North Carolina State Fair Drops Walking Horse Classes

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS) has confirmed that a Tennessee Walking Horse breed show will not be on the roster at the North Carolina State Fair this fall.

Last year, some Tennessee Walking Horse advocates launched a Change.org online petition asking the North Carolina State Fair and the state's agriculture commissioner to cancel Tennessee Walking Horse performance classes at that state's annual state fair on grounds that some of the exhibited horses could wear performance packages and might have been sored to produce a exaggerated, high-steeping gait.

On March 11, Heather Overton, NCDACS spokeswoman, said that after a review of participation and revenue from the 2014 event, the North Carolina State Fair administration decided to eliminate the Tennessee Walking Horse breed show at the 2015 event.

“Walking Horse exhibitors are welcome to show in nontrotting classes that will be part of the open show, as well as nontrotting classes in the State Fair Youth Day Show,” Overton said. “The open show allows breeds without dedicated shows to exhibit at the fair.”

Overton said that, so far, reaction to the change in the horse show event had been slight.

“We received one phone call from a member of the North Carolina State Fair Walking Horse advisory committee,” she said.

Walter Chism, acting executive director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA), declined comment pending further review of the decision: “We have not had an opportunity to review the actions of the North Carolina Fair Board and, until then, TWHBEA is uncomfortable making a comment.”

Teresa Bippen, president of the Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH), applauded the decision.

“FOSH is thankful the North Carolina State Fair recognized the abuse of 'Big Lick' horses by eliminating their classes from the state fair,” Bippen said. “We also appreciate the state fair continuing to provide its venue for sound … flat shod horses.”

The 2015 North Carolina State Fair Open Horse Show is slated to take place Oct. 16-18 in Raleigh. The State Fair Youth Day Show is slated for Oct. 17-18.

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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