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Celebration to quicken test results

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is changing procedures that are used to detect signs of soring.

The show's board of directors on Monday announced in a news release that for the first time, it will make the results of chemical tests public and it will result in trainers immediately losing their trophies and prize money if caught abusing horses.

Each horse entered in the Celebration will be swabbed for chemicals that harm the horse or mask soring.

No more delays

While in the past the results of such chemical testing could be delayed for weeks, the new results will return in about 24 hours (possibly up to 48), said Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows, in an interview with the T-G this morning. The initiative is primarily being funded by TWSHO, an industry group formed earlier this summer whose main function is promoting the walking horse.

The show begins Wednesday and runs through Sept. 1.

"The Celebration is the premier Tennessee walking horse event in the world, so it is only fitting that we lead the way in reforming the industry so that all horses are treated humanely and trained in a safe environment," said Meadows.

Meadows said results from the tests will be issued through press releases sent out to the media.

Horses will also undergo physical inspection by USDA inspectors.

Contested rules

The USDA implemented a new rule this summer mandating stiffer penalties for soring and other related violations, and other walking horse groups, including the Walking Horse Trainers' Association, have also started new testing and penalties this year.

SHOW, the HIO operated by The Celebration, is challenging that rule in federal court, stating that being forced to administer those penalties denies the accused due process and leaves inspectors open to legal action.

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