"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, December 29, 2008

ARTICLE - Year End Registrations and Transfers per Equus Magazine

So I got my January 2009 issue of Equus magazine today. They do a year-end comparison of stats from previous years on new registrations and transfers of ownership among the major horse breeds that are popular in America. Here's the stats concerning the TWH registry, the only USDA-recognized TWH registry being TWHBEA.

New Registrations

2003: 14,978
2007: 9,345
2008: 9,200

Transfers of Ownership

2003: 17,511
2007: 13,272
2008: 12,100

So what does this mean? Well, they do a complete comparison chart in the magazine, so this gives us a comparison between breeds. First, it's important to note that all the breeds listed had a decrease in transfers of ownership except the Saddlebreds. All breeds had a decrease in new registrations except Quarter Horses and Saddlebreds. I do think this is a trend we will see for a while because of the downturn of the economy, especially in the horse industry.

So what it comes down to is where is the largest decrease. Here's the percentages I came up with from the data in the article.

Appaloosas: NR 5% decrease, TO 11% decrease

Arabians: NR 1% decrease, TO 5% decrease

Half-Arabians: NR 7% decrease, TO 14% decrease

Morgans: NR 14% decrease, TO 5% decrease

Paints: NR 9% decrease, TO 12% decrease

Quarter Horses: NR 3% increase, TO 2% decrease

Saddlebreds: NR 2% increase, TO 1% increase

Standardbreds: NR 1% decrease, TO 2% decrease<

Tennessee Walkers: NR 2% decrease, TO 9% decrease

Thoroughbreds: NR 3% decrease, transfers are not tracked.

So should TWHBEA be worried? You bet. It's not a huge decrease compared to some of the other breeds, but it is still a decrease. Plus, with TWHBEA, their goal is to force everyone who transfers their ownership to pay for a membership. The membership fee is tacked onto the transfer fee when a new TWH owner has their horse's papers transferred into their ownership. So, this means that if the transfers of ownership are down, then so is the amount of new members.

I don't know if this is a good representation overall, though, because of the serious downturn in the economy and the long-term downturn we've seen in the horse industry in general for the past few years. So, since Equus reports this information every year, we might get a better idea of what's going on when our economy turns around.

Monday, December 15, 2008

NWHA 2008 Nationals Video Presentation

This is a great video posted on YouTube by NWHA to show how great their TWHs are in the show ring. Look at the smooth movements and fluid motion of these horses. THIS is what the flat walk and running walk are all about. Even the Planation horses looked normal and didn't have mechanical animation. Click here for the video.

I have the DVDs from the NWHA Nationals, and although I haven't watched them all yet, I am so impressed so far with what I saw. The judges placed the horses exactly as they should have been placed. It is so nice to watch these animals really being showcased for what they truly are.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NEWS and ARTICLES - World Equestrian Games TWH Presentation Update

Click here for the article.

Direct quote from the article:

At the Request of the WEG, they [the TWHBEA] will not bring any horses wearing padded shoes or chains around their front legs, both often used to exaggerate the gait of show horses.

YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was literally cheering here at work! THANK YOU to everyone who wrote letters to get this to happen. This makes my heart glad and is a huge step in the right direction! This also sends a clear message to TWHBEA that the Big Lick is NOT a good representation of the breed. Thank you, WEG!

Be sure to send a thank you letter to the WEG to let them know we appreciate their effort!

RESEARCH - HPA Docket concerning the Derickson case; Black Gold Farm & representatives disqualified for one year on the same case

Now this is very fascinating. I happened to find this HPA Docket online when I was trying to find out when the Dericksons received their ticket for soring Just American Magic. Click here for the link to the Docket. Unfortunately I can't post a PDF here, so if you'd like a PDF copy, please respond to this post to let me know.

This is fascinating, for if you take a look at the Order starting on page 38, Christopher B. Warley was issued a $2,200 civil penality and has been disqualified from showing, etc. for one year. Robbie J. Warley, possibly his wife, was also issued a $2,200 civil penality and disqualified for one year. Their farm, Black Gold Farm, was also fined and disqualified from showing, etc. for one year. There is specific detail in the docket as to why they were also fined. I'm not sure why this didn't end up in the news...?

Anyway, it's another farm and names to add to the Sore Horse People Not To Buy Horses From List. THANK YOU to the Court of Appeals for upholding the law in this case. We are SO happy to see it!

Edited 2-4-09 to correct the spelling of the Dickerson's last name.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NEWS and ARTICLES - Court Upholds Soring Decision

Here is a new article from Horse.com. Click here. So add the Dericksons to your Sore Horse Poeple Not To Buy Horses From List!

I do want to point out that this is an excellent example of why we should not allow appeals. In this case the court decided they were guilty, but it did waste a lot of time and money for them to be in court. I also imagine that they were still showing their horses in the meantime.

Let's also remember that suspensions never seem to work--they can always show their horses under someone else's name. We STILL need a serious penalty for these issues, and the USDA needs to listen to the sound horse community and start doing it, period. No more input from the sore horse community--we all know they're going to do everything they can to keep abusing horses to win money.

Keep fighting, everyone....

Monday, November 10, 2008

ARTICLE - Creature Feature: Sore Trick Pony

I LOVE that title.

Here's an excellent, current article about what's going on in the sore horse industry from the magazine Animal Sheltering. Click here for the article. It's a phenomenal way to learn about what's happening to these horses.

These are the quotes from the article that had the most impact on me.

"The problem is that this breed has embrased and steeped itself in a very bizarre and artificial look for the horse," says [Keith] Dane [director of equine protection for the HSUS]. "And so, no matter how [some owners and trainers] have to accomplish it, they'll find a way to achieve the gait.

These practices [stacked shoes and soring] are often used on horses early in their lives; yearlings are fitted with stacks and shoes, and are usually under saddle by the age of 2, before their bodies have had proper time to form. The emotional and physical suffering brought on from such training often ruins the horse's placid disposition just as it ruins his feet.

Though these signs [of soring] are as clear an indicator of abuse as a 50-foot banner reading, "We're soring our horses," United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors are only permitted to assess violations of the federal law on show grounds. APHIS inspectors can't enforce the law in private stables--and sadly, this is where the vast majority of abuse takes place, making for a gaping loophole in the system, and allowing soring to thrive.

"It is sad that innocent people purchase these horses thinking they are getting an experienced, well-trained, gaited horse, only to find that they have been trained for one purpose and one purpose only when it comes time to ride: Go fast, straight, and hot," says [Tamara] Sissom [owner of a formerly padded and sored mare who cannot be rehabilitated to be a flat shod show horse]. Naive new owners either get hurt, spend thousands of dollars on training with little results, or promptly sell them thinking all gaited horses are hot and uncomfortable to ride. Not to mention that the horse is continually passed around via sale barns, because nobody knows what to do with the horse, unless the owner is from the same background of training."

This out-of-the-frying-pan, into-the-fire situation is a sad resolution for everyone involved--particularly the horse.

Monday, November 3, 2008

THOUGHTS - The NHSC Restructuring, Or Lack Thereof

This post is in response to the article about the NHSC restructuring, posted here.

Okay, so let's talk. What did we just read? We just read an article about a meeting where people are just trying to pretend they're going to make changes when really they're just going to rearrange things to make it LOOK like changes have happened, but it'll be business as usual. Let's take a look at the details, shall we?

Dr. John Bennett made the presentation of those findings and had his plan unanimously approved by the NHSC Board of Directors.

Of course it was, because these are all people who don't want to change what's going on, so of course they love what Bennett said.

Tasked with carrying out this policy will be a chief executive officer (CEO) who will work between the policy board and the executive board. The executive board will be made up of a collection of owners and trainers and work just as the NHSC board does today.

WOW, there they are: actually admitting to the fact that things won't change! AMAZING!

Bennett then presented the “boards” that will make up the inside of the house and function within the structure of the HIO. He started with technology and the importance it has with the inspection process. He mentioned digital radiology, thermography and micro-chipping as all important pieces of technology that need to be researched and implemented over time.

WHAT? The USDA VMOs have already implemented this in the shows they go to. The research is already being done. Why do they need to do their own research and implement it "over time?" How about you all step up and start using it NOW. Oh wait, you don't want to do that--then you might actually expose more sore horses. Oops!

Second on the list was a hearing committee. “If you are going to have penalties, there needs to be a method for those accused to have a fair hearing,” Bennett stated. “I believe everyone has the right to a fair and impartial hearing,” he concluded.

I actually agree with this because other horse venues do it: NATRC, USEF, etc. Problem is that we all know it won't be fair and impartial--the hearings will mostly conveniently see the people as innocent and let people continue to get away with soring.

A fourth element would be industry veterinarians who work in the industry on a daily basis and can function like a medical board. They can help with the drugs that are being used and what levels are acceptable and why they are being used as well as provide insight for which foreign substances can be used without harm to the horse. Bennett pointed out that certain groups will never be satisfied with what goes on in the show industry, but respected industry groups will be on board with this plan.

Um, the USDA has already done this: they have deemed that anything except glycerin, mineral oil and petroletum. You can't just choose to go against the HPA, Bennett.

