"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, June 29, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - From the Walking Horse Report: SHOW's Search Committee and Appointments

Here area few articles from the WHR. Concerning Dr. Heird, It sounds like this guy has not been involved in TWHs, but he HAS been involved with the AQHA. Problem: the abuse in AQHA is just as rampant as it is with TWHs. The only difference is there isn't a law banning what QH owners do to their horses.

So we'll see what kind of impact Dr. Heird will have that is actually positive toward the TWH.


Walking Horse Report
SHOW Appoints Search Committee
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mr. Charles McDonald, Chairman of the SHOW Board of Directors, has appointed a Search Committee to fill the permanent position of Compliance Coordinator. This position will be filled by an American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) veterinarian, as recommended in the AAEP White Paper issued last year.

Members of the Committee are Pat Marsh, Chairman; David Howard and Dr. Doyle Meadows with Charles McDonald and Mike Davis serving as non-voting members. Marsh, Howard and McDonald are members of the SHOW Board, Meadows serves as CEO of SHOW and Mike Davis is the Chairman of the SHOW Personnel Task Force.

The Committee is drafting a job description, compensation requirements and a plan to publicize the position to potential applicants. This position will be responsible for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and will report directly to Dr. Meadows.

“It is imperative we keep the expertise of licensed veterinarians in our HIO program and this is the first step in that direction,” said McDonald. He added “We have been calling on licensed veterinarians in our area for their help until we could get this position filled and they have been more than generous with their time and expertise. We are thrilled at the additions of Dr. Steve Mullins and Dr. John Bennett as Co-Compliance Coordinators during our transition time.”

SHOW hired Drs. John Bennett and Steve Mullins on Monday June 15, 2009 to become Co-Compliance Coordinators. Mullins and Bennett agreed to serve for two years or until the permanent replacement is named and no longer needs their support. Both veterinarians will keep their current veterinary practices but will have complete authority over the SHOW DQP and inspection program.

SHOW began its HIO program on April 1, 2009 following the dissolution of the National Horse Show Commission. Since that time, they have opted out of the 2007-2009 Operating Plan and introduced a new penalty structure. They are presently contacting prominent horse people across the country to serve on the Independent Board that will manage the SHOW HIO.
Announcement of the head of the Independent Board is expected shortly.


Walking Horse Report
Heird To Head SHOW HIO Independent Board

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Dr. Jim Heird, Tennessee native and Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Director of Teaching and Outreach for the Equine Center at Colorado State University, has agreed to serve as the chairman of the SHOW HIO Independent Board.

“SHOW is pleased that Dr. Heird has accepted this position and assignment. He is truly an outstanding horse industry leader and we are proud to have someone of his credentials assisting our industry and the future of our breed,” stated Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration and SHOW CEO.

The following is a bio of Dr. Heird. Before his current position Dr. Heird served as Interim Dean of the College of Business; Associate Dean and Director of Resident Instruction for the College of Agricultural Sciences; Director of Instructional Programs for Equine Sciences; Department Head of Agricultural Interdepartmental Programs which includes Agricultural and Extension Education, and the Master of Agriculture Program and as Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Interim Vice Provost of Agriculture and Outreach. He is chairperson of the Y Cross Ranch management committee. He is a tenured professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.

Dr. Heird graduated with his BS in Animal Husbandry Production and his MS in Animal Genetics from the University of Tennessee. He earned his doctorate in Animal Behavior at Texas Tech University. He was an extension specialist at North Carolina State University and a faculty member at Texas Tech University.

Dr. Heird is an approved judge for the American Quarter Horse Association. He serves as a member of the executive committee of the National Western Stock Show. He served on several subcommittees of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. He was a member of the Weld County Fair Board from 1996-1999. He served as the chair of the AQHA judges committee and chair of the United States Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Committee. As faculty representative for athletics he served as chair of the Western Athletic Conference Council and Executive Committee Dr. Heird has an international reputation in the field of Equine Sciences. He has lectured on numerous topics both nationally and internationally. He was a successful judging team coach, as well as teacher and extension specialist. His research in the areas of equine conformation and equine behavior is recognized throughout the equine industry. He has received numerous honors, including the United States Department of Agriculture Honor Award for Excellence in Diversity as Discovery Program Coordinator; the distinguished Service Award from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the Colorado State University Distinguished Service to Diversity Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Animal Science at The University of Tennessee; and the Outstanding Professor-Leadership Award from the National Horse Judging Team Coaches Association and the outstanding advisor award for Texas Tech University. Dr. Heird has a history of sincere dedication to fulfilling the land grant mission of helping to make people’s lives better. In 2001 he led the development of a new strategic plan for agriculture at Colorado State University. He initiated a first-year experience course to enhance student retention. He has directed recruitment and retention efforts that have seen an enrollment change from 760 agricultural undergraduates in 1990 to 1324 students in 2002 and an increase in scholarships awards from $68,000 in 1991 to over $400,000 in 2003. He initiated Bachelor of Science and Master of Agriculture degrees in Extension Education and a Bachelor of Science curriculum in Applied Information Technology. He initiated the College of Ag Sciences’ career advising office and the hiring of a college career director; the hiring of the College of Agricultural Sciences diversity coordinator; the College of Ag Sciences Career Fair, Peer Advising Program; developed a computer technology support group; established student computer lab development and computer skills classes; initiated the development of a distance education offering for the Master of Science in Extension Education; and developed a network of junior college leaders who meet annually to discuss articulation. He also established the Summer Discovery Program to increase minority enrollment in the College of Agricultural Sciences by recruiting, particularly in the Southeast, outstanding minority students. He has been active and successful in development activities for the college and several of its programs. He has been instrumental in helping to secure funding for the University’s interdisciplinary program in Integrated Resource Management.

