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walking Horse Owners Association 

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The first International Championship Show was held in 1979 at the Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The show was the creation of the newly formed Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA).

The founders of WHOA realized that for any organization to succeed, it not only needed a purpose, but it also needed to sponsor activities in order to demonstrate and support that purpose.  Thus, the International Championship Show was conceived.  Proceeds from the International are still the primary means of supporting the programs and activities of WHOA.

The support for that first show was very encouraging. Most of the top show horses in the industry participated that first year. One of the biggest supporters was the Kentucky Walking Horse Association. In fact, the International Grand Champion that first year was “The Pusher CG” owned by Joe Dietz and this roan stallion went on to be crowned the World Grand Champion.

Over the next few years participation in this prestigious event grew. Year after year, winners of the International went on to win consistently at the Celebration, where ''the best meet the best.'' In fact, several International Grand Championship winners have gone on to capture the World Grand Championship in Shelbyville, TN. These winners include The Pusher CG, Pride's Jubilee Star, Dark Spirit's Rebel, The Black Night Shade, Main Power, Santana’s El Nino, and The Coach.

The men & women who started the International Championship Show poured thousands of dollars of their personal funds into the endeavor and many great horses from throughout the nation helped to give this new show an enthusiastic start. In a short time, it was recognized as one of the most prestigious shows in this industry, second only to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.

Pleasure horses have always played an important role in the life of the International Walking Horse Show. The International is proud to have been instrumental in the development of the Pleasure Horse Division and the popularity it enjoys today. Exhibitors from throughout the nation recognize the International as the leading Championship Show for the Pleasure Tennessee Walking Horse.

The change in the physical location of the International over the years has some real significance. From its beginning in 1979 at Old FortIn the early 1990's MTSU was awarded -- through the estate of John C. and Mary Miller of Lewisburg, Tennessee and Anchorage, Alaska -- a gift of twenty million plus dollars for the construction of a horse facility in Murfreesboro, TN. The Millers were noted organizers and supporters of the Walking Horse Owners' Association and the International Grand Championship Walking Horse Show. Following Mary's death, this generous donation was used to construct the state-of-the art facility known as Tennessee Miller Coliseum in memory of her late husband who died in 1984. Park in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the show moved to the Livestock Center of Middle Tennessee State University in 1988 where it enjoyed a large indoor facility for many years.

While the Miller Coliseum was being built during 2001 and 2002, the performance International Horse Show moved to the Williamson County Expo Park in Franklin, Tennessee due to the need for an additional show date that was not available at MTSU. The 2003 edition of the International not only celebrated its 25th Anniversary but also the culmination of a long-awaited home for the International Walking Horse Shows.

The Miller Coliseum and the accompanying buildings are an unparalleled venue for equine competition!  This facility has been the site of the National Equitation Championship show for colleges and universities throughout America, and many other equine events of national acclaim are scheduled each year at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum as well.

Over the years the format of the show has varied in several ways. Also, for the last several years, the members who participate in the International Horse Show have the opportunity to select the judges who officiate the show the following year. Prospective judges are placed on the official judge’s ballot and voted on by members. This method of selecting judges has proven to be popular with our members over the years.

Board members of the Walking Horse Owners' Association serve to assist the Show Manager by helping to raise sponsorship funds, organizing a silent auction that takes place during the show and assisting with various duties in putting on the show. The Board and WHOA staff, as well as the citizens of Murfreesboro, welcome all owners, trainers, and visitors to the International each year and wish everyone the best of luck.

Walking Horse Owners Association 

304 W. Thompson Lane Suite A

Murfreesboro TN 37129

(615) 494-8822  

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International Photos Courtesy of Barr Studios

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