I am an avid reader of two blogs: Fugly Horse of the Day and Shame in the Horse Show Ring. Both of these blogs talk about what's going on in society as far as horses, the nitty gritty garbage that's happening in the background concerning issues such as horse slaughter and questionable show ring practices.
While this is not about a TWH, both FHOTD and SITHSR featured the following story on their blogs.
Breaking Developments of Horse Abuse Case
In this situation, a horse was in training with well-known and revered AQHA trainer named Cleve Wells. When the owners came to look at the horse when he wasn't there one day, they found him in a horrible state with open wounds and a broken jaw. They were never told of an accident or situation that could have caused this problem--they showed up one day and he was found tied in his stall with these horrible injuries. Please note that the photos could be considered graphic.
What I want to point out here is how dilligently and logically Nicole, the horse's owner, set about documenting what happened. First they tried contacting Cleve to find out what happened, to no avail. She took photos on her cell phone of the horse, and she wrote down everything that happened and what was said. Her father was with her, and he was smart to bring a friend who can serve as a witness. The vets were also excellent at documenting exactly what they saw and dealt with.
Plus, Nicole had the guts to go public with her information. It's difficult to make that kind of decision, especially against such a well-known trainer. We all know that animal abuse can lead to human abuse, and she does face some risk in doing this. However, with the overwhelming evidence concerning this case that is for her story, she is most likely going to win the lawsuit, and Cleve will be shut down.
The reason I've pointed this out is to show everyone that this is the right way to report abuse. If you suspect that your TWH in training is being abused, keep a level head. Go to the stable and take photos when people are distracted or elsewhere. Bring at least one witness with you, if not two, and make sure they aren't family members. Document what you are told about your horse on a daily basis, and monitor his vital signs. Don't as questions that could be considered suspicious, and know the laws in your area--don't snoop around in places where you shouldn't go, such as going through someone's trash. Be sure to also inform the breed associations of what's going on as well. Send them copies of pertinent information, and make phone calls to let them know what you have experienced. They also must be made aware of any trainers who are do this that are claiming to be representatives of their association or are members of the board or committees.
Understand that the HPA only governs the practices going on at the show grounds. Unfortunately, questionable training methods are still be used at barns, whether or not they're being used on the show grounds. However, animal abuse can still be prosecuted, whether or not it has to do with the HPA.
When it comes to the TWH industry and the issue of soring, I have heard horrible stories about people's lives, children, and horses being threatened. I have heard of hitmen being hired to kill people who have spoken up about soring. There is a documented case of a woman who was followed to her car in the parking lot at a horse show when she brought in the USDA to a horse show. I have also heard of people's barns being burned down.
But folks, when you have all your facts straight, when you have the documentation ready to be reviewed, you can change things. And when you stand up, then others will follow. The sound horse industry is getting stronger and stronger, so the clout is there. There are ways to keep these people from hurting you and your family. The problem is that so many have allowed the bullies of the TWH industry to continually threaten them, but it's time to stand up and say enough is enough. If we work hard, keep our facts straight, and stand together, we can all protect ourselves and make a real difference for the horse.
"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
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