SSHBEA show moves toward championships

Friday, September 30, 2005

Federal horse inspectors are expected tonight and tomorrow night for the last days of the 21st Annual Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association World Grand Championship in Calsonic Arena.

Danny Ray Davis (T-G Photo by Clint Confehr)

"I expect them [tonight] because they've never missed," said Danny Ray Davis of Unionville, director of the Designated Qualified Persons (DQPs) for SSHBEA, a program that provides inspectors who help the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Because of the nature of their breed and association rules, Spotted Saddle Horse enthusiasts on Thursday night were largely unconcerned about inspections and took pleasure in more than trail riding horses as the fall weather had turned crisp.

"They're frisky," Connie Waldo of Shelbyville quipped about the horses. "The cool weather makes them rambunctious. It's happy air. Weather makes a difference."

Waldo continued in jest, saying she planned to ride stick horses tonight. The wooden horse riding competition for children is on the SSHBEA schedule for tonight.

There had been "no violations" of the Horse Protection Act "as of yet," Davis said Thursday night, adding he didn't anticipate any because DQPs have discussed the Horse Protection Act to owners, breeders and trainers during the months leading to this championship.

When USDA Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs) attend horse shows, they're there to observe DQPs to be sure the federal law is being enforced. Health of the horses is the issue and Davis explained lame horses shouldn't be shown, nor should a horse that is found to be sensitive to having parts of its leg pressed below the ankle.

That's called palpation of the pastern which is between the coronary band at the top of the hoof and the ankle. Palpation is the pressing of the bottom, or ball, of the thumb on the horse's leg until the thumbnail turns white.

Davis explained Thursday night why he expects no violations: "I explained it to the government last year like this; 'During the one-night shows, we educated the trainers to do it like this, and do that like that, and it really helps.'"

Davis also said, SSHBEA "rules don't allow chains," also known as action devices which are a visible method used to cause a higher step by walking horses. He says he believes that without the use of action devices, a host of other questions don't arise during the inspection of a saddle horse.

Meanwhile, other discussions among Spotted Saddle Horse enthusiasts Thursday showed again there are more people interested in spotted horses recently and that raised knotty questions; why and what's the effect.

Whether it's a problem of success, unintended consequences or the economy nobody could say for sure, but greater popularity of the spotted horse may have increased their supply and decreased their price, according to a few people close to the issue.

Jerry Brumagen (T-G Photo by Clint Confehr)

Jerry Brumagen of Richmond, Ky., owns nine Spotted Saddle Horses and says "Turnout has been outstanding" for the show. "The first two nights had 300 entries and there are a lot of new people showing."

As with other horse shows, many of the animals are available for sale, and Brumagen is asking $20,000 for a 2-year-old trail pleasure spotted horse that's been tested to be a homozygous filly, meaning it will almost assuredly produce a Spotted Saddle Horse.

The $20,000 price is high "for right now," Brumagen said.

He adds that Ronnie Sapp of Pikeville trained the horse, Pride of Wolf.

But he continues, "Horses now are not selling too good."

Reasons he listed include the economy.

"You take fuel prices and a lot of people being out of a job and then there has begun to be a number of horses. There is a world of horses," he said.

Asked if there's been a great deal of breeding of Spotted Saddle Horses, Brumagen replies, "For the last few years, I'm going to say that there has. There's a lot of breeding."

It may be to meet the demand from people who've become more interested in spotted horses, he said.

"Here in the last few years, a lot of people have gotten into the horse business, but I'd say it's like the cattle business. When prices are high, people get into it and when prices get low, they get out."

Tony Edwards of Shelbyville has other observations.

"A good horse always brings good money," Edwards said. "There are more horses on the market, but there are more on the low end. And people are breeding more. I don't know why."

As for the crowd in Calsonic Arena on Thursday night, Brenda Wright of Chickamagua, Ga., said people were qualifying their horses for competition during the championships tonight and tomorrow. Wright is a member of the SSHBEA Board of Directors and chairs the Trail Pleasure Committee.

The current SSHBEA show "is one of the best shows they've had in the past several years," said Howard Hamilton of Southern Serenity Ranch. "The horses look good and the industry is doing well. It was down in a few previous years, but the feeling in the air is better."