Copyright 2005

David L. Howard

   (Copyright 2005, Walking Horse Report) The National Horse Protection
Society (formerly the Show Horse Support Fund) is exploring all
opportunities to address the rising tensions in horse show inspection areas
and the inherent conflict between the industry and the USDA. The group is
acting in response to the difficulties most recently experienced by horse
show managers, including Fayetteville, Belfast, Wartrace and the
Celebration. The Society has appointed a four man oversight committee
comprised of Ron Thomas, Charles Gleghorn, Bob Medina and Bill Johnson.
    The Society, through its attorney and spokesman John T. Bobo,
Shelbyville, Tenn., has retained G. Thomas Blankenship as the point man to
pursue any and all alternatives in an attempt to find a long term resolution
to the ongoing conflicts. Blankenship has been authorized to hire Bryan Cave
Strategies, a Washington D.C. consulting firm and Dr. Jerry H. Johnson, DVM,
Lexington, Ky., and they have been retained.
    In addition, Blankenship has been authorized to utilize any and all
experts available to provide advice and input in the development of plans
and strategies that will clarify and strengthen the purposes of the Horse
Protection Act.
    Blankenship is hopeful that by reviewing enforcement procedures of other
breeds, input from leading equine veterinarians and other experts, a
universally acceptable plan can be established. Although  no time line has
been established, information is being diligently pursued and alternatives
    The NHPS is providing $300,000 for the initiative in addition to
significant contributions from two owners. It is not known at this time if
additional funds will be required.
    The Show Horse Support Fund voted to change its name Monday, Nov. 14 and
to undertake this project. The Show Horse Support Fund was formed with the
money left over from the Friends of the Show Horse organization. Three
groups -- the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, the Walking
Horse Trainers¹ Association and the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders¹ and
Exhibitors¹ Association also contributed funds to SHSF and two permanent
representatives from each of the four groups formed the board of directors.
    Originally, Friends of the Show was formed under the leadership of the
late Reese Smith in early 1988 after a ruling by Federal Judge Oliver Gasch
shut down the walking horse show season. Substantial sums were raised and
spent to overturn this decision and remaining funds, along with the
contributions of the three groups named above, were used to form the Show
Horse Support Fun.
    Current directors of the NHPS include Chairman Ron Thomas, Bailey
Little, Jane Eakes, Charles Gleghorn, Steve Smith, Walt Chism, Jimmy
McConnell and Bill Cantrell.