Nope, "certain groups" will never be happy with what you guys do, because those "certain groups" know you are continuing to allow soring! And what groups are you saying are respected? Respected by whom? You? The NHSC? I guarantee you it won't be by the general public, the USEF, or any other group who views the industry as what it truly is: CORRUPT.

The fifth element was a trainers licensing and continuing education program. Continuing education could be anything from business management to scar rule interpretation. With a licensing program trainers that were repeat offenders would see their licenses revoked or some training offered to get those trainers in compliance.

HUH?? How in the hell would business management help with training? And why do you need a licensing program to get licenses revoked? You can choose to do that now if you were serious about ending soring.

Research was another element to the plan. Bennett couldn’t stress enough the importance of research and how it can help with public perception and with allowing the AAEP to continue to work with the industry. “With the AAEP on our side, it will help when we go to the USDA,” stated Bennett.

What kind of research? You don't point out anything here. Plus, how can we trust any research that's done to figure out anything about soring when the sore horse industry is doing the research? And honey, only if you make progress will the AAEP be on your side. You'd better be prepared to do it.

A ninth element was rules/penalties and judges evaluations. Bennett mentioned he didn’t know exactly how to evaluate the judges best but that he had heard many good ideas for this.

And what are they? WHY won't you tell us what ideas you've heard?

Tenth was regional veterinarians. These regional veterinarians would be tasked with overseeing the Designated Qualified Person (DQP) program and the individual performances of those DQPs. He didn’t think it was feasible for every DQP to be a veterinarian but did stress the importance of the consistency of the program and accountability of the program.

Of course you don't want every DQP to be a vet--then they'd expose the industry for what it is. Plus this is one of the ideas in the AAEP White Paper that is guaranteed to help stop soring, so be sure to skirt around this issue as much as possible.

After finishing the presentation Bennett took questions from those in attendance about the proposed plan. Mark Farrar asked “ was there was anything in the white paper that the task force didn’t agree with?” Bennett responded with all of the items in the white paper were valid but not all were practical. He specifically mentioned the urine testing, licensed veterinarians checking all horses and pulling of shoes on performance horses.

NOTE: These are the actions/changes that are guaranteed to determine if a horse is sore or not. So it's pretty damn obvious why they say they're not "practical."

He noted all of the objectives of these could be achieved however through technology or programs within the plan presented.

Sure, they can, if it wouldn't just be business as usual with those programs.\

Farrar also asked, “If we adopt this plan have you talked with the USDA and the AAEP and will they be on board with this plan?” Bennett responded, “Yes and the AAEP will get on board and will be waiting for us to ask for help.”

But we know you won't be asking for help. You know why? Because you'll be glad to keep it so the sore horse continues to win and you continue to get money to line your pockets. You don't need the AAEP to keep the status quo, that's for sure.

Bob Ramsbottom asked, “How will we fund this plan. Will this be left up to the owners to fund this?” Bennett relayed that he didn’t know exactly how to fund the plan and that he had thought a lot about that, “but to be honest, I don’t really know how to fund it.” Frank Neal interjected, “they were tasked with coming up with the plan, it is now the task of the groups within the industry, WHOA, TWHBEA, WHTA, and the Celebration, etc. to fund the execution of this plan.”

I agree with this as well. Neal is absolutely right. You have all decided it's okay to add $1 to each entry fee to implement the USEF drug testing program--how come you can't do that to implement other plans? Because you need to claim that you don't have the money to put into it so you don't ever implement it. Simple way to keep it business as usual.

Overall, this is all just crap. It's just a front to keep things business as usual. None of the serious issues are going to change because they'll just continue to avoid the three main actions that WILL catch sorers (pulling shoes, only using vets as DQPs), not make judges accountable for their choices in the show ring, and not force the industry to pay for these changes. This is pathetic. I can only hope that the USDA will work towards outlawing stacks, heavy shoes, bands, and pads on horses in the show ring in general. That's the only way this can stop--to force the industry to change. It's been 38 years since the HPA became a Federal law--it's obvious they are not going to change their ways on their own.

ARTICLES and NEWS - Walking Horse Report: NHSC Moves Forward with Restructuring

This was forwarded to me via email. Since I think it needs to be read without comments to get the full effect, my next post will include my comments on what happened.

Walking Horse Report
NHSC Moves Forward With Restructuring
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
by Jeffrey Howard

The Walking Horse Owners' Association Board (WHOA) and Walking Horse Trainers' Association's (WHTA) Board of Directors met today to hear the findings of the National Horse Show Commission (NHSC) task force on the restructuring of the NHSC. Dr. John Bennett made the presentation of those findings and had his plan unanimously approved by the NHSC Board of Directors.

Bennett started his presentation by stating the mission of the task force. "We were asked to find a replacement for Lonnie Messick and give recommendations on the restructuring of the HIO to bring integrity and stability," said Bennett.

The new structure will have a policy board at the top of the HIO, comprised of three American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) veterinarians, one humane representative and one attorney. This group will be tasked with setting the policy of the HIO.

Tasked with carrying out this policy will be a chief executive officer (CEO) who will work between the policy board and the executive board. The executive board will be made up of a collection of owners and trainers and work just as the NHSC board does today. The interim CEO was announced today as Dr. Mike Harry. Harry served on both the AAEP task force that released the White Paper and the NHSC task for that made the recommendations for restructuring.

Bennett's proposal followed a theme of building a house where there are rules and those that choose to live there will have to abide by those rules. "To build anyting you have to have a strong foundation and we believe the foundation of this new structure is the White Paper released by the AAEP," said Bennett.

Bennett then presented the "boards" that will make up the inside of the house and function within the structure of the HIO. He started with technology and importance it has with the inspection process. He mentioned digital radiology, thermography and micro-chipping as all important pieces of technology that need to be researched and implemented over time.

Second on the list was a hearing committee. "If you are going to have penalties, there needs to be a method for those accused to have a fair hearing," Bennett stated. "I believe everyone has the right to a fair and impartial hearing," he concluded.

Third he mentioned the importance of the regional breed associations and them having one representative in the HIO. This would be inclusive of regional and national associations.

A fourth element would be industry veterinarians who work in the industry on a daily basis and can function like a medical board. They can help with the drugs that are being used and what levels are acceptable and why they are being used as well as provide insight for which foreign substances can be used without harm to the horse. Bennett pointed out that certain groups will never be satisfied with what goes on in the show industry, but respected industry groups will be on board with this plan.

The fifth element was a trainers licensing and continuing education program. Continuing education could be anything from business management to scar rule interpretation. With a licensing program trainers that were repeat offenders would see their licenses revoked or some training offered to get those trainers in compliance.

Show development was the sixth area. This group would be tasked with developing new ideas to get new shows formed, additional prize monies, additional people in the business, etc. Bennett said he felt the Walking Horse Foundation and Mark Taylor were a perfect fit for this role.

The seventh element was the United States Equestrian Federation drug testing program. This program would be funded by a $1 addition on each entry fee and would be done through random blood testing to start. "In my opinion, our industry does not have a drug problem currently," said Bennett.

Research was another element to the plan. Bennett couldn't stress enough the importance of research and how it can help with public perception and with allowing the AAEP to continue to work with the industry. "With the AAEP on our side, it will help when we go to the USDA," stated Bennett.

A ninth element was rules/penalties and judges evaluations. Bennett mentioned he didn't know exactly how to evaluate the judges best but that he had heard many good ideas for this.

Tenth was regional veterinarians. These regional veterinarians would be tasked with overseeing the Designated Qualifed Person (DQP) program and the individual performances of those DQPs. He didn't think it was feasible for every DQP to be a veterinarian but did stress the importance of the consistency of the program and accountability of the program.

Last was the show steward program. The show steward would be in center ring during the show and assist the judge with rules violations and the excusing of horses that are not presenting the correct image of the Tennessee Walking Horse. This person would have to be a horse person according to the task force but not a walking horse person.

After finishing the presentation, Bennett took questions from those in attendance about the proposed plan. Mark Farrar asked "was there anything in white paper that the task force didn't agree with?" Bennett responded with all of the items in the white paper were valid but not all were practical. He specifically mentioned the urine testing, licensed veterinarians checking all horses, and pulling of shoes on performance horses. He noted that all of the objectives of these could be achieved however through technology or programs within the plan presented.

Farrar also asked, "If we adopt this plan have you talked with the USDA and the AAEP and will they be on board with this plan?" Bennett responded, "Yes and the AAEP will get on board and will be waiting for us to ask for help."

Bob Ramsbottom asked, "How will we fund this plan. Will this be left up to this owners to fund this?" Bennett relayed that he didn't know exactly how to fund the plan and that he had thought a lot about that, "but to be honest, I don't really know how to fund it." Frank Neal interjected, "they were tasked with coming up with the plan, it is now the task of the groups within the industry, WHOA, TWHBEA, WHTA, and the Celebration, etc. to fund the execution of this plan."

Bennett mentioned earlier in the presentation that regional veterinarians would oversee the DQPs at the local shows but that at the bigger shows such as the Celebration, Fun SHow and Trainers' Show that these regional veterinarians would serve as the DQPs. Wink Groover objected, "I don't think the people that check the horses all year long should then not be the people that check at the Celebration. That is a big part of the problem right now. We needto have a strong enough DQP program that if you can't get in at the Celebration then you can't get in at the local show." Bennett agreed with Groover on this and stated the importance of the regional veterinarians in making sure the DQPs are doing their jobs correctly.

