"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, July 24, 2013

THOUGHTS - Let's Talk: the Current State of the Industry

So there's a lot going on that I haven't talked about much lately, but thanks to a lot of reading and a lot of information that folks are finding, I think I'm now able to put it all into one coherent blog post.

SIDE NOTE: I want to point out a fairly new website and Facebook page: Billy Go Boy Chat.  BGB has been a presence in the TWH industry since 1996, telling the truth just like it is.  Mostly BGB was telling the truth on the Walking Horse Chat but was recently kicked out and an imposter put in place.  So now BGB has stepped out and made the information available to the public for anyone to learn from.  We highly recommend reading this blog and joining the Facebook and Twitter pages.

First, let's talk about TWHBEA.  I talked about how the TWHBEA Executive Committee held an emergency meeting to vote to support HR 1518/the PAST Act/The Whitfield Amendment here and here.  I'm sure everyone remembers Tracy Boyd's letter and how PSHA* tried to buy the Performance horse division, which TWHBEA has summarily ignored (good for them).

*Totally OT, but whenever I see this acronym I think of the term "psh-shaw", which is a blow off term similar to a raspberry.  It makes me giggle.

Since then, Tracy Boyd has been elected the Executive Director of TWHBEA per Ron Thomas, who has gone against his pal David Howard (who quietly runs SHOW, The Celebration, and PSHA with his bullying and threatening tactics).  Click here for the announcement.

TWHBEA then changed their yearly National Futurity from using SHOW as their HIO to using WHOA.  However, they have four performance (BL) classes.  Since PSHA/SHOW are penalizing any trainer who shows under any HIO other than SHOW with a six-month suspension (gotta keep those trainers under their thumbs, ya know) and the Celebration HIO will be SHOW, TWHBEA asked PSHA/SHOW if they would allow the four classes to be affiliated with SHOW and their judges to get SHOW judging cards for those four classes.  This is so those who show in those classes can have their points for the Celebration.  The clarification about this situation is linked here.

So PSHA's response was to tell TWHBEA they will affiliate as long as TWHBEA publicly announces it is against the Whitfield Amendment.  From the Walking Horse Chat:

Now PSHA says go ahead SHOW to save face for the Celebration so they can be in the classes per the confirmation that TWHBEA is against the Whitfield Amendment.  TWHBEA ignored them.  Then PSHA lied to the public about it, basically taking the words from the above referenced letter about the Futurity and twisting them around.  From the Walking Horse Chat:

TWHBEA Confirms Opposition To Whitfield Amendment
July 18, 2013
PSHA To Recommend Affiliation of 2013 Futurity to SHOW HIO

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) will recommend to the SHOW HIO that it affiliate the four padded performance Tennessee Walking Horse classes at the upcoming Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) Futurity. TWHBEA confirmed yesterday their opposition to the Whitfield Amendment, an amendment which would eliminate the Tennessee Walking Show Horse.

At a recent meeting, PSHA board members revisited an earlier decision to not recommend affiliation of the padded performance classes at the 2013 Futurity and decided if TWHBEA would announce its opposition to the Whitfield Amendment it would recommend affiliation. On July 16, 2013 TWHBEA confirmed this position of opposition in a release that stated:

“In May, within hours after the TWHBEA Executive Committee Voted to endorse the Whitfield Amendment, the TWHBEA International Board of Directors met and voted to not recognize the previous action of the executive committee. With that sequence of events, TWHBEA considers the matter closed and any revisiting of the motion unnecessary.”

Since then, PSHA/SHOW has hired Purple Strategies once again to play the PR game and make the Celebration sound like such a wonderful place to come have fun and show your (sored) horses.  Here's PS's press release.  Most notable is "PSHA recommended that SHOW honor TWHBEA’s request based upon the belief that TWHBEA had come out publicly in opposition to the Whitfield bill. Subsequently, PSHA withdrew that recommendation."  (Backpedal!  Backpedal!)