More recently Dr. Heird was named “Professional Horseman of the Year” by the Colorado Horse Council.

ARTICLE - 1996 Statement of Eric L. Sakach, Director of the HSUS

This is pretty darn interesting--shows that the same questions we're asking today were being asked 13 years ago.


Statement of
Eric L. Sakach, Director
The Humane Society of the United States
West Coast Regional Office
Horse Protection Act Public Meeting
August 16, 1996
Red Lion Hotel
2001 Point West Way
Sacramento, CA

My name is Eric Sakach and I am Director of the West Coast Regional Office of the Humane Society of the United States.

It seems to me that there are two types of people present in this room today:

The first group consists of those people who define the pain and suffering of sored horses as a thing of beauty; who want you and the American public to believe that soring hardly exists and that self regulation is working; who are, in fact, responsible for soring horses, and who believe they will be able to continue to do business as usual if they can succeed in pulling the wool over your eyes. In fact, they think it's a "done deal".

The second group consists of people whose ranks include a growing number of exhibitors, trainers, governmental and industry officials, and others who care about horses and who believe the HPA has been gutted, those who believe the current administration is selling out the HPA and that the current situation amounts to a classic case of the "fox guarding the chicken coop", those who want soring eliminated, not regulated; and those who know that the current situation will ultimately be to the detriment of the horses and the industry itself.

I am here to tell you, that with the inevitable national media exposure that is sure to come, the walking horse industry will suffer as much as the horses it is responsible for abusing. But, in this case, the wounds will be wholly self-inflicted and they will make the CNN coverage seem like little more than a scratch!

My questions to you on behalf of the 3.2 million members and constituents of The HSUS are:

-Soring hasn't stopped in 20 years due to the administration's lack of enforcement.

What guarantees do we have that you intend to enforce the Act and finally end this cruel practice?

When will you act?

-A proposed "scar rule" has been submitted to you by the VMOs.

What action have you undertaken regarding this document?

When do you plan to act?

-Earlier, I mentioned that there were two types of people present here today. Which group do you represent?

Thank you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - Inspection Results from Early June 2009 Shows

Some more news from the Walking Horse Report. Glad to see the violations are being reported. Just would like to know who the violators are. Hopefully we will see them in the report FOSH publishes on their website.

My thoughts: SHOW is absolutely not out to make a change. They are out to continue to cover up the lies. It's hard to trust a group that is made up mostly of the same people who ran the NHSC, whom we couldn't trust either.


Walking Horse Report
Thursday Night Inspection Results
Friday, June 05, 2009

Andy Messick, DQP Coordinator for the SHOW HIO released the following inspection results from the National Trainers' Show and Germantown Charity Horse Show on Thursday night (June 4, 2009). In Shelbyville at the Trainers' Show SHOW DQPs did not write a single violation out of the 87 entries presented for inspection. USDA VMOs wrote one unilateral sensitivity violation and also wrote a violation based on digital radiography results that showed a 6% rotation of the coffin bone. In Germantown, 16 horses were presented for inspection. SHOW DQPs wrote one unilateral sensitivity violation and wrote another horse on both a scar rule and bilateral sensitivity violation. USDA VMOs took information on these horses but didn't write any additional violations.

NEWS - Communication with USDA

This is an exchange of letters between Dr. Chester Gipson, the Deputy Administrator for Animal Care with the USDA, and the Celebration/SHOW CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows. The letter was written following the Celebration's Spring Fun Show in response to that show. Dr. Meadows decided to publish both Dr. Gipson's letter and his own letter back at him. The letters are linked from the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration website--click here for the link.

Click here for Dr. Gipson's letter.

Click here for Dr. Meadows' letter.

Unfortunately I can't post pdfs on the blog, otherwise I'd just save them here.