A search committee was formed to find the new CEO of the HIO and consisted of Link Webb, Frank Neal, Frank Eichler, Lonnie Messick, Dr. John Henton, and Dr. Tom Vaughn. The interim CEO, Dr. Mike Harry agreed to work for two months in that role. Messick had earlier agreed to work through November to help with the transition to the interim CEO.

At the end of the meeting, Neal commended the WHTA for "their willingness to work toward the future of the industry."

Names of the policy board members were discussed in the executive session of the meeting with nothing finalized at this point, none of the names were released.

As the meeting adjourned and those in attendance left the Miller Coliseum, a rewarded sense of optimism was a common theme. The Walking Horse industry took a big step in addressing the future needs for the welfare of the industry as a whole. Unity has been a common theme in 2008 across the industry, however tough times continued to hamstring the industry. Unity wasn't just talked about, it was practiced today as the owners and trainers within the industry came together and initiated substantive charge.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NEWS and ARTICLES - The KHRC approves an emergency regulation concerning the HPA

VICTORY! THANK YOU to the KHRC for stepping up to the plate on this one! And congratulations to ALL who exposed KWHA for what they truly are! Click here for the article.

Important quotes from the article:

The commission approved an emergency regulation to make those with Horse Protection Act violations of any kind ineligible for money from the state fund, which is designed to encourage horse breeding in Kentucky.

"With this action, the KHRC has again demonstrated its committment to the humane treatment of horses," said Lisa Underwood, KHRC executive director, in a news release. "The commission clearly recognizes that soring is an inhumane practice that should not be tolerated or rewarded."

The new rule must go through the normal regulatory process but, if approved, could retroactively apply to those who received money from the 2006 and 2007 years.

Jamie Eads, director of the breeders' incentive funds, said her investigation of previous check recipients has uncovered 15 who had HPA violations, at least one of which was for soring. This counters claims made by the Kentucky Walking Horse Association and its incentive fund, which previously stated to the commission that no recipients had violations.

Monday, October 27, 2008

NEWS - Video: See it Through My Eyes

Here's a video that was put together by two girls in Girl Scouts. I commend these two young women for stepping up and exposing this information. I hope that young adults of their age who are currently involved in soring watch this video and have a change of heart. If the next generation steps up and says NO to soring, then we can hope to for a bright future for the TWH.

Click here for the video.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ARTICLES - A simple nibble & It all started with a look: the life of a sored horse

This is what you can expect to experience at a Big Lick barn, and what every sore horse experiences on a daily basis. This blog is dead on as to what happens to these animals, and shows us why it's so important for this abuse to stop. NO ONE can tell me that Big Lick horses are the most well cared for breed in the world. NO. ONE.

Harper's owner is also a member of the forum at One Horse At A Time, and she has been talking about the progress with Harper. Come join the forum to learn more about how this gorgeous mare is being rehabilitated.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Okay, folks, I need to do some rumor control.

I heard a rumor that some tickets were handed out at the NWHA Nationals, so I did some digging. This is what I've found out.

One owner and their trainer were ticketed for two separate horses, one horse for bilateral and one horse for one foot. The horses were ticketed based on their reaction to palpation. A different owner was ticketed for having tungsten shoes on their horse.* That's just low--kudos to the DQP who caught that person in trying to get tungsten shoes past them.

I know the owner who was ticketed for two horses. Honestly, I believe her horses are sound. The thing is that the owner is very upset and claims that NWHA is "out to get" them and "set them up" because they were winning. This person seems to believe that the DQP did not perform a proper inspection and they palpated way too hard. The problem is that an algometry study was done in Feb 2008 to address this particular claim, which is common among the sore horse industry--they say that the DQPs press too hard to force their horses to react (click here for the presentation of the study). This study found that the average pressure a DQP or VMO is required to use--where it blanches the nail and flattens the thumb--is about 0.5 lbs. The algometry study used a measuring device that presses against the horse's legs and measures how many lbs are being exherted. The horse was fine with the pressure up to about 40 to 50 lbs, some as high as 70 lbs. This shows that it is physically impossible for a person, when using their thumb, to exert enough pressure on the horse to make it react unless the horse has a pre-existing condition, such as chemical soring OR an injury that isn't related to soring.

I myself have tried this on my sound horses. I have pressed as hard as I can with the fat of my thumb. I have even dug my nail in, which is what the sore horse industry is saying the USDA VMOs are doing when they inspect their horses. I have NEVER had an adverse reaction in my horses.

MY THOUGHTS: Some trainers use rollers or heavy chains on a horse to condition them to carrying weight. Personally, I have no problem with this--the horses are NOT sore. When you add some weight to the horse's legs, it's similar to cyclists adding weight to their shoes when they are training. They do this so when the compete without the weight, they are conditioned for the weight, so without it they pedal faster and harder. If you use rollers and other weighted devices properly, you won't hurt the horse. I was taught to only ride in them for about 15 minutes at at time to avoid this and hair loss. I have used them myself, before I knew what soring was and before I found out that we can get the gait naturally and gimmicks aren't necessary. I don't use them myself anymore, but I don't really care if others use them, as long as the horse is not in any pain.

However, I have accidentally bruised a horse when I kept the rollers on for too long. I didn't know she was bruised until I was putting linament on her after we rode to loosen her muscles, and when I went over her pasterns she picked up her feet, which she hadn't done before. When I pressed on the area she reacted, so I'm sure she was bruised. That was MY fault for leaving the rollers on for too long.

So, my speculation is that it's possible that the trainer kept rollers or heavy chains on the horses for too long and they developed bruises. The reason I think this is because if it were something as simple as the horse bonking his pastern as he got in the trailer or some kind of pasture injury, it wouldn't be on two different horses and on both legs of one of the horses. I believe that the person who was ticketed needs to do some work with their trainer to see what he/she was doing to train the horses and if that could have contributed.

>Overall, I would like for everyone to keep in mind that this is a positive incident for NWHA. First, they caught a person who was obviously trying to cheat. Second, they have a no-tolerance policy, and they must enforce it no matter what. If they're lenient for one person, then they have to do it for everyone.

I support the NWHA DQPs decision and will continue to do so.


*Tungsten is a heavier metal than steel. Tungsten horseshoes have the same appearance as regular steel shoes, but they weigh considerably more and are not allowed per the weight requirements for most show venues. Using tungsten shoes creates an unfair advantage as the horse has to step higher to carry the weight, and therefore he will have more lift and be a fancier mount in the show ring. Tungsten shoes do not sore a horse--they are just beyond the regulations for the amount of weight allowed to be put on a horse's feet.

From the 2005 WHOA Convention News (click here for the article): "Regular steel shoes weigh a little less than half the weight of tungsten shoes of the same measurement. A pair of tungsten shoes generally costs around $1500 and they must be made specifically for the horse because tungsten cannot be re-shaped. Shoes that are partially tungsten cost about $750 a pair and can undergo a small degree of re-shaping."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NEWS and ARTICLE - KY State Regulators Investigate Breeder Incentive Recipient KWHA

Click here for the article. Man, I cannot WAIT to see the results of this! Let's hope they stop giving the money to KWHA!

NEWS - HSUS invited to the NWHA Nationals

Here's a link to an article about the HSUS being invited to the NWHA Nationals. This is very exciting as Keith Dane, the president of HSUS, used to be the president of FOSH and is a sound horse owner and advocate by far.

The HSUS also sponsored the first annual NWHA Youth Leadership Conference and have posted a $10,000 reward to anyone who gives evidence that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone who currently sores their horses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ARTICLES - Pre-HPA Outrage

These are amazing finds. I ran across the first article on a comment on the blog Shame in the Horse Show Ring. The articles were in Sports Illustrated. (Sometimes I forget that they do horse stuff, too! What if they had a horse swimsuit issue...? Never mind.)

This is information that is pre-HPA. Note the outrage of the writers. Here is some real truths about how the horses were in the ring just a few decades ago. They were calling for something to be done then, and yet it's still just as bad today....

Woe for Walkers, 23 July 1956

The Torture Must End, 11 January 1960

Hot Heads Over Hot Feet, 13 June 1960

Score Card - Sore Horses, 2 February 1970

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ARTICLE and NEWS - From one horse to another: make sure KY fund isn't subsidizing cruelty

THANK YOU to the Lexington Herald for again printing some excellent information about the continued practice of soring. To give a brief overview, the revenue from the sales tax accrued from stud fees of TB horses goes to an incentive fund. Every year, horse groups in KY get a small (relatively) part of this fund--approximately $1.37 million per year.

Well, guess what group has been getting money from this fund? You guessed it: our sore horse pals at KWHA. To the tune of $300K+ per year. This article covers all of the recent wrong-doings that good ol' Earl Rogers and Gary Oliver have been doing. The funds going to KWHA expire this year, so let's hope it goes to NWHA, who have their headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park and have no-tolerace policy for enforcement of the HPA.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

RESEARCH - Chemicals found in the USDA sniffer tests

After reading the sniffer tests results, I realized that quite frankly, I have no idea what the chemicals are that they found. So I thought it would be a really good idea to do some research and learn what makes these chemicals the choice for putting them on the horse's pasterns. We know that chemicals are used to cause pain, so how do these do it? What possible products are being used? This is what I've found out. I linked the chemical name to the information I found on Wikipedia about it.

