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Ron Thomas Comments On Celebration '05



Reflections on the 67th Celebration as seen by the Show Manager:

Length of Sessions:

Another wonderful story exists in this area. At the 2004 Celebration our 15 sessions were 65 hours and 28 minutes. This year they went 64 hours and 45 minutes. This also included 21 more classes than we had at the 2004 Celebration. One of the big improvements here was thrown shoes. At the 2004 Celebration there were 18 thrown shoes and 10 were replaced. This year there were 9 shoes thrown and only 3 replaced. This improvement is a credit to the farriers and trainers who are doing a better job of preparing their horses for world championship competition. Just 11 years ago at the 1995 Celebration there were 46 thrown shoes and 31 of them were replaced. This really puts the 2005 numbers in perspective!

In 2003 there were 79 time-outs totaling 6 hours and 4 minutes. In 2004 42 timeouts totaling 2 hours and 46 minutes and a much improved 2005 with 39 timeouts totaling 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Headed to “the line-up”:

There was some improvement here but not nearly enough. We still have too many people at inappropriate times riding all the way to the opposite end of the ring to return to the other end to the line-up. We will continue to encourage trainers to eliminate this and be more professional and careful as we head to the line-up as the class is complete. We will monitor this very carefully.

New Classes:

We added a schedule of classes for Adults on Ponies and for the new Park Performance Division. They were extremely well received with almost all of them requiring an A and B Division. Where do we go now? Many of these exhibitors are already asking for championship classes at the 2006 Celebration. Possibly they deserve championship classes. We must really monitor and study this closely. We at The Celebration are firmly convinced that we need to consider eliminating a number of our Park Pleasure Classes and replacing them with the Park Performance Classes. Many of the Park Pleasure Classes were the lightest in attendance of any division this year. It is still concerning to us when we have championship classes that have fewer than 10 entries in them. We are going to ask a group of trainers, exhibitors, and owners to work on a panel this winter to offer suggestions to Celebration officials as to how we should proceed with these new class requests.

TV's in the Barn Area:

This was a big hit. WDA, our vendor, wired all of the barns at The Celebration this year. The success of the close circuit television in the barn area has been well received. We are delighted that this is a perk that we are able to bring to our exhibitors at a relatively low cost. It is both entertaining for them and informational as they prepare horses for other classes.

Judging:

In the opinion of most people the right horses were getting the right ribbons in the heavy majority of the classes at the 67th annual Celebration. If, in fact, this is true, then it doesn't get much better than that! Seriously, when the right horses are getting the right ribbons the judging panel has performed well and the system is working well.

Yes, it did appear that we did have far too many situations where a horse would get four votes in the first and second range, and one judge would not have a vote for that horse; also, there were times when a horse would not be used by most of the four judges and one judge would have this horse first or second. These are frustrating, but they are going to happen. It did appear that it happened a little more this year than usual, although a real detailed, in depth study will be done to determine whether we were actually off a little more than we have been. In any event, we were still placing the right horses in the right order in most cases according to the heavy majority of people that discussed this with Celebration officials.

I can assure you that this judging panel had a wonderful work ethic and did their very best to get things right as best as they possibly could on their card in every case. They were genuine and sincere in their approach to judging, and they went about it in a no-nonsense way. It was a pleasure to work with them and to watch them work.

Show management was never aware of any impropriety whatsoever regarding the judging of the 2005 Celebration. These men tried to improve on every session and performance, and in my opinion they did. They should be applauded for a job well done.

USDA/DQP'S:

There is a great deal of work that must be done in these fall and winter months regarding our horses going to inspection. There needs to be a diligent effort to present horses that are sound and in compliance, and we also need a good, clear understanding from USDA as to scar rule interpretation. These two things must happen. The Celebration will take a firm stand on both of these issues in the coming months. We believe that a unified effort on our behalf will encourage USDA to work with us regarding the interpretation of the scar rule. We are dedicated to making the inspection process go smoother at all shows--not just at the Celebration.

Lite Shod and Trail Pleasure Shoes:

On two occasions at the 2005 Celebration Lite Shod shoes were weighed and found to be in excess of the allowable weight. This situation must be handled in a different manner in our opinion. The penalty is far too insufficient for the potential gain. One of the shoes thrown at The Celebration weighed three pounds and seven ounces, almost twice the amount that it should weigh. There needs to be a better way of keeping people from cheating in this area. A shoeing violation for an overweight shoe regarding the one just mentioned is a ridiculous penalty. We must make that penalty so severe that people simply don't want to challenge it. This would make it fair for all exhibitors and have a level playing field is what show management desires at this event.

Hurricane Katrina:

What devastation this hurricane has caused our country. For us to even complain about two rainy nights is almost insulting to the hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered so much more. We did, however, have to compete on two nights that were very bad. I thank and applaud our trainers and exhibitors who understood this and just kept riding. I also thank and applaud the spectators who came and stayed in it to see these great horses compete.

I was really proud of our fans for raising over $18,000.00 on the final night of our show for the victims of this terrible tragedy. This is a very nice way for us to extend our arm of friendship to a group of people who are suffering so badly. If you still wish to make a donation you may call the Red Cross at (615) 893-4272 or (615) 849-6606 and ask for Nancy McGill.

Patriotic Night:

We were really pleased with the final Saturday night of the Celebration. Our opening ceremony was outstanding. Lori O'Brien from Atlanta did a beautiful job with her voice and video presentation. We were also delighted with the two black hawk helicopters who made their presence felt and gave us an opportunity to applaud them for the many things they do for our great country, and the Arnold Engineering Development Center Color Guard that was also present. This is a great way to start the final night of our show.

Miscellaneous:

We thought the barn area was extremely beautiful this year. I continue to be amazed at the creativity from owners and exhibitors as they strive to beautify the grounds. It is such a credit to them for the hard work they do.

Our media coverage continues to get better. We are so fortunate to have Chip Walters as our Director of Public and Media Relations and be able to utilize his strong ties to the Nashville and middle Tennessee media. This year our reach was phenomenal in terms of the relationship we have with Charter and Comcast as we strive to present our show to more and more people in our viewing area.

The new permanent fixtures of the Jumbo-Trons were an added plus. It gives a more sense of professionalism and accomplishment, and a permanent home to these two video boards has a nice touch. We are delighted to the response our spectators have given us to these dramatic video boards.

Plans are well under way for the 2006 Celebration, our 68th consecutive world championship horseshow. We are honored for the opportunity to be able to present a showcase of the Tennessee Walking Horse to bring these great animals together to compete for National Championship honors. We take that very seriously and the commitment of the people to us makes the entire staff work even harder. We are honored to be able to present this event for so many people to enjoy.

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