"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, March 28, 2013

NEWS and ARTICLES - Jackie McConnell: Today's Court Results

GOOD NEWS for the Walking Horse!  Jackie McConnell may actually see jail time!  On March 28th, McConnell was arraigned in court concerning 22 counts of animal abuse the Fayetteville County House Grand Jury returned a true bill on Monday, March 25.

(For those who don't know, a true bill means "the written decision of a Grand Jury that it has heard sufficient evidence from the prosecution to believe that an accused person probably committed a crime and should be indicted. Thus, the indictment is sent to the court."  An arraignment is a formal reading of the charges and when a plea can be made.  It is also when all other business is taken care of, like future dates to appear in court.)

What's most wonderful about this is that the hard work of the HSUS has paid off.  Per Roy Exum's piece from today:

Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga are keen on better legislation – now proposed in Washington – and have said they will actively pursue horse abuse as horse-show season begins. “When you deal with murder, rape, strong-armed robbery, conspiracy and everything else we see, it is hard to admit horse abuse is pretty far down on the priority list,” said one assistant DA.

“But we are also well aware the public outcry against horse abuse is raging after the Jackie McConnell tape was shown on ABC News ‘Nightline’ and we haven’t had a case of any kind that caused such outrage. We will actively monitor and pursue and viable lead we can find.”

As long a we keep exposing soring, as long as we keep the pressure on the industry, we will continue to get closer and closer to an end to this atrocity.

Click here for Roy's full piece, copied and pasted below.

(And don't forget to thank Roy for his amazing work and congratulate him on his Genesis Award win!)


Roy Exum: Jackie McConnell Back In Court
Thursday, March 28, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Jackie McConnell, the most notorious abuser of Tennessee Walking Horses that the world has ever known, will be arraigned on 22 counts of animal abuse in a Somerville, Tn., court today after a Grand Jury in the Fayette County Courthouse returned a true bill on Monday. The state charges were the result of an undercover video taken in 2011 and finally the man known as “Jackie The Jerk” will be brought before the court sometime in late spring.

McConnell, already a convicted felon after federal charges were proven in Chattanooga last year, will be arraigned with Jeff Dockery, who has three counts, and John Mayes, who has two. State authorities raided McConnell’s barn shortly after the scathing video showed him repeatedly clubbing, shocking and sadistically torturing the horses in his care to achieve the “Big Lick” unnatural gait that is today the scourge of the entire horse industry.

McConnell has a known record that includes over 30 unbroken years of persistent violations of the federal Horse Protection Act but, because laws have been so lax, he has done little more than wink and continue on his way. Last year Federal Judge Sandy Mattice forced the millionaire to pay a $75,000 fine and called him a felon, but McConnell, once a Hall of Fame trainer of the National Celebration headquarters in Shelbyville, could now see jail time on the state charges.

Efforts to reach Asst. DA Mark Davison in Fayette County were futile yesterday, but in July the state put into law an animal protection bill that made such abuse a felony, each count good for one-to-five years. Because the men were indicted before the law went into effect could be a sticking point; before the act of soring horses with caustic oils and pastes was merely a misdemeanor.

McConnell provided a trophy for this year’s Celebration and, while he is forbidden to own or train horses, it is suspected he still has a presence in the seedy “Big Lick” portion of showing horses, which has now made the state of Tennessee the world leader in horse abuse. (No other country purposely maims its horses for sport.)

McConnell’s lawyers, of course, are quick and eager to strike a plea with state prosecutors and knowledgeable persons suspect a judge in the West Tennessee court would approve such an arrangement if the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor might not be worthy of a full-face trial.

Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga are keen on better legislation – now proposed in Washington – and have said they will actively pursue horse abuse as horse-show season begins. “When you deal with murder, rape, strong-armed robbery, conspiracy and everything else we see, it is hard to admit horse abuse is pretty far down on the priority list,” said one assistant DA.

“But we are also well aware the public outcry against horse abuse is raging after the Jackie McConnell tape was shown on ABC News ‘Nightline’ and we haven’t had a case of any kind that caused such outrage. We will actively monitor and pursue and viable lead we can find.”

Officials of the Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other animal protection agencies are targeting Tennessee, as well as hotbeds of abuse in North Carolina and Kentucky. With last year’s success and strengthened Tennessee laws, many true horsemen feel violators must go to jail before the rampant soring will stop.

