"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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER - Still Painful After All These Years

Our next guest blogger is Laurie Sain.  Laurie's point of view is vital to the current TWH industry, for people like her are now learning that nothing has changed to end soring in the industry, and are speaking out about what they've seen.


Still Painful After All These Years

I’ve been a horsewoman for 50 years. My sister and I began showing in small shows early, in the 1960s, since we lived in Southern California where few cattle drives or riding trails existed.

I clearly remember going to Open shows, where all breeds compete, and seeing the Tennessee Walking Horses, clumping along with their big, heavy pads.

In those days, the pads weren’t as extreme as today. But the rumors were whispered just the same: soring a horse’s pastern (like a human’s ankle) with chemicals, then placing huge, heavy chains that would spark the horse to lift its feet because of the pain. Driving nails into the horse’s hoof sole, to hit the nerves and make it even more painful to put the foot down. All covered with clever little pastern boots, so no one would see.

And all to get those big, scared-looking horses to pick up their front feet. The sound of the huge weighted pads hitting the ground reminded us of Frankenstein trying to do ballet, especially next to the trim, round feet of our little Arabians.

Years passed, and we left the Open show circuit. But we heard the horrors of the 60s and 70s were over: soring had stopped. They were no longer torturing the horses. Sure, the “Big Lick” horses – the ones who clomp along like Frankenstein—still circled the show ring in a weird caricature of the breed’s beautiful, natural gait. But the pain had stopped.

I wanted to believe this. I did believe it. Then, recently, ABCNews showed its video of cruelty at the hands of “trainer” McConnell. Somehow, I made myself watch; somehow, after a day of crying, I knew I had to write.

Left to their natural way of going, Tennessee Walking Horses are lovely, calm, smart trail and riding horses whose smooth gaits make life easy for their riders. At the hands of McConnell and Company, they are fearful, tortured animals, forced into an artificial movement that still looks and sounds like a monster. And the only way to do it is via the methods ABCNews and the Humane Society of the United States had the courage to expose. Because no horse will do "The Big Lick" of its own intension. It's too unnatural, hard on the horse, and useless as a gait anywhere but the show ring.

All the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse associations and organizations associated with the TWH so-called “Celebration” – their national competition – claim McConnell is a “bad egg,” definitely not the “tip of the iceberg,” and that soring has stopped.

If that’s so, how is it that McConnell learned these techniques? Who taught him? How has he continued to train and show despite multiple violations of the national Horse Protection Act that prohibits soring? If he is the only one, why is he winning? Why did 52 out of 52 randomly tested entrants at the 2011 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration test positive for banned substances on their pasterns? Were they all McConnell “trained” horses?

McConnell is not working in a vacuum – not with techniques like these. If he were the only one, any other trainer would have long since cried out for those who cannot protect themselves: the horses. Any handler would have protested putting an animal in so much pain that it can’t stand up in its own stall. Any show competitor would have called foul against “stewarding” – hitting a horse with more pain via a board to the head or a cattle prod to the neck, so it wouldn’t flinch when its painful, sored pasterns were touched.

The silence condemns the Big Lick industry—trainers, riders, and owners—more than any protestations. Don’t kid yourself: McConnell is not an “isolated bad egg.” He is the tip of an iceberg, one that I only hope we can all uncover. So that, one day, all Tennessee Walking Horses can stand up in their stalls, pain-free, just to smell the air, like any other horse.

~ Laurie Sain

Laurie Sain has ridden and trained horses since childhood, and now enjoys training dressage to her 22-year-old Arabian gelding and 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare. Both also ride in the mountains on their days off from training. She also paints horses in various media, and is a professional writer and editor.  To contact her, visit www.lauriesain.com/art.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RESEARCH and GUEST BLOGGER - The Truth Behind the Numbers

I've got a few guest bloggers that are writing some great pieces for our blog.  First up is this excellent article by Suzi Clark.  Suzi is currently active with the NWHA and helping to end soring.  A short paragraph about her is included below.  Here, Suzi discusses the problems with the industry's current excuses for McConnell and the soring issues, including the violation rate for the 2011 Riders Cup rankings, the list of the most prominent trainers in the TWH industry.


The Truth Behind the Numbers

We have heard in the past few weeks about the United States Humane Society undercover investigation exposing a Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer, Jackie McConnell. This expose has been aired all over the nation. The video shows horrific abuse inflicted on the Big Lick horse to force them to perform an extreme high stepping animated gait.

We have also read the various press releases from the governing bodies in the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry including The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA), Walking Horse Trainers' Association and the largest Horse Industry Organization (HIO) inspection program called S.H.O.W.  These press releases minimize or deny their role in the continued practice of soring and claim McConnell was just an exception or a bad apple.  I am not going to elaborate on all of the lies in these press releases that these associations feed the public, but I will touch on a few.

TWHBEA felt the need after all these years to clarify its role, stating they are just a registry and have no authority over showing inspections like other equine associations.  Well, if that was the case, maybe you should remove the words "Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association" and replace it with the word "registry" calling it the Tennessee Walking Horse Registry, or have your President Marty Irby recant his speech at the various USDA listening sessions across the country this year when industry stakeholders had five minutes to speak to the USDA about the Horse Protection Act.  President Marty Irby stated he was against the USDA mandatory minimum penalty protocols.  The USDA requires each horse industry inspection program to implement because these penalties would protect the horse and make trainers and owners accountable for violating the Horse Protection Act.

There are about twelve inspection programs, HIOs, with three of them being compliant with the USDA.  We need to differentiate these inspection programs with the other nine so there is no confusion.  The sound horse inspection programs are: The National Walking Horse Association (NWHA), Friends of Sound Horses, and the International Walking Horse Association. These associations have eliminated the sore horse from the ring.

Okay, that being said, the USDA mandatory penalties require a suspension taking habitual horse offenders out of the ring.  I might also add they are MINMUM penalties and that the USDA should not have to force any equine association to implement these penalties. These inspection programs are supposed to protect the horse from abusive training methods, but instead they protect the violators.

Several of us from NWHA attended the Kentucky listening session where Marty Irby spoke.  Mr. Irby stated these penalties would decimate the industry and decrease the value of our horse. We were so disgusted with his stance. He also goes on to brag the industry has a 98% compliance rate but one brave individual named Mark Matson challenged the percentage questioning, "If penalties only effect violators and you have a  98% compliance rate how would you expect a 2% violation rate to decimate your industry?"  That is the truth, it is not possible.

Dr. Steven Mullin, an equine vetenarian and the director of S.H.O.W, has been interviewed several times recently.  I might add that Dr. Mullins was quick to ban Barney Davis before his trial and denied the fact Barney Davis was a Walking Horse trainer.  Guess what; a tape surfaced of Mr. Davis showing at the 2009 National Celebration under Dr. Mullins inspection program.  Dr. Mullins also claims a 98% compliance rate and states he has enforced the Horse Protection Act more than anyone else. What he doesn’t state is his organization is facing decertification by the USDA because he refuses to implement these minimum penalties.  His penalty protocol focuses on a fine with little to no suspension for the violators.  This allows the habitual offenders to remain in the show ring and pay a mere $100 fine for most violations.  I have found data where many trainers have up to ten or more violations a year and are still showing.  It is a revolving door policy and many flock to this meaningless enforcement.  Dr. Steven Mullins inspects for the annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration, named The Cruelest Horse Show on earth by the United States Humane Society.  If you remember, this show was shut down in 2006 before the World Grand Championship class because only three of the entries passed the USDA inspection for the World Grand Championship Big Lick class.