Purple Celebration Press Release
“SHOW HIO has offered to affiliate the 2013 TWHBEA National Futurity following receipt Monday of a limited request from TWHBEA. The Breeders’ Association requested that SHOW affiliate 5 padded walking horse classes at their Futurity on July 28 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They also requested that their three judges – Jason Bachert, Larry Martin and Dee Dee Miller – be granted SHOW judging licenses for this one event.

In addition to the affiliation, SHOW and the Celebration invited TWHBEA to use their grounds free of charge the night preceding the start of the Celebration. Until last year, TWHBEA had always hosted the Futurity on the Celebration grounds the night preceding the show and used judges licensed by SHOW or its earlier affiliating bodies. TWHBEA moved the Futurity date and show to Murfreesboro last year and affiliated with SHOW. This year they affiliated with WHOA and subsequently asked SHOW to make a special exception to affiliate just 5 classes and judges not licensed by SHOW. SHOW has had a policy of not splitting or sharing affiliations or allowing its judges to adjudicate at shows of other HIO’s since its inception.

SHOW Board president Buddy Nelson stated “We are more than happy to make this offer and reintroduce the Futurity being held on our grounds the night prior to our show as it had been for over 70 years. This will alleviate the conflict for padded horse owners showing at the Futurity and not being able to show at The Celebration. This would also qualify those entries for the World Grand Championship classes at this year’s Celebration. If it is too late to move to our show grounds this year, we extend the same offer next year.”

Earlier this year the Walking Horse Trainers Association ruled that trainer’s showing horses at shows not affiliated with SHOW would lose their license for 6 months. Years ago, in cooperation with the Trainers’ Association, the Celebration agreed to only let licensed trainers show at their show. “Despite TWHBEA’s recent difficulties, financially and otherwise, we are willing to reach out to them and Futurity exhibitors in a spirit of cooperation and in hopes of bridging the gap between our two organizations” stated Nelson. “It is imperative that the industry get back together for the betterment of the horse and also benefit the loyal exhibitors and fans that support both organizations and the industry.”

TWHBEA President Tracy Boyd (at the time) stated that TWHBEA reached out to the SHOW through a third party with this request several weeks ago. Nelson said “We have never received any such request until Monday, July 21st and have considered the request and responded promptly today.”

Also, PSHA recommended that SHOW honor TWHBEA’s request based upon the belief that TWHBEA had come out publicly in opposition to the Whitfield bill. Subsequently, PSHA withdrew that recommendation. “The Celebration respects both PSHA and TWHBEA and chooses to remain out of the ongoing discussions between the two organizations,” Nelson said.”

Sounds like PSHA/SHOW is being OH so generous...so far TWHBEA has not responded to their "invitation."  I'm glad to see TWHBEA taking a stand here and not giving PSHA/SHOW the upper hand.  They are smart to do this.

Next, the HSUS offered to sponsor the TWHBEA World Versatility Show at the end of July.  This is the first time HSUS has ever offered to sponsor any horse show for any breed.  I believe they are trying to support TWHBEA in the decisions concerning the Whitfield Amendment and Marty Irby and Tracy Boyd's decisions.  Of course, the Lickers on the Executive Committee had to have a meeting so they could vote down the sponsorship.  An email exchange was blasted around the Internet via Facebook and the Walking Horse Chat.

From Marty Irby, current Past President of TWHBEA.  (The one who wrote us the letter--click here for more.)

Dear International Board:

I felt it prudent to bring this matter to your attention and have informed President Boyd, along with Vice-President of Pleasure Rick Weiss that I would be sending this email.

Over the past few weeks our EC has wrestled with the HSUS offering to sponsor the TWHBEA WVS for $1,000.00 sponsorship after we openly and publicly offered such sponsorship to the general public. Unfortunately after much email discussion the majority of the EC decided to turn down such sponsorship. 

To give you some background, Mr. Ron Thomas and I met with HSUS President Wayne Pacelle and V.P. of Equine Affairs Keith Dane last August for lunch in Smyrna, TN to ask them how we could potentially work together with HSUS. We worked for months just to schedule this meeting. Following, Mr. Pacelle sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, at my request, to ask for a meeting between TWHBEA, HSUS, and the Secretary to discuss matters related to the Horse Protection Act. 

