"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, April 30, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP - The PAST Act: Please Contact Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee

So now that the PAST Act (HR 1518) is back in the Energy and Commerce Committee, we need to push hard to get this sucker through to the next step.

Robin P. of our Facebook group was kind enough to give me a list of all of the members of the EC Committee.  She also included local zip codes with the list.  Thank you so much, Robin!  So all you have to do is this:

1. Click on the name of each member for the link to their email page.
2. Use the zip code listed to get authentication.  If you need an address, google the local cemetery or national park.
3. Send him/her a polite and short message about the PAST Act.  Feel free to use the FTTWH press package or any information from the FTTWH website to back up your facts.  It's good to talk about the current Wheelon situation and the current list the USDA has out about their swab test results from the 2012 Celebration. Click here for my post that includes talking about the results.*
4. Feel free to call him/her as well to pound the message home.
5. Repeat!  The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

- Write your message first and then just copy and paste into each email to make it go faster.
- Use correct grammar and intelligent conversation.  Do not call people names or use curse words.
- Point out that they aren't just abusing animals, but are also breaking a law that would be very easy to follow if they were no longer allowed to police themselves.

You can also contact your local Congresspersons to prepare them for the PAST Act and to ask them to ask their pals in the EC about it.  Also ask them to consider co-sponsoring it.  Go to www.senate.gov and www.house.gov and choose the search option in the upper left hand corner to find your local Congresspersons.

And don't forget about POPVOX, another great way to get your message to your local Congresspersons.

Thanks to all of you for working hard to help save the horse!  We CAN do this!

Rep Joe Barton, Ennis, TX 75119-2002
Rep Gus Bilirakis, Wesley Chapel, FL 33454-5755
Rep Marsha Blackburn, Clarksville, TN 37043-2811
Rep Michael Burgess, Lewisville, TX 75067-2919
Rep G.K. Butterfield, Durham, NC 27701-3101

Rep John Barrow, Augusta, GA 30901-2823
Rep Bruce Braley, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401-2911

Rep Lois Capps, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-3601
Rep Bill Cassidy, Baton Rouge, LA 70808-3901
Rep Kathy Castor, Tampa, FL 33607-3376
Rep Donna Christensen, St John, Virgin Island 00831-1790

Rep Diane Degette, Denver, CO 80203-4431
Rep John Dingell, Dearborn, MI 48124-4071
Rep Mike Doyle, Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2135

Rep Renee Ellmers, Dunn, NC 28334-4531
Rep Eliot Engel, Bronx, NY 10463-2464
Rep Anna Eshoo, Palo Alto, CA 94301-8104

Rep Cory Gardner, Castle Rock, CO 80108-4676
Rep Gene Green, Houston, TX 77029-1668
Rep Phil Gingrey, Marietta, GA 30060-2931
Rep Brett Guthrie, Bowling Green, KY 42101-3501

Rep Ralph Hall, Rockwall, TX 75087-6673
Rep Gregg Harper, Meridian, MS 39301-5031

Rep Bill Johnson, Marietta, OH 45750-5705

Rep Leonard Lance, Westfield, NJ 07090-5361
Rep Bob Latta, Bowling Green, OH 43402-6405
Rep Bill Long, Springfield, MO 65804-6536
Rep Ben Ray Lujan, Santa Fe, NM 87505-6190

Rep Ed Markey, Medford, MA 02155-2836
Rep Jim Matheson, West Jordon, UIT 84088-3011
Rep Doris Matsui, Sacramento, CA 95814-7163
Rep David McKinley, Morgantown, WV 26505-7564
Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Spokane, WA 99201-2006
Rep Jerry McNerney, Stockton, CA 95207-1947
Rep Tim Murphy, Pittsburgh, PA 15228-2301

Rep Pete Olson, Sugarland, TX 77478-5951

Rep Frank Pallone, Brunswick, NJ 08901-9965
Rep Mike Pompeo, Wichita, KS 67207-3489

Rep Mike Rogers, Lansing, MI 48915-4872
Rep Bobby Rush, Chicago, IL 60619-4372

Rep Steve Scalise, Hammond, GA 70401-3015
Rep John Shimkus, Effingham, IL 62401-5271
Rep John Surbanes, Towson, MD 21204-4016

Rep Lee Terry, Omaha, NE 68154-4155
Rep Paul Tonko, Albany, NY 12210-5076

Rep Fred Upton, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 ph: 202-225-3761

Rep Greg Walden, Bend, OR 97701-6730
Rep Henry Waxman, Los Angeles, CA 90048-3976
Rep Peter Welch, Burlington, VT 05401-4115

*Edited 5/6/13

Saturday, April 27, 2013

NEWS and VIDEOS - Further Updates on the Wheelon Case; TN Rep Andy Holt Shows His True Colors

Lots and lots of stuff on the Internet concerning the seizure of the horses.

This is my favorite video so far.  The chestnut horse with only one stack on is the one that unfortunately ran over Stephanie, Horse Haven's Equine Manager.  Horse Haven confirmed that the horse did not have blood on his leg, and the woman did not break her leg but did have to have surgery.  She is recovering but is on crutches and has some nerve damage.  The horse is doing just fine.

Horses seized in Maryville over soring allegations

Of note, in an article I linked below, Wheelon said this horse's hoof was torn off when the stack came off and there was blood everywhere.  I don't see any blood, do any of you?  And there are direct shots of the horse's feet!  Who fed Wheelon that crap?

Here's Horse Haven's page explaining what happened to Stephanie and that she's okay.  If you have a few bucks, please donate to them.  Like so many of us, Stephanie doesn't have medical insurance and needs our help. http://horsehaventn.org/emergency/

Here's another great video of trainer Tyler Irvine of Irvine Training talking about how to correctly train a horse.  it doesn't matter that this horse isn't a TWH...correct training is correct training.  Note: you'll never see a BL training video, book or clinic because "training" comes from a bottle or a bolt.

