A group of owners, trainers and breeders from across the industry established a $1 million funding goal Friday during the walking horse Fun Show to start a new group charged with promoting the breed and other goals.
The new group is called the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO).
Horse enthusiasts gathered inside Calsonic Arena for an informational session regarding issues facing the industry, according to the Walking Horse Report. As part of the informational session, the attendees were updated on the current state of the show horse industry and briefed on an enforcement initiative of the Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA).
"The WHTA is asking the four primary (horse industry organizations) that inspect performance and pleasure horses, horse shows and trainers to participate in a swabbing initiative," the article said.
The meeting concluded with the formation of the new group, called the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization.
"Initially the new group will focus on finalizing and funding the Swabbing and Blood Testing Initiative, hiring a public relations firm to help promote the show horse and beginning a political initiative to interact and educate state and national political representatives," the article said.
Longtime walking horse owner Randall Baskin issued a challenge to match all contributions raised through the WHTA up to $100,000.
"They are trying to do it for the right reasons," said State Rep. Pat Marsh, who is also a Celebration Board member. "...We want to make sure we have every sore horse out of the industry ... They have a huge plan and they're really working it right now, and trying to get all the major players on board."
Earlier last week, another industry group, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitor's Association, voted to ask The Celebration to resign its post from its "Unity Committee." It was reported the Celebration would not do this, and therefore, TWHBEA, the group that founded the Unity Committee, decided to leave the committee.
The Unity Committee was formed this year after the USDA's Dr. Chester Gipson, the deputy administrator for Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) suggested the entire industry come together -- unite -- to work toward a common goal, Marsh said.
Marsh, and Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows, said prior to the formation of this committee, the industry's biggest problem was having too many groups, each speaking with a different "voice."
"The whole intent was to speak with one voice," Marsh said.
"I don't know what happened the other day," Marsh said, explaining turmoil ensued after the recent Jackie McConnell video was released, showing abuse toward horses. "I heard some of their group (TWHBEA) voted to ask the Celebration to leave and I don't know why."