"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, November 28, 2012

NEWS - Spectator Kicked Out of TWH Show for Wearing Anti-Soring T-Shirt; Letter from TWHBEA President

Spectator Kicked out of TWH Show for Wearing Anti-Soring Shirt

This is a bit of old news since it happened two weeks ago, but I wanted to post it anyway.

One of our posters on our FTTWH Facebook group was recently kicked out of a TWH show for wearing an anti-soring shirt by none other than Mike Inman, the Celebration CEO.  The show was the Tunica Fall Classic, November 8-10, in Tunica, MS.  She was there on Saturday the 10th.

Here's a photo of said shirt:

Her story as posted on Facebook:

First, I cut my head off [of the photo] because of retaliation. 2nd my 75 year old mothers hands were shaking because we got kicked out of the show [which is why the photo is blurry]. There was not much of a crowd, I've seen more spectators at a saddle club show. There was no gate fee, we stood where the horses entered and exited the arena. It was like no one wanted to make eye contact with me, no one said anything, but you could tell they were grinding their teeth. Then we went concession stand, ate. I kept seeing people with coconut cake, I asked where we could get the cake, the lady pointed to a buffet down on the floor. We walked over and it was sponsor, donors buffet. I ask if I could have some cake, the lady said I needed a ticket. The man that catered the event came over, and offered a piece of free cake, he was very nice. We walked around and found a empty sponsor table and sat down. A girl came up to my 75 year mother and said that it was her table. We moved to another sponsor table, we were there for 3 hours, no one said anything, but they were staring. I got cold and was ready to leave, we were walking towards the exit, Mike Inman, stopped us. He said he had had enough, I was only there to cause trouble and my shirt was inappropriate and we had to leave. I Never said a word to anyone, except in polite conversation, never mentioned soring. Look in my hand, Pepsi, because I will never purchase or drink coke again. Why did Inman wait until we were walking toward the exit, to ask us to leave?

I want to ask the same question.  Per your TWHBEA Position Statement dated 3/2/11 on your website, TWHBEA says: "The primary consideration for the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder’s and Exhibitor’s Association (TWHBEA) has been and remains the humane treatment and care of the Walking Horse and his equine cousins."  So how is an anti-soring shirt a problem?  Why react with such anger?  You know, if you were truly against soring, why not react with a wink and a smile and a "cool shirt" comment as you walked by her?

Letter from President of TWHBEA

To continue to prove that actions speak louder than words, Marty Irby, President of TWHBEA, just came out with this letter to TWHBEA members on November 28.  I'll look for the other letters he mentions as well, but this one really says the most about what you're doing here.  My comments follow the letter.


Tennessee Walking Horse
Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association
the Official Breed Registry

November 28, 2012

Where We Are Today

My Fellow Members:

This will not be the most popular letter of the week, but it is the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. As the third of my series of six letters this week, I hope the information contained herein will serve you, TWHBEA, and our great horse well. Please keep in mind that I am a very positive individual, and as our Executive Director Mr. Thomas frequently says "I am not being negative, just facing reality."

I am thankful to have been blessed with such a professional, talented, and world class Executive Director as Ron Thomas during my time as President. He is the most straight forward, direct, to the point, and honest man I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I thank him for his willingness to serve TWHBEA, and for stepping out of retirement to help further the breed registry and great horse we all love so much.

More than one year ago Dr. Chester Gipson, USDA APHIS Deputy Director traveled to Lewisburg to meet with our TWHBEA EC, and present the hard cold truth that we as a breed were in danger of losing our pads and action devices. He delivered the same message in a joint meeting with the Walking Horse Trainers' Association (WHTA) the next day, and again later with the Walking Horse Owners' Association (WHOA). Mr. Thomas was one of the first men to step forward and present the word Dr. Gipson had delivered, and as your President I felt it my duty to deliver the message as well.

On a number of occasions, during group meetings of TWHBEA, WHTA, WHOA, & The Celebration I reminded many of what the original intent of our meetings was, and that was to discuss the performance horse pads and action devices, and to help establish "One Voice" for our industry. Dr. Gipson specifically said that he was willing to help us, but the matter was a separate issue from inspections, inspection processes, and inspection services. Over the course of several meetings, a number of our TWHBEA representatives were ridiculed, and slandered for merely delivering a message from the government. A short time later, the USDA held listening sessions around the country regarding pads, action devices, the HIO system & inspections, and the all too common topic of soring. We as an industry and we as a TWHBEA Executive Committee drew our line in the sand and said "no" to making any changes or modifications to the pads and action devices.

