The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) will revamp the Horse of the Year awards program in 2018. Previously, the Horse of the Year was determined by a vote of the licensed members of the WHTA. The program has seen a decline in interest from voting members in recent years and the board of directors decided a change was needed.

“The Horse of the Year is the top honor for any horse to receive in our industry,” said WHTA president Bill Cantrell. “In recent years, we just haven’t been able to get our members to cast ballots in large numbers and as a result horses have won awards in categories that they have not been major factors in other than at the Celebration.” 

In 2018, the Horse of the Year will be determined by a combination of high points earned in the category as well as votes by the members of the WHTA. Fifty percent of the tally will come from the Walking Horse Report high points and 50 percent will come from the votes received at the end of the year in each category.

“We have worked closely with the Walking Horse Report to understand their high points and feel it is a good mix to reward horses that have accumulated points based on their performance in our show rings as well as allow our trainers to vote for those horses that made the biggest impression on them throughout the year,” said Cantrell.

The Walking Horse Report will have to add the Amateur Gentlemen category to its high point program and then separate out the mares and geldings from the stallions in the categories of amateur and open two-year-old, three-year-old, four-year-old and five-year-olds

At the end of the season, the Report will forward the final point totals in each category to the WHTA to combine with their vote totals.  

The total tally to determine the winner and reserve in each category will be weighted equally with 50 percent of the total from the high points and 50 percent from the vote totals.  

The WHR high points are visible all year on their web site.  

All horse shows that are affiliated receive high points in the WHR system with single points being awarded to shows judged by a single judge, double points to those shows with multiple judges and triple points being awarded at The Celebration.  

A complete definition of the program can be found here.

Categories of one night and multi-night show of the year, amateur, juvenile and groom of the year will remain only voted on by members of the WHTA to determine the winner.

“It is our goal to place the prestige and significance of the Horse of the Year back at the top of the awards given in our industry,” Cantrell said. “We are looking at ways to incentivize our members to return their ballots and will be releasing more information with regards to our voting as the season nears completion later this fall.” 

The Walking Horse Report will run a story highlighting the Horse of the Year and its history and significance during the Celebration. As part of that story, a complete standing of each category and the point totals for the top 10 horses in that category will be released.