"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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

THOUGHTS - The Attitude of the Industry

As always, I'm constantly bombarded with negative and downright nasty emails and threats.  The more truth I expose, the more threats I receive.  I believe that it is so important to share some of this information because it's key to understanding why soring and the Big Lick still exist, and why they still go hand in hand.  People who abuse animals are quick to abuse other people, whether it's verbal, physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Anyone who has studied any criminology or watched a few shows on True Crime TV knows this.  And the verbal abuse I receive is quite indicative of why we need to stop these monsters.

Here is an email verbatim from Anthony N. that I received in 2007.  It was in response to a petition I put together to eliminate the Big Lick from the local shows in my area.  A combination of efforts resulted in all of our local shows that have Tennessee Walking Horses in them to use either the IJA or NWHA rulebooks, so the sore horse has been eliminated in our area.

"Wanting to say that I own "Big Lick" horses and invite you to visit them anytime to see that are are cared for more than any animal you have.  They are know way abused and you need to kiss my ass"

Well!  I will certainly head on out to his barn then--what a warm and wonderful invite!  And I guess he must have spies looking at my property, where my horses are barefoot, have free access to hay and water, 24/7 turnout, manure is cleaned everyday, plenty of shelter, get all natural supplements for each horse's individual needs, and, quite frankly, are fat; and they look in my tack room where I have bitless bridles, saddles that are measured to fit my horses, and nary a "package", chain, tie down, full and half blinders, or a 10" shank in sight, since he knows his horses are better cared for than mine.  I guess if this is worse care than his, then I must be a terrible person indeed.

Look, the bottom line is this: when I am spoken to this way, and when I hear of others who are ridiculed or called names or bullied for standing up for the horse, it does not make me sympathetic to those who are "just trying to make a living" or to their wanting us to leave them alone and let them do what they want (the horse's welfare be dammed).  Industry, listen up: NO ONE is going to soften to this kind of talk.  If you want me to stop exposing the truth, then make a choice to stop treating people the way you do. The attitude of the industry is what is going to to tear all of them down more than anything.  Whining, complaining, carrying on, and generally pretending that these horses are all sound has become not only tiresome but laughable.  As the old saying goes: you catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar.

On one of the posts on the Facebook group, one of our members and I had a great conversation about the two opposing groups (stacks vs. no-stacks) coming to a common ground.  My thoughts were this: at this point, whether or not the BL horses are sored is no longer the question.  The problem is that the image of the BL and the high-stepping, crouching horses is horrific to outsiders.  I understand that the industry doesn't care about this; we're constantly told "if you don't like it, don't look at it!"  But they don't realize that they are going to continue to lose money, memberships, and customers unless they get rid of it.  They hurt ALL of us, sound or sore, when they continue to showcase this horrible, crippled look.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked if it hurts the horse, and that's from people who don't even know what soring is.  Then when they find out what soring is, they assume all of us sore our horses, whether flat shod, barefoot or BL.  There is no longer a chance for a middle ground when the industry still has thousands of violations every year with stacked horses. Research showed that in 2008, 2009 and 2010, 90% of all violations were on stacked horses.  This means the BL needs to go away because soring is prevalent in the BL world. And quite frankly, every single person I have known who has BL horses says their horses aren't sored, so no one gets the chance to believe anyone anymore.  I have watched BL trainers who I have physically watched sore horses turn around and tell their clients they don't sore their horses.  I know that I saw that the majority of the horses in the WGC class this year either had past soring violations themselves or were ridden/trained by people with soring violations.  The lies and misguided information has gone more than far enough.  It's obvious to me that this industry is not cleaning up it's act and therefore the BL needs to go away--they have abused the privilege to show a horse in this way.  And if anything, the industry should do it for their own welfare.  I don't think they realize how much respect they would get if they truly stopped soring and showing horses that look like they're in pain.  I know I'd be happy to renew my memberships with many of the associations if they'd admit there's a problem and truly do something about it.

Overall, it's impossible for me to have respect for people who break the law on a regular basis and abuse animals for the sole sake of entertainment and money.  Now, I have HUGE respect for people who walk away and say I won't do this anymore...that takes guts and eating a lot of humble pie.  Honestly, I can forgive anyone who can admit they're wrong and who won't do it again.  But unfortunately, there aren't enough of those people in the industry who call the shots right now.  And we need to see the USDA step in and stop those people once and for all.


Jen said...

This is a topic that continues to break my heart. One of the horse's most astonishing abilities is their tremendous capacity for suffering. Surely without that, such travesties would have ended long ago.
IMHO, people that resort to swearing at you do not have a justifiable defense. Well, either that or they've got a really lame vocabulary ;o)

Epona's Chosen said...

Well written, thoughtful, and determined-- this is a great post. The excuses are old-- it's just like high heels (research has proven that high heels have horrible long term affects on women), it's just like wearing a watch (Really? Then use watches instead of chains-- it would sure look better), The horses love the show ring atmosphere and attention (Prove it. Show me the witness statements from horses.), or my favorite one, "you don't understand or know what you are talking about." The last one is true. I DON'T understand. I can't wrap my mind around the point of any of this. Are these people honestly saying that they can't enjoy, love, or show their Tennessee Walking Horses unless they get to show Big Lick with them? That's too bad.

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