THETA, TN –  The Social Media communications between Celebration Chairman David L. Howard and Sound Horse Advocate Donna Benefield reported here last week has resumed.

The latest resulted when long time Tennessee Walking Horse enthusiast Mr.Bob Medina of Skillman, New Jersey,  was highly critical of the Celebration’s S.H.O.W. HIO horse inspectors at the National Trainers Show on a message board.    Mr.Medina suggested that show management use other HIOs, and that he would far rather have the USDA inspect his horses rather than the Celebration’s S.H.O.W. HIO.

Celebration Chairman David L Howard took offense to Mr. Medina’s statements and responded on a message board.

Sound Horse Advocate Donna Benefield weighed in on Mr. Howard’s comments and made the following post on her Facebook page.



“This morning I read a disturbing comment on the Walking Horse Report Message Board (Owned by David Howard). This comment was made to Mr. Bob Medina, an exhibitor and owner of Tennessee Walking Horses.

Quote: “Frankly, you don’t know what the hell you are talking about and I will try to work it out where SHOW checks horses and the USDA checks you.”

In reading this disturbing comment, it appears that Mr. Howard implies that he has the power to influence and control not only the S.H.O.W. inspectors, but also the U.S.D.A.

SHOW is an HIO (Horse Industry Organization), which is an inspection program, certified by the U.S.D.A., under the TWH Nat’l. Celebration.

Mr. Howard’s comment implies that he has a relationship with the Department of Agriculture, where he would have the power to influence what they do and how they do it.

Mr. Howard owns the TWH publication, The Walking Horse Report, and is chairman of the TWH Nat’l Celebration (the World Championship horse show), that the U.S.D.A. inspection program (SHOW) is certified under. For an exhibitor and trainer, this could be viewed as quite a threat.

For many years I have heard trainers, and the public, making comments suspecting this very thing. Never thinking that Mr. Howard would actually come out on a message board confirming it.”

Donna Benefield -  Nationally Recognized Equine Expert

Donna Benefield – Nationally Recognized Equine Expert





Sound Horse Advocate  Donna Benefield  published a tongue in cheek  “Confidential Alert”  on her Facebook.

And the man behind the curtain,  David L. Howard  ill-advisedly decided to reproach her.

Then Ms. Benefield responded.

It’s not sure if Mr. Howard will attempt to volley back or not.

Discretion would probably be the better part of valor on his part.

Here is the  dialogue:


CONFIDENTIAL ALERT: I just received a call from a Big Lick trainer, informing me that the National Trainer’s Association “Secret Meeting,” that was held this morning about 9 A.M., was to discuss whether to have the Trainer’s Show this weekend. I was told, no solution was reached, so it will resume this evening about 5 P.M to vote, on whether to even have a SHOW SEASON. This is to remain CONFIDENTIAL.When asked why, when only 2% of the industry is soring, I was informed that they do not want to continue until the USDA compromises. (Another attempt at the “Tail wagging the dog.”)I was told that this all is based on this past weeks SHOW DQP Training with the USDA. I was told that SHOW was informed that any wrinkles on the posterior area of the pastern will be considered a violation. (This would confirm exactly what our USDA/DQP training VMO informed us two weeks ago.)

They also said that the USDA informed them, they were to enforce the Mandatory Penalties (Imagine that. They aren’t being allowed to pick and choose which regulations they have to enforce! It just isn’t fair. Maybe Steve Smith or Marsha Blackburn can help them.)

I was informed that the USDA stated that they would be requesting Letters of Warning on ALL SHOW DQPs that did not enforce the law. (That has been done in the past, and the HIO refused to issue the Letters of Warning. And what happened”¦..nothing.)

Lastly, I was informed that the USDA was going to inspect behind the DQPs on every horse. (So.)

(FYI-The Whitfield Amendment has not even passed yet. So what’s the big deal?)

There you have it. The latest from the Trainer’s Association office (previously a funeral home) in downtown Shelbyville. Understand, I’m receiving this all second hand from a trainer, so I recommend that you confirm this.

And don’t forget this is all to remain CONFIDENTIAL. So don’t tell anyone outside of this breed or the USDA!


David L. Howard  Donna before posting something so factually inaccurate, you should do a little checking. its awfully convenient when you don’t have the courage to name your source and if they don’t want to be named you shouldn’t spread the misinformation. If you were so pure and correct in your position, you wouldn’t have to resort to these kind of underhanded tactics. I thought more of you than that but getting in bed with Marty Irby will do that to you.


Donna Benefield  David, I understand your interest in the name of my source/sources. But for obvious reasons, they prefer to remain anonymous, and I am known for protecting my sources. And of course, if I revealed my sources, I would lose them, which would please you.

Perhaps if you refrained from high school attacks on individuals that have reformed and no longer support the sore side of the TWH industry, they might not be so reluctant. On other sites, people complain that people don’t sign their names. As an FYI, I always sign my name to whatever I post, so there is no confusion.

With regard to the accuracy of my comments, I stated exactly what I was told. Now if you are so concerned about the accuracy of the content, why play games? Just state what the facts are. But this would be out of character for you.  

Surely you are aware. You are not exactly revered as the poster child of integrity, on either side of the soring issue. You have control over the Celebration, and reap financial leverage from your position. For you it is undisguised. It is about the money, not the horse. You have held many in this breed hostage for profit.

Regarding Marty Irby, you obviously carry a grudge with regard to him. Whining is really unattractive coming from a man your age. I would suggest you get over it. Marty works for a Congressman in Washington, as you know. If the day comes that anyone has to come to the table over this PAST Act and the TWH issues, I suspect Marty will be at the table. It might behoove you to use good judgment when you so freely denigrate him on all these public forums. It undoubtedly will not produce results that you might hope for.

I would like to mirror your mendacious comment, “I thought more of you than that”¦”¦”, but I won’t. Frankly, I expected no less from you.


The comment last week at the end of Chapter One was:

“Looks like the skillet is getting hot in Shelbyville.”

It sure as heck has.


Share this: