We have received many questions asking what The Celebration is doing to insure that the 2007 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is successful and not disrupted with inspection issues as it was last year.  In response to those questions, we present the following information.


            The issues that face our industry did not occur overnight and could not be cured overnight, so it was important to take a comprehensive look at the situation.


            Since September 2, 2006, Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration officials have been in conversation and negotiations with every major walking horse group in an effort to move the industry forward and take on an expanded leadership role.  The Celebration has listened, studied, discussed and met with the Walking Horse Trainers Association Board of Directors, Walking Horse Owners Association, and the National Horse Show Commission Board of Directors.


         Additionally we have met with organizations outside our industry including the non-horse media, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and many others in an effort to gather as much information and data as possible in order to come up with a plan to move the industry forward and avoid a repeat of last year’s problems. 


            Once the information was gathered and studied, The Celebration proposed a National Horse Show Commission Governing Council that would be established and provide management and direction regarding all NHSC activities that fall within the parameters of the Horse Protection Act and related regulations while giving counsel to all aspects of the NHSC.  The Council would be charged with assuring the public, other regulatory authorities, and interest groups that the NHSC is giving the best possible service, within its charter, to protect the health, safety, and well being of our horses.


         The primary goals of this Governing Council are to make sure that only clean, sound horses are presented at NHSC sanctioned events and to improve the quality of life, safety, and perception of these wonderful animals.  The Governing Council would also do its best to instill confidence in every exhibitor, trainer, and owner that they have been treated fairly, have received consistent, objective inspections each and every time they present a horse at an NSHC affiliated show. 


          The governing council will also work to improve relationships with organizations outside the industry, including but not limited to the various groups listed above.  Part of the immediate action plan will include the following:


·        Institute a drug program

·        Pull shoes on any horses at an NHSC Show when appropriate

·        Use of hoof testers on flat shod horses

·        Prohibit the use of needles on the grounds except by licensed veterinarians


This Governing Council would consist of seven individuals to provide added consistency, wisdom, and vision to the NHSC.  The group appointments would be in the following manner:


A.     Three representatives from the TWHNCsm

B.     Two industry representatives

C.     Two independent representatives


On April 19, 2007 Celebration officials presented this proposal to the Walking Horse Trainers Board of Directors.  The WHTA Board voted 12-0, unanimously, to support this concept.  An hour after that meeting the Walking Horse Trainers Board of Directors met with the Walking Horse Owners Association Board of Directors and presented the proposed plan to them.  At that meeting there were no significant negative comments about the proposed plan. 


On that same day Celebration officials met with the President of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association to give him a preview of what the Celebration was presenting.  Many other meetings, both formal and informal, followed in the next few weeks regarding the proposed Governing Council.  At the present time there appears to be a broad base of support for an organization of this type to provide independent oversight, yet there has been little progress by the groups involved to encourage this concept or approve its structure. 


            Also on May 1, 2007 Celebration officials met with the National Horse Show Commission Board of Directors and on May 9 with the Walking Horse Owners Association Board of Directors.


The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration would prefer not to be involved in an effort of this type but we have no choice.  Our independence is one of the Celebration’s main strengths in that no one connected to The Celebration can own, train, breed or sell Tennessee Walking Horses. Many connected to The Celebration feel that this independence is one of the main reasons that The Celebration has succeeded for 68 consecutive years of crowning World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horses.


We appreciate the broad support from both the industry and outside organizations and we are committed to making sure that our World Championship Horse Show and this industry recover from last year’s problems and moves forward to its rightful place in the horse world.      


At the conclusion of the 2006 show there was no question that some things had to change.  Celebration leaders could not sit back and “hope” that 2007 would be better.  As a group of business people it was their responsibility to develop a plan that would insure that The Celebration and this industry would grow and prosper in the coming years.   The plan that we have outlined to the NHSC is our best effort to achieve these goals and we hope they will accept our proposal as soon as possible.