The top two equine veterinary groups in the United States have openly called on the nation’s lawmakers to ban the built-up pads, or stacks, that shady Walking Horse owners use, as well as performance devices and tight bands around the hooves. Legislation is pending but the “Big Lick” crowd is fighting back. Not long ago they held a reception for a disreputable Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell (not believed to be kin to Jackie).

The Kentucky senator has bullied the USDA to “lay off” the Shelbyville “Big Lick” crowd and was the subject of a scathing series in the Lexington newspaper this summer. But, just like the defiant and now-battered Big Lick hierarchy, the Republican Senator doesn’t seem to realize or even care he is a “bought” puppet of treacherous people.

Curiously, people haven’t forgotten the undercover tape or Jackie. The tape just won a Genesis Award in Los Angeles and copies of it have been viewed with disgust all over the world. Jackie is famous and, if state charges can somehow shoehorn the villain into jail, it will be a colossal achievement for the men and women worldwide who honor the horse.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NEWS and ARTICLES - The Walking Horse Wins at the Genesis Awards

The Walking Horse won big at this year's Genesis Awards!  Not only did ABC Nightline win for their expose on soring, but our friend to the horse Roy Exum also received an award!

To explain what the Genesis Awards are, here's the description straight from the HSUS's website.

What are the Genesis Awards?
Every year, The HSUS's Hollywood Outreach program pays tribute to the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works that raise public awareness of animal issues. As much as film, television, print and the web reflect societal attitudes, they also help shape and change those attitudes. The mass media, in all its new and diverse forms, has the power to deliver animal protection issues to vast audiences at the click of a mouse.
For example, national media coverage of the HSUS's Chino Slaughterhouse investigation not only led to the largest meat recall ever, but it exposed the abusive treatment of cattle and thrust it into the public spotlight.
But it isn't just big news stories that we recognize and celebrate, it's movies, documentaries and all categories of TV programming which, by incorporating animal protection themes or messages into their storylines, help increase public consciousness, reminding us that compassion for animals is one of our core human values.

From the nominees and winners pages on the HSUS site, Nightline garnered their win in the Screen - TV News Magazine category with "The Ugly Truth Behind High Stepping Horses."  (They tied with Rock Center With Brian Williams.)  Click here to see the original expose by Nightline.  ABC's article about their win.

Roy Exum won in the Print - Columnist category for his multiple part series on soring Tennessee Walking Horses. Click here for Roy's column.

I hope everyone will take the time to congratulate our winners and thank them for helping the TWH.  I cannot express how happy I am that they won these awards with all the help they have done.  I am sure the horses thank them as much as we do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

NEWS and ARTICLES - Update to Contacts for HR6388; Stop the Ag-Gag Bill NOW

First, good news about HR 6388 (or whatever number it's going to be): it will be introduced this session.  As far as I understand, some changes will be made.  The rumors I've heard is that the changes are GOOD and will help the horse.
So for now, please contact your Congress persons and make them aware of HR 6388, as follows.

House: www.house.gov - use the Find Your Representative search in the upper right corner.
Senate: www.senate.gov - see above instructions.
To be able to contact Congress persons in the states where it matters most (TN, KY, etc.) you will need a local zip code. Use this link and enter the city and state the Congress person is in: http://www.melissadata.com/lookups/zipcityphone.asp
Contact Congressman Whitfield and Congressman Cohen voice your support: http://whitfield.house.gov/; http://cohen.house.gov/
POPVOX page: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr6388
REMEMBER: WRITE YOUR OWN LETTERS! You may use information from www.forthetwh.com to back up the facts.

Now, normally I keep this blog solely to reporting and talking about issues concerning soring of the TWH.  Now we have a new concern that has a secondary effect on the TWH: the newly proposed Senate Bill SB1248 and House Bill HB1191.

Also known as the "ag-gag" or "anti-whistleblower" bill, this bill is being introduced in Tennessee on March 26th and would disallow people to do undercover photographing and videotaping animal cruelty for investigative purposes to turn in their product within 24 hours of taking the photos or footage to law enforcement authorities.  Folks, this is absolutely NOT enough time to get evidence prepared for law enforcement to be able to act on it.  It will also make work like the HSUS did to prove soring still exists and to convict Jackie the Jerk near impossible.

Quite frankly, this bill protects the guilty, period.  Follow the money trail--those who run large operations where abuse is known to take place are funding this bill.  I'm sure the lickers, burners and cheaters are happy to hand over some money as well.  And this is one that's going to be hard to beat--Dolores Gresham, a well known cattle rancher, is leading the charge on this and she's not backing down.

So what do we do about it?

