"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, June 14, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - Major Veterinary Groups Call for a Ban on Pads and Action Devices


Today, The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) announced they are going to work towards a ban of pads and chains on TWHs.  Click here for the article, below I've copied and pasted the text.

Following my comments, I've posted the statement from the AVMA and AAEP, garnered from this article.

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Two leading veterinary groups called today for a ban on the use of devices and training methods that intentionally inflict pain on Tennessee Walking Horses to accentuate the horses’ high steps.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) targeted “action devices,” including chains, collars, bracelets and caustic chemicals that can be used to irritate a horse’s foot to create pain and the exaggerated “big lick” step to win show competitions — a practice known as soring.

In a joint news release, the groups decried the use of “performance packages,” also known as stacks or pads, that are attached to a horse’s hoof to add weight and to increase the amount of force caused by each step, and which can mask hidden items that cause pain to hooves.

In written statements, presidents of the groups called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects horses at shows, to prohibit action devices in show rings.

“Soring has been an illegal act for more than 40 years. Nevertheless, increasingly shrewd and more difficult to detect — yet equally painful — methods of soring continue to plague the Walking Horse Industry,” said RenĂ© A. Carlson, president of the AVMA.

David Sacks, USDA spokesman, said the department is looking into the suggested changes.

“Right now, pads and action devices are legal, but we are looking at proposing changes in the near future,” he said. “But that would, of course, require a full regulatory procedure, so it’s not going to be an overnight process and we’ve not yet determined all the specifics involved.”

Sacks said specifics would need to be examined, such as whether pads would be regulated by size or banned outright, and whether they would be permissible in training but not in the show ring.

“We will continue to do all we can … to get closer to our ultimate goal, which is to completely eliminate the inhumane practice of soring horses,” Sacks said.

Soring by horse trainers has garnered national attention since the May release of an undercover video captured by the Humane Society of the United States, which showed Collierville trainer Jackie McConnell soring and abusing horses in his barn. He has since pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act.

That act, passed 40 years ago, has not stopped abuse, the veterinarian associations said today. In the time since passage, ongoing soring has been the subject of periodic investigations by The Tennessean and others.

Earlier this month, the USDA imposed stiffer minimum penalties for all violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.

“Because the industry has been unable to make substantial progress in eliminating this abusive practice, the AVMA and the AAEP believe a ban on action devices and performance packages is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the horse,” the groups wrote in a statement.

“We urge a modification to the Horse Protection Act so that all action devices and performance packages are banned,” said AAEP President John Mitchell.

The practitioners association previously suggested changes to the industry in a 2008 white paper.

A representative of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association said a response to the veterinarians would be provided today.

A recent analysis by The Tennessean found that from from 2008 to 2011, horse industry organizations (HIOs) found seven times as many violations of the Horse Protection Act when USDA officials were on the scene.

Funding limits keep the USDA from attending all horse shows. A bill before Congress would raise funding from $696,000 to $5 million for the program.

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Aww, TWHBEA's going to respond!  How sweet!  I think we all know what their cheese ball response is going to be, so they really don't need to bother.

But seriously folks, this is HUGE.  I absolutely agree with this:

Because the industry has been unable to make substantial progress in eliminating this abusive practice, the AVMA and the AAEP believe a ban on action devices and performance packages is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the horse.

This industry does not care to make changes--they WANT their sore horses in the ring.  Now this doesn't mean it would completely eliminate soring.  Remember, Barney Davis was soring flat shod horses using bolts and various other horrible devices.  But what the USDA can do is require hoof testers to be used to detect sore feet.  Of course, DQPs let sore horses through into the ring every single day, but think about it this way: the USDA would be at the major shows, which is where the big money and prestige is.  This means that bringing a horse that's sore to the show, even if he was sored a few days before but not the night before, would actually be counterproductive.  If they're soring their horses all along but then suddenly have to stop, then their horse isn't going to move the way they want it to and then they won't win the ribbons.  It is certainly a system that would work.

I hope the AVMA and the AAEP are going to seriously pursue this.  It would make a huge difference in the welfare of the horse and send a clear message to the industry that their reign WILL end.

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– Begin Statement –
AVMA and AAEP Position on the Use of Action Devices and Performance Packages for Tennessee Walking Horses

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners support a ban on the use of action devices and performance packages in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses.

Action devices used in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses include chains, ankle rings, collars, rollers, and bracelets of wood or aluminum beads. When used in conjunction with chemical irritants on the pastern of the horse’s foot, the motion of the action device creates a painful response, resulting in a more exaggerated gait. Foreign substances are being detected on the pastern area during pre-show inspections at an alarmingly high rate, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. While there is little scientific evidence to indicate that the use of action devices below a certain weight are detrimental to the health and welfare of the horse, banning action devices from use in the training and showing of Tennessee Walking Horses reduces the motivation to apply a chemical irritant to the pastern.

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the national governing body for equestrian sport in the United States, disallows action devices in the show ring for all recognized national breed affiliates. The AVMA and the AAEP commend the USEF for this rule and urge the USDA-APHIS to adopt similar restrictions for Tennessee Walking Horses.

Performance packages (also called stacks or pads), made of plastic, leather, wood, rubber and combinations of these materials, are attached below the sole of the horse’s natural hoof and have a metal band that runs around the hoof wall to maintain them in place. Performance packages add weight to the horse’s foot, causing it to strike with more force and at an abnormal angle to the ground. They also facilitate the concealment of items that apply pressure to the sole of the horse’s hoof. Pressure from these hidden items produces pain in the hoof so that the horse lifts its feet faster and higher in an exaggerated gait.

Because the inhumane practice of soring Tennessee Walking Horses has continued 40 years after passage of the Horse Protection Act, and because the industry has been unable to make substantial progress in eliminating this abusive practice, the AVMA and the AAEP believe a ban on action devices and performance packages is necessary to protect the health and welfare of the horse.
– End Statement —

5 comments:

amandap said...

I wholeheartedly agree that a ban on devices is the way to go. Soring and stacks seem inextricably linked.

Let's return to appreciation of the natural beauty of horses and take pride in producing them through skill rather than painful gadgets.

I am 100% behind these organizations.

Amanda. UK

wendyroo said...

The AVMA is a strong supporter of horse slaughter in the state of Tn
Do not believe what they say. Believe me they are backed by Farm Bureau and other ag. Industries in Tn. I own one TWH. She is the sweetest horse I have ever owned
When I tried to find
a vet who opposed slaughter in middle Tn I could not find one. This association is only responding because of national media.

For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

Yes, I was aware of that. And I can understand their reasoning behind it when I read about it on their website. I am against slaughter unless humans start eating horse meat.

However, I stand behind any group right now that is helping us fight to end soring. For example, I don't agree with most of what PETA does, but if they were to jump on the bandwagon to help end soring, I'd be all for it! They are absolutely correct in their statements as to why stacks and chains need to go. So we need to support that part of it. Everyone is going to have disagreements, but the fight they are helping us fight is for the TWH, a breed that needs it far more because soring is not as well known as horse slaughter is.

wendyroo said...

I continue to believe that the AVMA is more concerned about national media than they are the welfare of horses
How many show TWH have gone to slaughter? Many of them lame because of action devices

For the Tennessee Walking Horse said...

I'm sorry, wendyroo, but I won't get into an argument about who does and doesn't support horse slaughter. This blog is to educate about soring and to help end it. There are other places to discuss horse slaughter. Thanks for understanding.

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