Now let’s discuss how this fabricated compliance rate is calculated.  A true compliance rate is based on the number of horses, not the number of entries.  Example ten runners show up to race.  Only five of the runners pass a random urine test.  Results equal a fifty percentage compliance rate.  In the industry, the numbers are further diluted by including all sound horse organizations entries, versatility entries, and flat shod entries.  This also does not include the mass exit of trainers every time the USDA shows up to inspect horses and the horses that are drugged, numbed, or stewarded.  The recently released USDA foreign swab analysis showed 50 of 52 samples done at the 2011 Celebration were positive for foreign substances mostly numbing agents at Dr. Mullins inspection program. How’s that for a 98% compliance rate.  A study found that 90% percent of all Horse Protection Act violations come from the Big Lick division.  I found that Dr. Mullins does not include the number of horses on the USDA horse protection program DQP report. What are you hiding?  A true compliance rate?

So if you want to use a compliance rate on entries, we can look at the 2011 Celebration, where the world grand champions are crowned.  Now you have to remember the USDA can only attend 7% of all Tennessee Walking Horse Shows due to lack of funding.  The compliance rate at the 2011 Celebration was actually about 91% and about 86% when the recently released USDA random foreign substance swab results are included.  That does not include the horses that don't get led up to inspection that go in versatility classes that don't require inspection.  The 98% number has been used by the industry forever, and it is a lie.  It is based on the reports sent in by DQPs from the inspection programs that let sore horses in the ring, and includes all of the shows they inspect, 94% of which they inspect when the USDA vets are not standing over their shoulder to ensure they inspect properly.

Those programs need to be decertified by the USDA.  This is not a problem of a few trainers.  The top 20 trainers in the industry collectively have over 160 Horse Protection Act violations over the 2010 and 2011 show seasons.  They are being rewarded for soring horses.  It is ridiculous, and it needs to stop. The primary reason it has not stopped is that those same inspection program, if they do cite a violation, cite a lesser violation for which the penalties are meaningless.  Plus, they commonly don't even enforce their own penalties on the worse violations.  Those inspection programs are the tools by which all of this abuse goes on.  All of the statements made by the Walking Horse industry are hollow platitudes.  They cater to people who make a living soring horses and lying about it.  It has gone on for decades, it is common, and Jackie McConnell is no exception.

The Walking Horse Trainers' Association stated they were shocked and saddened by the actions of Jackie McConnell.  They state the welfare of the Tennessee Walking Horse is at the forefront of their association and membership.  I think what is shocking is the number of violations of the top trainers in the industry competing for honors in the rider’s cup award.

Below is a spreadsheet showing the 2011 Riders Cup rankings of trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.  It also shows the violations on those trainers written by the horse industry inspection organizations over the 2010 and 2011 show seasons.  It does not include USDA disqualifications.  In addition, it shows the penalties that would have applied under the USDA minimum penalty protocol, the suspension penalties (not fines) under SHOW’s penalty structure, and the suspensions that were actually levied by the horse industry inspection organizations.  To the best of my ability, the data is true to the best of my knowledge as it was available.  (Three pages--click each page thumbnail to read the entire page.  Hover your mouse at the top of the page when it shows up and click Zoom In to see it in a larger view.)

 Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

One cannot examine this spreadsheet without concluding that these trainers continue to sore horses and are being rewarded for it by the industry.  The penalties levied by the industry are worthless in terms of an effective deterrent.  Most of the violations have no suspension at all.  Most of the penalties for the few bilateral sore cases were served over the winter, also having no effective deterrent.  In fact, most given those suspensions will be off of them just in time for the Celebration.  The industry keeps saying there are a “few bad apples”, and most of the horses are sound.  The fact is that the bad apples are the industry’s inner circle of trainers and owners.  In fact, since Dr. Mullins and others have continued to put forth blatantly false information about violation statistics, it is no stretch that many of the violations are being dumbed down to something less than they really are (i.e., bilateral written as a unilateral or scar rule) when the USDA is not present, and probably even when they are present, to an extent.  If these people will lie to the public, then they will alter inspections.  That said, the spreadsheet should be viewed as very conservatively representing the situation, and in reality it is significantly worse.  An examination of the penalties and who they would impact also shows why the industry is so up in arms over the USDA penalty protocol while simultaneously claiming a compliance rate of 98.3%.  It is way past time for this nonsense to stop.

~ Suzi Clark

Suzi Clark rode her first TWH at five years old.  The palomino mare was owned by her cousin, and this mare started a long love affair for the breed.  Suzi continued to ride through her teenage years until she purchased her first TWH at age eighteen.  Nine months after her purchase, she attended her first TWH show with friends Debra and Mark Matson.  During those years, Suzi witnessed many atrocities inflicted upon the defenseless TWH.  Nerve cords, open application of soring agents, stewarding, and using whips to force horses out of their stalls to the inspection area, as they were in so much pain they could hardly walk.  Suzi was outspoken against the abuse during a time when it was forbidden and suffered physical threats and banishment.  In 1997, she was informed of a new HIO called the National Walking Horse Association and is proud to say she is one of the fifty founding members of NWHA.  Suzi is still active and competing in the growing association and is currently apprenticing for her judge's license.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ARTICLES - More Contact Info and Thank You to Roy Exum For Exposing More Information

First, I want to point out that Gail Kerr  from the Tennessean was kind enough to put together a great article that includes who exactly to contact to get soring ended once and for all.  We've added this contact information to our post with the list of contacts.

Next, we've got a lot of media frenzy going on that is not dying quickly, especially in Tennessee.  I've found some of the best articles are coming from a new hero for the horse: Roy Exum from The Chattanoogan.

Here's a list of his articles of the past week.

Some of the responses to his articles are included here.

I highly recommend that everyone take the time to truly read these articles.  The reason why is because Mr. Exum points out some really important information.  He gives us a list of current violators that hold high positions at TWHBEA and other orgs, he posts letters from readers of recent witness to soring, including at the Panama City show in Florida last April.  He also tells us how he's being threatened by the foolish people who either still think that soring isn't going on or who continue to have their heads in the sand.  But now these people have no power.  You can't argue with black and white facts, folks.

I am also absolutely sickened by the TWHNC and TWHBEA for wanting to hold a hearing with Keith Dane.  They are clearly wanting to shoot the messenger, and honestly, this absolutely tells me that they have no problem with abuse continuing in their industry.  I don't think there are words for how disappointed, angry, and physically sickened I am by these monsters.  And they truly are that: MONSTERS.  This should be a message to everyone: if you trusted the industry until now, then your trust should be shattered.  The lies are ridiculous--NO ONE who is for the welfare of the horse as they claim they are would be attacking the one person who's exposed abuse of one if their own.  They should be shaking his hand, not kicking his ass.

Thank you, Mr. Exum.  Honestly, I know I can't personally thank you enough.  It's so wonderful to have another warrior for the horse.  I hope to meet you in person someday and get to shake your hand.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hello friends!  I just want to let all of you know we are working on some posts that are going to give more information about what's being done about this situation.  Things are changing daily, and we are working hard to help the horse by getting as much information out there as we can.  We have lots of evidence against these monsters that goes back for decades.

PLEASE NOTE:  I'm getting a plethora of emails concerning this, and I'm doing my best to answer each of yours in turn.  So I will get back to you, if not for a couple of days.  Thanks so much for your patience!

(I'm kinda excited I got to use the word "plethora" in a sentence.)

Some quick updates: 

To our friends overseas:  We absolutely still need your help in writing to the HIOs, TWHBEA, and signing petitions.  See the above link for the blog post with all the contact information.  TWHBEA has an International committee, so let them know what you think and what you want to see done!

It is quite possible that Ford HAS NOT pulled out of the Celebration.  We're trying to find out for sure.