It is important to make a quick note that no chemicals are allowed to be used on the show grounds at any time. There are only three substances allowed to be used on the horse's legs per the HPA: mineral oil, glycerine and petrolatum (similar to Vaseline). The are to be used as lubricants for the chains worn around the horses' pasterns. They also must be provided by the show venue and not brought onto the grounds.

Overall, please note that this is speculation only. These are just the facts on what these chemicals are paired with potential reasons why they are used.

Oxybenzone - A derivative of benzophenone, it is used in sunscreen and other cosmetics because it absorbs UV-A ultraviolet rays. It's use in sunscreens is criticized because it can attack DNA when illuminated and break the genetic strands. It's possible that it's used for soring because sunscreen can sting when put on raw spots on the skin.

Camphor - A naturally-occuring solid from the camphor laurel, a large evergreen tree in Asia. It's used in medicines such as Vicks VapoRub and is an effective cough suppressive. It's also used as a local anesthetic. Sore horse "trainers" are known to use anesthetics to numb the horse's legs during inspection. When timed correctly, it will wear off by the time the horse goes in the show ring so he will be sore for his performance.

Benzocaine - A local anesthetic used as a topical pain reliever. See the explanation of camphor for the reason why sore horse "trainers" will use it.

Oxtyl methoxycinnamate - An organic compound that is used in some sunscreens and lip balm to absorb UV-B rays from the sun to protect the skin. It is also used to reduce the appearance of scars. Scars on a horse's pasterns can be indicative to the horse having been sored. The DQPs are trained to recognize scars that are caused by soring. So, reducing the appearance of scars will help the horse pass inspection even though it's been sored.

Isopropyl myristate - Used in cosmetics and topical medicinal preparations when good absorbtion into the skin is required. It can be used by sore horse "trainers" to help other agents into the skin quickly so as not to be detected during inspection.

Methyl salicylate - An organic combination of an organic acid and alcohol produced by plants as a deterrent against plant eaters. In very, very small doses, it can provide flavoring to various products, such as chewing gum, and as an odor-masking agent. It is commonly used in deep heating liniments such as BenGay. However, it is highly toxic in large doses, and if used in excess can cause burning and irritation to the skin. An interesting note from Wikipedia: "A 17 year-old cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy died April 3, 2007, after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate through excessive use of topical muscle-pain relief products."

o-aminoazotoluene - This is an organic compound known as an azo compound Azo compounds can be very rich in colors such as orange, red and pink and are usually used as dyes. This azo compound has high carcinogenic properties. It can cause extreme irritation of the skin and is highly flammable.

Isopropyl palmitate - An emulsifier and texturizer derived from palm oil that is used to moisturize skin and hair. It is described as giving a "silky appearance." This may be used to hide dry skin, scars, broken hairs, and any other skin or hair conditions that could indicate soring.

menthol - An organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. Menthol can be used as a local anesthetic and counterirritant. This would have the same affect as camphor--see above.

elemental sulfur - Sulfur can be found on the Periodic Table of Elements and is essential to natural life. It's bright yellow in color in its pure form. It's used in fertilizer, gunpowder, matches, insecticides and fungicides. Elemental sulfur is used as a precursor to making other substances, such as sulfuric acid. There could be a variety of reasons why elemental sulfur is being used. It could be used to "thwart" the sniffer from sensing other chemicals. Sulfur is also used in dyestuffs and detergents, so there could be something the sore horse "trainers" are using to sore the horses that has elemental sulfur in it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NEWS - Earl's at it again: Accounting requested for walking horse funds

I can't find the associated article link online, so I have posted the article here. If anyone finds the link, please let me know so I can include it.

One thing I'd like to point out here: note that Earl is the President of KWHA, while Gary Oliver, our admitted sore-horse "trainer," is the VP of KWHA. I don't think there's a coincidence that this information is now coming to light.


Accounting requested for walking horse funds
By Janet Patton jpatton1@herald-leader.com

Earl Rogers letter on Gary Oliver to Horse Racing Commission
Signed statement from Earl Rogers in response to USDA questions
The July 1, 2008 letter from20USDA to Earl Rogers

Kentucky regulators have asked a walking horse group to show that members who received money from a state fund have not violated a federal law ensuring that horses aren't mistreated.

Jamie Eads, director of the breeders' incentive funds for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, asked officials with the Kentucky Walking Horse Association to provide letters "stating that to the best of their knowledge they have not been distributing money to individuals who had USDA violations."

Blair Knight, director of the Kentucky Walking Horse Breeders Incentive Fund, submitted a letter stating: "As of our knowledge there has never been any participants in the Kentucky Walking Horse Breeders Incentive Fund receive any funding that was on any USDA suspension." Knight has not returned calls for comment.

Earl Rogers Jr., president of the KWHA, stated that his group "is merely an organization that administers a high-point program for its members, and holds the annual state championship horse show (The Kentucky Walking Horse Celebration). The KWHA has no input into the decision of the Breeders' Fund."

However, more than a dozen recipients or their family members appear to have had violations since the fund began, according to data compiled by the Friends of Sound Horses, an anti-soring advocacy group.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture referred both the state and the Herald-Leader to FOSH to check for suspensions.

Rogers told the Herald-Leader that he does not consider "technical violations," such as those for scars on a horse's feet, failure to have a horse inspected or only one sore leg, to count. Those violations usually result in a two-week suspension.

"The only ones that would count in my opinion would be bilateral (sore in both legs), eight-month suspensions, " Rogers said. "It matters, but not to the breeders' incentive fund." Asked if he thought the state would make a similar distinction, Rogers said: "That's up to the state."

Rogers would not comment further and hung up.

Tennessee Walking Horses have been the subject of increased scrutiny recently from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Horse Protection Act. The federal law is designed to protect walking horses from the abusive practices of "soring," which involves deliberately injuring horses' feet through mechanical or chemical means to force an exaggerated gait known as "The Big Lick."

The Kentucky Walking Horse Association, along with other non-racing breeds, is up for renewal of its incentive fund qualification.

More than $700,000 in state tax money has been distributed to KWHA members in the last two years.

Eads said she is checking records provided by the KWHA for violations by incentive fund recipients.

She said she will take her findings to the fund committee, which will present any potential action to20the full racing commission for consideration. The fund committee meets at 2 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a separate recipient breed, the mountain horses.

Rogers, the KWHA president, received a warning in July from the USDA after an investigation into his actions at the 2006 Owingsville Lions Club Walking Horse Show.

Eads said she was unaware of the USDA investigation, and that Rogers was not on the list provided by the KWHA.

Rogers received $4,690 from the fund for 2007, according to racing commission records.

Also a concern, Eads said, is KWHA Vice President Gary Oliver, who was implicated in the death of a walking horse in his care in 2004. The USDA is looking into whether Oliver can be charged under the Horse Protection Act but has not taken any action. Oliver admitted in trial testimony last year to using banned substances on the horse's feet.

Eads said the KWHA has indicated that the board does not have the votes to force Oliver out but has asked him to resign. "If he chooses not to, that will be something that has to be addressed," Eads said.

The state breeders' incentive fund is administered by the racing commission. The money comes from the sales tax on stud fees on all breeds. Nine non-race breeds split $1.3 million in 2007, compared with $15 million for Thoroughbreds. The funds are designed to encourage horse breeders to come and stay in the state by giving incentives for horses bred by Ken tucky stallions from mares living in Kentucky.

All walking horse incentives are funneled through the Kentucky Walking Horse Association, which was selected as an affiliate when the state fund was formed in 2005.

In 2006, the walking horse fund got $320,103; in 2007, it got $387,506.

Competitors often refuse to show their horses if USDA vets are doing the inspections rather than paid industry investigators.

At least twice this year — at KWHA-sanctioned shows in Owingsville and in Prestonsburg — horses have been withdrawn when federal inspectors arrived.

Rogers, who runs the Owingsville show, has said that competitors leave because they do not want to risk violations from the USDA, which they consider to be unfair and inconsistent in its Horse Protection Act enforcement.

USDA inspections and those done by paid show inspections should be the same. But competitors are much more wary of the USDA vets, with good reason.

According to the Friends of Sound Horses, the anti-soring group, USDA vets found 90 times the violations that KWHA inspectors found at their sanctioned shows in 2007.

Although Rogers said the KWHA has no control over how the fund money is distributed, the system was designed by the KWHA, which also set up the breeders' fund affiliate.

Horses can earn points toward incentives only in KWHA-sanctioned horse shows in Kentucky. And only KWHA members can earn ince ntive money.

NEWS - More fuel for the fire: USDA Inspectors Harassed at KWHA Show

Looks like our pal Earl Rogers of the KWHA, who bemoaned the USDA showing up at the Owingsville show in July, is under investigation. Click here for the article. Be sure to take a look at the associated PDFs as well.

