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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Respect from Trainers Association

Posted Friday, January 11, 2013, at 3:40 PM

How do you feel about donations from Shelbyville and Bedford County to the Walking Horse Trainers' Association?

Has this organization helped itself sufficiently?

Of course there is some different leadership this year, but a year ago they seemed arrogant to me, an outsider, but a taxpayer.

Does the organization ever consider what Shelbyville and Bedford County has done for the walking horse industry rather than putting us down for failure to do enough?

Bedford County, especially Shelbyville, got loads of bad publicity a year ago over actions of some trainers, most of whom didn't live here but showed horses here.

We weren't the problem. In other words, I hope the new leadership will refrain from shaking a fist while holding a hand out.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

"Does the organization ever consider what Shelbyville and Bedford County has done for the walking horse industry rather than putting us down for failure to do enough?"

"They seemed arrogant to me, an outsider, but a taxpayer."

I find these words offensive and unnecessary. The Walking Horse Industry takes a huge hit from the h$u$ USDA inspectors with an agenda so they don't need the citizens of Bedford County trashing them as well.

Stop and look at what happens when any multi night show is held in Shelbyville Tennessee the Walking Horse Capital of the World. Prices go up over night in some stores and restaurants as well as Motels. The biggest issue with this is the product is the same and in some cases a little less.

A lot of businesses depend on the revenue from the Celebration to push them over the top so they show a profit for the year. Bedford County has 14 different charities that depend on the Celebration to fund their causes.

Owners of these horses buy second homes in Shelbyville and the surrounding areas and pay taxes year round. These taxes help keep Shelbyville and Bedford going. A good question to ask would be what can we the people of Tennessee do to preserve this industry and keep the Celebration and our horse shows alive.

I was born and raised in Bedford County and love it with a passion and I have that same passion for our horse. I know what it has given to Tennessee through the years and now I wonder if Tennessee some times forgets. Even though I no longer live in Shelbyville I'm here almost every day.I remember when Shelbyville rolled out the Red Carpet for our visitors but those days have ended and now you ask if they know what Shelbyville has done for them. Why don't you tell us.

How do I feel about giving money to the Trainers for their show? Why don't you check your tax increase during their show and just give them that amount after all they are the ones who are earning it for the town and county.

-- Posted by caper on Sat, Jan 12, 2013, at 9:18 AM

I agree with a lot of what you say caper, but when a business is threatened to pay to display a sign in front of their building or they'll put them out of business I call that being arrogant.

-- Posted by bomelson on Sat, Jan 12, 2013, at 3:16 PM

I have issues with our government using our tax money to donate to the groups they choose for us!!!

-- Posted by wildwoman on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 7:01 AM

Caper . . . the Celebration is becoming less of an economic factor due to the many problems that have plagued it in recent years. Use to be that there was a waiting list to get box seats for years in advance but now you can buy one during the event and many business are given free tickets to try and fill up the many empty seats in the arena. In fact, I eventually see the demise of the event because of the greed of many of the horse owners and trainers which causes them to abuse the animals. This negative image affects Shelbyville and Bedford County and the citizens that live here while many of these horse owners do not even live here. I was born here and currently live here and get tired of Shelbyville and Bedford County spending time and resources on the Celebration and coddling their pride when they could use those resources to lure real industry and jobs to this area.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 7:01 AM

The horse show has been an integral part of Shelbyville's identity for a long time. But nothing lasts forever. It would require intentional blindness not to see that the current event is significantly diminished. They still have the power to prevent the sort of adverse media locally that they receive elsewhere, but it is a sign of the times that today they can be refused monetary demands. Taking a realistic look at the relationship between the horse show and Shelbyville:

Nonprofits: The single most positive contribution of the horse show to the local community is the concessions run by local service groups. For most such groups, the horse show remains their single biggest source of income, and we should be grateful for that contribution over the years. However, the dwindling attendance has to be negatively impacting those revenues. If current trends continue, there will have to be changes in how these groups are structured.

Taxes: The horse show would not be well-served to push for any analysis of the true effect on local tax revenues. I have taken the local sales tax receipts by month for Shelbyville, and the "bump" in sales taxes for August/September is negligible. Performing the same analysis for other area cities, all of them have a similar "bump" for those months, due to the back-to-school spending. As a matter of fact, in a retail center like Murfreesboro (and, at one time, Tullahoma) the back-to-school "bump" far exceeds that of Shelbyville/Bedford County. While a few local businesses might rely on some horse show money, the actual sales impact of the show is virtually nonexistant. This time period does bring in the largest occupancy tax returns, but they are not that much larger than the other vacation months. In any event, occupancy taxes do not go to the city or county. They go to the Chamber of Commerce. On the other hand, what is never mentioned are the property taxes. The horse show complex has a long-standing "PILOT" setup which allows them to pay far below the normal property taxes. It is safe to say that the property tax break far exceeds any additional sales and occupancy taxes that are received locally.

Image: Shelbyville and the horse show have long been connected in image. As the public perception of the show has been negatively impacted, Shelbyville's own image has suffered along with it. There is a widespread belief that in the Walking Horse industry exists a culture of indifference to animal cruelty. I am not taking sides, but realistically that is how the industry is percieved. Shelbyville and Bedford County are seen as accessories to this culture. It remains to be seen if the will exists to change this image. The show has survived soring scandals for decades, and I am sure there exists a segment of the industry that believes they can always continue to do business as usual, and the scrutiny will eventually go away. The current state of the show would indicate otherwise.

I am not a horse show detractor. I believe that it has made a positive contribution to the local area for many years. However, for that to continue they must find the will to genuinely clean up their own house. At this time, any contributions by local governments are just that; contributions. For the horse show to return to its former status, creating a genuine economic impact and enhancing the city's image rather than tarnishing it, the Walking Horse industry will have to change.

-- Posted by lazarus on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 9:35 AM

Lazarus . . . . thanks for that comment. Some of the statements you made enlightened me and gave me a better understanding about the relationship between the city/county and the walking horse industry. I agree about the financial impact because at one time people use to complain about traffic that the horse show brought in and how busy retail stores and the roads would be but now I hardly notice a difference when the horse show is going on and when it is not.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Jan 13, 2013, at 2:46 PM

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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette. He passed away November 15, 2014, at age 81.
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