After lots of work and meetings, John Nicholson, the Executive Director of the park, made it clear that the horse comes first and foremost at the park. Therefore, he made sure to bring in the International Walking Horse Association (IWHA) as the HIO for the sale. He also made sure the USDA was present. While he and his staff said it was okay to have Big Lick horses, they were adamant about safety and the welfare of the horse.
As a result, the sale itself had ZERO Big Lick and heavy shod horses! This was WONDERFUL news for the Tennessee Walking Horse!
Janet Patton wrote a great article about the sale and the participation. Click here to read the article.
The Industry made it sound like the entire sale was huge with a big turnout and lots of horses sold at high prices. However, the visual evidence does not seem to match that.
Clearly, there aren't many people in the crowds or on the grounds. It's quite a difference from the below video from the 2011 After Christmas Sale.
And sadly, the announcer seems quite proud that the last horse of the sale sold to Senator Robin Webb, who has HPA violations under her belt.
Let's take a look at the numbers. Click here for the PDF of the list if you have a hard time reading the below table. I don't have any official list of the results of the sale. The TWH industry usually does not post the results of their sales...unlike every other horse organization out there. The following list I got from these two videos (Friday results and Saturday results). The catalog had 220 horses listed to be sold. No sales are indicated in pink text. If there was no information indicated by the person who kept track of the sales, I indicated them as "NO INFO" in red text.
Approximately 207 horses were run through the sale.
99 horses confirmed sold.
46 horses were confirmed no sales.
58 horses didn't have any information if they sold or not on the video.
Highest sale price: $6400.
Next most highest sale price: $3500.
Horses sold in $3000 to $4000 range: 5.
Horses sold in $2000 to $2999 range: 10.
Horses sold in the $1000 to $1999 range: 32.
Horses sold in the $250 to $999 range: 52.
Average horse sale price: $579.
Here's what Sen. Webb said on her Facebook page about the sale.
After all the media hype and negativity, a great sale was had in the Kentucky Horse Park facility. KY Horse Park brass was there as well as members of the Kentucky Racing Commission, the Kentucky Horse Council, and others. There was a good crowd, some new faces, had some thoroughbred people there, even a Polo player rode a TWH. The inspectors were very professional, as were those who presented. I think much was done to dispel the myth and propaganda. The media did not even surface on the second day and the article in Saturday mornings paper was pretty good. Would I like to have seen a little more cash on the barrelhead for the sellers,sure. But, I can't fault folks for looking for a bargain. Many horses that were no sale in the ring were sold outside. A little padded horse withdrawal, but, a good experience over all.
A LITTLE padded horse withdrawal? No padded horses were there. I don't get that statement at all.
I have to say that yes, she's right--myths and propaganda was dispelled. We now know that BL horses won't be brought to a sale that has the USDA and IWHA present. The myth that horses aren't being sored has been dispelled--they didn't bring any BL horses, so I think we can assume they won't do it because we know they're sored. We know that media coverage means they're going to keep things small. And we know that their claims of horses selling for big money at sales is also not true.
Sadly, with an average sale price of $579, it's clear that TWH has lost a lot of popularity. I also found out that the Smoky Mountain TWH Sale has been canceled. This sale is as big as the After Christmas sale, if not bigger. Their excuse? "The Smoky Mountain Sale was recently informed by the USDA of new livestock sale regulations. Due to the complexity of these regulations and the time constraints we will not be able to have the February 2013 sale. We apologize for any inconvenience. We would like to thank all of our customers for their business."
Quite frankly, I am on the USDA APHIS mailing list, and there's nothing about any "new" livestock sale regulations. It seems to me that maybe it means the USDA would actually plan on showing up, which means sore horses might be found. This is just an assumption, but overall their excuse seems quite fishy.
I wish the industry would see past the trees and see the forest. They are not doing well, and their pocketbooks are suffering because of it. Why not make the change for real? Why not stop soring in its tracks? Why not save face before you lose your entire industry solely because of your stubbornness and childishness? You're killing yourselves, and we're just going to watch you die unless you do something about it.