THOUGHTS - I added another catagory

I've added another catagory: Research. This will be information I have researched myself and compiled to include on this blog. I also arranged the catagories in the sidebar so you can browse by type of post.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NEWS and RESEARCH - USDA Foreign Substances Results for 2008

Here is another list compilation. This is the results of using "sniffer" technology to detect foreign chemicals on a horse's legs. Click here for the original PDFs from the USDA website. The "sniffer" is a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) device. Usually used in detecting chemicals in soil, it analyzes the molecules present in the sample and can determine exactly what base chemcials are included in the sample. Click here for more info.

Since there are six separate files concerning the findings, I compiled all the information in this link for ease of reading. I added the percentages of compliance versus non-compliance to give readers a good idea of what the actual numbers are (remember to be wary of the "98% compliant" claim).

Overall, of the 131 horses tested for foreign substances under the HPA, only approximately 66% of the horses were found in compliance. A far cry from the usually stated 98%!

NEWS and RESEARCH - Shows Attended by USDA in 2008 with Inspection Results

click here for the original pdf.

I had a hard time comparing the two different tables, though. So, I have compiled the data in a new format so we can see all the data for each show in one continuous table. Click here for the table. I apologize for having to scroll--I'm going to work on finding another format for this table...

In the meantime, we can see a very fascinating correlation going on here. If we take the total number of entries in the shows that the USDA attended and compare that to the total number of violations, we get 95% compliance.

304 violations/6,025 entries = 95% compliance

However, if we take the total number of horses actually inspected and compare that number to the total number of violations, we get 83% compliance.

304 violations/1,781 inspected = 83% compliance

It's interesting how the numbers can be manipulated, isn't it?

ARTICLE and NEWS - Chattanooga Times information on violations and death of abused horse

Article from the Chattanooga Times concerning this year's Celebration violations and a woman who lost her horse due to too many years of abuse, even after she tried to rescue him. Click here for the article.

My condolences to Ms. Stolz. You are a wonderful, brave person to do as much as you could for Soldier after his abuse. I hope you find solace in the fact that he is no longer in pain or suffering. Thank you for giving him a good life after his abuse and for helping him as best you could.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

THOUGHTS - An admission of guilt?

This is a comment that was made on one of Bonnie Erbe's blog posts. I'm posting the text word for word in the italic text. Anyone want to collect the $10K offered by the HSUS to report this lady's trainer?

EDITED 9-15-08: I found out that this is a spoof on this person's name. I also found out that there is a name on the HPA violations list called "Denise Rowland," and that there are seven Rowlands, several of them Denises, that have tickets. Things just get weirder and weirder all the time with these people....

My Name is Renise Dowland and I am a TWH Supporter. Have I ridden a sore horse before, well, I really don't know for sure. I let the trainer take care of fixin up my horse. I tell him not to do anything to my horse but make it win.

Note: "Fixin'" or "fixin up" are common industry slang for soring. And this is a good example of the lack of concern for the horse's well being. You only care about winning, so the horse's well being be dammed.

So I am attacked for my beliefs that the 99+ compliance rate is not real. It is my belief, that if a horse makes it through inspection, then it is compliant, no matter what was done to it prior to that moment. That is why the scar rule is soooo wrong.

Yep, because the scars are proof that the horses are being sored, and of course you don't want to lose your chance to win, so why chance it? Scars should just be passed over and not paid attention to. The horse's suffering and the Federal law don't matter at all....

I can't help what was done to it in the past and I sure cannot help what my trainer does to it. I am not there.

WHAT????? You CAN help what your trainer does by NOT SENDING YOUR HORSES TO HIM. Your pretending that you aren't responsible is EXACTLY what is continuing to ruin this breed and make all TWHs look bad. If someone is doing something illegal while under your employment, YOU are liable. It's why the horse show management is liable if horses at their show are found sore. Even Dr. Meadows realizes this.

I pay all the bills and it is up to my trainer to make sure my horse does not get a sore ticket. And if it needs to be fixed a little on one foot to get its gait to be level, then it is really not a violation, just a warning. According to the law, I nor my trainer can be prosecuted.

Thank you for admitting what your trainer is doing: SORING YOUR HORSE. It doesn't matter if you can't be prosecuted--you are still breaking the law.

Please attack another breed, we pay the inspectors for an opinion just like we pay the judges for an opinion.

Sorry, I don't think I'll be doing that since you just freely admitted that your horse is being sored. YOU are the problem, and YOU are why the breed continues to be scrutinized. You, your trainer, and all those in the industry who think just like you are part of the problem, not the solution. Go sound and you won't have to worry about it anymore--it's that simple.

NEWS - The results are in! Soring Violations Were Up at the 2008 Celebration

I can't find the link to this article, so I'm attaching what I got in an email here.

Soring Inspections Stepped Up at Walking Horse Celebration
By: Pat Raia - New Soring Inspections Beef Up Celebration Plan.

Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows, PhD, credited stricter inspections overall for the rise in the number of violations. "These horses were photographed, poked, prodded, thermographed, and radiographed," Meadows said.

Humane Society of the United States Director of Equine Protection Keith Dane said USDA inspectors' performance at the high-profile event demonstrated the agency's willingness enforce federal anti-soring rules.

Despite the violation increases, Meadows said rules adopted by Celebration management to encourage compliance at this event indicate that competition managers are also serious about discouraging soring. "Those things show we're committed to going forward," he said. "I'm not happy with the violations; I want (the show) to be 100% compliant."

According to Celebration statistics, a total of 2,188 different horses represented 4,689 class entries during the event. Of those entries, the USDA reported that 2,744 were actually presented in the show ring.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

NEWS - USDA inspectors dampen walking horse show

Again, exhibitors flee the USDA. Click here for the article. This is another show sanctioned by the KWHA.

Let's take a look at some of the quotes and text, shall we?

More than a hundred would-be competitors chose not to show Friday night in the United Performance Racking Horse Breeders & Trainers Association World Celebration at the Prestonsburg Equine Center. A racking horse is a type of Tennessee Walking Horse, the breed protected by the federal Horse Protection Act.

Let's point out one word here: "CHOSE." These people CHOSE not to show their horses. No one ran them off. I think we all understand that if someone runs from the law when they show up, then they're most likely guilty (*ahem* Saddam Hussein). Wouldn't you agree? Okay, so you can use The Fugitive as an example of when they run because they're NOT guilty. Um, it's a movie, not real life: doesn't count.

Show spokesman Raymond Hager said they had expected 150 to 200 entries on Friday; 126 horses were shown on Thursday night.

"We'll be lucky to have 30," on Friday, Hager said. In class after class, perhaps one horse showed up to compete for coveted ribbons and trophies. Friday night's crowd was clearly unhappy with the turn of events. The show is scheduled to continue Saturday.

So I think this goes to show that maybe if you stop soring horses and obey the law, you will have your 150 to 200 entries and your crowds won't be so unhappy. Am I right?

USDA representatives, who were escorted by Kentucky State Police troopers, said federal restrictions did not permit them to comment.

Good for them. Better not to say anything at all and get the job done.

Hager said competitors declined to show because USDA inspections are inconsistent and unfair and nobody wants to risk getting a ticket. "They (competitors) are always afraid. Nobody knows how they're going to check from one show to another," Hager said.

The same crap we always hear. The thing is that USDA inspectors aren't the ones who are inconsistent--they're using methods they are allowed to use on each individual horse. One horse may not get the same kind of scrutiny that another one gets, only because if there is suspicion, there are more legal ways to determine if the horse is sore. The exhibitors just aren't used to the full methods being used to look at the horses. Plus, OF COURSE they don't like when the USDA shows up, because they get caught!

Hager said walking horse competitors are being "persecuted" by the federal government and anti-soring groups. "They're being cruel and harsh on us," Hager said.

No, they're not. They're following the law. Your DQPs won't follow the law worth shit, so suddenly when someone starts enforcing the law, you say you're being persecuted. Sometimes getting a ticket is cruel and harsh, but everyone has gotten away with not getting tickets for so long that they can't accept it when their horses aren't found in compliance.

He said the pull-out by competitors would hurt the charities that the association supports, including several children's charities.

This is another cover-up. We would NEVER hurt our horses, and we'll prove it by providing money to charities. Providing to a charity is another way to get more entries in the ring and bodies in the crowd, that's all. People are more likely to come to a show if a charity is involved.

"Why is the government killing a multimillion-dollar industry when they let all the rich people, the racehorses, the saddlebreds (compete) ... they just check their blood," he said, referring to the drug tests the other breeds often undergo. His sport supports charities, he said, while "all the rest of them take care of rich folks."

Okay, let me ask you this: did you have stakes classes and pay-backs at your show? Then that means you're doling out money for people to show. Plus, horse showing ALWAYS pays back the industry. It costs money to show, and you have to pay your judges and announcers, sometimes you hire a show manager, it can depend on whether or not you can get volunteers. So someone is always making money out of the deal. Did the Celebration sponsor a charity? NO. Let's also point out that the president of the Celebration is paid close to $300,000 per year for his job. If that's not rich, I don't know what is.

There are plenty of horse events in other breed associations that give to charities. I'm sure we can go to the AQHA or APHA websites and see charity events in their list of affiliated shows. TWHs aren't the only ones.