Horse trainer speaks against 'soring'

In today's article by Roy Exum, Mike Inman of various orgs, notably the WHTA, spews the same response they spewed when Jackie was caught.  Then Mickey McCormick has the gall to say he didn't know about it.

Roy Exum: Wheelon Shames Horse World

Seriously?  How dumb do you think the public is?  And quite frankly, even if either of you didn't know he was soring horses (which I seriously doubt), It seems to me like you don't want to know--all you have to do is go on www.hpadata.us and look up someone's name to find out about their violations.  You should be doing that for ALL members of the BOD and committees for ALL Walking Horse associations.

Roy also pointed this out:

Some of the horses had painful globs of hardened epoxy under their front hooves, which is akin to walking with a big rock in one’s shoe, and others had wrappings on their legs where the burning chemicals would “cook.”

You want a good laugh?  Read this one from The Daily Times.  Because clearly, what all us animal welfare folks have been doing all along is going into people's barns and soring their horses for all these decades.  And it's been the gub'ment that's been encouraging us to do it!  It's all a big conspiracy!!!!  (Where's that sarcasm font when you need it?)

And the horse that ran over Stephanie?  His hoof came off and there was blood in the video!  UMMMMM...NO.  Take a look at the first video I posted here and you'll see the horse that ran over Stephanie.  Direct shots of his feet on the video and guess what?  No blood!

TheHorse.com gives us some good info (click for the article):

“(The horses) were so sore that they would just shake when you touched them,” Bachman said. “Investigators couldn't finish examining one horse because it was so sore, and one horse laid down in its stall and just moaned.”

Here's Roy's first great article about the situation:  Click here.

Our friend Judith Yates over at The Examiner is also keeping up on the story: Click here.

And our other friends at RateMyHorsePRO: Click here.  RMHPRO is a great place for legal documents and transcripts of court cases too--be sure to browse their pages.

Of course, no official word from any TWH organization, and I'm not finding much online from them as far as talk.

There are A LOT more articles out there, but I think I covered everything I could.  So keep commenting on those articles and get your likes out there.  This helps boost interest in those articles, and the media pays attention to that.  They'll continue to report on this issue if we keep the interest up!

Concerning the Ag-Gag bill, here's a horrible piece of backlash by one of Tennessee Representatives to the HSUS.  Click here for the article.


Tennessee rep’s email calls Humane Society methods ‘tape and rape’
April 26th, 2013 | by Tennessean Admin
Posted by Heidi Hall

The state representative behind Tennessee’s “ag-gag” bill compared Humane Society of the United States investigations to human trafficking of 17-year-old women and called the group’s methods “tape and rape” in an email.

The HSUS released the email exchange this morning between its public policy coordinator, Kayci McLeod, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, a hog farmer and one of the bill’s sponsors. The bill, which only needs Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature to become law, would ban long-term investigations of animal cruelty by requiring investigators to turn videos over to police within days. Holt said it would stop animal abuse more quickly, and some undercover investigators can’t tell the difference between legitimate, legal farming techniques and cruelty.

HSUS is one of the bill’s primary opponents and says it’s aimed at protecting abusers from prosecution, because it can take weeks or months to build a case that leads to charges. The group funded a statewide campaign encouraging Tennesseans to express concerns about the bill.

Holt hasn’t returned voicemails on his cell phone or an email. The email exchange is below.

From: Andy Holt [rep.andy.holt@capitol.tn.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:26 PM
To: Kayci McLeod
Cc: Andy Holt
Subject: RE: Please Oppose HB 1191

Ms. McLeod,

I am extremely pleased that we were able to pass HB 1191 today to help protect livestock in Tennessee from suffering months of needless investigation that propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists, who are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women. You work for a pathetic excuse for an organization and a pathetic group of sensationalists who seek to profit from animal abuse. I am glad, as an aside, that we have limited your preferred fund-raising methods here in the state of Tennessee; a method that I refer to as “tape and rape.” Best wishes for the failure of your organization and it’s true intent.

Andy Holt
State Representative – District 76
Weakley & Northern Carroll Counties
205 War Memorial Building
301 6th Ave. North
Nashville, TN 37243


From: Kayci McLeod [mailto:kmcleod@humanesociety.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:44 PM
To: Andy Holt
Subject: Please Oppose HB 1191

Dear Representative Holt,

Have you seen the editorial in the Tennessean today opposing HB 1191, the whistleblower suppression bill intended to cover up animal cruelty?

The Tennessean editorial board condemns the bill, noting that the “bill would certainly take our state in the wrong direction, toward more senseless violence.”

We very much hope you’ll agree with the Tennessean and oppose this dangerous bill. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kayci McLeod
Public Policy Coordinator
Farm Animal Protection Campaign
The Humane Society of the United States
T: 301 258 1564


CLASSY!  There you have it, Tennessee--that is the kind of people you have in office.  I am sorry you have been so dupped by their shaking hands and kissing babies.

Good response, Kayci, because we all know it could've been pretty bad.  She took the high road.  And to note: last year, Andy went on an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii courtesy of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who is all for the Ag-Gag bill.  Click here to read about it.

I say feel free to email our pal Andy or go to his Facebook page and let him know how you feel.  And be sure to like others' posts that have let him know their thoughts as well.  Traffic like that boosts attention and shows people what kind of monster he truly is.  And don't forget him around voting time!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

**UPDATED** BREAKING NEWS AND ARTICLES - Horses Found Sore at Larry Wheelon's Barn Being Removed


First, I want to state that officially, soring is included in the Tennessee State law TN ST § 39-14-201 - 217.  Section § 39-14-202 Cruelty to animals specifically states:

(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly:

(1) Tortures, maims or grossly overworks an animal;

(2) Fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal in the person's custody;

(3) Abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;

(4) Transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner; or

(5) Inflicts burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain, by any method, including blistering compounds, to the legs or hooves of horses in order to make them sore for any purpose including, but not limited to, competition in horse shows and similar events.

