SHELBYVILLE, TN – The first thing you saw last night at every entrance to the grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration were two parked Tennessee State Trooper cars with blue lights flashing.
Then you saw these:
- And an armed guard in front of a concession stand:
For an event where the present demographic is predominantly 40 – 75 years of age this is a rather unusual setting when you walk in.
The Celebration in its present big lick form is dying.
The attendance for the first Saturday night of the 76th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was 25% – 30% of what it was a year ago.
There “might” have been 4,500 people attending.
In the heyday, the first Saturday night would draw approximately 18,000 – 22,000 people.
It has become clear that the Tennessee public will no longer support the Big Lick and, barring a change of course, the USDA is “finally” going to enforce the law to eliminate soring – not just regulate it.
And with 70% of the U. S. House and 63% of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed registry in favor of the PAST ACT, it’s only a matter of time.
America in 2014 is going to no longer stand for it.
IF the USDA stays the course for the next 7 days, the Celebration will never be the same.
There is no more 96% compliance rate.
It’s been blown to smithereens.
Of the 38 Horses the USDA checked on Thursday night, 21 were turned down as sore. That’s about 55%. The same percentages held for Friday night, and although Saturday night tablulations are not yet complete, it appears to be about the same.
Billy Go Boy said following the 2013 Celebration that the Compliance rate was more like 85%, and when the USDA enforces the Horse Protection Act, it’s a lot less than that.
A major factor in the USDA enforcing the Horse Protection Act at the 2014 Celebration was the letter procured by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) signed by 59 Congressmen and presented to U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
One of the most striking things is how old the people are who are still attending the Celebration. Another signal is the Bedford County Schools historically let out the week of the Celebration, and according to reports on the grounds, that didn’t happen this year. The 30 year announcer Bobby Sands has apparently been replaced. The ushers who used to be school teachers, are now more like temp help folks instead of the people who greeted the same people coming back each year.
The horses are coming into the ring “swing walking”. They are “slick”, they are more stepping pace than anything else.
They are not hitting a four beat gait.
Last night, only three horses made it in the 35 Years Old And Younger Trainers class.
In Division A of the Stake Class, only one horse answered the gate call.
In Division B of the Stake Class, six horses came into the ring, but “Saviour” horse “HONORS” did not make it.
The Celebration on its present course is doomed until this man and his son see the light.
TOXIC ENVIRONMENT PERMEATES ONCE PROUD TRADITION
And there was an unfortunate scenario which played out Saturday night.
The Spokesperson for the All American Walking Horse Alliance, Clant M. Seay, attended the Celebration on Saturday night at the invitation of Mr. David L. Howard who said in The Tennessean newspaper, “Come and see for yourself, that’s all I’m asking. The Celebration grounds are open, any official will show you any thing you want to see and then decide for yourself if the action the Celebration is taking through the VAC is legitimate.”
Prior to Mr. Seay’s attending the Celebration Saturday night, on August 2, 2014, he attended the International Pleasure Show at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the same night he went to the historic Wartrace Horse Show.
At the Wartrace Horse Show, Mr. Seay took pictures and video footage which were placed on the BGB blog. While there, he received one verbal threat of physical violence.
The following Monday, August 4, a threat was made in the form of a comment on a Billy Go Boy Facebook post regarding “Dutch” an abused scarred Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse, that Celebration CEO Mike Inman disputed as a “publicity stunt, didn’t exist and had no credibility”.
THE FACEBOOK POST BY BILLY GO BOY
CELEBRATION CEO MIKE INMAN IS BAFFLED WHY THE MEDIA WOULD PAY ANY ATTENTION TO DUTCH. “He suggested Dutch isn’t even a walking horse “” that he’s some other breed that the Humane Society put tall shoes on as a publicity stunt. “It could be a fabrication to raise more money and cause more controversy,” Inman said. “There’s no credibility.” MIKE INMAN IS RIGHT ABOUT ONE THING – HE HAS NO CREDIBILITY.