Coca-Cola MIGHT be coming in for sponsorships.  We'll find out about that as well.

McConnell has plead guilty to only one charge.  The attorney has asked for dismissal of the rest of the charges.  The judge will not make his final decision until September, so please feel free to continue to contact the judge.  Click the link above for the blog post with the judge's contact information on it.

McConnell also still has to answer to the State of Tennessee.  We'll have more information on that as we go along.

More facts about the judges in this awesome opinion piece by Roy Exum.  Roy Exum: Guess Who Judges Horses?

Most of the activity and updates are happening on our Facebook group on a daily basis.  TONS of posts and people putting in facts.  If you want to stay UTD, right now that's one of the best ways to go.  Click here for our Facebook group.

And finally, but definitely not least in our list...

THANK YOU TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR WANTING TO SAVE THE HORSE.  This overwhelming response is exactly what we need.  Let's keep it up for the next few months and make sure we boycott the Celebration and their sponsors!  Let's continue letting them know we won't stand for this anymore and we're tired of their lies and protecting the violators!  This is ALL FOR THE HORSE!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UPDATES 5/23/2012

I updated the blog post with the contact info to include more sponsors of the Celebration and the judge's contact information for the McConnell case.

Here is some more important information.  IF ONLY they would do this to all repeat HPA violators...



SHELBYVILLE - In a precedent setting move, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration took decisive action today, both denouncing and condemning the actions of trainer Jackie McConnell, who was both videotaped abusing a horse and admitted to a Horse Protection Act violation in federal court today.
The TWHNC Board of Directors voted to suspend McConnell for life and also took the following action:

(1) suspended McConnell for life from entering the TWHNC grounds for any and events, regardless of the event's affiliation or ownership.

(2) voted to permanently remove Mr. McConnell's name from the list of Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Hall of Fame inductees. Any picture, plaque, image or other mention of his name from Hall of Fame data will be permanently removed from this day forward and his name will be forever erased from Hall of Fame rolls.

(3) voted to permanently remove any and all pictures and signage on the Celebration grounds carrying either the name of Jackie McConnell or the likeness.

(4) banned from entry onto the TWHNC grounds any horse under the custodianship or presumed to be under the custodianship of Mr. McConnell.

"This action is the strongest we can take and it clearly reflects our disgust with the actions of Mr. McConnell,"said Dr. Doyle Meadows, TWHNC CEO. "His actions are not reflective of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, and we in no way want him associated with our show."

VIDEOS - Now For Some Relief...

I'm sure many of you have heard about McConnell's plea and the like, and I will have some information up soon about it that I did some research on.  And yes, it's official: McConnell has been banned for life from the National Celebration and the grounds.  More on that later.

But for now, here's some relief...

Here is an interview with Scot MacGregor, owner of MacGregor Stables in Tennessee.  Scot is another wonderful flat shod horse trainer who uses classical dressage and training methods and avoids gadgets and gimmicks when working with his Walking Horses.  Click here for this wonderful piece by WZTV FOX 17 that Scot was interviewed for.

I love this.  Not only does he acknowledge the problem and points out that there are those of us out there who do the training right, but he also doesn't make excuses for the industry and feigns shock like Mullins, TWHBEA, and other groups are doing.  And check out that gorgeous mare--what movement!  THANK YOU SCOT for all your hard work!  Be sure to check out Scot's website for great training tips and general information about training TWHs the right way.

And here is a wonderful video from Germany, a barefoot AND bitless Tennessee Walking Horse!  Who says you can't get a TWH to gait without a bit?

NOTE: Many people who know me know I don't use shoes or bits, but I AM NOT against either.  The way I see it is: horses should only be shod to protect the hoof, and nothing more, and only riders need bits, not horses.  But that's something to talk about at another time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

NEWS, ARTICLES, VIDEOS, and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Lots of Information Regarding The Video and the McConnell Case

This post has a lot of information, and there's still more coming!  I imagine there will be a part to this post soon.  To make it a bit easier, here's a list of what's included in this post.  Unfortunately I don't have the ability to link to each subject title, so you'll have to scroll.  Sorry about that!

Also, if anyone wants a DVD or a transcript of the Nightline episode, here's the info for where to get it:

DVD: Go to www.ABCNewsstore.com
Transcripts: Call 800-234-0304, X11701 or go to http://www.transcripts.tv/ and click on ABC

Announcements - Announcements from various HIOs concerning the HSUS video and Nightline segment.

Videos - Video responses and interviews concerning the HSUS video.

Articles - Articles from various sources concerning the HSUS video.

Opinion Pieces and Letter - Online opinions and a great letter I received from woman who wrote to the industry to ask them to stop this madness.

Petitions - Some of the petitions that have sprung up since the video was released.



First, I want to post this announcement from the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA).  I want everyone to understand that NWHA is FOR THE HORSE.  They have 100% sound shows with true, fair judging and impartial, concise DQPs.  Yes they have had internal issues in the past year, but those issues are getting ironed out and the association is going to be just fine (unlike other HIOs that let abuse happen and play favoritism to the known sorers).  We at FTTWH fully support NWHA, FOSH and the IWHA in their pursuit to continue to have sound shows and keep the sorers out.  Here's NWHA's announcement concerning the video and the McConnell case.


For Immediate Release
May 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm (EST)
From: The National Walking Horse Association
(Located at 4059 Iron Works Parkway, Suite 4, Lexington, KY 40511)

The recent ABC Nightline segment on the abuse of Tennessee Walking Horses demonstrates once again why the National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) was established and why NWHA continues to play a vital role in the TWH industry.  We are committed to stop soring and abuse of our great horses.  Abusive practices such as those highlighted on the Nightline segment are not tolerated in our organization.  We fight daily to ensure the horses are treated kindly and with great respect.  NWHA is the answer to this horrible tradition.

Since 1998 the [NWHA] has been promoting the general welfare of and serving as an advocate for the Walking Horse against abuse and inhumane treatment.  As a USDA certified HIO, NWHA has adopted and enforced the highest level of penalties for HPA violators, adopted "no tolerance" for soring practices, and has a mandatory requirement that all DQPs, Judges, and Board of Director members have no violations of the HPA.

The NWHA's mission is to:
  • To promote the general welfare of the Walking Horse.
  • To serve as an advocate for the Walking Horse against abusive and inhumane treatment.
  • To provide an equitable affiliation program for Walking Horses to be exhibited, judged, and showcased in full compliance with the Horse Protection Act.
  • To increase public awareness of the natural abilities of the Walking Horse.
  • To generate growth of the [NWHA] via the marketing, promotion, advertising, and publicity of the natural Walking Horse.
  • To increase the proficiency of the [NWHA] members in all matters of horsemanship.
  • To serve a communication hub for the Walking Horse Industry and other equine interest groups.
  • To carry out the purposes as set forth in the Corporation's Restated Articles of Incorporation.
  • To engage in any and all other lawful business allowed accomplishing the above purposes.
The NWHA strives to increase public awareness of the natural abilities of the flat shod Walking Horse and provide an equitable affiliation program at which they may be exhibited, judged, and showcased in full compliance with the HPA.  Soon after its founding, NWHA prohibited pads, chains, and other action device from the Association's competitions.  Since that time, NWHA has worked diligently to promote the flat shod walking horse in all disciplines; from the show horse to Dressage, Reining, timed events, and trail horse programs.  To learn more about NWHA and our National Grand Championship Show, being held this year in Wilmington, Ohio, October 1st through the 6th, please visit our website at www.nwha.com.

Note:  If you have not yet viewed the Nightline Segment, here is the link to it: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/tennessee-walking-horses-abused/story?id=16460835 Please be warned that this video is graphic and difficult to watch.



