Our History

The Walking Horse Trainers Association, Inc. was established in 1968 under the first president Mr. Vic Thompson.

The purpose of forming this non-profit organization was to promote and develop activities on behalf of and in the interest of the protection of the members of their Association.

The Walking Horse Trainers Association began with approximately 200 members in their general membership. This Association concentrates on the positive aspects of the Walking Horse Industry and offers its support to many worthwhile projects. Some of these include:

National Walking Horse Trainers Show:

This annual event is held each year in March. It is the greatest finding asset to the Walking Horse Trainers Association. This event has made contributions to several different charities such as: NAHRA, Feed the Children, Healthy Families and Appalachian Outreach Program. In 2002 a class was introduced to the Association by an organization known as Silver Bullets, which works with anyone with a disability.

Supportive Projects:

The Walking Horse Trainers Association has been involved in several Community projects as well. Some listed below: 4-H Youth Judging Project, Co-Sponsorship of the Annual Youth Celebration Dance, donations to the Bedford County Medical Center Pediatric Wing, Bemis Pencil Country Classic Golf tournament which benefits children with developmental delays. In January 1992 the endorsement of the Show Horse Support Fund, Inc. became effective. The purpose of this fund is to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse and Racking Horse breeds and to lobby appropriate governmental agencies relating to the rules and regulations promulgated by such agencies as to such horses.

WHTA/The Glenn C. Dowell, Jr. Family Scholarship Fund:

The young generation is very important to the Walking Horse Trainers Association. To support the educational efforts of those in need, in 1989 a yearly scholarship fund was established. This very proactive venture has proved most worthwhile in helping our future generation progress. So far there have been 82 recipients awarded. In 2022 the Walking Horse Trainers Association will once again offer a scholarship(s). Applications may be obtained through the W.H.T.A. office and the deadline is always July 1.

WHTA Youth Council:

In 1995 a Youth Council Group was established under the direction of Mr. Benny Johnson. The first meeting was held March 25, 1995 during the National Walking Horse Trainers Show. Their goal for the future was and still is to learn responsibility for showing and exhibiting which includes versatility. They have several worthwhile projects, which include the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Toy Drive, helping others in times of need and an annual Tack Box Giveaway. Their membership stands at approximately 150+ members. In 2015 the administration of the WHTA Youth Council was moved from the auspices of WHTA to the WHT Auxiliary. Applications may be obtained through the WHT Auxiliary.

WHT Auxiliary:

In 1971 The Trainer’s Wives Auxiliary was formed with 43 members. Their first President to reign was Mrs. Mary Ruth Motes. Goals were to raise money for the Trainer’s Association with all fundraisers and projects to be approved by the WHTA. They held the 1ST Annual Money Tree Classic in 1985 and today this show still exists with record breaking entries each year. They soon began to realize that an award for Auxiliary Member of the Year should be given. So in 1990 the first recipient to receive this award was Mrs. Dee Cantrell. Applications may be obtained from the WHTA Auxiliary Secretary.

Recognition of Excellence:

The Industry began in 1968 with the establishment of the Trainer of the Year Award. This selection process includes such attributes as: Positive attitude, team player, goal oriented, dedication and motivation. In 1981 members who were eligible to vote, voted for his/her choice for Assistant Trainer of the Year. This award continues today and is kept secret until the announcement at the WHTA Annual Banquet in December. Horse of the Year Awards is the most exciting award given in honor of the beauty and grace of the Tennessee Walking Horse. This special recognition is not only for the horse, but also for the trainer and owners as well.

Annual Walking Horse Trainers Banquet:

In December, the Trainers hold their annual Horse of the Year Awards Banquet and their annual meetings. At this time the Trainers elect their Officers and Board of Directors for the following year. The WHT Auxiliary and the WHT Aux. Youth Council also hold annual meetings.

Supreme Champion Program:

In January 1995, under the direction of Mr. Mack Motes, the Trainers Association began the development of the Supreme Champion Program. This program was designed to recognize the horse that achieved goals, but may not have been rewarded at the end of the year. In 1999 it was voted by the Board of Directors to omit this program.

Amateur Harness Driving License:

In August 1995, amateurs were required to hold an amateur driving license if they planned to show in driving classes. Requirements are to show general ringmanship in front of a licensed WHTA trainer or TWHBEA member. Once the procedure is performed then that member may sign the application. (Applications are mailed directly to the WHTA trainer or TWHBEA member.) There is a nominal fee for this license and it must be renewed at the beginning of each years. (This license is for amateurs only.)

WHTA Membership/License:

The year 1988 marked a new era in the way that the Trainers would be allowed to show. It was mandatory that any trainer wishing to exhibit in the National Horse Show Commission shows would be required to hold a license. The types of license one could apply for was based on the amount of income one received from training horses. (Applications may be obtained from the WHTA office.)

WHTA Rider Cup:

In 2005, the Riders Cup Performance Division Program was initiated. This program encourages participation in shows by rewarding trainers with monetary recognition at the end of the year. In 2012, the Plantation Riders Cup Division was added. Over $700,000. has been awarded so far through this Program.

WHTA Newsletter:

The Walking Horse Trainers Association issues a newsletter, entitled “From the Horse’s Mouth”, which began in January 1992, under the direction of Mr. Bill Cantrell. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep Trainers informed of upcoming events as well as keeping them abreast on news releases or changes in our industry.

WHTA Directory:

Every two years a WHTA Directory is published for the convenience of having Trainers telephone numbers and addresses readily available. We understand that some telephone numbers and addresses may not be correct, but it’s the latest information we have on file for each individual.

Visitors are always welcome!

The Walking Horse Trainers Association headquarters is located in the heart of the Walking Horse Capital of the World, Shelbyville, Tennessee so stop by and visit anytime!

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