Plus, the HPA is specifically targeted towards the kind of abuse that we ONLY see in the TWH industry. Racehorses don't wear pads, stacks, or heavy shoes--why should they be inspected? This is just another a lame excuse for them to continue life as is.

And actually, the TWHs probably need their blood checked as well. I'm sure they're given all kinds of stuff to hype them up and get them to move more.

Hager also objected to recent media coverage of the industry. "We're tired of what you guys are doing," he said.

Oh, no, are we continuing to expose you and messing up your breaking the law and abusing horses? Awwww, you poor thing!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NEWS - Letter to the Editor of Kentucky Herald

The following is a letter to the editor from Don Vizi, ED of NWHA, to the Kentucky Herald about their article "Banned but not banished.",

SUBJECT: Letter to the Editor
re: your story “Banned But Not Banished.”

Dear Editor:

On behalf of the nearly 900 members of the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA), I want to applaud you for your story “Banned But Not Banished” (08/31/08).

While the soring of walking horses has come under increased scrutiny by federal regulators, it is stories like the one you described that show the industry has a long way to go toward 100% compliance of the 1970 Federal Horse Protection Act. The fact is we are almost 40 years since the passage of the HPA, and the soring of walking horses continues.

NWHA, a decade-old organization committed to preserving and fostering the natural abilities and welfare of the Walking Horse, has been vocal and active in the fight against soring. With a zero tolerance policy as our bedrock, we have invited both The Humane Society and the USDA to attend our upcoming 2008 National Championship Horse Show (Murfreesboro, TN Sept. 30-Oct. 4).

On behalf of our membership and all admirers of the versatile and majestic Walking Horse, I hope that the Lexington Herald Leader and other media continue to shine a spotlight on soring – calling attention to violators of the HPA, so that someday a zero tolerance policy becomes the norm.


Donald A. Vizi
Executive Director
National Walking Horse Association

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ARTICLE - New editorial concerning soring and Sen. McConnell

A new editorial is out in the Kentucky Herald. Click here for the article.

Some important highlights:

McConnell points out that many lawmakers, including former Sen. Wendell Ford, defended the industry. And you could argue that the government should leave people alone to enjoy traditional rural past times. (Cockfighters might try that one.)

Another great example of one of the excuses that the sore horse industry gives. "Leave us alone! It's tradition!" Sorry, kiddos, when you're breaking federal laws, we just won't!

Soring is not traditional, however. It's a 1950s invention that distorts the gliding gait of a horse famed for strength, stamina and the ability to carry riders swiftly across long distances and between rows of crops without damaging a plant.

ABSOLUTELY. I really think this is a great description of what soring is. It's amazing how the desire for the Big Lick has distorted the image of the breed and it's true, natural flat walk. I believe there is nothing more beautiful than a horse in a true running walk, gliding around the ring. Why is it that the sore horse industry still finds beauty in such a horrible distortion of what's natural? Why can't the judges stop rewarding this look? Well, we have answers to all of that, which I can discuss further in future posts.

Friday, September 5, 2008

ARTICLE - For those of you who want positive info for the sore horse....

Celebration sees positive numbers for 2008

I do have some comments, though. OF COURSE! :) What kind of blog would this be without comments? Mostly they're just thoughts from horse show experience--things that run through my head when I read an article like this. So I've quoted some lines and put in the comments below.

The horses are the drawing card for Tennessee’s oldest continually running event and when the entry deadline passed on August 5th, 4,222 entries had been made prior to the show.

“We were extremely pleased to see an increase in pre-entries,” said Celebration CEO and Show Chairman Dr. Doyle Meadows. “Seeing an increase was important because it reversed a five-year period of declining entry numbers.”

The total number of entries increases after the show’s preliminary classes are completed and championship entries are made. 2,188 different horses made a total of 4,689 entries, including championship entries. That represents a decrease of 55 over the total in 2007, less than one-third of an entry per class. The 2,188 different horses entered are 36 more than last year. Out of the total number of entries, 2,907 were actually presented in the showring, which is slightly less than showed in 2007, but still one of the highest percentages (62%) in recent years.

These are good numbers--they aren't hiding the number of horses behind the number of entries. I appreciate that information.

“To me, that is one of the most telling statistics about our entries,” continued Meadows. “It’s very gratifying to see the number of horses that come through that entry gate…even though the total number of entries may be down a bit."

This MIGHT be because of disqualifications. Let's hope so! But sometimes horses are scratched from being entered because they're not feeling good, the rider gets hurt, things like that. So I can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. From the numbers side, the difference is 719 horses. That's 25% of horses from the total entries that didn't show.

The Celebration® added several new measures to the event in 2007 designed to ensure the health and safety of the horses on the Grounds, the integrity of the show, and the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. Those measures were strengthened further in 2008.

And I am glad they did it. Checking horses that were on the show grounds in general (pulling them from barns, etc.) is very important and a task that was always overlooked before.

The success of the 2008 Celebration has not gone unnoticed by officials in state government.

“I feel the industry has made tremendous strides (since 2006),” said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, during an appearance at the TWHBEA National Futurity. “There is a much better feeling. I really feel good about it. It’s such an important industry to our state, a signature industry. It may not be as big as Dolly Parton or Elvis, but it’s big.”

Huh? What does that mean? That's a weird comment.

Bredesen, while not an owner, has been a proud rider on numerous occasions.

“In most parades I go to, I ride a Tennessee Walking Horse. I take great pride in this breed.”

My first thought here is of course you ride a TWH--it's because your backers are sore horse trainers and that's where you get your campaign money from.

While no attendance records were broken in 2008, the numbers were still very encouraging to Celebration officials. A total of 139,695 fans streamed through the historic gates of the Celebration Grounds. The paid-attendance was also large with 215,096 tickets being sold for the 10 nights of competition.

My thought here is that at pretty much any large horse show, trainers and owners will buy box seats, which is usually a group of seats in one section together that are roped off and only available to those that the buyer designates can sit there. They get X number of seats for X amount of dollars. I've bought boxes at shows before. So that could be part of why the amount of paid seats is so much higher than the amount of people who actually came.

Also, I'm sure these numbers are from the total 11 days, not just one or two days. But it is important to know that that's 139,695 people that are continuing to support the sore horse, whether they know it or not.

“Our board, our staff, and I can’t thank the fans enough who came in large numbers this year. It tells us that the product we’re presenting is what the public wants to see…beautiful and talented horses, great riders, and a terrific overall atmosphere.” Said by Celebration CEO and Show Chairman Dr. Doyle Meadows.

Well, nothing's beautiful about the BL, and the riders look like cockroaches sitting on top of those poor animals.... Whatever. But if I remember correctly, Meadows is the one who headed the changes in the inspection process this year, so hopefully he is serious about making changes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ARTICLE - The Senate Guru Blog Labor Day Post

The Senate Guru organizes each post by putting the state's name and following it with information. I have copied the information concerning the Big Lick horse here. For the full blog post, click here.

Kentucky: OK, this is pretty grotesque. New documents obtained by the Kentucky print media evidence that Mitch McConnell has backed the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry in pressuring the USDA to lay off of oversight of the Horse Protection Act so that horse trainers can deliberately inflict cruel physical treatment upon the horses so that they simply step higher. In other words, Mitch McConnell is trying to get the U.S. Government to tacitly permit industry-wide cruelty to animals. Oh, and, I'm sure coincidentally, "the industry gave McConnell tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and hired his Senate chief of staff, Niels Holch, as its Washington lobbyist and attorney." Mitch McConnell is a sick degenerate who will prostitute his political influence for a few bucks. He does not deserve another six-year term as a U.S. Senator. A six-year term he does deserve is one spent behind bars rather than C-SPAN cameras.

ARTICLE - The Rural Blog post concerning sore horses

More publicity--click here for the article. Man, this is gettin' good! Gotta hand it to you, sore horse trainers--you guys have really stuck your foot in it this time! Let's just hope it proves to be a vat of acid with chains wrapped on your ankles so you can experience the pain in your pocketbooks....

ARTICLE - Barefoot and Progressive post regarding McConnell

Click here for the blog post. The quote at the top of the blog is brilliant!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

NEWS - Wayne Abee Indefinitely Suspended from the Celebration

Click here for the article. Kudos to the people in the stands who reported this guy. I'm glad to see that conduct violations are still being considered. If they act like an ass in the stands, then they probably do the same at home and have no respect for their clients or customers.

NEWS - Attendance at the Celebration

Here is some information I was given this afternoon from the National Celebration website. Click here for the article.

"Paid attendance on Saturday was 23,829 while actual attendance was 22,156. The Celebration posted a paid attendance of 216,253 for the ten-night event."

The reason why this is interesting is because it points out that the paid figure is not a body count. For most of the week, the Celebration were sevearl thousand people below their paid attendance amount. Figures in the past have ranged from 27,000 to 35,000. Less attendance means a lot of things, but mostly it means that the industry is continuing to not do as well as it has in the past.

NEWS - It's All About the Money

Click here for the article detailing how Senator Mitch McConnell has continued to threaten the USDA and urge self-inspections at TWH shows. From the article:

"McConnell backed the industry's demand for its own inspectors — paid by the industry, drawn from the ranks of horse owners and trainers — to have a greater role in soring inspections, rather than the independent USDA veterinarians who uncover and report soring more frequently.