The below are the press releases from TWHBEA and from the Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA).

TWHBEA Responds to Nightline Report

WHTA Responds to ABC News Story

Quite frankly, these are the most ridiculous and weak excuses I've ever read.  As someone said in their email to TWHBEA: it's too little, too late.  Giving us lip service now without any solution besides just being against soring is not enough. Of course, WHTA is against Keith Dane and the HSUS, though, because they have finally been called to the carpet.  At least WHTA has revoked McConnell's license.  But what about banning him from shows and being a member of TWHBEA?  The industry was so quick to ban Davis even when he hadn't had his trial yet, but not McConnell...I guess we know who butters their bread.  And take a look at how nearly the whole board of WHTA are HPA violators--are they going to clean up house there a well?  And please, WHTA--you cannot tell me you didn't know about the video and were "shocked."  Your entire group is made up of people who continue to abuse horses...what a load of garbage.

And then there's this.

TWHBEA Clarifies Its Roles in the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry

So, let me see.  If all of this is true:

TWHBEA’s primary responsibilities are to ensure that all Tennessee Walking Horses are properly registered and transferred, and to maintain the integrity of the registry. TWHBEA also publishes the official breed journal, Voice of the Tennessee Walking Horse.* And, when finances allow, the Association works to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse and the breed registry around the world....However, the actual reality is that TWHBEA has NO authority over most areas of the breed, including the rules that govern horse shows, judging of horse shows, pre and post-show inspections and the licensing of Tennessee Walking Horse trainers.

...Then why are there the following and committees in your association?  AND MOST OF THE COMMITTEES ARE POPULATED WITH HPA VIOLATORS?  ESPECIALLY the Equine Welfare committee?

Trainers VP
Equine Welfare VP
Enforcement VP
Performance Horse VP
Pleasure Horse VP
Horse Show VP
Breeders VP
Owners/Exhibitors/International VP

And, why do you have your own show rulebook?  Why do you have a youth club and a trail riding program?   And what in the world is a group that's JUST a registry, JUST a breed journal, and JUST when finances allow, promote the breed registry need nearly a million dollars a year to function?  This is ridiculous.  Don't give us this crap--stop lying to us.  We're not dumb, you guys--we know you're protecting the the violators and are quite content in doing so so your salaries stay in place.

*And quite frankly, the TRUE Voice of the TWH would be screaming in pain, if the poor animals had any voice to scream with.

All and all, I'm disgusted with this industry, but really, I didn't fully expect them to get serious.  Of course, I hoped, but this response isn't totally surprising.  This is why we have to put the pressure on them to hold them accountable.  They need to take responsibility for allowing this to continue and stop lying to the public.  Be sure to send in your letters to them to let them know you want to see a REAL end to soring and the abuse and stop rewarding people like McConnell.



CNN with Brian Todd
Horses abused for the prized "Big Lick" (with explanation about why the people are beating the horses and a former TWH trainer's insight)

CNN with Jane Velez-Mitchell
Undercover Video Shows Horse Abuse

Not a video, but a photo gallery of the day of McConnell's arrest and the inspection done of his barn by the HSUS.

Oregon Rep Kurt Schrader
Congressman Schrader addresses the USDA's Horse Protection Act and the issue of "soring"

WKRN-TV Nashville
See Video Gallery links next to top paragraph of the article  (Note the ridiculous excuses Mullins is giving for this garbage.  But a big THANK YOU to Winky Groover for who has truly gone sound and knows how to train a BL without abuse.)



Here are lots and lots and LOTS of articles concerning the Nightline episode and the fallout from the HSUS video.  It has gone as far as CNN and lots of online news websites.  I'm sorry I can't copy and paste everything--it would just be too much.

5/21/2012: Tennessee Walking Horse celebration keeps most sponsors - Here's where to send your letters, folks!  Let them know you will no longer buy their products due to their sponsorship of the abusers and their protectors.

5/17/2012: Pepsi Drops Tennessee Walking Horse Sponsorship In Response to ABC News Report

HSUS Investigates Cruel Training of Tennessee Walking Horses

HSUS Releases Undercover Video of Shocking Horse Abuse at Tennessee Training Stable

The Commercial Appeal - Memphis, TN
5/16/12: ABC to air undercover footage of Collierville resident and horse trainer accused of cruelty

5/17/12: No undercover investigation of horse abuse if Tennessee bill had passed  You know, if you're wanting to pass a bill stating that no one can do undercover work to find out if horses are being abused, aren't you TRYING to hide something?  Be sure to write to Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) and Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) and let them know what you think of this moronic idea!

Lawmakers look at horse abuse

Tennessee Horse Show Fails Pepsi Challenge

Former UT vet school dean, Humane Society expose walking horse abuses  (Includes photo gallery of photos taken during McConnell's arrest and the inspection of his barn by the HSUS.)

Lez Get Real
Pepsi Cuts Ties to Walking Horse National Celebration

Shine from Yahoo!
Pepsi pulls sponsorship of horse show after controversial footage airs

The Tennessean
5/19/12: Tennessee Walking Horse video stuns Shelbyville  (More crap from Mullins, but tons of support for the horse in the community.)

5/19/12: TN lawmakers urged to act after horse video

5/21/12: Tennessee Walking Horse celebration keeps most sponsors  (Unfortunately, the sponsors don't feel the same way.  Be sure to write to them--we'll be writing another post about who to write to this week!)

WKRN-TV Nashville
Video shows Tennessee Walking Horses being tortured, beaten


Opinion Pieces and Letters

The Chattanoogan.com
Roy Exum: This Jerk Needs Stewarding

The Tennesssean
David Climer: Tennessee walking horse treatment is abuse, not sport
David points out that we ALL know this abuse is going on, and if you think it isn't you've got "your head in the hay."  My favorite part of this article:

But just as the football player can get bigger/stronger/faster more quickly and easily via steroids, the horse trainer can get the desired gait by going medieval on the horse.

There’s one important difference, though:

The football player makes the decision whether to use steroids or not.

The walking horse doesn’t get to make the call on soring.

I've received so many awesome letters that people have been sending out to the sponsors, lawmakers, and TWH industry.  I wanted to share this one with everyone because it really touches on what this is all about and what's going to happen to this industry if they don't make REAL changes.  And again, THANK YOU to everyone who is supporting the horse and is fighting to see this end!


It was extremely disappointing to read the response of the TWHBEA to the HSUS expose of the brutality that persists in the training of Walking Horses.  Such bland pablum!  All the right words, but quite obviously, no action by the Association to put an end to this  shameful practice.  Worse was the speech by the Association  president; if wrapping oneself in the flag is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Mr. Irby has done that in spades.  His claim that "the good old USA will [cease to] exist" if what amounts to the torture of horses by the likes of McConnell is shut down is nauseating.  I am  not a member of your association, but if I were I would be demanding Mr. Irby's resignation.  It is all too clear that it is not the best interests of the Tennessee Walking Horse that he has at heart, but the best interests of the almighty dollar and those who pursue it by  subjecting horses to appalling abuse.

Before you dismiss my concerns as those of an ill-informed animal rights hysteric, please know that I have owned and ridden horses of  everal different breeds for 40 years.  It would also be useful to  you to learn that several decades ago, the showing of Tennessee  Walking Horses in my home province of Ontario, Canada was banned by  the Ontario Humane Society (now the OSPCA) because of the abuses perpetrated by the trainers/owners/riders.  TWHs have never recovered popularity here (or, in fact, in Canada generally) because of that taint of abuse, while in contrast, gaited breeds such as Paso Finos  nd Kentucky Mountain Horses are gaining market share quite vigorously.