Click here for the entire law.

So don't listen to the other side: there's nothing unconstitutional about this since they had a search warrant and resulting probable cause to seize the animals.  Plus, soring is now included in the state law, so YES, it can be inspected for at people's homes now, even though the HPA only covers shows, auctions, and transportation.

At this point, the official word is that 19 horses were seized.  The HSUS reports (click for link):

Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said, “These horses are clearly in extreme pain—some of them from having chemicals applied to their skin and bolts driven into the soles of their hooves. We are grateful to be able to help rescue them so they will no longer have to suffer like this, simply for the sake of a blue ribbon. We commend the Blount County SPCA and Blount County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work and dedication on this case.”

Gino Bachman, president of Blount County SPCA, said, “Seeing these horses suffering so badly that they can hardly stand is heartbreaking, but being able to assist in this investigation and today’s rescue gives us some solace.”

The horses will be thoroughly examined and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment and will be cared for at an undisclosed location pending the final disposition of this case.

And this from the Chattanoogan.  Click here for the article.

As the horses were being moved, one horse was found to be in such pain that when something brushed the animal’s bloody foreleg in a barn walkway, the animal rushed the experienced equine handler, badly cutting her face and breaking her leg. The handler, who has been working with horses for years, was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

The horse was quickly caught and sedated by veterinarians, who also began pain treatment for the animal.

Prayers to both the horse and the woman that they both turn out okay.

Also, Wheelon has been officially arrested.  From Mugshots.com (click for link):

Larry Joe Wheelon
Mugshots.com ID: 56691841
Age: 68
Race: W
Sex: M
Intake Date: 4/25/2013
Bond: $5000
Court Date: 4/30/2013

And for the record, Coggins tests were done earlier this week per another newspaper article I read that I can't find right now.  They probably came back negative and that's why the horses can be moved.


As of right now, horses are Larry Wheelon's barn are being saved!  (Click here for our original post about Wheelon.)  Click here for the article from Blount County's Daily Times, copied and pasted below.

Wheelon being questioned; horses seized for alleged soring
April 25, 2013
Iva Butler (ivab@thedailytimes.com)

Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Wheelon is being questioned about possible animal cruelty by the United States Department of Agriculture Investigator, and horses at his stables that show signs of soring have been seized by the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The animals are being loaded into trailers and transported to an undisclosed location in another county.

As of 12:30 p.m. today, two loads of horses had been transported off the property.

Gino Bachman, BCSPCA animal cruelty inspector, said the action is being taken after a U.S. Department of Agriculture raid at Larry Wheelon Stables, 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, revealed signs of soring on at least 17 of 28 horses.

Criminal charges are expected to be filed against Wheelon later, he said. Wheelon turned himself in at Blount County Justice Center this morning.

Also on hand at the barn at this time are the Humane Society of the United States and Horse Haven of Tennessee.

Horse Haven is helping with the transportation but will not be housing the animals.


Hey Larry, I thought you said they didn't find anything...???

THANK YOU to Horse Haven of Tennessee, Blount County officials, and the HSUS for being there and for doing all this hard work.  I thank you on behalf of the horses!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP - Ellen and Wayne Parcelle Expose the Ag-Gag Bill!

If you're on Facebook, we need your help!

Ellen had Wayne Parcelle on his show today and he talked about the Ag-Gag bill and specifically spoke about soring and how we need undercover work to expose these horrible practices.

Wayne makes a great point in how photos and videos by people who aren't law enforcement help find perpetrators and how we need undercover work to keep exposing this abuse.  And remember, even if you're not worried about food animals themselves, think about what abuse does to their bodies, and how that can end up on your plate.  Plus not following guidelines for keeping animals healthy leads to disease that can be passed on to humans.

So, please go to this link and watch the quick clip of Wayne and Ellen.  It's about four minutes.  Then share it on your Facebook page!  With 25,000 shares, the HSUS will receive a donation of $25,000!

And don't forget to get your emails and your phone calls in to Gov. Haslam of Tennessee.
(615) 741-2001 CALLS ARE BEST RIGHT NOW - His secretary is keeping track!
Twitter: @BillHaslam

You can also learn more about Ellen's work if you go to her website at www.ellentv.com  Wayne is right--Ellen is probably one of our biggest supporters when it comes to animal welfare.

Thanks everyone!  Let's get this Ag-Gag bill off the books in Tennessee!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

LOTS OF INFO - Ag-Gag Bill Results, Raid at BL Barn, PAST Act Opinion, Foreign Substances at 2012 Celebration, Iris Scans by USDA

**To identify my text and opinion from the articles' text, my text is in green.**

It amazes me that sometimes we can have such tragedy yet such hope at the same time.  My thoughts and prayers have been on the folks in Texas and Boston this week.  But I've also been amazed by the advances in the fight to end soring that's also happened this week.

It was also tragic that we learned that the Ag-Gag bill passed in the TN House by one vote.  But the governor hasn't signed it yet.  PLEASE, send your emails and make phone calls to the Governor's office to urge him to veto the bill.  Use the Jackie video as your evidence as to why this bill needs to go away!

From the ASPCA (click here for the article):


Bad news, animal advocates: The Tennessee Legislature has passed the whistleblower suppression (or “ag-gag”) bill. As you know, the whistleblower suppression bill (S.B. 1248/H.B. 1191) would criminalize activities necessary to conduct undercover investigations on farms, penalize whistleblowers, and protect animal abusers instead of working to prevent such mistreatment. It's a terrible move for Tennessee’s animals and gives the state's responsible, humane farmers a bad name.

There is only one way left to stop the bill from becoming state law: Convince Governor Haslam to veto it.

We have no time to lose. Please act now—seize this final opportunity to prevent whistleblower suppression from becoming law.

What You Can Do

1) The most valuable action you can take is to call Governor Haslam’s office right now to voice your opposition to the whistleblower suppression bill. The number is (615) 741-2001. 