"At the same time, the industry gave McConnell tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and hired his Senate chief of staff, Niels Holch, as its Washington lobbyist and attorney."

Ladies and gentlemen: SOLID PROOF that it's all about the money.

NEWS - Gary Oliver Freely Admits that Chemicals on a Horse is the Norm

Click here for the article about how Gary Oliver intentially put chemicals on a man's horse to "train" it and the colt ended up having to be euthanized. In the article, Gary Oliver freely admits that soring is the norm.

He testified that he regularly put kerosene and motor oil, mixed with sulfur and alum, on Martin's horse and all of his own horses' feet. All are illegal, considered methods of soring. "That's what any normal trainer would have done if they're going to put chains on a horse," Oliver testified.

The most shocking part: "'I felt real bad this horse got hurt while we were down there,' Oliver testified. 'I treated this man's horse just like I would treat my own horse.'" So that means that all your horses are suffering just as badly as this horse was.

Be sure to watch the video of the testimonies. The lawyer asks Oliver what he used on the horse, and he says what he used (the mix of new motor oil, sulphur, kerosene, and alum). He says it's called "working grease" and everyone uses it--it's to protect the horses' legs. Of course, I question how do caustic substances like kerosene and motor oil protect a horse's legs when they are known to burn skin? The lawyer says that none of those are allowed substances under the HPA; the only allowed substances are mineral oil, glycerin and petrolatum. Oliver has no answer for that. Then the lawyer points out how he used his working grease at the sale that he took the colt to. Now, the law says the show or sale management must provide the grease for the people at the show/sale. Oliver says this, and he says that the sale management didn't have any, so he used his own grease, which at this point is determined to be illegal grease and is illegal on show grounds. This means sale management wasn't even bothering to have the correct grease onsite! See how this industry continues to allow this to happen? It's all right here.

AMAZING. This is amazing to me. "ANY NORMAL TRAINER." Folks, if that's not proof that soring is still rampant, I don't know what is.

So, vetman, what do you have to say now?

NEWS - Industry says it is addressing issues

Here we go--the first of many new articles that are out since the Celebration finished. This is a good one--points out the important statistics that the sore horse industry continues to ignore and tells us what went on during the inspections. I know some people have started cleaning up their act, but we know it's not all.

Click here for the article from the Kentucky Herald.

THOUGHTS - vetman's comments: Oh boy! Ammunition!

Someone claiming to be vetman made a comment on my last two posts. Hello, vetman. Oooooo, you've given me ammunition! Let's have some fun, shall we???? All of vetman's quotes are as written.

"I am saddeneded at your lack of truthfulness and use of 1/2 truths and one-sided commentary to push your anti padded agenda.,"

What are half-truths? Either something is true or it's not. Plus, one-sided commentary is what a blog is. If people want to find HARD, CONCRETE evidence that soring no longer exists, not just someone on the sidelines saying nah, we’re 98% compliant, they can go look for it. Problem is they won't find it. Believe me, I didn’t want to believe that these horses are being abused. I wanted to believe the lies. But after witnessing it first hand and from the hard evidence that is out there, including the formerly sore mare in my backyard who can hardly walk from the abuse she endured, I find that it’s absolutely true that these horses are still sore.

"For example. your comment about NYPD getting a scar rule in 2006. The thing you didnt mention is the ticket being thrown out of court due to lack of evidence."

Well, since no one bothered to make that information public, how was I supposed to know? Please, please, PLEASE find me the court ruling on this and I will believe you. I hear these kinds of stories all the time, but when I ask for the text of the judge’s ruling, wow, no one knows where it is!

Plus, do you know NYPD personally, did you see his legs that day? And are you a trained DQP? Who are you to judge whether he was sound or not?

"you see, the USDA likes to make up"scar rules infractions" when they cannot get a ticket on a horse for anything else. TYhery call a scar anything that MIGHT imply some form of soring. Whether it be some thin hair, dandruff in the hair, etc, etc."

You know, this scar rule crap has got me riled. THE SCAR RULE IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO DETERMINE IF A HORSE IS SORE OR NOT. It is so stupid how the sore horse industry continues to use this as an excuse for their horse being sore or not. If the horse has granulations indicative of a scar and abnormal waves in the skin, then it has been sored. Don't give me the crap that all TWHs have these waves--EVERY SOUND TWH I KNOW INCLUDING THE ONES IN MY BACKYARD DOES NOT HAVE THESE WAVES. Or the garbage of how young horses in the field all have this pattern, or that it's because of the hard work these horses go through because they are "athletes." BULLSHIT. Take a look at the USDA presentation to the public about how horses in all other fields that wear things on their legs DO NOT show this wavy pattern. It is only in the TWH, and only in the horses on pads that wear chains. THIS IS A PROBLEM.

"Also the numbers were rght in line with where they should be. There is ALWAYS more entered than what usually enters the ring in EVERY CLASS."

I agree that there are always a lot more horses in class than what place. But the TWH show industry gives ribbons up to 10th place, so if there were only 5 places tied, then there were only 5 horses in the class. I think I know simple math.

"Thje USDa beefed up their harassment this year...No doubt. They were pilfering thru tack oxes, pulling trailers over on the highways, etc. The funny thing is the compliancy rate is very near where it has been everyyear before."

Harassment? How is it harassment when the Celebration officials said it was okay for them to search the show grounds for evidence? When the Celebration released that big giant list of things they said will be enforced this year? And how do you know this, since the numbers haven’t been released yet? It sounds like you weren't there, since you were online looking for videos of Santana's El Nino. So I assume you heard this through the grapevine.

As to the searching procedures, REALLY? Do you have some video evidence of this, or did you get this hearsay?

This is my thing, people. I hear TONS AND TONS AND TONS of people continuing to say that the USDA is going through people’s tack boxes, pilfering through this and that, YET NO ONE CAN GIVE US FIRM EVIDENCE OF THIS. No videos, NOTHING. Besides, NO CHEMICALS ARE ALLOWED ON THE SHOW GROUNDS, PERIOD. This is in the rule books and the HPA. What the hell? If they find you have tons of lydocaine (SP) in your tack box or green stuff on your horse’s pasterns, then guess what? You’re using something that’s not allowed per HPA law, and you will get ticketed. Simple as that!

BTW, don’t tell me that Kopertox and other green substances are used as lubricants when it says on the bottle NOT to get the stuff on a horse’s skin or it will cause hair loss. When hair loss is indicative of soring, why would you use Kopertox as a lubricant??? Plus, I just used that shit on my horse who is thrushy because we’ve had a ton of rain out here, and I got it all over my legs (I’m a klutz, what can I say). That shit is STICKY. Why would it be used as a lubricant when it’s sticky?????

Then there’s the claim of using their fingernails and pushing them into the horse’s pasterns for 2 to 3 minutes to get a response. I tried this myself—I pushed my fingernail into my horse’s skin, who is not sore, and he never flinched. I pushed as hard as I could with my thumb to get him to flinch, and he didn’t. Hmmmmmm....

"The dirty little secret the USDa wont tell is that this industry is, for the most part, clean and sound."

WHAT???? Then why it is all over the TWH chat boards that horses were being pulled from their stalls at the show grounds (which is allowed per the HPA and show rules) and found to have plastic wrap, chemicals, and all kinds of evidence indicative of soring? Why did Scott Benham get ticketed for his horses? That doesn’t sound clean and sound to me.

"Their bloated budget has been on the chopping block for 2 years now ever since their sniffer machine was proven to be a dismal failure when all it proved was 99% of the horses are chemical free."

Um, no. Let's take a look at the 2007 statistics that were gathered, shall we? Let's see: of 353 horses tested at 14 different events, 175 were found positive for foreign chemicals. That's 49.5%! WOW, that's a lot more than only 1% of the horses having chemicals! In 2005 at the Kentucky Celebration, 25 horses were randomly selected to use the sniffer on. ALL 25 HORSES WERE FOUND TO HAVE CHEMICALS. The sniffer just isn’t being used as heavily anymore because now the “trainers” have switched to pressure shoeing because it’s harder to detect.

"They have to try and jsutify their $500,000 dollar a year budget. And they are creating hype and tickets to make them seem worth their pay.“yet, they failed again."

Justify? No they don’t. $500,000 is not nearly enough for them to get to all the shows they need to get to. They are spending money on research and development, so they can continue to give all the bad guys a "chance" to clean this up (which of course none of them deserve). Just go to the USDA APHIS website and see where the money is going. Besides, the HPA was supposed to get a $2 million budget when the anti-slaughter bill passed. Why hasn’t that money been handed down? If the gov’t were really trying to sabotage what you call a “clean” industry, then wouldn’t the money be there to do it?

"All these changes proves just what the USDA didnt want them to prove. th hroses are overwhelmingly sound. They rarely can get a horse for being sensitive and have to resort to falisfying or stretching the "scar" rule guidelines to get a ticket to make it seem some horse sarent compliant."

OH WHATEVER. See my above comments on this garbage. I again ask: why were horses found sore in the barns if it's so compliant?

