Well, I guess the best I can do right now is post articles and some quick information about the aftermath of Black Week. There is so much more to post, but I have to get everything gathered before I can do so.
To preface, so far the swabbing tests from days 2 through 10 of the show done by the industry/TWHSO have not been released. SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE. However, the USDA released this statement today:
Given the interest in the enforcement of the HPA at this year's Celebration, USDA wanted to post preliminary inspection results now, rather than at the end of the year. This year, USDA and DQPs inspected 1,849 horses and found 166 violations - an approximate 9% violation rate. This rate is slightly lower than the 9.5% violation rate from the 2011 Celebration, during which 2,143 horses were inspected and 203 violations were found.
That should blow that 98% compliance out of the water. Oh wait, the industry will pad (pun intended) the numbers and make themselves look all innocent and sweet, of course.
Let's also point out that the amount is 1,849 horses at the show, not entries, and that's 294 less horses than last year. They have not released the information on stacked vs. flat shod violations yet. I'll post it once I get it.
The Celebration grounds were "a ghosttown," as one poster on the FTTWH Facebook group said. Horses were being taken home every night and not kept in the stalls on the grounds...I think we can all guess why. Horses that were kept in stalls had locked fencing around the barns to keep people out. The stands were anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 empty...the WGC class that is usually standing room only had HUGE gaps in the stands. We have video proof of this. The big question is: will the industry realize WHY and stop this madness? My vote is no, they're going to continue to spread the same lies over and over again and continue to protect the abusers. Or maybe the horses will get lucky this time around...
A HUGE deal right now is the below release from Steve Neff, the prosecutor and our sound horse friend in charge of the McConnell case. This is sentencing memo asking for a five year probation for McConnell from owning, training, helping to train, or dealing with horses in any way. The memo points out that the HPA doesn't have as much teeth as it should, and that the goal is to get the max possible sentencing due to his heinous crimes. It's also essentially a warning to the industry. The PDF is linked below.
United States Sentencing Memorandum concerning Jackie McConnell
Here's a great article that further covers the memo from the Times Free Press.
Soring prosecutor hits law, warns horse owners, traders
And most telling, Jackie McConnell and his wife sponsored a trophy at the Celebration this year. HUH. I thought his name was to be BANNED from the Celebration grounds. Nice move, dumbasses. Guess it doesn't matter where the money comes from, huh?
McConnell's sentencing was pushed to September 18th...you bet your ass we'll all be waiting with baited breath to find out what happens. Of course, for many people, the max punishment won't ever be enough, but we have to take heart that this sentencing has come fast, and that it's become so public. This is going to happen to other trainers, mark my words, and it'll be sooner rather than later.
I'm sure many people have heard about Ironwork's Tin Man. Unfortunately, this stallion was so sore for the DQP inspection for the final class he was to be in that he could hardly walk around the cones as was deemed "crippled" by the attending vet. Chad Way, his trainer, was immediately banned for two years and the horse was given a scar rule ticket--unfortunately, it was the best way the DQP and USDA could find to punish this particular case. But what we really need to see is a LIFETIME ban for Chad Way the animal abuser. He has 16 - yes, SIXTEEN - previous violations with two previous two year suspensions. The good news is that the HSUS is looking into dealing with this situation. Hopefully they will help rescue Tin Man and will press charges. This is all I know, but when I find out more information I'll post it.
Right now, there is some controversy over whether Rood & Riddle, a local veterinary hospital, was paid to come to the Celebration and observe the inspections and "re-check" horses. Dr. Hopper from R&R did come and was interviewed for the industry. Unfortunately, R&R learned that the interview was taken completely out of context and the article written was skewed to make it sound like Hopper is pro stacks. R&R released the following statement. Click here for the webpage--comments can be added.
Rood & Riddle wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the AAEP and AVMA to eliminate soring and other intentional methods of inducing pain in the training and performance of Walking Horses.
Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is unequivocally opposed to the soring of horses and fully supports the efforts of the AAEP and the AVMA to end this inhumane practice. It has come to the attention of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital that the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization had previously released a statement that the organization has retained Dr. Hopper to attend the recent Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. This is not accurate. Dr. Hopper was not retained by TWSHO or any other organization to attend the Celebration. Dr. Hopper was invited by TWSHO to attend the Celebration horse show. He has no working agreement with the show or any other organization, has not and will not receive any compensation for his attendance, and has not agreed to any future obligations. Rood & Riddle is working with TWSHO to correct this error.
Dr. Hopper’s presence is testament to our belief that there is value in the restoration of the horses of the Tennessee Walking Breed to their original, once proud, plantation heritage. It is our belief that active veterinary involvement is paramount in bringing about positive change in the care of all horses.
Now it would be great if everyone would comment and ask them to PLEASE take a vocal stand AGAINST stacks the way the AVMA and the AAEP have. That's what we really need more than vague language that they just support the AVMA and AAEP's stance. Comments can be added here.
More important articles and opinion pieces are linked below.
Sept 7, 2012, Tuesday's Horse - Walking Horse Celebration war of words, soring and slaughter
Sept 9, 2012, The Tennessean - Gail Kerr: Tennessee walking horse soring won't stop until judging rules change
Sept 9, 2012, Horsetalk.co.nz - People continue to profit from soring – prosecutor* (I think this is an interview with Steve Neff...not sure on that.)
Sept 9, 2012, Horsetalk.com.nz - Grim picture of McConnell’s soring practices described*
*Both of these articles are from the New Zealand.
Probably the most important piece of them all: Sept 10, 2012, The Chattanoogan - Roy Exum: Horses, The World And Us
Be sure to visit our Facebook group at this link. That's where most of the information is being posted as soon as we learn about it, and feel free to let your voice be heard by asking questions and speaking your mind. The horses need all the help they can get!
"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
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