Since that time, and after much thought the HSUS has offered to sponsor a $1,000.000 sponsorship of our TWHBEA World Versatility Show which the majority of our EC has recently turned down. I send this message after discussing the issue with our President & E.D., Mr. Boyd, and our Past Presidents this evening.

In a vote held this evening, and only the second motion and vote ever officially made by the Past Presidents, the group collectively decided that they recommend the TWHBEA Executive Committee accept the HSUS sponsorship. This is a monumental occasion is my eyes and according to Mr. Dane is the first time in The History of the World HSUS (with 10 Million Members in the U.S.) has ever offered to sponsor a horse show. I think this is huge and is the first in the chain of events of domino effects that will positively change the breed forever. 

I believe it is imperative we accept the sponsorship and move forward in the positive promotion of this horse. Evidently, HSUS feels the same, and following the Jackie McConnell videos and conviction, this will be forever a "feather in our cap." Those around the world will feel and see the effects of such a great decision, and I hope we can proudly say that the Tennessee Walking Horse, and TWHBEA feels the same. 

Working together will prove the greatest asset our horse has ever had, and we can have a brighter future than ever if we accept the HSUS sponsorship. How many people can say they were the first in history to accept such? Again, monumental for our breed. Many of you will disagree, but I pray for the sake of our horse that the majority of you agree.

After discussion with Mr. Rick Weiss, Vice-President of Pleasure Horse, who the WVS/HSUS Sponsorship falls under, I am proud to include his endorsement with the following points listed below:

"Marty here are my comments which I brought up on the subject:

HSUS Sponsorship points in summary.

1. HSUS and the media will have a field day when the headlines read "Breeder's refuse HSUS Sponsorship". Breeders back pedal about a sound horse industry.

2. HSUS whether we like it or not has made the WH industry take a sound stance. The WH industry has not, is not, or will not do it on their own. Will the TWHBEA?

3. Talk about TWHBEA mission statement. Zeis tried to remove Dane from the Board and after spending $18,000 our attorney said she did not have a case. Now we think we can remove Dane's Association because of the Mission Statement. NOT.

4. Does the EC now have to approve all of TWHBEA Sponsorships before we accept them. What will we do with the HPA and HIO violators with the covers on the "Voice" and faces hanging in our lobby and their sponsorship support. They certainly are violators of the mission statement and do not support sound horses.

5. Manna Pro products may/probably contains a "foreign substance". Do they qualify as a sponsor ? What will we do with all of their past/future help.

6. If the EC does not like someone's vote they can refuse their sponsorship. Where O Where will it end.

7. Why are EC members so concerned about something not in their division. HSUS support of sound horse programs is not welcome. Who were some of the sponsors of the Performance Horse Summit.

Folks I do not like all of what HSUS stands for or what they do. Bottom line is they know the WH industries little secrets and with their help TWHBEA may actually help produce a sound WH.

......The TWH in the eye of the public is not in the same category as eggs, chickens(the laying kind) or beef. The TWH in the eye of the public is in the same category as dog fighting and cock fighting. 

Way are we even going this route. I would like to approve all sponsors of TWHBEA events from now on. 

...........I thought you all should read this TWHBEA press release. "TWHBEA invites all those interested in showing their support for the World Versatility Show and/or National Futurity to consider one of the many available sponsorship opportunities." For the life of me I can not find where it says sponsorships need to be approved." (End Rick Weiss)

Chris Van Horn and Fran Cole, also directors with TWHBEA, followed up with two very supportive emails that also expressed their concern with approving or not approving which sponsorships TWHBEA accepts.

Here's the email from Keith Dane, director with TWHBEA and HSUS horse welfare lead, that explains how the HSUS came to this decision.


Thank you for sending this message - and thanks to those who have responded favorably.

I thought it would be helpful to explain how The Humane Society of the United States came to the decision to support the World Versatility Show with a corporate sponsorship.