A short time later came the release of the Jackie McConnell video. When the release came out I was quite shocked, and in the middle of judging the German Championship in Wemding, Germany. Being located in a foreign country while President of TWHBEA when the video was released really showed me a different perspective, and how our horse, breed, owners, exhibitors, and trainers were viewed internationally. Most compared performance horse people to barbarians, and many have thrown all of us in the same category as Michael Vick. Please understand I am not saying they are right, just merely delivering a message that "perception is reality."

I recognize and realize many of those in our industry have been in denial about training techniques applied to horses in all divisions of our show horse segment. At the same time, I realize, understand, have enough knowledge, and have been involved with enough truly great and talented animals that I believe we do have sound padded performance horses. What percentage, I honestly don't know. I do believe in what we have bred over the past 70 years. I believe in our show horse, its talent, ability, stamina, and gifted kindness. The problem does not lie in the performance horse, its pads, or action devices. The problem lies within people who are willing to cheat and abuse a horse to make him mimic or imitate a truly great and natural show horse.

How will we ever stop the cheating? We won't. Someone will always try to cheat. Someone will always try to take advantage of the kindness and love a horse has for them. Please realize and recognize that no law or amendment eliminates a problem, it merely regulates it. That is the unfortunate truth of government regulation and humanity. There will always be people that run stop signs, and there will always be people that will rob banks.

I am believer in the old saying "you are what you think." Far too often we think about the issue of soring and catching people who break the law, when we should equally be focusing on promoting sound horses, education in training, and rewarding those who are doing the right things. Our industry has very little record of being proactive, and has become far too reactive.

In the upcoming days you will see the beginnings of a new program at TWHBEA, under our Horse Shows Division that will start the process of rewarding those who are doing the right thing, and those who are showing sound horses.

This program is long overdue. The concept of "The Champions Cup" which has been approved in concept by our Horse Show Committee and our current EC will be presented at the upcoming meetings.

In recent weeks and months we have seen major veterinary organizations speak out against our show horse. We have few friends, and very little time to work together to save our show horse. So many have asked for "One Voice" and if it is not too late already, that "One Voice" must be the voice at TWHBEA, The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association which remains the oldest and largest organization in our industry since its inception in 1935. As a Lifetime Member I stand behind TWHBEA as the leader of our industry, as do thousands of others. I hope you will all stand up for TWHBEA, and voice your opinions and become a vocal part of this association at the upcoming General Membership meeting on Friday and International Board of Directors Meeting & Election on Saturday! Our association and our great horse need you!

With truth and dedication,

Marty Irby


These were my immediate thoughts as I read this letter.

First thought: "When the release came out I was quite shocked." Yeah, I bet you were. SHOCKED THAT YOU WERE FINALLY CAUGHT IN THE ACT. Thought you were safe behind closed barn doors, didn't ya?

Second thought: " The problem does not lie in the performance horse, its pads, or action devices. The problem lies within people who are willing to cheat and abuse a horse to make him mimic or imitate a truly great and natural show horse." No to the first sentence, yes to the second. Forcing a horse to stand at an unnatural angle merely for fashion and vanity and to win IS a problem. Requiring chains in the show ring so the cheaters can cheat IS a problem.

Third thought: "How will we ever stop the cheating? We won't. Someone will always try to cheat." I agree. The problem is you guys ENCOURAGE the cheaters to cheat! You give them awards and accolades and continue to allow them to show. So why shouldn't they cheat when there's no serious consequences when they get caught?

Fourth thought: "Our association and our great horse need you!" Because we want to keep our pads and chains, dammit, and we all have to come together and FORCE it to happen!

The second to last paragraph: I'll believe it when I start seeing you people keep the cheaters and burners OUT of the ring. Get rid of these horrible men and women with multiple violations. DON'T LET THEM SHOW ANYMORE. You are already giving out plenty of rewards, both in the public eye and under the table. It's time for you guys to get serious about punishment.

These morons are like the band on the Titanic: they will continue to play their song and dance to try to calm the members who are jumping ship and will ultimately go down with the ship.  Let's just hope they do, because I know I am really tired of this nonsense.

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