2. Calling is the best way to quickly get your message through, but feel free to also email the governor at bill.haslam@tn.gov or by using our pre-drafted message at ASPCA.org.

3. If you have an account on Twitter, please send a tweet to Governor Haslam (@BillHaslam) asking him to veto S.B. 1248/H.B. 1191.

However you do it, it’s crucial that you contact the governor today to ask for a veto and ask every other Tennessee citizen to do the same.

Thank you for your help, Tennessee!


BUT, just because the Ag-Gag bill passed doesn't mean raids don't still work!  And now for the positive side of this week!

The biggest news is that State, County, and Federal Officers Searched Larry Wheelon's Barn on April 18.  They arrived with a search warrant at 9 am.  During the nine-hour search, inspectors removed wraps and shoes and performed iris scans (more info below about iris scans).  Horse Haven of Tennessee was there to help handle the horses (click here for their Facebook page).

Wheelon is an active director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers' Association, and get this: he's on the Ethics Committee for the Walking Horse Trainers' Association.  Ain't that a kicker?  According to the USDA database, Wheelon has 13 violations, the most recent ones being in 2012.

Here's Roy Exum's exclusive article about this copied and pasted below.  Click here for the article.  It's the most comprehensive and informative I've seen so far.


Feds Pounce On Maryville Horse Trainer
Friday, April 19, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Federal agents, accompanied by Blount County animal control officers, raided the barn of walking horse trainer Larry Wheelon near Maryville, Tn., on Thursday morning and sources said they were  “shocked” to find evidence of illegal soring and visible abuse among the 28 horses at the farm located on Tuckaleechee Pike.

Sources said the forelegs of most of the horses were wrapped after caustic substances had been applied to the animals and a paste thought to be a mixture including cinnamon and kerosene was being utilized to achieve the so-called “Big Lick,” an unnatural gait that wins blue ribbons in Shelbyville.

According to one source, several horses were “in agony” as veterinarians palpated the animals’ irritated front legs.

Wheelon told reporters from television station WBIR (Channel 10 News in Knoxville) that the agents didn’t find anything after serving a search warrant at approximately 7 a.m., but a Blount County animal control officer was quoted by the TV station as saying, “I think we have very different ideas about what abuse is.” Agents spent nine hours at Wheelon’s barn on Thursday in order to inspect each animal.

Because Wheelon did not have written proof the animals had been inspected for Coggins Disease (equine infectious anemia), 27 of the horses were later placed under quarantine by state health officials and cannot be transported. On Friday, federal attorneys were pursuing whether a protective order and/or similar legal instruments should also be employed. The names of the owners of the horses have not been released.
Since the Thursday raid, neither the USDA nor county animal control officials will make any comment “due to an ongoing investigation” but outside sources revealed the USDA officers included licensed veterinarians who were video-taped as they removed the wrapping from the horses’ legs, discovered alleged caustic agents, palpated tender areas and took sterile swabs.

It is believed it will take approximately two weeks for the labs to properly analyze the swabs. If the lab tests, and other evidence taken, result in an arrest warrant, Wheelon and others involved could be charged by federal and state agencies. Officers of the Blount County Sheriff’s Department also participated in the raid to provide security. Wheelon was not allowed on the property while the search warrant was in place.
It is being reported that approximately 26 of the 28 horses had wrapping on their forelegs and, under a Tennessee law that went into effect last July, each count that is proven valid is now a felony, punishable by not less than one but no more than five years in prison. Under federal law, horse abuse is still a misdemeanor, although there is legislation pending that would make it a more serious crime.

Wheelon, who is an active director of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer’s Association, has been suspended by the USDA at least 15 different times for violations of the Horse Protection Act, dating from 1993 through 2012. Additionally, he was fined $1,550 in 1981 by the USDA and court records reveal that in 1978 he was charged with soring a horse at a North Carolina show. A person known as “Linda Wheelon” was also suspended in 2006, according to USDA archives.

Wheelon is a member of the Ethics Committee for the Walking Horse Trainer’s Association and sits on its building committee. He is a member of the East Tennessee Walking Horse Association and is a AAA-rated horse show judge with the Shelbyville-based S.H.O.W. organization, the largest of the USDA’s registered horse groups. S.H.O.W. is an abbreviation meaning “Sound Horses. Honest Judging. Objective Inspections. Winning Fairly.”

The agents raided his barn after receiving a tip, it is believed.

Ironically, on Wednesday of this week the Tennessee Legislature voted to approve a law that requires a“whistleblower” to report animal abuse to law authorities within a 48-hour time period or be charged with a misdemeanor. It is now alleged that if the “AgGag”law were in effect (it is awaiting the governor’s signature) the tipster would be the criminal and Wheelon – who is indeed innocent until proven guilty –would skip any state charges due to the bill’s carefully-crafted limitations.

The USDA recently released an 11-page report of foreign substance results that were taken at random at horse shows in 2012. According to the Department of Agriculture, of 24 shows that were tested by licensed officials, 309 out of 478 walking horses tested positive for banned substances.

Each trainer was issued a “ticket” by the USDA. The trainer is suspended from showing horses but by assigning another trainer, changing the horse’s name and using another “owner,” the horse can stay in the competition.

Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga enforced the Federal Horse Protection Act for the first time in its 40-year history just two years ago and, among those who pleaded guilty in 2012 was Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell, who is still awaiting a state trial after videos were taken showing him torturing horses at his barn in West Tennessee.

The video, going viral after it appeared on ABC’s“Nightline,” brought worldwide attention to the widespread horse abuse in Tennessee and the state legislature enacted a bill to make livestock abuse a felony. Since the law went into effect on July 1, 2012, it has not yet been used by state prosecutors in a criminal case.
It is believed federal and state animal control agencies have heightened enforcement of livestock abuse due to increased public interest and better laws to prosecute violators. Asked if there would be other raids in the state, officials would not comment.


