Skip to content

Has the walking horse industry improved over the past year?



Reprinted with permission of the TWHBEA from their website, www.TWHBEA.com.

The short answer is maybe.

To understand this answer one needs to recognize that the show circuit, representing a small but important portion of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, has reached a crossroad and is hesitant. Last year, prior to the 2006 National Celebration and the three shows leading up to it, the show circuit was still in denial. The shutdown of the industry’s pinnacle event was a turning point in the world’s awareness of the animal welfare problems within the Tennessee Walking Horse show circuit. The Kentucky Horse Park, the site for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, initially did not want the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) to showcase our breed due to the soring issues highlighted at the 2006 National Celebration. After explaining the TWHBEA’s efforts to restore industry integrity, they allowed our horse to again be exhibited.

This year’s walking horse registrations are down 30 percent and sales have declined 25 percent. The TWHBEA’s mid-year Board of Director’s meeting paired those calling for industry change against those wanting to abandon the progressive programs that provide for uniform standards. The progressive TWHBEA leadership is openly being opposed. Violations for soring are still occurring and the new stricter USDA Operating Plan has already been amended. The Humane Society of the US is lobbying the USDA for stricter enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. All of these situations raise attention to a show circuit in turmoil with some still unwilling to take the progressive steps necessary to effectuate total change. The above items overshadow the industry’s non-show circuit growth areas, such as trail preservation and education, versatility, breeding, youth initiatives, and recreation.

The TWHBEA is the breed registry with 460,000 horses registered and 20,000 members. The Association is working to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse and its welfare. We believe that the show circuit has issues due to the appearance of a lack of independence between those that own and train horses and those that inspect and judge them. For this reason, the TWHBEA adopted and agreed to sponsor an industry self-regulating plan. This USDA-endorsed Sanctioning Plan was adopted to implement uniform standards for inspections and judging using one industry rule book. We believe that the majority of the show industry is for change; however due to concerns that trainers and owners may not show their horses at sanctioned events, show managers are hesitant to embrace the TWHBEA sponsored plan. During this first year of the Sanctioning Plan implementation, 33 of the 450 industry events adopted this plan.

Change comes from within. As long as horses continue to be in non-compliance at events and participants continue to receive violation tickets, the industry will appear as unwilling to change. Although the past year represents some positive changes including tighter rules at the 2007 National Celebration, there is now a much heightened awareness of the industry’s animal welfare and enforcement issues. The public is being asked to join with the TWHBEA (www.twhbea.com) and support our efforts to promote and protect our Tennessee Walking Horse. Together we can change the image of this industry and restore the Tennessee Walking Horse to its renowned status….recognized and respected worldwide for its unique gait and gentle disposition.

More Stories

  • Obituary - Karen Pendleton

    Karen Jo Wright Pendleton, 66, of Mt. Sterling, died Monday, Feb. 12, at her residence surrounded by her family. She was born Mar. 15, 1951 in Lexington to the late Wheeler and Retta Stephens Wright. Read More
  • APHIS launches webpage for frequently requested records

    The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is launching a new “Frequently Requested Records” page on our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) e-reading room, in accordance with the FOIA statute Read More
  • Pre-entry available for Rising Star Ranch Colt Preview

    The Rising Star Ranch Colt Preview showcases the new crop of stars that will be coming to the show rings in 2018. At Rising Star Ranch we want to help the trainers and owners present their entries in our Colt Preview in the most professional manner... Read More
  • Youth Council hosts first annual “Tennessee Globewalkers” basketball game

    We are doing it again! Having fun and raising money to help one of our own! You’ve heard of the “Harlem Globetrotters.” Now you have a chance to see and experience the “Tennessee Globewalkers!"... Read More
  • Owners excel in 2017

    Valentine’s Day and honoring the owners with an annual banquet always come close together and highlight February. The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) hosted a fabulous banquet with their usual tremendous crowd on Saturday, Feb. 10. The banquet was hosted to honor those who did well in 2017. Read More
  • Trainers' Show offers rich history; a must stop for many contenders

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association serves as host to its annual show each year, oftenreferred to by industry insiders as simply “The Trainers’ Show” — and it’s become a must stop for many of the industry’s best of the best as they embark on the new show season. Read More
  • Equine Education – coming to Shelbyville!

    The youth is the future of the walking horse industry, and, quite simply, the more kids interested, the better off the industry. That’s the line of thinking Jerry Harris had when he began organizing Equine In Education, a program scheduled to take place in Shelbyville, Tennessee March 9 at the Calsonic Arena. Read More
  • Shane Shiflet Photography Special

    Starting Monday Feb. 12 through noon on Feb. 16, you can buy 5 images between 2008 and 2017 from any show for $175. Over a 50% savings! These will be emailed, cropped and color corrected high res images that you will own to do whatever you like.   Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase adds class

    The FAST Spring Showcase, scheduled for Apr. 13-14, has added a class to their original schedule. Class 11a on Friday evening will be Amateur Lite-Shod... Read More
  • WHAA hosts barn party & auction

    Items for the auction are needed. Breeding fees to some of the top stallions in the industry and training fees for many of the top trainers will be available at the auction. Everyone is encouraged to bring your horses to preview for the upcoming show season. Read More