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Cantrell: We do ‘it’ because we believe in our horse




(Editor’s Note: The following tribute was written and submitted by Bill Cantrell, current president of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association.)

In celebrating our 50th Walking Horse Trainers Association Anniversary, this is a salute to all the dedicated professional trainers that have passed through these “gates” . . . and the ones yet to come.  

We are on the verge of a great show season because so many dedicated people love this horse and are putting their time, effort, and money to make sure our gifted animal gets the recognition it needs. The professional trainer is so blessed with family, friends, fans, and devout, supportive customers that have been the cornerstone of this industry in the past, present, and the future. We are all wishing everyone 50 more years of continued enjoyment of loving this special animal. 

Sometimes, I think we could use an extra dose of “hope” in addressing the issues we face daily as professional trainers in the walking horse industry. At times, we feel our troubled hearts can’t take much more of the rules, regulations, sanctions, and demands placed on our job as professional trainers.   
I can’t offer much solace to these adversities, but being a professional trainer for 58 years has certainly taught me a few things that I hold close in the wake of the good times and in the bad times. 
 
I have learned: 

1. Most professional trainers are BELIEVERS. If they were not, many would have not sustained the challenging times and stress-filled days. Sometimes even feelings of fear, anxiety and worry want to overwhelm us. Our faith in a higher being gives us the will to continue and relish in the favor that God has given us this beautiful horse to share with the world. 

2. Most professional trainers have INTEGRITY, uphold a high work ethic, and provide standard of care to our beloved animal. The love and care they give to this treasure . . . the Tennessee Walking Horse . . . is beyond compare. 

3. Most professional trainers are CARING. When one of our own or anyone in the industry is in need, we are the first to step up to help. We have so many wonderful examples of our charitable and virtuous deeds to others in their time of need. 

4. Most professional trainers are RESILIENT. “Bouncing back” under any set of conditions is our trademark. We always find new ways to endure, cope, and move forward.

5. Most professional trainers are very CAPABLE and have excelled in their chosen field. They are knowledgeable and work hard to enter and show compliant horses while adhering to all the rules and regulations of the industry. The wonderful customers have placed trust in their trainer to bring out the best in their horse. 

6. Most professional trainers are OPPORTUNITY-GIVERS and LIFE-CHANGERS. We always have a welcome mat out for visitors. We give small children “the ride of their life." We help older adults achieve desired goals in and out of the show ring that they never believed were attainable. 

7. Most professional trainers are TRUTH-SPEAKERS. I’ve heard their voices. I’ve sensed the desperation in their tone, and I’ve listened to their pleas on behalf of our beautiful horse. I can think of no other professional group that endorses the truth about our horse even above the sighs of politics, louder than the cries of hopelessness, and stronger than the gasps of ignorance. These are our PROFESSIONAL TRAINERS who are trying desperately to give new born life to our special horse and to the industry at large.  A daunting task it is! 
 
So . . . how do we Professional Trainers do it?  
How do we keep our fortitude when we at times are continuously overshadowed by a wall of confusion, distrust, and despair? I will tell you how we do it.  

We BELIEVE in our horse. We cling to their resilience and capabilities. And we thrive on our horse’s willingness to say to us . . . "BELIEVE IN ME. THERE IS STILL HOPE. YOU AND I ARE A TEAM. WE DO IT TOGETHER." 
 
Written and Submitted by: 
Bill Cantrell, WHTA President

 

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