Wheelon says they didn't find anything.  Okay, come on, seriously?  Did they just walk up to him after the search and say welp, we didn't find nuthin', have a nice day!  And folks within the Industry are saying that the USDA released a press release the next day saying they didn't find anything.  Right.  After a nine-hour search, they rushed home to release a statement saying they didn't find anything.  Of course, no one can produce this press release, so it's most likely not real.

Wheelon is also reporting to What A Horse that he asked the officers to remove shoes.  Okay, now that's just trying to save face at this point.  He wasn't allowed to attend the search, and the officers had brought a farrier with them.  I doubt very seriously he asked them to do it.

It's going to take a couple of weeks for the results to come back.  I'll keep you updated as the news unfolds.  In the meantime, use this event as part of your letters to your Congresspersons in support of the PAST Act, HR 1518.

(I have to say, out of all the acronyms that come out of the TWH Industry, I like PAST the best!)

Next, Roy wrote a piece about the release of the PAST Act and tied it into the Ag-Gag bill (obviously this was written before the Ag-Gag bill was passed).  Click here for the article, copied and pasted below.  He has some wonderful things to say, and check out that list of supporters!  WOW!


Roy Exum: Oh No! Am I A Terrorist?
Monday, April 15, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Tennessee's dreaded “AgGag” bill, which make those who covertly film or expose acts of animal abuse into criminals, was delayed in the Tennessee Legislature last week but if proponents have their way, a vote on House Bill 1191 will be taken tomorrow in Nashville. The bill, widely criticized by animal rights activists but causing the sickening “Big Lick” segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry to urge for its approval, would charge any whistle-blowers with a state misdemeanor if they don’t turn over all evidence to police authorities within 24 to 48 hours.

The very fact the Shelbyville-centered “performance horse” crowd supports the bill is enough to give millions of horsemen around the world the cold shivers but now comes the notion the bill is in blatant discord with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.Rep. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) will try to block the bill in House Committee and said, “This is the first time I have ever seen a bill requiring media to report what they see to police.”

Obviously, Rep Lundberg has smelled the very conspicuous rat. Often it takes longer than 48 hours to build a case. And in Shelbyville, where there have been hundreds of violations of the federal Horse Protection Act at the National Celebration in recent years, law enforcement is so cozy (and dependent) on the Big Lick you’d think the two were country cousins. It’s a fact -- there has not been one local arrest in over 40 years of widespread horse abuse in Bedford County.

Deloris Grisham (R-Somerville) has sponsored the AgGag bill in the state Senate but Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) knows the bill is a sham. “Obviously this is a Catch-22 bill,” he said last week after getting Grisham to postpone the bill until tomorrow. Further, Norris has indicated he has no choice but to oppose the bill.

Senator Grisham is fooling no one when she piously cries, “This is not an anti-whistle blower bill … we’re just saying, whistle blower, blow your whistle. Take what you have to law enforcement so the abuse will stop.”

Oh, please, Deloris! Like your fellow sponsor, Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden), you viciously and publicly call those who filmed the award-winning tape of Jackie McConnell sadistically torturing horses as “vigilantes” while some whacko private-interest group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, calls the same people “terrorists.” Believe it or not --  the ALEC wants those who decry animal abuse to be included in some type of a “terrorist registry.” Deloris, please give them my name because horse lovers are well aware what Tennessee has allowed the real criminals to do to Tennessee Walkers. Why do you want to be the “Big Lick” poster girl?

What Grisham, Holt and others on the Tennessee Legislature fail to comprehend is that the state leads the entire world in horse abuse. It is so shameful and glaringly wrong that just last week in Washington a new bill was proposed in Congress that makes Tennessee lawmakers appear as crazed buffoons. This whole defense of those who main and torture horses is beyond my comprehension.

On Friday the 2013 Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST) H.R. 1518, was introduced by lead sponsors U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., along with Reps. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Jim Moran, D-Va., as original cosponsors. It strengthens the Horse Protection Act, originally passed in 1970.

In short, the American people are fed up with what is happening to Tennessee Walking Horses and, if that makes all those across the nation as well as the world who are continually nauseated over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s lack of enforcement of these “vigilanties,” I’ll guarantee you the twisted ALEC group is going to need a much-larger computer.

Tennessee legislators like Grisham and Holt are an embarrassment but – get this – the Tennessee Farm Bureau is even supporting the bill, which is inexcusable. Why would the Farm Bureau openly try to shield animal abuse? Why would anybody even worry about a 24-hour window “to comply with the law” if there wasn’t something that thugs were trying to hide? Any and all attempts to block the eradication of horse soring are laughable and should be exposed – excuse me -- without the help of a stopwatch.

Just as a fun little exercise, here is a partial list of those already in support of the Congressional PAST Act, which was just introduced on Friday [April 12]:

* * *


1. American Veterinary Medical Association

2. American Association of Equine Practitioners

3. Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

4. Veterinarians for Equine Welfare

5. Donna Preston Moore, DVM, former head of USDA’s Horse Protection Program

6. Michelle Abraham (Resident) New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

7. Susan Botts, DVM

8. Angela M. Dion, DVM

9. Judith L. Ford, Veterinary Technician

10. Hanna Galantino-Homer, VMD, PHD

11. Alicia Grossman, DVM

12. Midge Leitch, VMD, former head of Radiology, New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine

13. Sue Lindborg, CVT Research Specialist New Bolton Center

14. Benson B. Martin, DVM, Associate Professor Sports Medicine, New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

15. Nat Messer, DVM, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine

16. Mary A. Robinson, VMD, PhD

17. Mary Lynn Stanton, DVM

18. Joy Tomlinson, DVM

19. Harry Werner VMD , past president, American Association of Equine Practitioners

* * *


1. Humane Society of the United States

2. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

3. Animal Law Coalition

4. Animal Legal Defense Fund

5. Animal Welfare Institute

6. Equine Welfare Alliance

7. Homes for Horses Coalition

8. Humane Society Legislative Fund

* * *


1. American Horse Council

2. American Morgan Horse Association

3. American Paint Horse Association

4. Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH)

