"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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NEWS and ARTICLES - Senator Robin Webb Busted; Roy Exum Honored; AVMA Bites Back at Industry

Senator Robin Webb Busted for Scar Rule

So many of you may already know that Senator Robin Webb (D-KY) is all for the Big Lick horse.  She's also been using her political influence to the industry's advantage.  Never mind the plethora of nasty posts about those who want to end soring on various forums and chats on the Internet, of which I have screenshots.  Doesn't she know that the Internet is not safe?  Politicians crack me up.

Anyway, this is her response to TWHBEA at the annual members' meeting they had last Saturday to elect new board members (some of them are, of course, violators or have their horses in training with violators--nothing new there).  To wit, here it is quoted:

There are entities in this country and internationally that want to do away with our animals. Want to do away with our recreation. That want to do away with our livelihood. Now, we have got—and the AAEP, they’re from Lexington Kentucky. Friends of mine are members. We’ve already heard that at least one has some retribution perhaps to pass out. Because of past treatment. They have sixty four countries represented in their organization. I sort of jokingly refer to them as the United Nations of veterinary medicine. We don’t need international influence. With all due respect, The United States of America has the best agricultural models in the world. People aspire to be like us. We have the best fish and game models in the world. People aspire to be like us. Make your decision based on science. Credible evidence. And I beg you too, not on emotion, and not on what’s gonna be outside that door with a microphone tomorrow. Education and what’s best—you’ve got a charge to do here people that elected you from different constituencies just like I do with my public life. You gotta take all that into consideration. To show leadership. And don’t let agenda driven entities sway you for what’s best for the future of this breed.

Well, I think she's right: we need to base this decision on science and credible evidence.  All you gotta do is read the AVMA's response to TWHBEA (below) and Dr. Vaughan's letter to get some science.  And here's some credible evidence for you:

Two scar rule violations on two different horses at the NCWHA Championship on October 4, 2012.  This is from the USDA's current Responsible Party for Horse Found in Violation list for 12-1-12 through 12-31-12 as of 12-4-12. (Page 154 if you don't want to search.)

(I can't make this s**t up, folks.  Here it is, in brilliant color, for everyone to see and hear.)

So please, let's not "let agenda driven entities sway [us] from what's best for the future of the breed."  Ms. Webb certainly hit the nail on the head.  Click here for her webpage if you need it.

A side note: I'm not going to post all of the crap that went on at the TWHBEA meeting.  Suffice to say the cheaters and burners were out in force and are continuing NOT to make any real changes.  That's about it.  It's what I expected.

Roy Exum Honored by the HSUS as Humane Horseman of the Year

This is just too cool!  Congratulations, Roy, and THANK YOU to the HSUS for this wonderful honor to one of our humble sound horse warriors!  Click here for the article (copied and pasted below).


December 3, 2012
The Humane Society of the United States Honors Roy Exum as Humane Horseman of the Year
Journalist recognized as a champion for Tennessee walking horses and the Horse Protection Act

The Humane Society of the United States has named Roy Exum the 2012 Humane Horseman of the Year.  Each year, this award is given to an individual who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to protect America’s Horses.

The HSUS chose Exum as this year’s recipient because of his unwavering commitment to exposing the cruel reality of the Tennessee walking horse show industry. In his opinion column in The Chattanoogan, Exum shined a light on the corruption and abuse behind the celebrated “Big Lick” gait, which is achieved by torturing horses through a practice known as “soring.” Exum reported on The HSUS’ undercover investigation into the industry and closely monitored the industry’s biggest competition, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn.

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds Roy Exum for his perseverance in the months leading up to the Celebration,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “Roy helped The HSUS lay bare the torture these horses endure, and he advocated that they be treated with kindness and respect. His newspaper columns played a key role in exposing and publicizing of the mistreatment of these beautiful creatures and greatly helped The HSUS in its mission to put an end to the cruelty.”

In nearly 20 columns and counting on the topic, Exum held nothing back when criticizing the Tennessee walking horse industry. In response to the federal sentencing of Jackie McConnell for Horse Protection Act violations, Exum wrote: “The ruling, although just, dashed the hopes of ‘many, many hundreds’ who had written Judge Mattice to ask for stronger justice. But because of woefully-inadequate federal laws against the depravity that has plagued the walking horse industry for well over half a century, the Horse Protection Act has been as lame as the horses it meant to protect and a plea arrangement was deemed at the very onset as the best ‘legal solution.’”