Humane Tennessee PAC has this wonderful page to explain what to do and who to contact.  Follow their links and sign away!  You can also make phone calls and send faxes.

We also need to contact the Tennessee Agriculture Committee via this link.  Let them know plain and simple that this is clearly going to be used to protect the guilty and allow more abuse to continue.  Remind them of the fact that they EAT some of these animals that they would be allowing to be abused if this passed.  Again, phone calls and faxes also get the point across.

Click here for a great editorial from the Tennessean about these bills.  Be sure to go to the comments and provide your own.  The more "likes" from Facebook the comments and the article get, the more it'll be taken seriously.

Even if you don't live in Tennessee, it's important to note that California and Nebraska are also going to be considering this bill for their states.  This could become widespread, especially in states that aren't known to help solve animal cruelty cases or take them seriously.  It can also lead to more restrictions put on those who want to stop this madness--give them an inch and they will take a mile.

Please take the time to call or email.  Be the voices for those who don't have any.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

ARTICLES - Further Proof That Putting Horses on Stacks Is NOT Healthy

While we wait for HR 6388 to be reintroduced (it should be out this month), here's another excellent article with scientific proof that tells us that having a horse standing with his toes pointed downward is bad for the hoof.  This can be translated to putting a horse on stacks with a wedge and forcing him to stand on these "high heels" all the time.  From Thehorse.com: Hoof Angles' Impact on Lameness Examined.  I put the important text in bold below the article.

If you'd like to read other articles we've found that show scientific proof that stacks do cause damage, visit our Research page on our website, www.forthetwh.com.


Hoof Angles' Impact on Lameness Examined
By Christa Lesté-Lasserre
From Thehorse.com
Mar 06, 2013
Article #31468
Taking a radiograph of the hoof.
Weller recommends asssessing foot conformation radiographically since
apparently good external hoof conformation doesn't always translate
to good internal conformation.
Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

Get out your protractors: New research shows that the various angles of the outer and inner hoof are directly linked to various kinds of lameness, and knowing the angles could help determine which kind of lameness a horse has or is likely to get.

"In our study, we found that there was a significant association between some conformation parameters (of the hoof) and certain lesions or injuries," said Renate Weller, DVM, PhD, MSc, Vet Ed, MRCVS, a senior lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, U.K.

Weller's emphasized the importance of the hoof conformation you can't see: Internal angles are equally as important, if not more, as external angles in evaluating lameness or the potential for lameness, Weller said.

"I recommend assessing foot conformation radiographically (using X ray), since I have seen a fair number of horses that appear to have excellent foot conformation when looking at them from the outside and then have (conformational issues) when radiographed," she said. "We think this has become more common in the last few years." The reasons for that, however, are still unclear, she said.

Good hoof conformation--inside and out--is mostly about good angles, according to Weller. Outside angles include the toe angle (the degree between the front hoof wall going up and flat ground) and the heel angle (degree between the up-going heel wall and flat ground). Inside angles include the sole angle (the degree between the distal phalanx, or "coffin bone," and a straight horizontal line) and the deep digital flexor tendon angle (the degree of the deep digital flexor tendon around the navicular bone). Weller considered other measurements, including straight distances among hoof structures, in her study, but they were less useful in determining different kinds of lameness, she said.

Weller and her research associates, led by Kate Holroyd, MSc, also of the Royal Veterinary College, studied conformation parameters in 179 lame horses with different sources of lameness.

Overall, when sole angles were relatively small (more "pointed"), the horse was more likely to have lameness caused by deep digital flexor tendon and navicular bone issues. "This agrees with the theory reported by others that a one-degree change in sole angle can lead to a 4% increase in the pressure exerted by the deep digital flexor tendon on the navicular bone," Weller said. A smaller sole angle also affects the biomechanical function of the horse's hoof as it moves over and across the ground, putting abnormal pressure on various structures within the foot and causing, she added.

Other key findings included:

  • The larger the sole angle, the lower the likelihood that the horse would have a deep digital flexor tendon or navicular bone lesion;
  • Interestingly, lameness originating at the navicular bone alone--without an associated lesion of the deep digital flexor tendon--was not associated with a small sole angle; and
  • A small heel angle was also related to lesions in the deep digital flexor tendon, she said.

Good farriery care can help correct external and even internal angles, said Weller. And it's important to keep in mind that the both the internal and external angles from her study might actually be the result of the lameness rather than the cause of it, she said.

Further studies comparing lame horses to healthy horses are under way.

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