Celebration 2012, Shelbyville TN

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Celebration 2012, Shelbyville TN

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    08-31-2012, 07:22 PM
Green Broke
Celebration 2012, Shelbyville TN

I think my wife and I are going to go tomorrow night and watch the show.

There's a horse from a mile or so down the road that's one of the favorites, and I'd like to see him......the owner was suspended in 2006 but not for cruelty. We might get thrown out as I'm going with mixed emotions about the whole thing.....but.....I want to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. I hope I can give a positive review about the situation but we'll see.

Mike Walden eyes win at Tennessee walking horse show | timesfreepress.com

Mike Walden came by his love of horses honestly, taking easy steps behind his father, who founded Chattanooga Police Department's horse patrol decades ago with donated Tennessee walking horses.
Now most Chattanoogans know Mike, also a former police officer, by his company name: Walden Security.
But Saturday night they may know him as the owner of the 2012 world champion Tennessee walking horse.
For the 51-year-old Walden, who knew when he was 11 that he wanted to own and show Tennessee walking horses, it would be a dream come true.
It also would feel sweet to Walden because he missed a chance at the walking horse world's biggest prize in 2006 when he found himself at the center of one of the industry's biggest blowups.
It was so big that it is the only year in the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration's 74-year history when no world grand champion was named.
That year, inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Celebration's lay inspectors disqualified all but three horses in the final contest, including Walden's horse, Private Charter.
Show officials reported that Walden offered the three remaining contenders equal prize money to sit out the contest. They likened it to a bribe, and they shut down the show, then banned Walden from any Celebration show or sponsorship participation for two years.
Then and last week, Walden said he never intended anything as a bribe. No charges were filed.
"They banned me for rabble rousing. They banned me for raising hell for my horse being turned down. And guess what: I'm guilty of raising hell that my horse was turned down [wrongly]. And I was proved right," he said.
Private Charter, then 9 years old, was disqualified on a scar-rule violation -- an indicator of soring, an illegal short-cut training method that uses caustic acids or foreign objects to make the horses exaggerate their high-stepping gait.
But the scar rule is one of the most controversial inspection calls in the walking horse business.
Inspectors make scar rule determinations with their fingers and their eyes. And they don't all see and feel the same way.
After the blowup, Walden led his horse to a USDA inspector for a second opinion, where the horse got a clean bill of health.
"But I can never get back that show that night when he was the favorite," Walden said. "Three vets have checked my horse before he gets up there. Then a guy with a GED turns him down."
As for the hell raising?
"The lesson learned is take your medicine and go on," he said with an older and wiser laugh.
But he still is all about standing up and showing off his horses.
At the main gate of the 30,000-seat Calsonic Arena where the Celebration is held, a giant portable billboard advertises Copperfield.
Keen competitor
Celebration officials say Walden is very competitive.
Mike Inman, the incoming CEO of the Celebration, said the Walden stable of winners tells a lot about the man.
"With almost 1,600 horses competing here, to have each of his horses in that level of competition means his string of show horses is extremely strong. That's like having every one of our Olympians gets either gold or silver," Inman said.
"Not only is he competitive, but obviously he's got an incredible eye for talent. And [he's] an accomplished rider."
This year, Walden already has a new raft of ribbons in a Celebration that once again is racked with controversy -- this time not of Walden's making.
On Saturday, his world grand champion contender, I'm Copperfield, along with trainer Knox Blackburn, took a first-place blue ribbon in the 5-year-old walking stallions division -- a preliminary to the big prize.
The day before, Walden rode Private Charter, his 15-year-old horse, to win the world championship in the "classic [older] horse" division.
Earlier Friday, Blackburn rode Walden's Ted Who to take a first-place blue ribbon in the 4-year-old park performance [low hoof pads] class.
On Monday, Walden rode Ted Who to a second-place finish in the owner-amateur riders park performance class.
On Tuesday, Walden and He's Wildeyed & Wicked became world champions in the owner-amateur riders on 5-year-old walking mares or geldings class.
But Saturday will be the really big night, when Chattanooga might have a new claim to fame: The world grand champion walking horse.
On controversy