"The truth is most scar rules violations come after the class when the horse was re-checked. jsut like a man who works with his hands strenuosly for a period of time, he wil develop some raised, thickened skin from repeated , repetitivit actions.these "scars" the USDA like to write ticjets on are nothing more than thickened skin, just like a callous or rough skin you get on your hands from a few minutes of slingong horse manure with a pitch fork while cleaning a stall."

Well, guess what, kiddies, ANY KIND OF CHANGE IN THE SKIN IS CONSIDERED A SCAR PER THE SCAR RULE. So if that's happening, then obviously something is wrong. Um, I don't know about any of you, but I don't get a callous or rough skin from scooping manure after just a few minutes. If I did, something would seriously be wrong.

"Tjhe sad part is, most people, like yourself and the followers of your blogs, are so ignorant and gullible about this industry that you believe anything you are told and take it as gospel.Likek the pics you have posted that show abuse..WHERE IS THE ABUSE??"

I can go on and on with that one. For detailed information on those photos, click here.

"One of the horses you say is being abused has protective sticking on it;s feet to keep its hair and skin in good shape, and has lubricant grease and kopertox to help keep anything from starting that the USDA could fabricate as being a scar."

See above my comments on Kopertox: WHY WOULD YOU USE THIS AS A LUBRICANT WHEN IT CAUSES HAIR LOSS PER THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOTTLE? Click here for the label for Kopertox. If it doesn't work, click here then scroll down to Manufacturer/Label Information.

"Yo folks realy need to get out and do some persoanl, realy life, research and quit being a mouthpiece for some ignorant, demonizing anti padded horse website that likes to use pics from 20 years ago and fool people with lies and innuendoes. "

The pictures were taken in 2002. Can't you read? Oh wait, you can't spell, so how could you possibly know how to read? Also, please guide me in this real-life research you talk about. I can't find any solid evidence that horses AREN'T being sored, just hearsay and the usual crap that you're spewing out. If someone can provide it, please do so! And don't quote me that 1982 study done on the whether or not pads hurt horses. That study was bought and paid for by the sore horse industry when horses were going around the ring with their legs BLEEDING, and it hasn't been repeated since. Plus, the study showed a higher incidence of thrush and laminitis in TWHs than any other breed. Gee, do ya think that's a problem?

Now, vetman, please, please, PLEASE answer me this question. I pose this of every person who tells me the same crap you're saying, yet no one has so far bothered to answer it. Let me challenge you to do so. You will probably agree that the TWH industry is 98% compliant since you think horses are 99% chemical free, etc. I ask you this: Why not 100% compliant? Why can't the industry be 100% compliant like all other sound horse venues are? I'm sure I can answer why, but really it's not that hard to figure out: MONEY. Why change what works to continue to put money in their pockets?

Good luck trying to convince those of us who know the truth and giving us crap about this. And I am sorry if you do believe the industry is sound. I also am sorry if you truly are a vet because you can't spell.

THOUGHTS - In the Meantime....

I just went on the TWH National Celebration website and discovered that Santana's El Nino won the WGC. So it means the show wasn't shut down. Bad news. Good news is that the results for the classes that were in today show somewhat low numbers in the entries. The WGC class only had 8 entries, and usually it has around 12 to 14. (TWH shows give ribbons up to 10th place--it's why I can tell there are low entries.) This MIGHT mean that the sore horses are actually being found to be sore or the "trainers" are seeing the work that's going on and they are turnin' tail and runnin'.

I also notice that Russ Thompson didn't have his horse I'm Billy the Kid in the WGC class, when he's been in it for the past four years or so--I couldn't give you the exact years off the top of my head. Don't know if that means he was disqualified or if he just decided not to show him, but it does seem weird for his horse not to be in that class when it has been several years running.

Another note: the A/O WGC class had only 5 entries. However, the sad part is that NYPD won the class, and he was one of the five horses found sore at the Celebration in 2006 when it was shut down. I just checked the HPA violations list, and NYPD was ticketed for the scar rule on 9/17/2007 with a two-week suspension. Hmm, that's just enough time to burn those scars off! It's AMAZING how the scars can MAGICALLY disappear so horses can be in future classes!

Overall, it's been quiet all evening--I've been watching the newspapers and just doing general Googling to see what I can find. Info may be up and flooding in tomorrow. In the meantime, I can say that I know the USDA was working hard. Let's hope they were able to stop most of the sore horses from being allowed to show.

Perhaps next year the sound horse will get lucky....

Friday, August 29, 2008

ARTICLE - "Okay, let's talk about the TWH show industry...."

From Fugly Horse of the Day, the information from a person who experienced soring first hand, and within the past couple of years. Click here. Excellent representation of what's going on in the industry!

NEWS and THOUGHTS - Bits & Pieces from the Celebration: GO USDA!!!!!!!

I have a friend who calls it the UNCelebration. She's really right.

Anyway, here are the bits I've gotten about what's going on out there. My comments are in italics

A post received via email 8-22-08 from a sore horse chat room (the incident happened on 8-21-08): "The horses that were taken out from the barn and taken to the inspection area should have never happened!!! Exactly right, BECAUSE THEY SHOULDN'T BE SORE!!!! That was pure ignorance on the trainer's behalf. Everyone knows that plastic wrap is banned from the show grounds, which means that it is not allowed to be on the horse's legs when they are in the barns at the Celebration. {insert sarcasm here} Oh yes, he should have kept that plastic wrap at home. Way to ruin it for those of us who are more covertly soring our horses through pressure shoeing and using eyedrops! No one can be mad at the VMOs for doing this. Rules are rules, and with something so blantely clear, this insident[sic] shouldn't have had to take place. It was just a case where someone thought that it wouldn't matter, and that no one would be checking for this and that they could get away with having illegal wrapping on the horse. Actually, this hits the nail on the head. This is how it has gone on for the past 30 years--no one will catch me, no one is serious about the threats. Now this trainer and the sore horse community are learning that yes, the threats are very serious. Guess they know better now. It's the stupid little mistakes MISTAKE? MISTAKE? How is this a mistake? Oops! I didn't mean to put that plastic wrap on the horse to cook those chemicals in. Silly me! To coin a term from Fugly Horse of the Day, that asshat knew EXACTLY what he was doing! which are killing us in the eyes of the media. My dear, you are killing yourself. The media and the rest of the world knows about what is going on, and the lies and trying to cover it up are not working anymore. I'm sure they will make a big story out of this!" YOU BET YOUR ASS WE WILL! Even if the media doesn't act on it, the word will spread!!!!!

Received via email 8-26-08 from an online chat (not sure which one): "USDA is cracking down on them. Going into barns and pulling horses out of stalls and taking them back to inspection and inspecting. They wrote up Scott Benham and Golden West Farms the other night for a horse in their barn. Horses are still sore in the ring, but the numbers are down."

YYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Scott Benham is a usual out here in AZ at the Carousel Charity Horse Show that is held every March. It is our only A-listed gaited horse show in AZ. It used to be an NHSC affiliated show up until 2006, when they decided to go sound and be affiliated with FOSH. Scott always came with Russ Thompson (I have seen his grooms soring horses right in front of me). There is a worry that the Carousel will go back to being a NHSC show due to the fact that they want more money (OF COURSE), and we all know Thompson is willing to dole it out. So I made sure those at the Carousel know about this.

From the Walking Horse Chat (known sore horse online chat group), 8-28-08: "Latest news on the grounds is....Golden West Farms [Scott Benham] has left the Celebration due to numerous barn inspections by the USDA. This is unfortunate. Save the breed before it's too late!"

Did you ever watch "Ren and Stimpy"? They used to have this song on there called "Happy Happy Joy Joy." That's all they said over and over again. I AM SCREAMING THAT SONG FROM THE TOP OF THE ROOFTOPS! Way to go, Benham--THANK YOU for proving to us that you are a sore horse trainer! Now we definitely know to avoid you!

Overall, it's been quiet about the show. I keep checking information from newspapers and other sources, and not much is being said. The USDA and other groups are out there in force, including the HSUS, monitoring things and carrying on spot inspections in the barns per the Celebration's new rules.

I am praying every night that the USDA will take over the inspections tonight and tomorrow night for the big WGC classes. PLEASE, let's pull shoes, use radiology, ANYTHING that needs to be done to make changes. I am hoping these messages are loud and clear to the UNCelebration and the sore horse trainers. Please, please, PLEASE let us end this atrocity this year by getting it shut down again!

Monday, August 25, 2008

NEWS - VIDEO: Changes to Be Enforced At Annual Celebration

Sounds like the vet might be serious.... I really like the changes and I just hope against hope that they are really carrying them out.

Click here for the article and video.

NEWS - Show, industry set course to halt abuse of horses

My first thought: let's just hope this is true. My second thought: YEAH, RIGHT.

This article talks about the new rules the Celebration officials have put into place at this year's 2008 Celebration to help end soring. Click here for the article. Be sure to read the comments, especially the one about how Howard Hamilton, who is in the photo for the article, received a ticket on August 21 at the Celebration. Well Mr. Hamilton, you say "I hate that there is so much bad publicity," you certainly aren't doing anything to help stop that bad publicity, are you?

I'm just waiting for Friday and Saturday night of this week--that's when we'll see the truth come out. Let's hope the USDA comes in and it leads to shutting down the show once again!

Blog Archive