"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

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

THOUGHTS - Feined Ignorance of What's Really Going On, Part 1

This is some text forwarded to me written by a prominent TWH seller in the U.S. MANY of you would know who this is if I told you, but I can't, only to protect myself and the people who emailed this person. The people who emailed the seller asked for their help in spreading the word about the plight of the TWH. This was the response.


I am 100% opposed to soring. That being said, I love the Tennessee Walking Horse breed and have been actively involved in the breed for over 40 years.... The USDA was brought in to deal with the matter. The matter has been dealt with. Let it go. For as long as people make a living off of training horses, there is always going to be some kind of abuse, regardless of the breed. The Tennessee Walking Horse industry is 98% better than it was 20 years ago in this regard. You are "beating a dead horse" by spending all of your energy in this direction. Do something positive for the breed. Promote the greatness of the breed - for it is the most wonderful breed of horse out there. New people are getting involved in this breed every day -- they don't do abusive things - they love their horses. Yesterday we made a young girl with bone cancer very happy - the Make A Wish Foundation is buying her a Tennessee Walking Horse to ride and to love. This will make a wonderful difference in this girl's life....you can spend your life beating a dead issue or you can go out there and promote the breed in a positive way and make a positive difference for the horses and for other people who are learning about this great breed. Make a positive difference with your life......


The response to her response:


I am sorry to hear of your feelings about our involvement and passion on the soring issue. I think that many people feel this has been dealt with by the USDA, but it is a very sad fact that it hasn't. The law passed in 1970 making soring illegal. The USDA is funded with $500,000 per year to enforce this law. This is a proverbial drop in the bucket. They are only able to attend less than 10% of shows and exhibits, but still over 1000 citations were issued last year. I would not call this "dealt with". As recently as early July, USDA inspectors arrived at the KWHA show in Owingsville for inspections. Almost 500 horses were entered. When the owners found the inspectors there, all but 40 horses were removed from the show. The trainers and owners with citations are still allowed to show by the TWHBEA and KWHA. The FOSH site (Friends of Sound Horses) has excellent references for education on soring. They also have the up-to-date list of persons receiving citations.

As a lover of the TWH breed, you are well aware of the gentle and personable nature of this horse. I don't believe any other breed could be so abused in this fashion, and still try so hard to please their owner. We are only trying to bring the public spotlight to this horrendous practice. Many people are unaware that the practice continues. These horses are suffering every day, in dark barns and crowded arenas. Until the USDA is funded adequately, the practice does, and will, continue. Thank you for your time.


And the subsequent response....


The USDA has done a wonderful job in cleaning up the TWH industry. I remember when the horses' feet were bloody and the horse could not even walk without someone walking behind it and beating the horse. Last year at the Celebration the horses were walking to the DQP, looking all around, perfectly happy, feet as clean as a whistel [sic] - in the show ring the horses were the best I've ever seen - and I have been attending the Celebration since 1971 - in fact, they were so good you could not pick a winner - and then when they won, they had to go back through the very strict inspection system and there were very few failures, so to speak.

Yes, I know it isn't a perfect world - but it is 98% better than it used to be. It seems to me that rather than throwing a "wet blanket" on the entire TWH industry because it is not 100% perfect yet does more harm, overall, to the breed.

I would rather see your efforts spent promoting the greatness of the breed as it has certainly had much more than its share of bad publicity.

The only thing that I can see that would make it a 100% compliance is if the owners of the horses with bad trainers were convinced that by allowing trainers to do bad things they are reinforcing bad training techniques that are injuious to the animals. If the owners failed to support those trainers, they would be forced to comply.

But to bring bad publicity to an entire breed because of the few "bad apples" in the breed is not fair.

I am thrilled with how the horses are looking that are going to DQP and if a horse cannot pass inspection then the trainers are not going to be able to stay in business - so they have a choice - comply or get out. And the USDA is handling that. I don't think there is anything positive that you can add to that.



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