On Thursday, Walden said the this year's Celebration is tense with inspectors from USDA handing out more scar rule disqualifications than ever before. This week Celebration officials said government inspectors had written five times the number scar rule "tickets" in the Celebration's first week as were written in 2011's full 11-day show.
But Walden doesn't let the industry controversies -- past of present -- get between him and horses.
"The horse isn't the problem. The people involved in the horse are the problem," he said. "The industry [groups and people] is going to have to figure out how to quit fighting among themselves. All they're hurting is the horse."
This year, with videos of horse abuse and the guilty pleas of several trainers and stable hands charged with violating the federal Horse Protection Act, the walking horse image has been tainted -- something Walden called very unfortunate because he thinks industry "bad apples" are few, not many.
"As a whole the industry is really, really trying to present the Tennessee walking horse in a positive light," he said. "And to keep owners like me and others to stay in this business, they're going to have to improve the perception. No one wants to be associated with anything that hurts any animal or any one. The breed will depend on their ability to improve their image."
He laughs at questions about championship money, stud fees and jackpot horse sale windfalls driving trainers or owners to sore horses with caustic substances or foreign objects.
"There's no money in the horse business. This is a hobby. If you want to make a million in the horse business, you have to start with $2 million. Then you'll wind up with $1 million," he said.
But this year Walden and his trainer, Blackburn, got another wake-up call.
A new initiative by the Walking Horse Trainers Association and other horse groups introduced a more scientific swabbing test to cull sored horses and their trainers from competition.
In the first show on the circuit when it was used, another owner's horse entered by Blackburn had a positive test. Blackburn was suspended from training and showing for two weeks.
Walden said it scared him and the trainer, but he still has "complete confidence" in Blackburn.
"Knox and I had a conversation about that," Walden said. "He has strict instructions from me. He's got a chance to win the world grand championship. There is no way he would knowingly, willingly or intentionally do anything to jeopardize that," Walden said.
"I am 100 percent confident that my horses are 100 percent compliant," he said.
Walden said even shampoo can be a "foreign substance" on the swabbing tests intended to catch caustic acids or numbing agents on horses' legs.
He said a groom was terminated after the incident.
Celebration memories
Walden said he was one of hundreds of people who grew up on the tradition of the two-week shows, held each year since 1939 in Shelbyville.
"It was like a big fair when I was a kid," he said. "We would camp out in the Winnebago, and we would ride minibikes and bicycles and stay over there for two weeks on a family vacation. We would show horses, and go to horse sales and whittle."
He still recalls the smell of cedar and the feel of a knife his dad gave him. His first job was at the Celebration -- selling popcorn and peanuts so he could buy a new pair of boots.
"Those are memories that I just love. The pomp and circumstance, the barn decorations, buying the hats and the T-shirts and campaigning the horses. And the competition -- there's nothing more exciting than going down that chute with thousands of people watching."
With those memories driving his ambition, Walden bought I'm Copperfield after the stallion already had won a 2-year-old grand championship.
"Knox told me he was the greatest horse he'd ever ridden. So when the opportunity came up to buy him, I did."
Since then, the horse has won the 3-year-old championship and the 4-year-old championship.
Saturday night will tell the story about the biggest walking horse prize of all.
But win or lose, Walden said he has plenty of special memories with Copperfield, the first grand champion horse either he or his father ever owned.
Walden swallowed emotion to tell the story of his father, then dying of cancer, leaving the hospital to watch Copperfield show for the first time under the Walden family name. It was the year the horse brought home the blue ribbon as a 3-year-old.
"Now he's 5, and we're going for the world grand championship," Walden said.
As for Copperfield's future, to hear Walden tell it, the horse will have an enviable life regardless of Saturdays' outcome.
"I have a farm in Ooltewah where, when my horses are not competitive anymore, I turn them out [to pasture]," he said. "My horses are like family. They are family," he said ticking off their treats and tooth care and many luxuries some people don't enjoy.
"There's an old saying that there's something about the outside of a horse that's good for the inside of a man," Walden said. "I love horses. And I love just going to the barn, sitting in a stall and talking to them."
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    09-01-2012, 01:25 AM
Go and have a good time. For your sake and the show horses I really hope you don't see or hear of anything amiss.
    09-01-2012, 01:34 PM
Green Broke
Gunslinger, I hope you have a great time.