My thoughts: It is a bit shocking that in Section 6 (C) of the HPA, we can find this: "Whoever kills any person while engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties under this Act shall be punishable as provided under...." KILLS. For the love of God, what does that tell us about the TWH industry? This should give everyone an idea of what we're truly dealing with here. If you don't believe there's something seriously wrong with the TWH industry, the fact that the HPA has to specifically call out penalties for anyone who kills a DQP should tell you.


Kudos to Dr. Gipson for sending the warning. Of course, I would love to see SHOW shut down since all it is is the NHSC with a new name. I think the rest of us can see that Dr. Meadows' letter is just a whining complaint. Here, a spoiled child who has continued to get away with bad behavior is finally being told NO, and he doesn't like it and is finding every excuse to fight it. He might as well walk into Dr. Gipson's office and throw himself on the floor and cry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - TWHBEA Warns of Tough Times Ahead

Another article from the Walking Horse Report. This time there is a request to the TWHBEA to perform a blind study to prove that the scars TWHs have on their legs are formed by the natural movement of the foot. What a crock of shit!!!!! I swear to God, that is the most ridiculous lie I have ever heard when it comes to soring. It's right up there with the lie that all TWHs have scars on their legs--check your colts in your pasture and you'll see them. Hmmm. How strange--every colt I have ever seen that was born to non-soring owners doesn't have scars at all!

Also of note is the following: Dean’s committee also presented to the board for approval the following statement. “The Board of Directors of TWHBEA is dedicated to the sound horse. We do not support practices in violation of the Horse Protection Act in the development and training of the horse. The Board of Directors supports the sound and compliant horse as one of the breed’s numerous disciplines.” This statement was approved by the board and will be publicized in literature and online at the TWHBEA web site. I had to shake my head at that one. Yet another load of crap that is being dumped into the overflowing pile that is what the TWHBEA continues to do. Until they stop having HPA violators as Board members and officers, I certainly will never believe in that statement.

Anyway, the madness continues. I'm glad TWHBEA is suffering. Now, part of it is in part to the economy, just because everyone is suffering right now. And honestly, I am sorry they had to suffer this way. However, they could have made changes to weather this storm a little better. Instead, they continued on, business as usual. They have had their chance to make changes and they won't, so now they're suffering because of it. Let's just hope they learn their lesson.

Keep up the good work, sound horse advocates! Let's keep the pressure on these guys and get soring and stacked horses permanently in our breed's past!


Walking Horse Report - TWHBEA Warns of Tough Times Ahead
Friday, May 29, 2009 - By Jeffrey Howard - LEWISBURG, Tenn.

“We have the greatest horse in the world and we will survive it,” said Senior Vice President Robert Thomas. What will we survive? The forecast from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) is that tough times exist today and they will only get tougher in the coming years. Thomas pointed out the major sources of revenue for TWHBEA include membership, registrations, transfers and the Voice magazine. All are down and point to even greater declines in 2010.

The International Board of Directors for TWHBEA meet twice a year and the Saturday of the Fun Show in May hosts directors from all across the country, Canada and Europe. The board approved the 2008 annual audit, which showed a profit of $427,304 for 2008 versus a loss of $549,730 in 2007, a positive change of $977,034. The jump was made, however, in a reduction in expenses of $1,764,050. Revenue decline is a concern and 2008 saw revenues at $3,448,108, a decline of $787,016 from 2007.

The decline in revenue will continue in 2009. Mike Inman gave his report and pointed out the need to tweak budgets and find ways to cut even more expenses. “It is going to be worse next year and we will have to fight just to stay where we are,” said Inman. “We will have a negative at the end of the year of maybe $60,000 but we will do our best to end as close to flat as possible,” he concluded.

Year-to-date through April total revenue is at $1,007,447, down $194,254 versus budget and total expenses are $1,021,882, down $211,807 versus budget. The $14,436 loss year-to-date is better than the budgeted loss forecast by Inman and TWHBEA.

TWHBEA does have approximately $500,000 in cash reserves in addition to the futurity fund and commemorative garden fund, which equals about three months of operating expenses. Also, to prepare for the decline several employees have gone to a four-day work week, a net savings result of approximately one employee.

President David Pruett presided over the meeting and welcomed everyone in attendance. “We are facing difficult economic conditions as a country and we are still facing hard times as an association,” said Pruett. “It may get tougher in the days ahead.” Pruett did commend the entire staff and fellow executive committee members for their hard work and dedication to TWHBEA. Pruett stated that the commemorative garden initiative was back and accepting donations.

“I am proud of our sponsorship of the Sound Horse Conference this past March and look forward to being one again (in 2010),” said Pruett.

Thomas echoed Pruett’s comments about the tough economic times. “The facts are we are facing a period of time that we haven’t ever seen,” said Thomas. Thomas did commend the 2008 Executive Committee for its rescue of the association from potential bankruptcy as well as everyone being receptive to continued changes to allow TWHBEA to survive.