In a column praising the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new regulations to crack down on soring, Exum opined, “Call me callused or a cynic but when the top 20 trainers in the fabled Rider’s Cup standings have a total of 161 violations in the past two years and eight of the last 10 ‘Trainers of the Year’ have violated the Horse Protection Act, the only thing that will ever make a difference is placing anyone who would purposely injure a horse in the dark and dank basement of a jail.”

In response to public outcry about the cruel treatment of Tennessee walking horses for the show ring, Congress has introduced H.R. 6388, the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012. The bill will significantly strengthen the Horse Protection Act, originally passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” – the deliberate infliction of pain to Tennessee walking horses’ hooves and legs in order to produce a high-stepping gait and gain unfair competitive advantage at horse shows.

H.R. 6388 would end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in this cruel practice. H.R. 6388 is a necessary step to strengthen the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement capabilities and end this torture for good. In a recent column, Exum expressed his support for the bill, writing, “The amendments are badly needed since there has been continued and rampant abuse of soring in the Tennessee walking horse industry this year.”


The AVMA Bites Back at the Industry

This is really self explanatory, but I highlighted my favorite part in bold and red text.  I also included the links they have in their article.  What I love about this is that the AVMA bit back.  Seriously, TWHBEA, do you really think you can write this kind of response and get away with it?  It's so absolutely clear that you just don't care about the welfare of the horse.  When two national veterinary associations say no more pads and chains, you STILL can't accept that what you're doing is wrong.  Click here for the article.


It’s Time to End Soring – Take Action Now on H.R. 6388, the Amendments to the HPA
December 3, 2012
Dr. Gail Golab

On November 20th the AVMA and AAEP released a statement indicating our support of HR 6388, the Amendments to the Horse Protection Act (HPA). Expressions of support for the AVMA and AAEP decision from veterinarians and other stakeholders came in enthusiastically and quickly. And, on November 27 and 28, responses from the Walking Horse industry began to trickle in. One of those came from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA), the other via a letter to the presidents of the AVMA and AAEP from the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO). Not surprisingly, they were not supportive and their comments were as expected: “Only a few bad actors,” “Incidence of soring is less than 1%,” and “Chains and pads aren’t bad, it’s the people who abuse them.”

With respect to “a few bad actors,” we’d have an easier time believing that if we didn’t have evidence of a culture of abuse that has existed for more than four decades. When you have 37 of the 52 horses at the 2011 National Celebration testing positive for one or more anesthetic agents; convictions of trainers like Barney Davis and Jackie McConnell (now with a lifetime disqualification); a 9% HPA violation rate at the 2012 National Celebration (virtually no change from the 9.5% rate at the 2011 event); and violation detection rates that are consistently 5 to 10 times higher when USDA is present at shows to inspect, compared with shows where the industry self-polices; it becomes apparent that this is not “a few bad actors,” it’s a real industry problem.

As regards chains and pads, the industry says “there’s no science to suggest that chains and pads cause problems.” What the science says is that raising the heels (placing a horse on pads and wedges) 8 degrees can cause the horse to stumble and tire easily. Additionally, horses placed on pads and wedges showed inflammation in the flexor tendon area of the pastern. Chains that weigh 6 ounces will start to cause hair loss without the use of chemical irritants. Chains heavier than 6 ounces used on horses that have been previously sored will cause open lesions within two weeks. We’re happy to say we did our homework and, yes, the science that’s available appears to support our position. However, the industry has (once again) missed the point of the AVMA’s and AAEP’s decision. The AVMA’s and AAEP’s primary concern is that chains and pads are used to exacerbate and/or hide soring. And they can do so irrespective of their size and/or weight. And, if you had any question about whether we’re really talking about 6-ounce chains and small “packages” (as suggested by the industry) our photos that were provided by an AAEP member should resolve them.To remove opportunity and incentive to sore, and to facilitate the inspection process under the HPA, the AVMA and AAEP agree with the authors of HR 6388 that self-policing, and chains and pads, have to go.

We mentioned that AVMA member and numerous stakeholder responses to the AVMA’s and AAEP’s action suggest great support for our decision. We urge you to take those expressions of support one step further by helping us shut down this culture of abuse. Contact your member of Congress and urge them to support HR 6388. Do it today—we’ll make it easy for you. Visit our website and Take Action!

No comments:

Blog Archive