I am a Yankee retired to Bedford County because I love this area and wanted to bring my heart horse (in my avatar) home to his land to take his last breath.

Reading your story hurts my heart - it hurts my heart because I have always envisioned how things must Have Been in the past. I always think folks should "arrive" at the Celebration in period costume (yes ladies that includes parasols) and everyone should be handed a Mint Julep as they walk thru the turnstyle to the seating area.

Sadly, from what I've been told, you won't have a bit of problem finding seats and I don't think the lines will be too long at the food booths. I hope your trip is not considered complet until you visit the Optimist Club's donut booth

This was on Channel Five last night, and the Times-Gazette published the Spittin' Contest.

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Local News: Walking horse supporters defend against HSUS claims (08/31/12)

I see three factions (USDA, HSUS, TWHSHO) now having reached the stage of "it's about us not the horse anymore".

The USDA is out to make a name for themselves, regardless of who gets caught in their web.

HSUS is out to make money from anyone they can connive; I stopped sending them $$ 30+ years ago; I give it to my local shelters instead - where I KNOW what it gets used for.

TWHSHO, I don't know enough about them to make form an honest opinion.

I do know there's a three-way tug-of-war on the Tennessee Walking Horse whose name and reputation is getting drug thru the mud. That is very obvious by the lack of attendance this past week; the stands have been less than half full in the evenings, I am told.

Yes, "I am told" because I haven't gone for the last several years.

I honestly was going to try and support the show this year, once I heard TWHBEA has been banned but, I've got two horses that need constant monitoring at the moment and that means Mr. WTW stops at WalMart on his way home from work, as needed.

Please do go and have a wonderful, very Old Fashioned Time -- and share with us when you get back to the PC
    09-01-2012, 04:42 PM
Green Broke
I just got the feeling that Walden is just as slimy as the rest of them from reading that article. If the industry wants to clean up its image there needs to be life time bans. He's a cheater and tried to bribe his way into manipulating the results. Should be sitting next to Pete Rose. And his trainer ? 2 weeks for soring. Give me a break.
    09-02-2012, 12:03 PM
Green Broke
Well we went. This article from the Times Gazettee describes the night:

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Local News: It's Walk Time Charlie; I'm Copperfield takes reserve (09/02/12)

The show drew from around the country and had some horses from as far away as California. Not sure how many states were represented but there were many entries from the NE and Mid west....

There was a flat shod horse in the running for the Grand Championship but I don't think it was given much of a look. Simply a beautiful animal....Gold, and I mean golden. I've never seen a horse that had the brilliance of color this horse had. I think it wound up ninth? Needless to say my favorite but hey, what do I know right?

By the way, Walden finished second. I think the hype might have hurt him as he got so much press they probably couldn't allow him to win.

There were a couple of horses that appeared to suffer some sort of injury or equipment malfunction and asked to be excused. Not sure what was up with that, but at least a couple of horses threw there stacks.

No protesters, much security, many spectators but the grandstands were not full, maybe 3/4 at best?

There are some really nice flat shod and western pleasure horses that were shown.