Stan Butt accepted a service award for five years with TWHBEA. “I am honored to say I have served for five years,” said Butt. Butt echoed the comments of Pruett and Thomas and told the board every measure possible is being done to help cut expenses. Butt commented on the reduced hours of the staff and the suspension of the cleaning service. Butt also spoke to the drastically reduced size of the Voice magazine. “We have done everything to keep revenue in line with expenses and the magazine does have a lot of information in it,” concluded Butt.
As is customary in international board meetings of TWHBEA, each vice president gives a report on their committee’s actions. Dee Dee Sale from Breeders’ reported that iPeds’s new release was activated May 5, 2009, and that it is a continued work in progress. Sale also spoke to the recently completed survey of the membership and announced the newly formed Master Breeders’ Award TWHBEA will give in the future. “This will be the most prestigious award given at TWHBEA,” said Walt Chism.

Bruce Vaughn gave the horse show report. Vaughn noted that the regional futurities have restructured criteria and the regionals will be capped at 10 and only one per state will be allowed. Also Vaughn and the Horse Show Division committee decided that to be eligible to show in the National Futurity, both the owner and exhibitor must be members of TWHBEA.
Vaughn also pled with the board to help horse shows whenever and wherever they can. “Horse shows all over are struggling and please donate what you can or we are going to lose our shows,” said Vaughn.

Kasey Kesselring from Marketing was unable to attend the meeting because of graduation at Montverde Academy but Chris Coffey gave the marketing report. Coffey said efforts for membership drives are being considered and spoke to upcoming projects such as podcasts and videos on the web site, new membership packets, TWHBEA’s 75th anniversary promotion, a branded view book and a shoeing video.

Kathy Zeis from Owners/Exhibitors updated the Go Gelding! program and spoke to the importance of programs for geldings and keeping them updated in the registry. Zeis has also secured 15 clinicians to come and head clinics during the Celebration.

Wayne Dean, Performance Horse, applauded the academy program. The academy program had 493 entries in six shows in 2009. The championship show had 97 entries. “The academy program is a great way to introduce beginners to our horse,” said Dean. Dean also urged shows to continue to add the Youth Challenge class to allow children to participate in the three-gaited class.

Dean’s committee also presented to the board for approval the following statement. “The Board of Directors of TWHBEA is dedicated to the sound horse. We do not support practices in violation of the Horse Protection Act in the development and training of the horse. The Board of Directors supports the sound and compliant horse as one of the breed’s numerous disciplines.” This statement was approved by the board and will be publicized in literature and online at the TWHBEA web site.

Diana McMurtrey is in full mode of preparing for the World Versatility Show. The event needs volunteers to help and McMurtrey called on the international board to consider volunteering at the show.

Chris Bobo gave the Training Division report. Bobo gave an impassioned plea to support the Tennessee Walking Horse and all aspects and disciplines of the horse. Bobo spoke to the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association enacting more thorough requirements to become licensed trainers. He also hit highlights of his committee’s work on brainstorming ideas to use science and education to showcase the walking horse, cost-cutting measures for trainers and continuing to enhance the Certified Riding Instructor program.

Debra Jack, Member-At-Large Bylaws, reviewed the proposed bylaw changes submitted to her committee and alerted the board members to the one change recommended that the Executive Committee had taken action on. The current bylaws call for one seat on the board for every 25 members and a corresponding member for every 175 thereafter. To help with international memberships the proposed bylaw change will have one seat on the board for the first 25 members, a second for the next 25 members and then one for every additional 175 members. This change would allow currently one additional director from Canada and Germany.

Jack also informed the board that a new operating division, Equine Welfare, will be active in 2010 and have a vice president. The purpose of the Equine Welfare Committee will be at the forefront of TWHBEA’s activities to develop and administer programs directed towards the protection of the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses.

Christy Lantis, Member-At-Large Youth, keeps the youth very active within TWHBEA. Lantis announced that two youth scholarships will be named in honor of Lizzie Umberger and Chuck Cheek. Lantis also gave a synopsis of other projects working for the youth including the European Clothing Drive, web project, creative contests and camps at Montverde this summer.

During member comments, Tom Kakassy made a plea to TWHBEA to fund a blind study of the scar rule and its enforcement. “We are 10 years behind on doing this and TWHBEA needs to be the group to do this,” said Kakassy. He specifically charged TWHBEA to immediately sanction, arrange and finance a blind study, along the parameter of the Auburn study, the point of which is to determine whether callous formation, wrinkles and folds in the back of a horse’s foot are caused by soring or are an “indication of past abuse,” or whether they are caused by the natural action of the foot in this and other breeds.

The annual meeting will be held in December and the actions of the next six months will prove to be paramount as the association strives to maintain fiscal responsibility.

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