Thanks to the internet, the plight of the Big Lick TWH is becoming known to horse people worldwide. Recently, individuals from as far away as Australia and Germany have expressed disgust for the grotesque parody of the TWH gait promulgated by Big Lick proponents.  Unless the TWHBEA wants to find itself regarded by the public in the  same light as dog fighting enthusiasts, the Association must act NOW to END soring, END training abuses, END the torture of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Yours truly, J. F. Hardacre, Ed.D. (University name withheld to protect Dr. Hardacre.)



Board of Directors and Executive Committee: Revoke TWBHEA registration papers for bi-lateral sore tickets.


HSUS Petition to State Legislators

The Tennessean
5/18/12: POLL: Will you boycott Tennessee Walking Horse shows?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

UPDATE 5/20/2012

Just wanted to let everyone know I have A LOT more information to post, but I'm keeping the below post up for a while so people know who to write to.  I should have a new post starting the evening of 5/20 or 5/21 that has a lot more information for everyone to read and videos to watch.  Thanks for your patience!

Click here for the post of where to write your letters and help save the horse!

***UPDATED 5/21/2012: Keystone Light and MillerCoors is not a sponsor of the Celebration!  Please see the post above for the very nice email I received from them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

HOW YOU CAN HELP - Get Your Letters Out to These Folks


Hi everyone.  As promised, here's the big list to write to.  It's a long list, but it truly will make a difference if you can take the time to at least prepare a form letter and send it out to each email address.  Phone calls are also good.

Here are the important guidelines to follow.

1. Write your own letter.  Don't copy and paste mine below--it's just an example.  Even just a few sentences is enough.

2.  Copy and paste the video from this link into each letter.  Be kind enough to warn them that it is graphic footage.  If you'd rather send the Nightline story since it's not as graphic (but still hard to watch), choose this link.

3. Name calling, nasty remarks, and angry words (except expressions such as "I could not believe what I saw in this video") do not help.  A person is immediately turned off by being "yelled" at online or in a letter.  Use rational words and think through what you're writing before sending it.

4. If you're going to write a form letter, be sure to individualize it when you put it in email form by putting such things as Dear their name at the beginning, and pointing out you understand their position in the community (such as a Senator or House Rep).  Also make sure your subject line is clear as to what you're contacting them for, such as National Celebration Corporate Sponsorship or Enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

5. It's okay to point out that the industry is continuing to support this abuse by posting statistics, such as how many HPA violators hold high positions in clubs and associations and are allowed to show their horses even after multiple violations.  But be sure that you back up your facts.  Feel free to contact me or ask on our Facebook page if you need help with that.

6. We have also learned from government officials that they don't like electronic petitions without real handwritten signatures, nor do they want to read the exact same letter from a bunch of people.  Each letter needs to be individual.

It's also important to thank those who have already taken the steps to end soring.  I've included those folks in the list as well.

Here is my example letter to Ford to ask them to pull their sponsorship.  Again, DO NOT copy and paste this letter. Please take the time to write your own.


I understand that Ford gives a sponsorship to the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) National Celebration each year. You might already be aware of the undercover video at the link at the end of this message, which was taken last year. It shows the extreme abuse that goes on behind the scenes at many if not most TWH barns in Tennessee. This is all to create the high stepping gait in the show ring called the Big Lick. It is animal abuse for fun and profit.

Soring, as explained in the video, is outlawed by the Horse Protection Act, yet it is still commonplace in the industry. The industry hides this fact and lies about how they are trying to end it. The HPA has been in effect since 1970, yet because the industry is allowed to "police" themselves, soring still continues and is rampant. 

As an owner and advocate for the sound TWH, I ask that you reconsider your sponsorship with the National Celebration. There is sufficient evidence that points to the fact that sored horses are still being shown there, and this cruelty needs to end. Pulling your support of this show would help tremendously with both your reputation and to help fight against the only form of abuse against horses that has a federal law against it.

I am also a Ford driver--we have a 1997 F-250 that is in great shape and has lasted us a long time. We love Fords and want to always stick with them for our truck needs. I also commend you for choosing not to take the bailout from the government. Choosing to go away from these heinous acts of abuse by pulling your support would do even more for your good reputation and help us make the public more aware about this abuse.

If you need more information, feel free to contact me and visit our blog at http://forthetnwalkinghorse.blogspot.com and our website at www.forthetwh.com  Thank you very much for your time.  Video link: http://youtu.be/gxVlxT_x-f0


Now for the list.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me or post them on the Facebook page.

USDA Contacts

Judge in McConnell Case - PLEASE be polite in your response!  Final sentencing is in September.

Harry S. Mattice, Jr., United States District Judge
900 Georgia Avenue, Room 104
Chattanooga TN 37402
Phone: 423-752-5184

Current Sponsors of the Celebration

J. Jordan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JJordanBoutiqueFashion
email: jjordanboutique@gmail.com
website: http://www.JJordanBoutique.com

Mark Pirtle Ford
Click for contact page
website: http://pirtleandhowertonford.dealerconnection.com/

Tennessee Farmers Co-Op
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TennesseeFarmersCooperative
Website: http://www.ourcoop.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TNFarmers
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/TnFarmersCooperative

Yearwood Equipment Co.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/YearwoodEquipmentCompany

phone: 931-433-3558
email: sales@yearwoodequipment.com
website: http://www.yearwoodequipment.com/

Celebration Feeds
website: http://celebrationfeeds.com/
Rockvale, TN: Joe Green, Phone 615-274-2661, JGreen@celebrationfeeds.com
Cookville, TN: David Stephenson, Phone 931-528-6565, dstephenson@celebrationfeeds.com
Shelbyville, TN: Marcen Jeffiers, Phone 931-685-5087, mjeffier@celebrationfeeds.com
Carthage, TN: Stacy Halliburton, Phone 615-735-9185
Columbia, TN: Craig Teal, Phone 931-388-1200
Franklin, TN: Ames Krebs, Phone 615-790-7860

Shelbyville Farm Center
Phone: 931-685-5087

I received the following info from Ford.  The links below have been changed accordingly.

"Please be advised that we are not a sponsor of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  The Mid-South Ford Dealers is the local association of Ford Dealers and they are independent from the company.  The sponsorship falls under their jurisdiction and was made independently from us."

Corporate Office - https://secure.corporate.ford.com/footer/contact-ford/contact-us-email?contactMainTopic=PublicAffairs

Mid-South Ford Dealers - Click here for the list of Dealers near Shelbyville, TN.  Choose the "View Website" link and then choose any links they might have that says "Contact Us."  You can check the bottom of the page for email addresses as well.

Cracker Barrel - CRACKER BARREL PULLED OUT OF THE CELEBRATION IN 2002. They are no longer sponsors.

Potential Sponsors of the Celebration
Keystone Light - I received the following very nice email from MillerCoors concerning this issue.  So no need to write to them--they do not support the Celebration.


I wanted to reach out about the recent allegations surrounding the treatment of Tennessee Walking Horses and provide the below statement from MillerCoors.

MillerCoors and its Keystone Light brand is not an official sponsor of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. We are shocked and horrified by recent allegations of the cruel treatment of Tennessee Walking Horses and do not support the inappropriate and unethical handling of animals.

Thank you for updating the information on your site.

Andy Bowman

Send your emails to the all the major board members: president, vice president, committee leaders, etc.  Or choose all of the email addresses...the more the merrier!

When writing to the HIOs, request that they ban McConnell the same way they banned Barney Davis.  The HIOs immediately banned Barney Davis BEFORE he went to trial, but they have not banned McConnell.  It's clear who's the money maker of the two for them.

