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TWHBEA Participates in Sound Horse Conference



Lewisburg, TN - The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) was a sponsor of the first-ever Sound Horse Conference, held last week in Columbus, OH. The conference was an opportunity for industry representatives, USDA officials, veterinarians and others to come together to discuss the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses. “It was great to see flat shod supporters and performance horse supporters come together and discuss ways to insure that only sound horses represent our breed in the show ring,” says David Pruett, TWHBEA president. “The conference was well organized and informative. I commend the volunteers who worked so hard to organize it.”

Pruett, who attended the conference with Executive Director, Stan Butt and TWHBEA Breeders’ Committee VP, Dee Dee Sale, commented that from all accounts things are improving in the industry. “We still have work to do and always need to be looking for ways to do our job better,” he admits, “but overall I was encouraged by the dialogue and information that was exchanged.”

According to Pruett, various groups reported different statistics, but one thing stood out in his mind. “No matter which numbers you use regarding the number of violations, of over 83,000 horses inspected by the various HIOs, 99% of them were in compliance with all Horse Protection Act regulations and industry rules!” He goes on to point out that it is even more impressive when you consider that “EVERY horse is inspected EVERY time it shows at EVERY sanctioned show.” Pruett says that he is working on getting a verified list of inspections and penalties from last year, but that information is currently not available. “The USDA is working on compiling the stats from last year and will share it with us when it is available.”

During the conference the USDA presented their observations using new thermography technology from a session conducted in December in Shelbyville, TN. Several trainers voluntarily brought 15 horses to be used. “We are encouraged by new technology that will give inspectors addition tools to assist them in inspecting horses,” said Pruett. He goes on to caution that before implementing any new inspection procedures and penalties we must be assured that the new technology has been appropriately tested in the lab and in the horse show environment and that the test results found with Walking Horses are compared to test results of other equine breeds.

TWHBEA does not sanction shows or inspect horses, but the welfare of all Tennessee Walking Horses is a top priority of the association. “Its great to have this type of dialogue taking place,” Pruett concludes. Other sponsors of the conference were the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Friends of the Sound Horse, the Humane Society of the United States, Ohio State University and the American Horse Protection Association.

Also in attendance were Best Of America By Horseback’s Tom Seay and Michelle Turner. Tom is working closely with TWHBEA to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse on the trail and took time out from his busy schedule at Equine Affaire to address the Conference.

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