Editor’s Note:  The Walking Horse Report recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows.  Meadows recently released the new class schedule for the 2010 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to be held August 25-September 4.

WHR – What has been your feedback on the changes to the class schedule for the 2010 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration?
DM –For the most part people are appreciative of the class additions as well as those that were divided (i.e. English and Western tack).  Every change that was made was done so with reluctance and lots of hours of research.  No changes were made arbitrarily. Most people were really excited about the changes and class divisions.

When I’m showing with my daughter I want all of her classes scheduled so that it is easy and convenient for ME.  However so does everyone else.  Ultimately we have to show with the schedule we are presented. 

WHR – Do you see a reduction in the number of registrations of Tennessee Walking Horses affecting The Celebration?
DM – Certainly, but more importantly I’m concerned about having people to show them.  That is why we have to do everything we can to showcase our exhibitor such as our “Stars of the Future” on the last Saturday night.  We have to do everything we can to encourage potential horse owners to be involved with our breed.

WHR – It seems that you continue to focus on the growth of the youth and pleasure divisions.  Is that an accurate statement?
DM – Absolutely, youth continue to be an area we have to promote.  I don’t know if any of you have noticed but the age of the exhibitor at the Celebration continues to get older.  More significant is our additions to the flat shod division because of the new class structure available to our flat shod exhibitors.  The Celebration wanted to make those classes available and if we have good participation in those classes we will continue to offer them in subsequent Celebrations.  If flat shod exhibitors don’t support these classes they will be deleted in 2011.  We are really making an effort to support the flat shod industry.

WHR – When will you announce the judging panel for the 2010 Celebration?
DM – We are just now starting the selection process and it will culminate on or near July 15th.

WHR – Who is considered as a possible Celebration judge?
DM – To start, everyone that is a AAA judge on the list of SHOW judges is a potential candidate.  We have also received many recommendations from leaders of horse industry groups.  Many factors go into the selection of each member of the judging panel.

WHR – What has been your overall impression of the industry in 2010 vs. 2009?
DM – I definitely feel more positive about how things are today than at this point in 2009.  I think the judging, inspection process and overall optimism of our industry is better today than at any point in 2009.

WHR – What is your impression of the SHOW HIO?
DM – We are very pleased with the progress of the SHOW HIO.  I appreciate both the inspection process and emphasis on judging that has taken place during 2010.  However, most people do not realize SHOW has been a tremendous financial burden on The Celebration and our board looks forward to the SHOW HIO achieving its independence in the near future.

It is important to note that just because The Celebration stepped up financially and has funded the SHOW HIO, we are interested in the progress and success of all HIOs.  Our World Championship horse show is an all-inclusive horse show and we pride ourselves on providing the venue for all Tennessee Walking Horses to come and compete for World and World Grand Championship honors.

The Celebration is primarily an organization to manage and conduct horse shows.  Our success relies on those entries that choose to show at our three horse shows.  We believe strongly that the success of all HIOs is integral to the success of our horse show, which is the ultimate goal of The Celebration.

WHR – How did the Fun Show do in 2010?  What was the economic impact to The Celebration?
DM – The 2010 Fun Show was better in every aspect including number of horses and entries and ultimately resulted in increased revenue for The Celebration.  Most people are unaware, but The Celebration has typically lost money with the Fun Show.  In 2009 we lost a significant amount of money and in 2010 the Fun Show will have a positive impact on The Celebration meaning we will lose less money this year.

WHR – Sponsorship was a challenge in 2009.  Have sponsorships picked up for 2010?
DM – Sponsorships have not picked up for 2010.  That is the bad news.  The good news is we are already very near the 2009 corporate sponsorship levels.  Actually, corporate sponsorship commitments go out July 1.  I truly applaud those people that have maintained their sponsorships with us during tough economic times.

WHR – How have advanced ticket sales and box seat sales been in 2010 vs. 2009?
DM – We are down less than 10% year-to-date compared 2009 levels.  Ultimately I think both box seat and advanced seat sales will be very close to 2009 levels.