Also, ask them to start putting together stronger penalties.  Perhaps a 3 strikes and you're out policy--three HPA violations (not rulebook violations) and you're banned for life.  Ask them to stop trying to placate the public and pretend these are isolated incidents and actually start working to end soring.  We all know soring is the main way of "training" these horses--it's high time it ended.

KYWHA - http://kywha.org/contact-us/
PRIDE - http://pridehio.com/wordpress/contact-us/  You can copy and paste all the email addresses into a single email.
SHOW - http://www.showhio.com/contactus.htm
SSHBEA - http://www.sshbea.org/contactus.html
WHOA - http://www.walkinghorseowners.com/about-whoa/  Scroll down to see the email addresses.

***NEW!  Ask them to stop attacking Keith Dane for exposing one of their own when they claim they are for the welfare of the horse; they should be shaking his hand, not kicking his ass.  Ask them to stop supporting the HPA violators and giving them high positions in their association.  Ask for changes in the by laws that anyone who has violated the HPA more than twice is not eligible to be on the board or an officer for life.  Ask that their Horse Protection Committee, which has HPA violators serving on it, to get active within the breed and actually protect the horse.
Executive Director - Ron Thomas, rthomas@twhbea.com, 931-359-0580
Executive Assistant - Diane White, dwhite@twhbea.com, 931-359-0581
President - Marty Irby, martyirby@msn.com, 615-796-5334, 931-233-0112
Senior Vice President - Margo Urad, murad@kandsins.com, 214-763-7379
Trainers Vice President - Wayne Dean, fredad@wildblue.net, 931-359-4808, 931-359-7326
Equine Welfare Vice President - Dr. Linda W. Montgomery, 615-210-4038
Find your local board representative on this page: http://www.twhbea.com/association/bod.php

The Celebration
http://twhnc.com/  email: twhnc@twhnc.com
The Celebration has banned McConnell from the show grounds for life!


SHELBYVILLE - In a precedent setting move, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration took decisive action today, both denouncing and condemning the actions of trainer Jackie McConnell, who was both videotaped abusing a horse and admitted to a Horse Protection Act violation in federal court today.
The TWHNC Board of Directors voted to suspend McConnell for life and also took the following action:

(1) suspended McConnell for life from entering the TWHNC grounds for any and events, regardless of the event's affiliation or ownership.

(2) voted to permanently remove Mr. McConnell's name from the list of Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Hall of Fame inductees. Any picture, plaque, image or other mention of his name from Hall of Fame data will be permanently removed from this day forward and his name will be forever erased from Hall of Fame rolls.

(3) voted to permanently remove any and all pictures and signage on the Celebration grounds carrying either the name of Jackie McConnell or the likeness.

(4) banned from entry onto the TWHNC grounds any horse under the custodianship or presumed to be under the custodianship of Mr. McConnell.

"This action is the strongest we can take and it clearly reflects our disgust with the actions of Mr. McConnell,"said Dr. Doyle Meadows, TWHNC CEO. "His actions are not reflective of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, and we in no way want him associated with our show."

***NEW!  The Tennessee Delegation

Ask them to sign onto the legislation with Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), to increase the HPA budget to $5 million so as to end soring forever.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander: 202-224-4944; www.alexander.senate.gov/public/
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker: 202-224-3344; www.corker.senate.gov/public/
District 1 U.S. Rep. Phil Roe: 202-225-6356; http://roe.house.gov/
District 2 U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.: 202-225-5435; http://duncan.house.gov/
District 3 U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann: 202-225-3271; http://fleischmann.house.gov/
District 4 U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais: 202-225-6831; http://desjarlais.house.gov/
District 5 U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper: 202-225-4311; www.cooper.house.gov/
District 6 U.S. Rep. Diane Black: 202-225-4231; http://black.house.gov/
District 7 U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn: 202-225-2811; http://blackburn.house.gov/
District 8 U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher: 202-225-4714; http://fincher.house.gov/
District 9 U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen: 202-225-3265; http://cohen.house.gov/

Your Congressmen
It's best to write to the Congressmen in your state first.  On the Senator and House Reps links listed below, a short and easy search will take you to your Congressmen's pages, where you can use the contact forms to contact them.  On some Congressmen's pages, they will only allow you to contact them if you live in their zip code.  But zip codes can easily be found online at MelissaData for Tennessee and Kentucky.

Senators - choose the Find Your Senators option in the top right corner: http://www.senate.gov/
House Representatives - choose the Find Your Representatives option in the top right corner:  http://www.house.gov/
HSUS's Page for Congress Contact Information concerning the TWH: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5399&s_src=twhlanding

Thank Yous
Pepsi - For pulling their sponsorship from the Celebration: http://cr.pepsi.com/usen/pepsiusen.cfm?date=20120518
***NEW! Roy Exum - For helping keep the news in the spotlight: royexum@aol.com

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HOW YOU CAN HELP - A List of People to Contact Coming Soon!

The response to the video the HSUS has released and the Nightline show aired on Wednesday night has been amazing.  My first response is:

To all of you who have shared this information, contacted me or jumped online to work to help end this!
Even just reading this blog and seeing the video makes a world of difference!

If you didn't catch the Nightline episode, here it is!

Obviously, I have been receiving a lot of questions of how you can help.  We're putting together a large list of people to contact to let the industry and those who support it know that this needs to stop.  This list will be up tomorrow.

I'll also have a sample letter drafted to help everyone write their own.  But please note: it's extremely important to write your own letter.  You are welcome to use a form letter that you send to each person, but make sure it's tailored to the specific reader, such as using their name in the Dear line, and your subject pertaining to the issue at hand, such as National Celebration Corporate Sponsorship.

I also have a lot of articles that are popping up online that i will also post here tomorrow.  I have a lot of work to do!  If you have ANY ideas, feel free to contact me at forthetnwalkinghorse at gmail dot com (replace the "at" with @ and the "dot" with . )  Also we are working hard on our Facebook page: Click here to join us!

My friends, I am amazed at the overwhelming support.  I know this sounds awful, but perhaps the videotaping of those horses being abused, even though they suffered, is what's going to save our magnificent breed and end this ridiculous abuse once and for all.  And please, remember that the industry WANTS to keep the sore horse in the ring, so their excuses cannot be tolerated.  We need to be the voice for the horse.  We need to speak out loud and clear and let them know that we no longer will pretend this isn't going on, nor will we watch them continue to violate a federal law and abuse animals in the name of fun and profit.


And God bless all of you for your passion to save the horse!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

VIDEO - HSUS Undercover McConnell Video

The expose on soring tonight on Nightline was hard enough...  Here's the HSUS evidence.  I am quite beside myself right now.  As Brian Ross said tonight on Nightline: "[The video may be disturbing,] but without seeing it, it would be hard to believe such cruelty is possible."


The only thing I can say is this: I hope, I pray that after people see this video that they will never want to touch a Tennessee Walking Horse again.  To all of you who cheer on the Big Lick and the sored FS horses, who go to these shows, who put them on in your backyard, who don't say anything when you see soring at shows and in barns, who give your money to HPA violators to "train" your horses, who think McConnell and Davis are isolated incidents, who continue to put money into and verbally support this industry...you are all guilty.  Even I'm guilty, for not reporting the soring I saw in 2005 to the proper authorities.  ALL OF US will have to answer to God, and we're not going to like what he has to say.







(for removing their sponsorship from the Celebration)

I cannot thank all of you enough for your bravery and your kindness to the horses.  Thank you for showing us the truth, and I know the horses thank you as well.

PLEASE pray for the horses...they need us.

NEWS and ARTICLES - Tonight's ABC News Report; Article from ABC; GRAPHIC VIDEO

***UDPATE 5/16/2012:  The expose was not aired on Diane Sawyer tonight.  It will be on Nightline tonight.  Check your local listings and set your DVRs.  Heck, set your VCRs!