As Marty stated, the HSUS has historically not sponsored any horse show - not because we don't support the concept of horse shows (I myself am a horse show judge of many breeds), but because the organization believes that it is the work of the industry itself to raise sponsorships from those who benefit from those shows - owners, exhibitors and horse industry businesses.

However, some of its donors support the notion that while HSUS works to help correct the wrongs that have plagued our breed for so long, it should also support and encourage events that promote the natural gaits, versatility and talents that this horse possesses, and which we believe offer the best prospects for the future growth and survival of the Tennessee Walking horse breed. As I mentioned at our May board meeting, HSUS will soon be unveiling a program to reward people who use or compete with their Walking horses in non-traditional venues which promote our breed to new, potentially untapped audiences and markets.

There are those in our horse industry, and in other segments of animal agriculture who have attempted to diminish the good work and progress that HSUS is making in improving the welfare and lives of both wild and domestic animals, by claiming that the Society is opposed to animal agriculture, ownership or use by humans - including horse shows and even riding. Nothing could be further from the truth, and a thoughtful review of the organization's website, humanesociety.org, and its many partnerships and programs with groups in the animal world would put those claims to rest.

As a member of our international board, I was pleased to be able to secure a sponsorship of our World Versatility Show from my employer, to support the Association financially while demonstrating to the industry and the public that HSUS appreciates the sound, natural, versatile Tennessee Walking horse, and our breed - and is not anti-animal use, ownership or agriculture. I hope the EC will reconsider its position on this matter and accept this sponsorship in the spirit in which it was intended.


Keith Dane TWHBEA Maryland Director

From here, the Executive Committee conducted a 3 hour and 27 minute call where a final motion passed 7 to 5 for Rick Weis, VP of the Pleasure Horse Division, to make the decision concerning the HSUS sponsorship.  Rick decided to accept the sponsorship.  I'm personally glad to know that HSUS is going to help the TWH out in this capacity.  It's making a big difference to know that we're starting to see some real, true change in the show industry.


Then there's this very strange press release from TWHBEA from July 11.  Mind you, this happened before the HSUS and PSHA/SHOW stuff.  I just can't quite wrap my head around what this means.

TWHBEA Issues Statement on McConnell Case    

As the official breed registry for the Tennessee Walking Horse, we at the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) are relieved to see this case brought to a conclusion. We respect the process and are satisfied with the result. We support any effort that protects the welfare of our beautiful Tennessee Walking Horses. Our attention now turns to the seized horses and their futures. On the advice of counsel, we did not get involved in this case until it was certain the horses would in no way be potential evidence. Now that the case is over, we have begun the process of reaching out to the State of Tennessee, having spoken to Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson, offering to assist in the future care of these horses. In the event they are not returned to their owners, we have volunteered to assist in the placement of these horses into loving homes and ensure they receive the finest in veterinary care and follow-up attention. We eagerly await a response to our offer.

Now my question is this: why did you not step in to help these horses when they were seized?  Where was your assistance then?  Or are you more concerned about giving them back to the people who allowed them to be abused?

In a twist from this, the Shermans who own three horses named Paroled in the Night, Prides Mr. Williams, and Mucho Bueno have filed a civil suit against the State of Tennessee.  These three horses were named in the dockets as horses that were witnessed being sored.  It's quite possible--but not certain yet--that they have filed this suit to try to get their horses back.  We'll keep you updated if we find out more information about it.

Finally, remember that show that the Union Humane Society was putting on in Louisiana, and they attacked everyone who asked them not to have it?  Well, the USDA showed up!  From spectators who were there, many rigs turned around and left, so the most any class had was three horses, and several were scratched.  One big name trainer got a post-show tickets for the scar rule, and another was a bilateral sore--I'm not positive on the details, so I'll get that information out soon.  Guess it wasn't such a "humane" show after all...

So that's it for now.  Things are looking up and we'll keep you updated! And don't forget to check out BGB's website.  We seem to be experiencing some amazing changes that are going to be for the better of the TWH.  Stay tuned!

No comments:

Blog Archive