Approximately 97 percent of horses passed inspection at the 42nd annual Spring Fun Show, one of the walking horse industry's season openers. The show was held last Thursday through Saturday at Calsonic Arena.
Of 599 examinations, inspectors issued citations for 16 of them, said Dr. Stephen Mullins, president of SHOW, the Celebration's horse industry organization charged with ensuring horses are in compliance with the Horse Protection Act. SHOW stands for Sound Horses, Honest Judging, Objective Inspections, and Winning Fairly.
"The USDA was on site and working with us throughout the entire show, and they were in total agreement with our inspection findings and what transpired," Mullins said.
"USDA personnel followed behind us and did their own pre-show inspections on several horses. They also swabbed many horses and then they did post-show inspections on all horses that finished either second or third in the show. We did a thorough job, and likewise, the USDA did a thorough and complete job."
It will take several weeks for the results from the swab tests, which look for banned chemicals on the horses' legs, to be complete.
"Well, we had a good show," said Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows. "With all these things going on I think it was positive for us."
The Protection Act is designed to eliminate soring in the training of Tennessee Walking Horses.
"Of (the) 16 violations (issued at the Fun Show), not all were violations of the Horse Protection Act. Some were merely minor violations of our SHOW regulations," Mullins said. "...While this is one of our industry's larger shows, we will follow our standard procedure for this event. Those who were cited will have 30 days to appeal, and all findings will be submitted to the USDA. Though it seems that some of our critics are unaware of this, it is standard procedure for us to make the USDA aware of each violation we cite at each event."
Mullins said it is significant that the USDA chose not to write any citations during the event.
"Throughout the event, the USDA randomly pulled aside horses, but it never felt that a citation was warranted, which says a lot about the industry and how the horses were checked. The manner in which we inspected the horses was apparently regarded as complying with approved standards and practices, and the way we conducted our examinations at the Fun Show was in accordance with what we always do," Mullins said.
Meadows agreed, stating, "The government was there all three nights and never issued a single ticket."
This year's entries at the Fun Show were down 13 entries. Last year, 457 horses entered the show and in 2010, 450 were entered.
Jamie Bradshaw, Ray Gilmer and Andy Simpson judged the event, which crowned I'm Copperfield and Knox Blackburn as winners in the show's championship class for owner Mike Walden. He's Slim Shady and Jimmy McConnell earned reserve while He's My Main Man and Winky Groover rounded out the top three.