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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Horse industry needs chance but with a watchful eye

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Requests by officials of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to Shelbyville's city council and the Bedford County Commission for a total of $11,500 in support of two horse shows bring on a perfect occasion for local officials to take a stand.

Some feel that it's imperative for local governing bodies to support Bedford County's equine industry. The daily business of training and stabling horses, combined with yearly horse shows held at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration grounds, Calsonic Arena and Wartrace, among other locations, inarguably have a major effect on the area's economy.

Others, for reasons ranging from dislike of temporary heavy visitor traffic to concern over alleged abuse of horses, are strongly against such expenditure of taxpayers' dollars.

Overriding all other concerns should be protecting the area's reputation.

The federal government is cracking down on alleged abuses within the Tennessee walking horse community. Allegations of "soring" the feet of horses to enhance their high-stepping gaits have increased in recent years. Organizations representing trainers and exhibitors respond with complaints of unfair treatment.

I suspect the Celebration and some local leaders want governing bodies' donations to appear as signs of official support of the walking horse business. Further actions by some, such as near-demands to hang banners throughout Shelbyville each August and occasional harsh criticism of those who don't support the "industry," appear to be attempts to portray the entire city and county as a community entirely and unquestioningly enthralled by horses.

To the vast majority who don't closely follow horse shows, abusive actions of a small number of renegade trainers carry a danger of tainting an entire industry -- and community.

The donations should be awarded to the two shows this year as a sign of support. But those gifts should come with a caveat -- that if blatant abuses are discovered at either of the shows, then the money stops -- and a clear statement will be issued by the city and county on why the money stops.

Here's a chance to see if the horse industry will play fair -- and, in return, show its support for a community whose unbridled support it so often demands.

T-G copy editor David Melson can be contacted at dmelson@t-g.com.

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Let's take it a step further.

Any monies must be returned if that blatant abuse occurs.

This would give the shows and industry an extra incentive to police participants.

Additional penalties could be applied as needed.

An atypical bad element should not define an industry or a community.

The first time that brawls,bribes and bleeding hooves lead to a show being shut down,there will be a change in attitude.

When the guilty parties are banned and a show is not permitted to come back here,folks will take notice.

(Yes,that includes the Celebration and Fun Show.)

Of course,there will be fools and criminals who will want to cause trouble as well as the ones who are merely thoughtless and inconsiderate.

They are still with us even after forty five years of Federal supervision and industry sanctions.

But,one more layer of carrot-and-stick management could help restore our involvement with Tennessee Walkers to something that shows the breed and our community in their best light.

We won't do this by concealing negatives but by preventing them and illuminating the most positive aspects of our town and a breed of horse that is equally strong,intelligent,loving and beautiful.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Feb 2, 2012, at 10:44 AM

Overriding all other concerns should be protecting the area's reputation.

This should say, Overriding all other concerns should be protecting the animal. A reputation can be repaired, some of these horses are scarred for life!

-- Posted by Bill H on Fri, Feb 3, 2012, at 12:25 PM

The horse industry already squandered a chance. From mustard oil to buckets of kerosene. From paperyboys handing out The Tennessean already declaring the World Grand Champion before the show was over.

Maybe when the show finally breathes its last breath, the leaders will realize there is more to Shelbyville besides this "one trick pony".

I, for one, won't miss the flies or the drunk cowboy wannabees.

-- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Feb 3, 2012, at 5:18 PM

Growing up in Shelbyville i have always enjoyed going to the Show and continue to travel back and take my kids. If the FDA is going to be involved in the soring of the horses lets make sure they have people who know what they are looking for instead of the young kids who cant tell the difference between a scar from a hoof or from soring. People need to realize that the Celebration is a great thing for Shelbyville and the community. If you have a problem with the take your vacation out of town during. I look forward to many more years bringing my family back to Shelbyville so they too can experience waht so many like myself was able to experience growing up.

-- Posted by fiji931 on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 10:22 AM

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David Melson
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