"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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RESEARCH and HOW YOU CAN HELP - POPVOX and Why We Should Support H.R. 6388

And please do it more than once to emphasize the importance of this to be passed!
Go to www.senate.gov and www.house.gov and go to the upper right corner to find your Congress person.

Just click on Comments in the upper right corner and type in your name.

So I've got a couple of things to talk about here, and first I want to get something out of the way that I have a strong sense that people have not thought about.

Being on various groups and pages on Facebook, we see a lot of buzz about H.R. 6388.  I have noticed that people who claim to support sound horses won't support H.R. 6388.  This is because they do not like the term "weighted shoes."  They think that their LS shoes and Plantation shoes will be taken away from them.

After doing some research, I have learned this is NOT true.  One of our FTTWH contributors spoke with a fellow horseman who helped write the amendment.  He stated that the reason they used the term "weighted shoes" was because it gives the USDA the freedom to put regulations on what type of shoes.  He also said the USDA is not trying to eliminate the LS shoe and the Plantation shoes.

I think that it's clear that the USDA has no problem with NWHA and FOSH shows, which allow horses to carry heavier shoes.  The heavier shoes are not the problem.  It's the tungsten shoes - which are basically cheating - and the addition of iron plates to the bottom of the shoes after the horse has been through the DQP to make them heavier.  (Yes, this happens--I've witnessed it myself a few years ago.)

What I'm saddened by is people throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  They are rejecting the entire H.R. 6388 based on two words.  Can't people support the bill anyway?  This bill doesn't just take away stacks, chains, bands and weighted shoes.  It also strengthens the penalties and makes it harder for the cheaters to cheat and the sorers to win.  We need these to be implemented because first, we know the Industry won't do it, and second, we know the USDA won't do it.  You are always allowed to write in something like, "I support H.R. 6388 but ask that the term "weighted shoes" be clearly defined."  With the attitude I'm reading about, it seems to me that shoes are more important than protecting the horse here.  This IS the HORSE PROTECTION ACT after all, not the Owners/Exhibitors/Trainers Protection Act.  We need to see support to get the HPA better enforced and the law upheld.  Is that not more important than what shoes are nailed on the horses' feet?

Which leads me to another way to express your opinion and say exactly what I said above in concern with the "weighted shoes" terminology.  POPVOX is a website that's gotten a lot of buzz in the TWH community lately.  I wasn't sure what it was all about, but basically it's a website where you can voice your support or opposition of any bill currently being reviewed by the government.

It's a pretty neat deal.  When you go to the website, you can do a search for H.R. 6388.  (Here's the link.)  Then, you can click SUPPORT or OPPOSE and write in your response.  This response goes directly to your local Congress persons.

Now it is important to note that there are plenty of ways to easily fake email addresses and names, so the percentages of support vs. oppose can be skewed.  And I don't know if any solid proof that responses on POPVOX have been the make or break decision for any of our Congress persons in the past.  But, this is a very easy way to get your voice heard and to share with others to ask them to also voice their support.

What's really interesting is to take a look at this page.  Here, we can see where the support and oppositions come from.  Not surprisingly, the majority of the opposition comes from where?  TENNESSEE!!!  Well duh!  It would end their precious crippled spider look!  But it's also pretty darn cool to see folks from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii are in support of this bill.  If our Congress persons consider these demographics, they would see that those who are in opposition are those who want to see this monstrosity continue as is.  Also note the organizations who oppose the bill are also those who oppose the USDA and ANY changes to the regulations they make.  Surprise, surprise.

So far, as logged on POPVOX, we have 43 co-sponsors of the bill from various districts across the U.S.  I also understand that 17 more have also co-sponsored the bill, but they aren't listed on POPVOX.

Overall, take some time browsing this page to read the comments, learn about the co-sponsors, and find out more about H.R. 6388.  It's a great way to learn more and to understand why we absolutely need H.R. 6388 to pass.  Currently, the bill is in the House and Energy Commerce Committee to be reviewed and voted upon.  Then it will head to the House if they are cool with it.  So be sure to get your comments in there in support of the bill so we can make sure it gets in the hands of the House and the Senate.

Again, as always, THANK YOU for your support of the horse!

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