See, I just flat disagree that if you take away shows you kill the horse industry. I know far more people who only pleasure ride than I know who show. Yes, it will impact the industry but I don't think it will kill it off.
I agree. I personally don't know a single person who currently shows. My friends and I all trail ride.
What I do think it will do is take the MONEY out of the horse industry.
Showing (and breeding horses that show well) is where the money is at. But in some ways that's a bad thing. For example, people who breed show horses can totally effect a breed and change it into something that is not even a very useable horse anymore. (Thinking stock type halter horses here, and horses bred to be showy and not usable outside a ring).
For example, I 've heard it said that the big-lick industry is breeding for horses that pace because it is easier to convert into the "lick." While the running walk, which is what the breed used to be known for, is being bred out. I don't know how true that is, but that is what other members of the forum have expressed in the past. How sad is that? In my opinion show people don't always take the horse's best interest into consideration. And what shows well is what drives breeding.
So while showing and breeding for show horses is where the money is at, not everyone is into showing and it can even degrade the gene pool of quality horses. (Like HYPP for example, if it were not for showing, nobody would desire a horse with HYPP). That's why I don't believe papers are everything. The people breeding show horses are not always looking out for the best interest of the breed.