"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, 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?

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