5. Gaitway Walking Horse Association (Missouri)

6. Mountain Pleasure Horse Association (Kentucky)

7. National Plantation Walking Horse Association

8. National Walking Horse Association

9. New York State Plantation Walking Horse Club

10. Northern California Walking Horse Association

11. Pennsylvania Pleasure Walking Horse Association

12. Pinto Horse Association of America

13. Plantation Walking Horse Association of California

14. Plantation Walking Horses of Maryland

15. Pure Pleasure Gaited Horse Association (Oklahoma)

16. Tennessee Walking Horse Association of Oklahoma

17. Yankee Walkers/Gaited Horse of New England (Maine)

* * *

That’s right, not many Tennesseans are listed. Imagine that. It is time for the Tennessee State Legislature to grasp the fact the overwhelming number of people who they represent are disgusted and embarrassed to live in the very state that leads the world in the abuse of its horses.


One of the most significant parts of this list is that the American Horse Council supports the PAST Act.  The AHC used to support the Industry.  Luckily, they have realized what's right and have changed their minds.  I'm so glad for this, because it's a huge blow to the Industry.

Click here for our blog post concerning the PAST Act and how to get your letters in!

The USDA results are in for swab tests from the Celebration last year.  And, surprise surprise:

190 horses sampled; 145 tested positive = 76% found sore = 24% compliance rate

Click here for the official results from all the shows in the 2012 show season that the USDA attended.

The major results:
24 shows sampled; 478 samples taken; 309 positive samples = 65% found sore = 35% compliance rate

So...where's the Industry's so-called 97% compliance rate now?

Below is a poignant post from the Walking Horse Chat by Billy Go Boy.  Billy Go Boy is a regular who points out tons of facts and great information about the Industry's current state.  Mostly I want people to see the WHTA results compared to the USDA results.  Note that the opinion parts of this don't represent me or FTTWH, but they are something we all should think about.


Posted - April 16 2013 : 02:14:58 AM
The USDA has released the swab test results from the 2012 Celebration.
USDA had 190 horses sampled and 145 TESTED positive for foreign substances.


WHTA said it swabbed all horses, but only TESTED two in each class.
The WHTA Swabbing Initiative with a select Trainers Committee filtering the results and having a straw man "Commissioner" announce results:

Friday, August 24, 2012
1st Round of Swabbing Results
No violations-Wednesday morning’s swabs

Sunday, August 26, 2012
2nd Round of Swabbing Results
No violations-Thursday/Friday’swabs

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
3rd Round of Swabbing Results
No violations-Saturday/Sunday swabs

Friday, August 31, 2012
4th Round of Swabbing Results
No violations-Monday/Tuesday swabs

Saturday, September 01, 2012
5th Round of Swabbing Results
One (1) swab from Wednesday, August 29, 2012 failed
Brad Davis (Jackie McConnell’s son in law and Star’s owner, Wilsene Moody’s current trainer) = suspended license for 2 weeks, will remove ribbon, prize money, trophy, will retie class may not present horse at remainder of Celebration or participate as a rider,

Sunday, September 02, 2012
6th Round of Swabbing Results
No violations-Thursday swabs

Friday, September 14, 2012
7th Round of Swabbing Results
One (1) swab from Wednesday, August 29, 2012 failed
Scott Beaty = suspend license for 2 weeks, will remove ribbon, prize money, trophy, will retie class may not present horse at remainder of Celebration or participate as a rider,

If memory serves the WHTA Initiative swabbed all the horses, but only actually TESTED the swabs for two horses in each class.

And the "Commissioner" announced a grand total of TWO violations for the entire Celebration out of about 250+/- tests.

Word in the barn lanes was that there were LOTS of violations, but the "Select Committee" was making calls to the offenders and issuing "stern" warnings and "wet noodle" lashes to the sinners.

And the "Commissioner" was saying "all is well".

There SHOULD have been transparency if there was going to be swabbing.

It is now noteworthy that the Father of the "Swabbing Initiative", Gauleiter Eichler, is no longer in favored status with Terry's Troopers.

And swabbing is now no longer mentioned.


I think all of this speaks for itself.

The USDA released information explaining how they are now using iris scan for horse identification.  Click here for the article, copied and pasted below.  I had heard rumors that they were doing this at the Trainers show last month (where there were LOTS of violations).  I'm glad that it's true that they're doing this now.

Iris scans are going to be extremely helpful for the TWH.  No two horse's eyes are the same, so each horse is identified as unique.  A common practice in the Industry is to bring one horse to the inspection, but then switch him out for the "real" horse to be in the class, the one that is sored.  This can be done easily with black and chestnut horses, and is one reason why we don't see a lot of colorful horses in the ring.

So this technology basically can help the violations follow the horse, so to speak.  Many times sored horses that are caught are just given new names and shown at different venues.  Now it's going to be very hard for the Industry to play these games to keep their sore horses in the ring.


USDA Horse Protection Program Utilizing Iris Scan Technology for Equine Identification

Questions and Answers

APHIS’ Horse Protection program has a new technological tool that will allow its inspectors to better identify horses before they enter the inspection area. Beginning in March 2013, APHIS will be using iris scanners as part of the agency’s continued efforts to put an end to horse soring through its enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

The Horse Protection Act is a federal law that prohibits sored horses from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions or auctions. The Act also prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to or from any of these events. Soring is a cruel and inhumane practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait; it may be accomplished by irritating or blistering a horse’s forelegs through the application of chemicals or mechanical devices. Walking horses are known for possessing a naturally high gait, but in order to be successful in competition; their natural gait is often exaggerated. The exaggerated gait can be achieved with proper training and considerable time. However, some exhibitors, owners and trainers have chosen to use improper training methods to shorten the time it would take to produce a higher gait in their horses.

