by David L. Howard

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Celebration, I am invited to attend the preshow meeting with Ron Thomas, Charles McDonald and the five judges on two separate nights. Each of the seven Celebration directors attends one or more of the meetings as an observer and it is an enlightening experience.

The meetings are held each night immediately prior to the show and rarely last more than 15-20 minutes. It affords the judges the opportunity to discuss any matters of their choosing and for Ron to alert them to things that he feels they should know about.

I was able to attend on Monday night and when I arrived four of the judges were already in the room discussing how to do things better in terms of workouts, making sure all of the horses are seen and the length of time to work the horses. Ron, Charles and the other judge came in and joined these discussions until approximately 15 minutes before the show when everyone put on their game face and went to work.

I must tell you that I was more than impressed with the attitude and determination of these five men and wish each and every one of you could have the experience of this meeting. It is a positive and constructive dialog designed to help them do a better job and you can rest assured they are committed to doing the very best job possible.

USDA Arrives

Dr. Todd Behre and his Veterinary Medical Officer team arrived in time for the Monday evening performance and things went off without a hitch. It is a veteran crew and they meshed well with the NHSC Designated Qualified Persons as each group continues their work to allow only sound horses in the ring.

I have had the opportunity to be in several meetings with Dr. Behre and talk to him individually on a number of occasions. He is committed to making the inspection process uniform from coast to coast and has spent time in Middle Tennessee and elsewhere visiting stables and learning about this horse.

He and Dr. Charles Gipson,who has overall responsibility for Horse Protection Act enforcement, have reached out to all groups involved in horse protection, including owners and trainers, and have made significant progress in building bridges among the various factions.

Destiny or Legacy

Ken Wulff sits in the box next to me and called my attention to a rather unique set of circumstances involving him and his two daughters.

Sept. 1, 1975 Ken rode Mr. Magic in the Amateur Championship at the age of 22

Sept. 1, 1984 Candace Wulff won the Youth Eleven and Under Championship at the age of 5 on Ebony Go Boy’s Dream

Sept. 1, 2004 Daughter Caresse Mills, age 22, will be riding Generator’s Champion in the Amateur Stallion Preliminary Class.

Celebration Diehards

I mentioned in a previous article that this was my 40th Celebration but I am a rookie compared to some. Wink Groover has been coming since 1947 (no wonder he’s not as rambunctious). Tommy Grider has missed one Celebration in the last 53 years and judge Bob Cherry is working at his 50th Celebration.

A Tough Decision

As you have no doubt noticed, the judging panel closely observes the horses as they enter the ring before assuming their respective judging positions. Occasionally, an entry is asked to leave before the class gets underway when the panel determines that their appearance does not represent what is proper in the show ring.

Early in the week this happened several times and the message now appears to have been sent that there is no place for a “bad image” horse in front of these five men.

Sounds like a simple thing to do but I can assure you it takes great courage to send a horse out of the ring. They could say, “Well, he passed inspection,” and so forth but they have taken their responsibility to the show, the industry and themselves seriously and done the right thing.

They deserve our congratulations!

T Shirts and Bumper Stickers

“Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.”

“Rehab is for quitters.”

“Friends don’t let friends take home ugly men.”