Anyway, pulled in around 4am so it cost me some sleep but all in all an enjoyable night spent with two beautiful women, my wife and her good friend.....so what more could a fellow as for?
walkinthewalk likes this.
    09-02-2012, 12:21 PM
I hope the it gets shut down again to all the go and enjoy comments do yall really know what this show is about? Have you ever seen or been around a sored walker? I would hope your comment is out of ignorance and not support of this horrid event which promotes the cruel treatment of these horses. I have owned one of these horses one that was sored used up feet stacked up until they were deformed and calcium deposits from the chains beating against his bones at 12 crippled for a stupid ribbon. He had to be euth,ed at age 14 becuase his pain was no longer manageble and what a loss he was a kind old soul very gentle loved kids would have been a wonderful trail or pleasure horse.
Joe4d likes this.
    09-02-2012, 01:24 PM
Green Broke
I hear you. I think I said I did see a few horses that appeared to be lame and thus were excused from the ring.

The western pleasure and flat shod classes are what I hope they return to.

I guess I'm crazy, but I talk to my my blue eyed walking mare, who I suspect may have been sored before I got her, and this morning I told her all about it and that she didn't need to worry, I'd never let that happen to her. I'd never show. Never. I've never put a shoe on her or allowed a nail to be driven into her hoof, keep her barefooted and ride her in boots. She has some wonderful gaits in spite of it.

We all know what's happened in the past. What happens in the future is what matters now.

Going, observing, and forming my own opinions free from the spin both sides try to put on it. The fact that the flat shod horse finished so low isn't a good sign IMO.

One of the most important things my mother taught me as a small boy was "believe none of what you hear and half of what you see".

Personally, I hope the big lick dies a quick death and the tradition continues but without those who corrupted it by cheating and abuse. The pressure is on, and I hope it stays on.
    09-02-2012, 01:47 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by LuvMyPerlinoQH    
I hope the it gets shut down again to all the go and enjoy comments do yall really know what this show is about? Have you ever seen or been around a sored walker? I would hope your comment is out of ignorance and not support of this horrid event which promotes the cruel treatment of these horses. I have owned one of these horses one that was sored used up feet stacked up until they were deformed and calcium deposits from the chains beating against his bones at 12 crippled for a stupid ribbon. He had to be euth,ed at age 14 becuase his pain was no longer manageble and what a loss he was a kind old soul very gentle loved kids would have been a wonderful trail or pleasure horse.
I don't think I'd be so biased as to say the entire Celebration should be shut down but it is fair to say the Performance classes need to die a quick death.

Also, don't ever lose sight of the fact that there are plenty of unsavory flat shod trainers who are more than willing to sore a horse to get his leg lift to the third rail. The horse may be in kegs in the show ring but they didn't come by that high lift by birth; I know there are exceptions but they are just that - exceptions.

Many many years ago, I personally saw what was done to Hackneys to get those legs up and I have no doubt there are flatshod TWH trainers doing the same thing.

I have said for years that this all starts with the judges. When the day comes the judges keep their vehicle windows rolled up so there aren't any surprise envelopes sitting on the seat and, they start to tie classes honestly and as fair as they know how, all of this soring business will come to end.

Until someone reaches deep into the judges' pockets and makes honest appraisers out of them, none of this is going away.
PaintedShanty likes this.
    09-02-2012, 01:52 PM
The future will never change until the TWHBEA is shut down they are a big part of the problem. The ones guilty of the soring I'm talking owners trainers all involved must be prohibited from ever coming into contact with horses again I'm sorry this is just one of my biggest rants I hate this industry.
    09-02-2012, 02:22 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by LuvMyPerlinoQH    
The future will never change until the TWHBEA is shut down they are a big part of the problem. The ones guilty of the soring I'm talking owners trainers all involved must be prohibited from ever coming into contact with horses again I'm sorry this is just one of my biggest rants I hate this industry.
I agree with you on what the problem is. I also agree that those that abuse these animals don't deserve the pleasure of owning or showing them.

I think we get rid of a small percentage of people and we've solved most of the problems.

The industry is more than Walking Horses or TWHBEA.

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