APHIS works actively with the horse industry to protect against soring and to ensure that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows. APHIS’ ultimate goal is to end this inhumane practice completely.

Question: Why is APHIS using iris scans when there are already other means in place to identify horses?
Answer: Scanning a horse’s iris is a pain-free, non-invasive alternative to branding, tattooing and other identification methods. It limits undue stress to the animal.

Q: What are the benefits to this particular method of identifying horses?
A: These scanners will allow APHIS to establish a definitive identity of a horse because no two irises are alike. Iris scans are more accurate than even a human fingerprint. Plus, an iris scan is a totally non-invasive means of identifying a horse – unlike micro-chipping or tattooing.

Iris scans also tell APHIS whether or not a particular horse has ever been sored before because the scanners maintain an information database that includes any previous Horse Protection Act violations. This provides a much better tracking system for APHIS – and the industry – than what is currently in place.

Q: How does the scanner work?
A: These scanners will produce a digital photograph of the iris of a horse's eye. The photographs, along with other information about each horse, are stored electronically in the scanner’s processor.

Q: What is the benefit to breeders, trainers, owners and exhibitors and the walking horse industry as a whole?
A: This will be a very good thing for all individuals who are not soring their horses. For example, using iris scans will allow a potential buyer to learn if a particular horse has ever been sored when that animal’s history comes up on the scanner. This will help an owner sell his/her horse with proof that the horse has not been sored.

Iris scans will also aid the industry because this method of horse identification will decrease the number of sored horses that are being shown or sold. Scanning will identify which horses are sored and which are clean – and keep a record of it.

Iris scans will also show how particular regions of the country are adhering to the Horse Protection Act by showing where soring is more prevalent. For instance, if a number of sored horses are coming out of a particular county, the industry can focus its education efforts in that county to show the trainers there that they don’t need to sore their horses in order to get successful results. This will keep the focus on humane methods of training horses.

Q: How will using iris scans decrease horse soring?
A: A person who has been cited for soring his horse during a competition will have very little incentive for entering a horse into another class during that same competition because the scanner will identify the infraction to APHIS the next time that horse’s irises are scanned.

Q: Was there anything in particular that prompted APHIS to begin using iris scanners at this time?
A: APHIS is responding to the 2010 Office of Inspector General audit of its Horse Protection program. One of the audit’s recommendations was for the agency to prohibit horses that have been disqualified (due to soring violations) from competing in any other classes at a horse show, exhibition or other horse-related event.

APHIS has the authority under the Horse Protection Act to prohibit horses from competing in subsequent events after designated qualified persons (DQPs) or APHIS veterinary medical officers detect a violation. To better ensure that sored horses do not compete in later events, the agency wanted a totally reliable way to identify horses. Thus, APHIS decided to use iris scanners to better identify horses.

Q: How much does each scanner cost American taxpayers?
A: The cost is $3,000 per scanner.

Q: Will the use of iris scans result in additional fees for the walking horse industry or to individual competitors?
A: No. There is no cost to horse owners/trainers/owners/riders, and there is no cost passed along to the walking horse industry.

Q: When will APHIS begin using these scanners?
A: APHIS began using iris scanners in March – the beginning of the 2013 horse show season.

Q: Will DQPs be using iris scanners as well?
A: No. Only APHIS will be using these scanners at this time. But the agency certainly encourages horse industry organizations to utilize this technology as well.

Q: Is the use of iris scanners related to the other federal animal identification/traceability program, in which farmers are being asked to register all of their animals with the government?
A: No. This is simply a method of better identifying horses in the agency’s continue efforts to achieve its goal of eliminating the cruel and inhumane practice of soring horses.

For more information contact:

USDA, APHIS Animal Care
4700 River Road, Unit 84
Riverdale, MD 20737
(301) 851-3751
E–mail: hp@aphis.usda.gov


That's it for now.  It's amazing the progress we're seeing in saving the TWH.  BE SURE to tell your Congresspersons about all of this--they need to know all about the facts and see that passing the PAST Act is going to make a huge difference.

Friday, April 12, 2013

**UPDATED** NEWS - IT'S HERE! HR 1518 HPA Amendment Introduced April 11, 2013

**UPDATED 4-17-13**

I was waiting for the new amendment to come out before posting this.


It is two PDF pages--you will need to have Adobe Reader or CutePDF loaded on your computer to view it. You can print it front and back on glossy paper if you'd like, or just print it and staple it together. I'm sorry, I can't reimburse you any money for printing this.


Some ideas for places to post it: vet offices, tack stores, animal control offices, animal rescue offices such as your local ASPCA, message boards at government buildings. Or even walk into your local Congresspersons' office and hand it to him or her! Feel free to also pass this out to anyone you wish to give it to.

Understand that when you post this, it is representative of FTTWH and those who support FTTWH, so be respectful, polite, and open to questions! WE CAN DO THIS!


Okay everyone, I'm running out the door, but I wanted to post the POPVOX Report for HR 1518.

I don't have the text of the bill yet to see the changes, but I will upload it as soon as I get it!


FTTWH will be writing in as an organization to support the bill, and I'm sure we'll see support from all the parties who supported before.

Tell your friends, tell your family, get your letters in to your Congresspersons, and you can do so via POPVOX.

Gotta leave!  More will be forthcoming!

Monday, April 8, 2013


Unfortunately, it seems that three of the five Tennessee Senators are either immoral jerks or were paid a lot of money, and the Ag-Gag Bill passed the Senate.  (Click here for my previous post about this.)

So now it's going to the House.  GET YOUR LETTERS IN IMMEDIATELY!

Per Robin P. on our Facebook group, they have amended the bill saying that it applies to people who intentionally photograph/video, etc. the situation.  It wouldn't apply to someone who just happens to capture abuse on their camera when photographing/videoing anything else.  Well, whatever--it's still a problem.  The photographer/videographer must also report the violation to the law enforcement agency with "jurisdiction" over the alleged offense.  Let's note that this means the sheriff could easily alert the abuser if they are in cahoots.

