TWH Celebration VAC Committee Membership Questioned

Members of a veterinary medical committee charged with testing horses for Horse Protection Act (HPA) compliance at a the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) National Celebration say rumors that one member never agreed to be on the committee are false.

Passed by Congress in 1970, HPA forbids soring, or the deliberate injury to a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated, high-stepping gait. The annual Celebration is the Tennessee Walking Horse industry's premier event.

On Aug. 12, the Celebration announced the formation of the three-member veterinary advisory committee (VAC), which would establish new rules and testing protocols and supervise on-site blood draws and X ray examinations of horses participating in the event. According to a written statement, Jerry. H. Johnson, DVM; Dallas O. Goble, DVM; and Phillip D. Hammock, DVM, would male up the newly formed committee.

On Aug. 28, the Nashville Tennessean newspaper reported that Goble was offered membership in the committee, but turned it down for “professional reasons.”

Goble could not be reached for comment.

On Aug. 29, a written statement released by the VAC said that Goble was a member of the committee from its inception, and that “he has been an active part of the committee in creating the protocols.

“Furthermore, Dr. Goble states that on no occasion did he deny being a part of the VAC, or absent from the process in the creation of the inspection protocols,” the written statement said. “Further, Dr. Goble regrets that for personal reasons, he will not be able to participate in the evaluation of the (inspection) results or continue to participate as a member of the VAC.”

The statement was signed by all three VAC members, including Goble.

In his statement, Mike Inman, the Celebration's chief operating officer stood behind the VAC and its membership.

“The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has and continues to support the work of the independent (VAC),” Inman said in a written statement. “Their presence and integrity have been supported by all member of the Tennessee Walking Horse community, who want to show the world that this breed is loved and cared for.”

Teresa Bippen, president of Friends of Sound Horses, declined immediate comment.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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