The 65th annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was successful by most standards of measure In some areas we set records that we thought would never be broken. We are most grateful to everyone who makes the Celebration the tradition that it has become.

Length of Sessions

We have a real piece of flypaper on us concerning the number of classes in each session, the length of each session, etc. Our show has become so popular with so many different aspects of our breed that we are running into some serious time issues. One of the morning sessions started at 9:00 a.m. and was over at 3:05 p.m. This is entirely too long. Most morning sessions were over at approximately 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. One of the evening sessions was extremely long due to a weather delay. That is certainly an exceptional thing, but beyond that there were three evenings that went until approximately midnight. A five-hour performance is too long. At approximately 11:00 p.m. people either leave or their interest begin to wane. WE have to be sensitive to that.

In this next fall and winter months, we’ve got to make some decisions concerning more sessions, two rings going at the same time, do we add another day, or are there other options that we have overlooked? The entire staff of center ring officials including the judges is being worked extremely hard. The trainers, grooms, owners and others responsible for a horse being in the ring are also being worked hard. The same goes for DQPs, the veterinarian, the farriers, etc., etc. We must review all of this and make good, positive decisions as to what’s best for the majority of the people who make the Celebration the “World’s Greatest Horse Show”.


What a pleasure this year! Having two screens was wonderful, and it sent such a wonderful message to our patrons. These are expensive. The two screens and the production to put images on the screens cost approximately $75,000. This is a lot of money. By having these, however, it puts our event with other elite sporting events in America. We are delighted that our response has been so positive on these jumbo-trons. There is no reason to think they will not continue in 2004.

Trail Pleasure Division

This division has simply skyrocketed in its first few years of existence. Never did any of us dream that it would be so popular. We are honored and delighted at its success. This is a division that must be handled carefully in terms of new classes, a full compliment of classes for 11 and under youth, and very close attention to their scheduling throughout our world championship horse show. The participation by this group is extremely important to our record-breaking success and we need to be very mindful of this.

Novice Classes

This division continues to grow at an extremely fast pace. Possible we need to consider more classes, a new definition or another twist to keep the Novice Division fresh and enjoyable. This division has truly allowed exhibitors the hope of being competitive in classes with horses of similar ability to the ones they are riding. We will monitor this very closely and try our best to accommodate the Novice division with the care it deserves.


On an overall basis I thought the judging at the 2003 Celebration was very good. For the most part it seemed that the right horses were getting the right ribbons. Occasionally, we seemed to go a different route to get there, but that is the beauty and protection of the five-judge system. Our judging staff this year worked together extremely well, and we must always realize that they look at a lot of numbers. They see many horses. They are not perfect. They do the very best they can and we must always remember that. I urge everyone to be careful and not be guilty of picking one or two classes out of 185 and condemning the judging panel. Maybe they did make a particular mistake in a particular class. They can’t be perfect as has been previously mentioned.

I was especially disappointed that some people thought an entry should have been excused that fell in an important evening class. The people who feel this way do not know the rule book. They haven’t read the rule. They don’t care about the rule. This horse should certainly not have been excused.

We must continue to encourage our judging panel to be careful of a bad image horses. If a horse comes into our center ring that is not within acceptable guidelines that entry should be excused. We instruct the judging panel to be very careful of this, and we will always do so.


The inspection process went extremely well. We, the Celebration, are indebted to the DQPs and the VMOs for working together so well and doing such a good job of maintaining positive attitude in the inspection area. Certainly, the bulk of the credit will go to the trainers for presenting clean, sound horses to be inspected. When people work together a common goal many good things can happen. We saw this at the 2003 Celebration in the inspection process and we are most grateful for that. Credit goes to everyone mentioned above.


We were delighted at the record number of entries for the 2003 Celebration. The young horses once again looked extremely good. I would say that our breed is alive and well in this regard! I firmly believe we must continue to consider additional options for thrown shoes in the lite-shod division. Since bands were placed in the park pleasure horses there have been no problems. We are now seeing shoes thrown in the lite-shod division. Our farrier tells us the majority of the shoes thrown came from horses that had not been properly reset on a timely basis. I find this hard to believe, but I certainly know he is telling us the truth. It seems to me that horses would be reset on a regular basis before a world championship event. Additionally, our farrier tells us as do ringmasters that the majority of the timeouts for issues other than thrown shoes that faulty equipment, rusty equipment and old breast straps, etc., led to most of the problems. Why would a person not come to a world championship event with good, clean sound equipment? I certainly don’t understand this.

We always understand that we are not going to be able to please everyone. The Blue Ribbons that are distributed only go to one person per class. We know that and are willing to work with it. Having said that, however, may I say that the 2003 Celebration went extremely well with regard to a very small amount of unnecessary or unwarranted complaining or fussing. People were in a very good mood. We are delighted with that. As our show continues to grow we are faced with wonderful, positive challenges regarding growth. This is a great problem to have. We will continue to work on it and to monitor the needs outlined in this memorandum. On the following page I will summarize some statistics about the horse show for your review. Am I happy about his year’s show? Of course I am. It was wonderful. We sold approximately 94% of the tickets we could have sold. Not many sporting events can say that. We are blessed with a wonderful horse and we are delighted that our industry efforts to support the Horse Protection Act of 1970 are a top priority. It continues to amaze us that approximately 30,000 people attend our show on the final night to voice their opinions and approval of championship classes for the great Tennessee Walking Horse.

Factually Speaking

242,300 paid attendance

161,847 actual attendance

5,461 entries

3,645 actually showed

2,591 different horses

12 flat-shod thrown shoes

10 padded thrown shoes

69% of horses padded

31% of horses flat-shod

3.1% turn down rate by the DQPs

$700,000 prizes and awards by Celebration and Futurity

43 states represented by attendees

12 years, 9 months number one person on box seat waiting list to receive a box