CLICK HERE for the list of Tennessee Reps.

Tips for writing your letter:

1.  Use your personal email address or call - phone calls and email addresses are what go through the best.
2.  Make it short and to the point.
3.  Do not use cuss words or angry language.
4.  Point out the same issues I pointed out in my previous post about this bill.

We need to see this bill stopped in its tracks!  And we need all the help we can get!  PLEASE call or write!

ARTICLE: Tennessee bill would limit undercover animal abuse investigations

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NEWS, ARTICLES and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Who to Write for the Ag-Gag Bill; McConnell's Indictment Available Online

First, I know I've talked about the Ag-Gag bill before and why it's so important that we stop it in its tracks.  Thanks to Robin P. from our Facebook group, we have some folks everyone can contact.

The bill has passed the agricultural committee and is currently being reviewed by the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee.  They decide according to how it effects the current laws.  If we get these folks to stop it, then the House can't vote on it unless it's reintroduced to the agricultural committee.  So these are the emails we need to send our letters to:

Sen. Mike Bell:  sen.mike.bell@capitol.tn.gov
Sen. Stacey Campfield:  sen.stacey.campfield@capitol.tn.gov
Sen. Lowe Finney:  sen.lowe.finney@capitol.tn.gov
Sen. Ophelia For:  sen.ophelia.for@capitol.tn.gov
Sen Todd Gardenhire:   sen.todd.gardenhire@capitol.tn.gov

Let them know that passing this law criminalizes and punishes veterinarians, the media, animal welfare advocates, and the general public, who can unwittingly takes pictures at horse shows for personal purposes.

Let them also know that the law violates the Tennessee Reports Shield Law, as follows.  (Click here for more information.)  Overall, this law protects the guilty and puts the general public at risk for disease that can  correlate with abused food animals.

T.C.A. § 24-1-208
24-1-208. Persons gathering information for publication or broadcast - Disclosure.— (a) A person engaged in gathering information for publication or broadcast connected with or employed by the news media or press, or who is independently engaged in gathering information for publication or broadcast, shall not be required by a court, a grand jury, the general assembly, or any administrative body, to disclose before the general assembly or any Tennessee court, grand jury, agency, department, or commission any information or the source of any information procured for publication or broadcast.
(b) Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to the source of any allegedly defamatory information in any case where the defendant in a civil action for defamation asserts a defense based on the source of such information.
(c)(1) Any person seeking information or the source thereof protected under this section may apply for an order divesting such protection. Such application shall be made to the judge of the court having jurisdiction over the hearing, action or other proceeding in which the information sought is pending.
(2) The application shall be granted only if the court after hearing the parties determines that the person seeking the information has shown by clear and convincing evidence that: 
(A) There is probable cause to believe that the person from whom the information is sought has information which is clearly relevant to a specific probable violation of law; 
(B) The person has demonstrated that the information sought cannot reasonably be obtained by alternative means; and 
(C) The person has demonstrated a compelling and overriding public interest of the people of the state of Tennessee in the information. 
(3(A) Any order of the trial court may be appealed to the court of appeals in the same manner as other civil cases. The court of appeals shall make an independent determination of the applicability of the standards in this subsection to the facts in the record and shall not accord a presumption of correctness to the trial court’s findings.
(B) The execution of or any proceeding to enforce a judgment divesting the protection of this section shall be stayed pending appeal upon the timely filing of a notice of appeal in accordance with Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the appeal shall be expedited upon the docket of the court of appeals upon the application of either party.
(C) Any order of the court of appeals may be appealed to the supreme court of Tennessee as provided by law. [Acts 1973, ch. 27, §§ 1-3; T.C.A, § 24-113 - 24-115; Acts 1988, ch. 803, §§ 1, 2.]

Next, here's the excellent article by the Chattanoogan about McConnell's case.  Feel free to use a link to this case in your emails to the Senators listed above--this is proof of why the Ag-Gag bill needs to die.  The Chattanoogan's article is posted below - click here for the article.

Here's the link to the indictment.  You can read the 22 counts, which I've also posted on this blog before.  WARNING: the description of what was done to these horses can be disturbing.  And note also that the two of the owners of the horses were right there, watching this the whole time.

I don't think I can thank the HSUS enough for seizing the eight horses that were abused and for continuing to care for them.  I wish there were some way to bring charges against the owners of those horses...perhaps that's something we'll learn more about in the future.  For now, I'm glad those horses are safe.


Tennessee Grand Jury Indicts Former Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer Jackie McConnell
Monday, April 01, 2013

A Fayette County, Tn., Grand Jury has indicted horse trainer Jackie McConnell and two co-defendants on 38 counts of animal cruelty for illegally soring and torturing horses.

The indictments followed a Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation in 2011.

McConnell was indicted on 22 counts of animal cruelty in Fayette County, for charges stemming from alleged soring of Tennessee Walking Horses.

McConnell is already serving three years of probation and has been fined $75,000 for his federal felony conviction in Chattanooga.

“We commend District Attorney General Mike Dunavant and Assistant District Attorney General Mark Davidson for filing criminal charges against McConnell and his co-defendants —the first case of its kind in Tennessee,” Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “Unfortunately, the owners who placed their horses in McConnell’s training stables have not expressed the slightest regret or remorse for the torture these animals endured, and still need to be held accountable.”

McConnell’s co-defendants in the federal case, John Mays and Jeff Dockery were also indicted. Mays was charged with 13-counts and Dockery with three-counts. Both men pleaded guilty to lesser charges in Federal Court for their role in the conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act.

Since 2011, the HSUS has assisted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Tennessee 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office in prosecuting the offenders and assisting in the rescue of horses from McConnell’s training operation.

 In March 2012, eight horses were seized from McConnell’s stable following the execution of a search and seizure warrant. At the state’s request, the HSUS has been providing the horses with intensive rehabilitative care for the past year and will continue to do so.

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