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USDA, Not Horses, Focus of Trainers’ Show

By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The 41st Annual Trainers’ Show wasn’t suppose to end like this.  The show, originally scheduled in March, was postponed as a result of the turmoil in the industry and moved to the first weekend in June.  What the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association hoped would be a move to attract more horses ended up below expectations.  The show was held in the Calsonic Arena June 3-6, 2009.

USDA personnel attended all four nights of the Trainers’ Show and came with a new procedure for checking horses, never before seen at any horse show.  Digital radiography (x-ray) technology was employed and custodians were required to wear protective vests as their horses were x-rayed for abnormalities.

This technology led to errors in diagnosis of rotated coffin bones, confirmed by independent veterinarians at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.  Also, after previously stating to the industry that heel springs were allowed with a veterinarian prescription, a horse was turned down after digital radiography revealed heel springs.  After producing the letter from the veterinarian, the horse was still not allowed to show by USDA personnel.

The atmosphere around inspection was very tense and trainers and owners alike felt that an objective inspection was not guaranteed.  As a result, numbers were down dramatically.  The total number of horses presented for inspection for the four nights was 263.  In 2008, 851 horses were presented for inspection.

SHOW Designated Qualified Persons (DQP) wrote five scar rule violations (one of which was post show), one foreign substance violation and one unilateral sensitivity violation.  The USDA Veterinarian Medical Officers (VMO) took information on 10 scar rule violations, one bilateral sensitivity and scar rule, one bilateral sensitivity, one unilateral sensitivity and scar rule, and six unilateral sensitivity.  Based upon digital radiography, USDA VMOs took information on two illegal shoeing violations and three rotated coffin bones over five degrees.

All total there were 16 one-horse classes at this year’s Trainers’ Show.  However, the quality in the show ring was very good and blue ribbons were spread across 34 different establishments.  Jeff Green and Shamrock Farms took home 10 blue ribbons, tops for the weekend.  Leigh Bennett grabbed seven blue ribbons and swept the youth equitation divisions, Chad Baucom and 4 The Glory each claimed five blues and David Landrum and Bobby Richards each won four blue ribbons.

Taking home three blues were Laurie Toone, Bruce Hankins, Howard Hamilton and Roger Richards.  Claiming dual blues were Steve Hankins, Chad Williams and Brandon Stout.

Show Manager Benny Johnson made the following comment on the show, “I want to thank the trainers that did come to the 41st National Trainer's Show and tried to show and support the Trainers Association.  I know it was stressful for them all. These trainers proved it could be done.”

David Landrum and The Golden Sovereign took home their second championship of the year following up on their win at the Mississippi State Charity.  The Golden Sovereign is owned by Evergreen Walking Horse Farm.  Landrum took home the roses without any competition in the class but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm over the performance of his horse.  “I am proud of my horse for the show he made.  I would obviously prefer to have competition in the class but I thought my horse made a good show and we look forward to competing for the World Grand Championship,” said Landrum.


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