(Editor's Note: The following press release was issued by the Walking Horse Trainers' Association Wednesday, March 28.)
The Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA) serves the best interest of its members and remains committed to protecting the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Since the passage of the Horse Protection Act and introduction of the Horse Industry Organization (HIO) program by the USDA, the WHTA has strongly supported inspections at affiliated shows.
Change is inevitable in any industry and the Walking Horse industry has seen significant changes in the last 40 years. The WHTA is proud of the progress its members have made in the training and care of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The WHTA continues to ensure proper training methods are used throughout industry training operations.
The WHTA will continue its support of the HIO program and is even more committed to making sure the welfare of the horse is first and foremost on the minds of professional trainers. In order to do this the WHTA will be announcing a new initiative that will focus on even more demanding enforcement of its rules and the Horse Protection Act.
This new initiative will concentrate on areas where objective methods can be used to ensure proper training methods. The new enforcement initiative of the WHTA will focus its research and development on a comprehensive drug-testing program as well as utilizing "swabbing" to ensure the welfare of horses in the show ring.
Time is of the essence and the WHTA is aware of the intense scrutiny focused on its profession. Work has already begun on the new initiative working in conjunction with American Association of Equine Practitioners veterinarians on the drug and swabbing tests. Given the nature and complexity of the testing to be implemented, the WHTA will be extremely thorough in forming guidelines for members to follow.
The future of the Tennessee Walking Horse and its trainers is a bright one. We have a horse that is unlike any other show horse in the world and has and will continue to demonstrate its incredible versatility in show rings across the country and in other parts of the world. As we embark on this new chapter in our association and our enhanced commitment to the welfare of our horse we ask for your support.