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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Older barns bite the dust at TWHNC

Friday, October 7, 2011

The site of a barn demolition, with Evans Street in the background.
(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
Five of the older white horse barns are being torn down this week on the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration grounds.

The Celebration has made no official announcement about whether the barns will eventually be replaced, but officials have indicated that fewer stalls are needed on the grounds and that removing the older barns will add parking spaces.

A Celebration barn being demolished.
(T-G Photo by John I. Carney)
Horse owners and trainers prefer the newer metal barns on the site.

Metal barns stay

Until this week's demolition project, the Celebration had 60 barns with a total of 1,650 horse stalls. Of those, about 650 stalls are in newer metal barns, according to the Celebration's marketing media director Dale Barnett.

Those horse barns are used during the Celebration itself and during various other equine events held in Calsonic Arena throughout the year.

But fewer horse owners choose to house their horses full-time on the Celebration grounds during the 11-day TWHNC, choosing instead to house them overnight at nearby farms and bring them to the Celebration grounds as needed to show. The number of horses housed on-site has declined dramatically in recent years.

Lack of use

Margaret Eakin in the TWHNC entry office estimated that approximately 700 stalls -- fewer than half of those available -- were used during this year's Celebration.

When it comes to Calsonic Arena, shows that would be large enough to need 1,000 or more horse stalls may be too large to choose Shelbyville as a destination, because of the limited number of hotel rooms in the city. Most of the shows for which Calsonic Arena bids need only 300 to 400 stalls, although the facility is in the running for a national show next year which would use 550 stalls.

Cool response

Barnett said the main obstacle towards recruiting that show is air conditioning: other comparable horse arenas in Murfreesboro; Tulsa, Okla.; and Des Moines, Iowa have it, but Calsonic Arena doesn't.

In addition, the other three arenas have more nearby hotels and restaurants.

"The Celebration is indeed very unique in the fact that so many of the Tennessee Walking Horse trainers and owners have homes and farms in the area," said Barnett, "plus the fact that so many houses are rented out during that time to out-of-town guests. I do not know of the latter to occur anywhere else for any other horse shows of this magnitude in the U.S.

"While the Walking Horse industry and the Shelbyville-Bedford County community is clearly very comfortable with this arrangement, this is not going to be an option for just any random horse show to consider, having not established these same relationships locally as their shows grew into what they now are."

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