September with Blankenship retaining the services of Dr. Jerry Johnson, a well-known and highly respected veterinarian, and a member of the Washington firm of Bryan Cave Strategies.

Additionally, Blankenship, Dr. Johnson and attorney John T. Bobo hosted a conference with five of the country’s leading veterinarians in Florida in late January. The conference goal was to obtain their input and recommendations as to how to achieve a permanent solution to 35 years of industry conflict.

The veterinarians attending serve major roles with the regulating bodies of their organizations including the United States Equestrian Federation (which regulates virtually all horse shows except for the Tennessee Walking Horse), Standardbred, Thoroughbreds, Grand Prix, Hunter Jumpers and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Other areas of discussion at the Conference were the ongoing controversy over the Scar Rule and the USDA’s position that a scarred horse is a sore horse; current pre-show examination procedures; establishment of a single regulatory body with representatives of all responsible groups; formation of a Veterinarian Advisory Council; the hiring of a full-time Commissioner; the formation of a Humane Advisory Council and a Compliance Committee responsible for enforcement and penalties.

Mr. Blankenship has also attended meetings with industry organizations to explain the actions and goals of the NHPS. He has met with representatives of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, TWHBEA, the National Horse Show Commission and the Trainers’ Association.