A "Unity Committee" will be formed to discuss issues related to the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse in the show ring and also to discuss unification within the performance horse division.
However, the group objected to any reduction of pads and action devices for walking horses, also opposing proposed mandatory penalties by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
On Wednesday, the boards of directors of four groups involved in the walking horse industry, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA), Walking Horse Owners' Association (WHOA), Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA) and The Celebration, met to talk over the future of the industry, according to a press release from the combined groups.
The meeting was in response to recent presentations made to members of the equine industry by Dr. Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator for Animal Care at the USDA.
They decided to form the committee, which would be made up of three representatives from each group, which will have one week to discuss and appoint individuals to the committee.
The committee would have no official decision making power and is to gather information and then report back to the four groups.
The Celebration, TWHBEA, WHOA and WHTA also established a series of goals and objectives:
l To support one rulebook and judges list.
l Implement a program to be inclusive of all aspects of the flat shod and padded performance Tennessee Walking Horse.
l Market all facets of the breed.
l Develop an organizational structure for the committee.
l Create and implement a unified public relations effort.
l Promote education in all aspects of the Tennessee Walking Horse.
"In addition, the group also took a unified position of being against any reduction of pads and action devices and being opposed to the proposed USDA mandatory penalties," the press release stated.
Jackie Brown, who facilitated the meeting, stated that "the industry should be most grateful for all of their leaders who attended and offered their thoughts and ideas as related to 'what is best for the horse, what is best for the industry.'"
The release said 44 people from the groups invited were in attendance.