Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration CEO to Retire

Doyle Meadows, PhD, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) Celebration, has announced he will retire from the position in October 2012.

The TWH Celebration is a high profile horse show event at which Tennessee Walking Horse breed world champions are chosen. The event became the subject of controversy in 2006 when federal inspectors temporarily shut the show down after finding high incidences of Horse Protection Act noncompliance. The Act prohibits "soring," the deliberate injury of a horse's feet and legs to achieve a high-stepping gait. When several top competitors declined to participate, no World Champion was crowned that year.

Meadows assumed the Celebration's CEO post in February 2008. During his tenure he oversaw the removal of the National Horse Show Commission as the horse industry organization (HIO) that managed the Celebration, and the formation and funding of the Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, Winning fairly (SHOW)--the HIO that replaced it.

During its Dec. 1 planning meeting Meadows informed The Celebration board of directors that he would retire from the position on Oct. 31, after the 2012 Celebration takes place.

In his letter to the board Meadows thanked Celebration directors for their support during his tenure.

"I truly appreciate all those people that have helped me as we continue to have the world's greatest horse show in Bedford County (Tenn.)," Meadows said. "I have a tremendous amount of pride for The Celebration and what it means to the Walking Horse industry and our community."

Meadows, 64, said he originally assumed the post under the provision that his tenure would be limited.

"When I came in (to this position), I said that I would be here for no more than five years," Meadows said.

Meadows said he has no immediate post-retirement plans.

Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association President Marty Irby said the group wished Meadows well.

"We enjoyed working with him," Irby said. 

Teresa Bippen, vice president of Friends of Sound Horses, an equine welfare advocacy organization that also operates a sanctioned gaited horse show circuit and a judging program, declined comment.

The 2012 National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration is slated to take place Aug. 22 through Sept. 1, 2012.

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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