So a reminder of tonight's expose on the TWH.  It will be on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer with a follow up later tonight on Nightline with Brian Ross.  Check your local listings for air times.

I went on ABC's website this morning, and this is what I found.  The photo above of the horse being beaten?  That is Jackie McConnell himself beating that horse.


This is from the undercover videos that were taken by the HSUS.  I don't know how much more will be shown tonight.

I cannot find words for how angry and upset I am.  I truly can't.

Dr. Mullins, if you are "against the stuff," then why aren't you stopping it?  Why have you not put your foot down and said enough's enough?  Then after saying that, you stand by and have the gall to say that it could be innocent substances the are found on the horse's legs?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU????





Video Reveals Torture of Horses Trained to Win Championships

By Megan Chuchmach (@megcourtney) and Brian Ross (@brianross)
May 16, 2012

Large numbers of the famed Tennessee Walking Horses have been tortured and beaten in order to make them produce the high-stepping gait that wins championships, an ABC News investigation has found.

"All too often, you have to cheat to win in this sport," said Keith Dane of the Humane Society of the United States.

In the most recent example, an undercover video made by an investigator for the Humane Society, documents the cruelty of one of the sport's leading trainers, Jackie McConnell of Collierville, Tennessee.

The video led to a federal grand jury indictment of McConnell and will be seen publicly for the first time tonight on the ABC News program "Nightline."

The tape shows McConnell and his stable hands beating horses with wooden sticks and using electric cattle prods on them as part of a training protocol to make them lift their feet in the pronounced gait judges like to see.

In another scene, McConnell oversees his hands as they apply caustic chemicals to the ankles of the horses and them wrap them with plastic wrap so the chemicals eat into the skin.

"That creates intense pain and then the ankles are wrapped with large metal chains so the horses flinch, or raise their feet even higher," said Dane of the Humane Society.

McConnell is expected to enter a guilty to plea to one count, according to his lawyers.

He declined to comment, or apologize for his acts, when approached by ABC News this week outside his home.

Leaders of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry maintain that such brutality is rare and that trainers do not have to cheat to win championships, which can add millions of dollars to the value of horses.

"They do not have to cheat to win," said Dr. Steve Mullins of the group called SHOW, which oversees inspections of horses before major events. "You don't have to do this kind of junk to win. ... And we are terribly against this stuff."

The industry group maintains that the vast majority of horses are not subjected to the cruel practice of "soring."

But a random inspection by the agents of the Department of Agriculture at last year's annual championship found that 52 of 52 horses tested positive for some sort of foreign substance around front hooves, either to cause pain or to hide it.

Dr. Mullins told ABC News there could be innocent explanations for some of the foreign substances found by the inspectors.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NEWS - ABC News Will Feature the TWH on Wednesday's Broadcast

GOOD NEWS FOR THE SOUND HORSE!  I found out there is going to be an expose on the TWH on ABC news this Wednesday, May 16, 6:30 pm EST with Diane Sawyer.  I'm not sure if it's just the news or going to be on her show. I will keep my eyes peeled and will announce what I find out.  Then, on Thursday, the HSUS is going to be releasing a video concerning the TWH.  I think we're going to see some real eye openers here about soring and that it's still prominent in the industry.  Be sure to tune in!

***EDITED 5/14/2012 to correct the time the show will air.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - New Facebook Group; AHC Announces Support of Pads Only for Medical Purposes; McConnell Changes His Plea

New Facebook Page For The Natural Tennessee Walking Horse

To go along with the For the Tennessee Walking Horse website and this blog, we decided to start a new Facebook page!  Our current Facebook page is an extension of this blog, used to educate the public about soring and how to train horses correctly.  But we decided we needed another page.  Let me explain why.

I recently left a Facebook group because once again, people like us who want to see the abuse end were being attacked.  Sadly, we were having lots of fun on the page until one Big Lick person started saying things like "you wish your horse could move like this" to me, and to another woman that a horse was "better than that thing you got."  Of course, we stand up to defend ourselves, and the attacks and bashing continues.  I got called a "suck-tit crybaby."  During all this time, the moderator posted that this wouldn't be tolerated and to stop.  Then there was a post on the page calling us "foshists" and various other names, laughing at and making fun of us because a lot of us left, but it's since been deleted (I did save the post, however.)  Is this truly how we want our industry to represent themselves?  And really, is it no wonder why this industry is falling apart?  When I first got into the breed, this is the kind of crap I ran up against even BEFORE I knew about soring, and frankly, it turned me off.  There is a reason why I don't show anymore, why I don't participate in large events anymore with the TWH, and those people are the major reason why.  I am sometimes very, very ashamed to own a TWH.

So, in light of this, I discussed with the group who runs the FTTWH website, and I decided that we "foshists" and "nwhaists" and "barefootists" and "flat-shodists" and "snafflebit-ists" and "bridleless-ists" need a group where we can relax and have fun and do all our chatting, post our horses for sale, ask questions, etc. without being bombarded by the BL folks.  So, I want to introduce to you:

The Natural Tennessee Walking Horse Facebook group

You can post anything you want: stuff for sale, stallions at stud, training services, book reviews, brag about your horse, foals born, whatever you want!  No pads, bands or chains on this site--just the horse flat-shod, keg-shod or barefoot with his natural, God-given gait.  We welcome everything and anything related to the TWH and the horse industry in general.  Anything Big Lick related will be deleted, and we won't allow people on the group who have proven on other groups that they need to attack others.  The current FTTWH group will still be going to talk about soring and ending it, and to post horses in need and ask questions as you need to.  But we'll leave soring discussions off the other page and make it a place for everyone who needs to find other natural owners like us!  Anyone is welcome to join, so we hope to see you there!


American Horse Council Announces Support of Pads Only for Medical Purposes

Good news comes from the sound horse world!  After Marty Irby's big meeting with the American Horse Council last week, he walked away confident that they would support pads and chains in the show ring. (Information received from the Walking Horse Report--unfortunately I only have the announcement he made but not the link.)  And it seems that they do, but not in the way he intended.

The AHC released the below letter to the USDA APHIS in support of pads and action devices being allowed in the show ring only for therapeutic or medicinal purposes.  Their list of reason why they shouldn't be banned is outlined in their bulleted list.

Pads may serve several legitimate needs, such as:

• To protect the hoof from abrasions or penetration on hard or uneven surfaces;
• To provide a cushioning agent for the hoof and limb when working or showing surfaces are unduly hard or rough;
• To maintain the natural angle of the foot and pastern;
• To compensate for conformational abnormalities of the foot and limb;
• To aid in keeping the shoes intact on horses with thin-walled or brittle feet;
• To permit the use of packing under the pad to maintain proper softness and flexibility of the hoof;
• To protect the foot from the development of septic processes;
• To facilitate the application of therapeutic medication to the hoof;
• To increase or decrease support to the foot and limb as an aid in the treatment of lameness; and
• To build up the proper matching length and angle of any foot that has been broken or damaged.

My favorite of these is "To maintain the natural angle of the foot and pastern."  The giant manhole covers used on the BL horse absolutely DOES NOT do this.  In fact, it goes completely against the natural angle of the foot and pastern.  Quite frankly, none of the reasons in their bulleted list apply to the TWH.

