Press Release

VAC Finds Zero Violations at 2015 Celebration

The Veterinary Advisory Committee (VAC) issued its final report to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration on October 7, 2015. The report indicated the VAC found no violations of the Drug & Medications Rules implemented for the 2015 Celebration.

The VAC obtained blood on class winners on August 29, September 2, 3, 4 and 5 for a total of 70 entries being tested. In addition, digital x-rays were performed on 14 horses and the results were reviewed by horse show veterinarian, Dr. John O’Brien and VAC Chairman Dr. Jerry Johnson. No violations were found as a result of the digital x-rays.

"The VAC feels that the implementation of the Drug & Medication Rules and Guidelines specifically, along with the digital x-rays and examination of shoeing, represented a significant advancement for the welfare of the horse," said VAC spokesman G. Thomas Blankenship.

The 2015 Drug & Medication Rules and Guidelines were released on June 30, 2015 after extensive review from the 430 horses tested in 2014, consultation with Dr. Scott Stanley, Director of the UC-Davis laboratory and discussion between the members of the VAC. The VAC and Celebration hosted a public forum on the guidelines to help with education and understanding prior to the 2015 Celebration.

"The TWHNC VAC in conjunction with the UC Davis Maddy Laboratory, worked to develop medication drug rules and withdrawal guidelines which were put into action at the 2015 Celebration. To facilitate cooperation from participants, the VAC also wrote and disseminated two documents, Medication Fact Sheet and Threshold Limits, which allowed veterinary practitioners and horsemen to better understand the new requirements. Making use of the resources of a fully accredited lab (UC Davis’, K.L. Maddy Equine Analytical Laboratory) provided the 2015 Celebration with the most comprehensive anti-doping program available in the country. These combined efforts resulted in a tremendously successful event," said Dr. Stanley

"The VAC members firmly and unequivocally believe that the Drug & Medication Rules & Guidelines and their enforcement has been the single most important advancement to the welfare of the horse since the beginning of the Horse Protection Act," concluded Blankenship. In addition to the tests at the Celebration, the VAC also conducted testing at the 2015 Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) National Futurity and found no violations.

"We would like to thank the Veterinary Advisory Committee for their work and expertise at the Celebration. The Celebration remains committed to taking whatever steps necessary to ensure the welfare of horses competing at our shows. The results in 2015 represent an important step as our participants understand the serious nature of following the drug guidelines. In the future, it is our hope that the steps taken by the VAC and The Celebration will be instituted industry-wide and provide a more consistent, reliable and objective inspection," said Celebration Chairman Pat Marsh.

As part of their attendance at the Celebration, Dr. O’Brien and Dr. Johnson were able to observe entries, specifically noting the horse’s demeanor, overall condition and attitude, the movement of the horse and general condition of the shoeing. Both confirmed that all of those that they observed appeared to be in compliance with all rules and regulations.