Shelbyville, Tennessee, better known as the Walking Horse Capital of the World, has been on the edge for the last few years as the USDA and other organizations fight to shut down its beloved walking horse industry.


Started in 1939, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC) has become the backbone of life in Shelbyville, Tennessee both culturally and economically.

Every August the TWHNC draws over 250,ooo spectators into the small town of Shelbyville, generating annually around $41 million of revenue for the city. Which for a town with a population of 20,764 plays an important role in its local economy. It’s safe to say that without the TWHNC, Shelbyville’s economy would be greatly weakened. Losing the horse show is something no one in the area wants to happen, but it has been in great danger in the last fews years due to harsh attacks from the USDA and other organizations.

Organizations working to end the horse show have cited allegations of soaring, an abusive practice used to make horses step higher which is illegal under the Horse Protection Act of 1970, as their main defense to fight the horse show. These allegations are rarely true, and are often times exaggerated to push the movement to end to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. However, allegations like these have been enough for the USDA to push regulations onto the industry and its participants. Such regulations from the unelected bureaucrats at the USDA have hampered the industry, and over the years has sent the TWHNC into a steady decline.

A large crowd attends a public hearing with the USDA (T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds)
A large crowd attends a public hearing with the USDA (T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds)

The USDA hasn’t had an easy fight in its attempts to end the horse show, as many Tennessee residents have protested the agency’s encroachment on their cherished industry. Elected officials such as State Sen. Jim Tracy, State Rep. Pat Marsh, and US Rep. Scott DesJarlais have also been very vocal in fighting against the overreach by the USDA.

There’s no doubt that the industry is in great danger, but the people of Shelbyville, and all around the state are very determined to save it.

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  1. VERY EXCELLENT ARTICLE,Animal rights groups have harassed people who are fans of the performance walking horse,it’s sickening that those terrorists have nothing better to do than harass people

  2. The breed is beloved by many in its natural state and is in no danger. IN FACT, if the bad image abusive devices are taken away, I guarantee that the breed would make a great comeback!


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