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The Turning Point - an essay by Dr. Tom Morgan

Editor’s Note: With Dr. Morgan’s permission, we are reprinting an essay which he wrote and sent to fellow members of the Georgia Walking Horse Exhibitor’s Association. This essay not only applies to Georgia but to every state in our nation that offers venues in which to show our great horse. 
By Dr. Tom Morgan, DC
My mind runs back a few years, and I can’t remember who told me, but I was at a show in Dawson and someone said, “Look around. There are just no trainers here and I guess there won’t be another Walking Horse show in this ring.”  I was not thinking any such thing at the time, but yes, there were very few horses. We were having a great time, riding our stock and being with good friends. However, the next year, and the next, without another word, that show never appeared on our Georgia circuit again. I drive by that show grounds now and glance over at the rusted show ring where our family had so much fun and the grandchildren rode their horses. It still makes me sad. As this summer moves along, all I read and hear about is the “slump” the Tennessee Walking Horse industry is in. It almost takes away my steady optimism for our great horse.
I bought my first Tennessee Walking show horse when I practiced in Kentucky, from Mose Oppenhimer in 1966. I have never left the big lick. Mary Ann and I had our first date to ride that horse! Showing still excites me and this great horse has kept my attention and dedication for all these years. My goal has always been to enjoy our family fun and become a better rider and showman. Pulling back the bit on that 1000-pound animal is a gift from God!  We jumped into the Tennessee Walking Horse business with gusto, and have never been with another breed. We invested in our own stable, trainer, breeding operation, and have not wavered in our love for the big lick. There is always lots of discouragement and problems dealing with animals, so one must set goals for family fun and adventure with this breed, to offset the human negatives that plague all breeds and organizations. However, this summer things have reached new proportions. All I hear today is how many trainers have quit the business, plus, as all those sparks fly upward, there appears to be a vendetta between TWHBEA and the Celebration. It looks like no one cares if they bring down the entire industry just so they defeat the other group. All of this dampens the fun, takes away our pride in our show horse and causes sales to be flat! Even the new class entry charges from SHOW have done their share to diminish the entries at state shows. 
Like the shows in every state, our Georgia shows are down to the fewest entries in history, plus petty gripes always seem to keep some people upset and from being involved. What can be done to make this year a positive “turning point”? Where can we find positive energy to build on? I believe that each one of us can make a difference for this summer and for the future of the Walking Horse in Georgia. I wish that every trainer could see that they (individually and as a group) are the driving force in our state, and commit to going to every show. They could ask each customer if they want to go to the next show or not. I think that would go a long way to helping us to survive. Raising the number of horses at our shows must be a goal for all of us. We will never be without jealousy, division and strife or without complaints about judging, inspections and whose horse is too square-going. But, we can all come to agreement that we need to keep our Georgia tradition. What I want to say here in this essay is that we can NOT put our petty complaints about other people above our great horse; but rather than complain and pass along negative energy, I think the trainers should agree to fill up our shows. Even we members can call our friends, and pass the word around each barn to do the responsible thing and be at every Georgia show. I want to ask every trainer who shows on the Georgia circuit to go to the next show, even if you don’t want to go. Please tell your customers that you are going and ask who wants to go (even if you know everything may not be “fair”). Talking and ideas are fine, but there is one sure way to show you are doing your best for Georgia and that is to pull those trailers on the grounds and show your stock!  I heard people saying that they did not want to get their horse beat at this show or that show, so they stayed away. Let’s rise above this attitude. I have faith we can if we really think about it and encourage our trainers to take our horses to every show. It may be that we are at the turning point. If we enjoy showing our horses, we better go to as many Georgia shows and throw a leg over the saddle while we still can. 
Last week in Monroe, we had a nice show. I remember back in PaPa Landrum’s day, that show and those show grounds were completely full of horses, trailers and spectators. This year, it was a beautiful day, there was good food and a good judge and much fun was had by all. Jerry Cole and his church are to be thanked for their dedication to this show and all the hard work that was done to make it successful. That new ring he built was great! I know though, that it was embarrassing for Jerry to have such few horses. This weekend is Phenix City. This is another great TWH venue to show and exhibit. Ask your trainers to be there and to take your horse. Call a friend whom you have not seen in the show ring this year and encourage them to take a few head to the show. And lastly, but not least, let’s pray to God, as I believe He is in control of the TWH performance horse. See you in Phenix City!!!

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