A Warmblood horse with severe ringbone is put on a therapeutic Sigafoos Plate II to help him heal.
The shoe and pad are designed to support the entire hoof, including the frog and sole, not just the walls of the hoof.
From The Hoof Blog by Fran Jurga, April 25, 2012
The unnatural angles and non-therapeutic use of the stacks of pads on a BL horse
Photo from article written in 2008.
Below is the entire letter to the APHIS.  I cannot find the link to the letter online--I will post the link once I find it.  I think it's quite clear where the AHC stands:

"The AHC does not condone any segment of the horse industry using action devices or pads in a manner that is not in the best interest of the horse. Furthermore, the AHC opposes any use of any action devices or pads that may result in the infliction of pain or discomfort for the horse..."

The next question is: will the industry start claiming that BL pads and chains are therapeutic or protect a horse's foot or protect from overstriding?  I'm pretty darn sure the APHIS and the AHC are NOT that dumb.


Re: USDA-APHIS: Horse Protection Program Listening Sessions
Dear Dr. Cezar:
The American Horse Council (AHC) appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), pursuant to the recently-completed listening sessions APHIS’ Animal Care Program held throughout the U.S. to obtain feedback on the Horse Protection Program. The AHC supports APHIS’ efforts to strengthen enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The AHC opposes any practice that might cause pain or distress to any horse under the HPA.

American Horse Council

The AHC is a Washington-based association that represents individual members and over 120 equine organizations before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies. AHC member organizations include breed registries, national and state equine associations, state horse councils, recreational associations, and organizations representing race tracks, horsemen, horse shows, veterinarians, farriers, rodeos, and other equine related stakeholders. The AHC also includes individual horse owners and breeders, veterinarians, farriers, trainers, professional, amateur, and recreational riders, and commercial suppliers. Individually, and through our organizational members, the AHC represents several hundred thousand horse owners and others involved in all sectors of the horse industry.

APHIS’ Questions of Interest

Prior to the HPA listening sessions, APHIS published a list of questions the Agency was particularly interested in receiving feedback on from stakeholders. The AHC’s comments are limited to addressing and responding to the following questions APHIS put forward in the context of how they might affect various breeds, shows, exhibits and activities that fall under the HPA.

• Should there be a prohibition of all action devices?
• Should there be a prohibition of pads?

Action Devices and Pads

The AHC does not support an outright prohibition of all action devices or pads. A complete prohibition could result in unintended consequences that may not be in the best interest of the horse, various regulated breeds or various regulated exhibitors, shows or exhibitions.

Some devices and pads are used by a variety of breeds for the protection of the horse during showing and training. For example, certain devices, which may fit within the technical definition of “action devices” under the regulations, are used by certain breeds to protect a horse’s foot or to prevent over-striding. Additionally, a simple prohibition of all pads could adversely affect certain breeds that use them for legitimate purposes for the protection of the horse’s feet and limbs. Pads may serve several legitimate needs, such as:

• To protect the hoof from abrasions or penetration on hard or uneven surfaces;
• To provide a cushioning agent for the hoof and limb when working or showing surfaces are unduly hard or rough;
• To maintain the natural angle of the foot and pastern;
• To compensate for conformational abnormalities of the foot and limb;
• To aid in keeping the shoes intact on horses with thin-walled or brittle feet;
• To permit the use of packing under the pad to maintain proper softness and flexibility of the hoof;
• To protect the foot from the development of septic processes;
• To facilitate the application of therapeutic medication to the hoof;
• To increase or decrease support to the foot and limb as an aid in the treatment of lameness; and
• To build up the proper matching length and angle of any foot that has been broken or damaged.

Pads used in these ways are applied in such a manner as to maintain or achieve appropriate hoof-pastern axis. Pads and other devices are used by a number of breeds and exhibitors in a protective or beneficial manner and are in the best interest of the horse’s health and soundness.

USDA should not implement a complete prohibition of all pads and action devices for all breeds and disciplines. Furthermore, any consideration to prohibit the use of pads or actions devices should be based on sound science and considered only after a full, public rulemaking process. For these reasons, in response to the two questions noted above, the AHC feels that the use of pads and other devices should not be banned outright.


The AHC opposes any practice that might cause pain or distress to any horse under the HPA. The AHC does not condone any segment of the horse industry using action devices or pads in a manner that is not in the best interest of the horse. Furthermore, the AHC opposes any use of any action devices or pads that may result in the infliction of pain or discomfort for the horse, but the AHC does not support an outright prohibition of all action devices or pads because, in many cases, the use of pads or devices may be beneficial. Moreover, an outright ban on action devices or pads could have unintended consequences for some breeds, shows, exhibitions, or exhibitors.

The AHC considers the safety, welfare, and what is in the best interest of the horse to be the paramount consideration in administering and implementing the HPA. The AHC encourages USDA to continue to incorporate transparency and collaboration in all HPA initiatives and urges the Agency to work cooperatively with stakeholders to ensure the horse industry thrives while also eliminating the act of soring.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us.

James J. Hickey, Jr.


McConnell Changes His Plea

Today in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, an article was printed stating that McConnell intended to plead guilty to ONE of the charges brought against him.  "In a notice filed in federal court, Jackie L. McConnell, 60, stated he intends to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the HPA."  According to the article, "Plea agreements were due from the four on Tuesday. If McConnell had not made the deal, a pre-trial hearing would have taken place on May 14, with the trial itself starting on the 22nd."  Click here for the article, also copied and pasted below.

So, this doesn't really tell us too much, except that clearly he doesn't feel he's guilty for beating horses and soring them at his barn, which there is video evidence of him doing.  Figure that one out.

I have a strong suspicion that McConnell is going to blame the other three, Dockery, Mays and Abernathy, for these heinous and illegal acts.  They may be his scapegoats in this one.

Overall, the trial is still set for May 22.  We'll know more then, of course.

I also want to reiterate a point:  I see that people aren't really talking about McConnell's case, yet when Barney Davis was convicted, everyone was ALL OVER him.  They also banned him from several HIOs, even without his day in court.  Yet now, people are saying oh, we'll see what the court says about McConnell.  Why are you people doing this?  What is wrong with you?  Why is one person immediately guilty before he goes to trial and another one is innocent unless proven guilty?  Is it because he brings in so much money to the industry?  I imagine it does.

let's just pray more of these monsters are brought to trial and that the judge will throw the book at McConnell and his cronies on the 22nd.  With video and photographic evidence of the horrendous abuse this man inflicted on innocent animals, we should see some kind of justice.


McConnell changes plea in HPA case
Friday, May 11, 2012
By BRIAN MOSELY ~ bmosely@t-g.com

A Tennessee Walking Horse trainer charged with violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) announced Tuesday his intention to plead guilty to one of the charges.

In a notice filed in federal court, Jackie L. McConnell, 60, stated he intends to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the HPA.

The notice stated that federal prosecutors intend to move for dismissal of all remaining charges in the 52-count indictment. McConnell executed a written plea agreement that has been agreed to by both sides in the case.

McConnell had been indicted in March, along with Jeff Dockery, 54, John Mays, 50, and Joseph R. Abernathy, 30, with conspiracy to violate the HPA.

According to the U.S. Code, penalties for violating the HPA in this regard carries a maximum fine of $5,000, a prison sentence of up to three years, or both.

A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for May 22 before U.S. Magistratate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter.

Bond issue

Plea agreements were due from the four on Tuesday. If McConnell had not made the deal, a pre-trial hearing would have taken place on May 14, with the trial itself starting on the 22nd.

However, according to the U.S. District Court calender, Dockery and Mays are still scheduled to appear before a federal judge next Monday.

Last week, a bond revocation hearing was held for Mays and he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshall Service.

According to testimony from U.S. Probation Officer Christa Heath, Mays violated the conditions of his release by "absconding from supervision" and providing the court with an unknown home address.

"Based on the defendant's violation, I conclude the defendant is a risk of flight," Judge Carter wrote.

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