The Celebration & the Future of the Tennessee Walking Horse

This was shared by Keith Dane, Vice President of Equine Protection for the Humane Society of the US. The author is correct – it is indeed arrogant bull headed behavior on the part of the current Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration management that is holding back the breed. The atmosphere of doom presently in place – all because horse owners can no longer torture their animals – is artificially created drama. A true celebration of this beautiful horse breed, that allowed all members of society to enjoy the event, would be embraced by the general populace. Once again, the Tennessee Walking Horse could hold its head up high – no longer associated with chains and pads of oppression – free to be honored for the special breed of horse that they are. We can only hope that out of the ashes of this year… next year will begin the true Year of the Horse. ~ HfH

From: Shelbyville Now!

shelbyvilletnAutumn has arrived, and another Celebration is behind us. This year’s show was about as bad as it can get in regards to attendance and the number of entries.

For the past six or seven years, attendance has been in a rapid free fall, and 2014 is no exception. Unfortunately, the numbers seemed to take an extreme nosedive this year. I have not seen a record of attendance to report the official numbers and I’m sure we will never know the “real” count. I can report, however, what I saw with my own eyes. The Celebration arena never appeared to exceed 50% capacity, and, for the most part, looked like a typical weekend show in Middle Tennessee.

One of the most alarming statistics was generated by the Shelbyville Times Gazette. The poll asked local residents their plans to attend the horse show. An alarming number (71.3%, to be exact) of residents said they would not attend the show at all—not even a single night [1]. That is astonishing.

According to several sources, most civic clubs barely covered the charges and commissions levied by the Celebration. I would also venture to say that maybe a handful actually made a profit.

The city of Shelbyville has seemingly walked away from the Celebration, but why? Someone needs to wake up!

It’s easy to speculate many things, but I have come to the conclusion that the average citizen of Shelbyville no longer understands the history or significance the Tennessee Walking Horse once had. The mystique of the Celebration is gone.

Who is to blame? It’s easy to cast blame in every direction. I have given it some thought over the past few months. Here are my thoughts:

The Celebration, with all of its history and pageantry, has steadily grown more complacent and taken the city of Shelbyville for granted. The city has also failed to promote this community event the way it should be promoted. It seems that the wall between the Celebration and the city—which has developed steadily over the years—has come to fruition. This wall is evidence of a severe lack of coordination and organization. So, who is responsible for this disorganization?

At one time, the Celebration was managed and executed by a group of civic clubs with a close coordination with the City. During those years, attendance was at an all-time high. The citizens of Shelbyville had a direct connection with the event, and community support was obvious.

But then some things changed. A new form of management took shape in the late 1980s. The civic clubs were put on the shelf and a self-perpetuating board was established. The management went behind closed doors. Since that time, numerous accusations have been made and investigations have taken place. During the 1990s and 2000s, a shadow of arrogance began to cloud the event. The average resident of Bedford County began to be pushed out. The Celebration developed a country club atmosphere. This may give some explanation as to why more than 70% of Shelbyville said they would not attend the show AT ALL.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
1 Comment
  • Janet Schultz

    Some people missed reading, The Emperor’s Clothes. There was a very important ethical lesson in that story. A lesson many ignore for their own profit. Either that or they are just stupid. But that is harsh.

    October 24, 2014