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VAC Blood Testing Returns To 2015 Celebration



The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is appreciative of the work of the Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) to research and implement objective, science-based inspections to enhance the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse.  In addition, The Celebration is supportive and appreciative of the efforts of Senators Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul in introducing legislation that would implement an independent HIO that utilizes tests such as those developed by the VAC.

As a result, The Celebration will make its show grounds and facilities available to the VAC to implement their new, updated protocols at this year’s Celebration.  The Celebration will continue to remain independent of the VAC and affiliate with the SHOW HIO and welcome the Veterinary Medical Officers of the USDA.  The Celebration believes strongly that the future of the show horse would benefit from a reliable, consistent pre-show inspection and given the VAC’s work towards this goal, the Celebration is pleased to welcome the VAC back for a second year.

“Our board would like to thank Dr. Jerry Johnson, Dr. Phil Hammock and Dr. Robert Hunt for their work in developing the protocols to be implemented at this year’s show.  We would also like to thank Dr. John O’Brien and Dr. Scott Stanley from University of California, Davis for their contributions as part of the VAC’s work,” said Celebration Chairman Pat Marsh.

In the program’s initial year, both the VAC and participants at the Celebration learned valuable lessons on the benefits and challenges of conducting objective, science-based inspections on site.  As a result, the VAC will host an educational meeting for trainers, veterinarians and owners August 3, 2015 to answer any questions regarding the updated protocols at this year’s show.

“The VAC has undergone extensive review and analysis of the results of over 230 tests conducted at the 2014 Celebration.  After consultation, the general consensus among leading national and international experts is the best approach to this type of testing is to develop breed specific standards.  To that end the VAC and our team has worked tirelessly to develop a breed specific standard and protocols to protect the health of the Tennessee Walking Horse and insure the highest levels of welfare of horses in competition,” said VAC Chairman Dr. Jerry Johnson.

Moving forward, due to personal and professional conflict, Dr. Hunt will not be a member of the VAC.  Dr. Johnson and Dr. Hammock will continue as members of the VAC with one or both present for at least a portion of the Celebration in 2015.

The VAC protocols are not required by the Horse Protection Act and are supplemental to all other inspections conducted by the HIO and USDA.  The VAC does not interfere nor offer opinions on the inspections conducted by the HIO or USDA.  “The Celebration remains committed to doing everything it can to insure the welfare of the horses competing at its shows.  For that reason, we will make our show grounds available to the VAC to conduct this extra level of inspections in hopes that in the future the USDA and entire industry will recognize the success of objectives inspections and institute their use across all Tennessee Walking Horse shows,” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman.

The Celebration is appreciative of the support of the program by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) and would like to thank them for all of their contributions toward the goals and objectives of the VAC.  The Celebration remains committed to the implementation of an independent HIO to enforce the HPA.

“TWHBEA is pleased with The Celebration’s decision to implement the VAC’s standards and protocols at this year’s World Championship.  We are appreciative of the hard work of the VAC to develop specific standards to advance the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses in competition,” said TWHBEA Deputy Executive Director Rory Williams.

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