"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

Monday, June 30, 2014

FTTWH - Taking a Hiatus

Hello to all you sound horse warriors!

I'm taking a hiatus from the FTTWH blog for a while.  I will still post on the FTTWH Facebook page since it's easy, but blogging is taking up time I need to use for other endeavors.  Doesn't mean I'll be gone for good--just won't be blogging for awhile.

I recommend spending time online at the below Facebook pages and websites where you can learn more about how to help end this travesty in our world.

But first, an anonymous poem sent to me.  (Click for a larger view.)  I am keeping this here to remind everyone why we're still fighting and why we need to push harder than ever to get the PAST Act passed.


Websites:
Billy Go Boy
All American Walking Horse Alliance
Stop Soring
Humane Society of the United States - Tennessee Walking Horses
Friends of Sound Horses
National Walking Horse Association
World Walking Horse Association

Facebook Pages & Groups:
Billygoboy
All American Walking Horse Alliance
Humane Society of the United States
Honors Dishonored
Voters who Approve of HR 1518/S 1406
Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH)
World Walking Horse Association

Sunday, June 22, 2014

NEWS - The Walk on Washington Was a Success

While the sore side continues to flail and flop like fish out of water and cannot seem to get their proverbial sh*t together, the sound horse group continues to work so hard and get success from their actions.

Billy Go Boy really has the best posts about the event, so I highly recommend going to his website to read everything.  www.billygoboy.com

Some important notes are that about 75 spectators showed up (not many more than those at a Big Lick show).  But most importantly, the media was out in force!  Articles have shown up on ABC News, the Tennessean, CNN, and various other news outlets that were there.  Billy Go Boy has them posted on his site.  Let's see the sore side get that kind of support with their exhibitions.

I have also heard that since the event, four new co-sponsors have signed on to the PAST Act.  There is also talk about the Act getting to the Senate floor for vote.  I will update everyone once I find out more news if this is true.

Also, please read this post for sure, if you don't read anything else.  This is the story of Dutch, a horse that was noticed at a Pennsylvania auction in June of 2013 in horrible condition.  From the story I was originally told about this horse, the owner took him to the auction to sell him.  Luckily, people who knew what soring was took the original photos of his legs and feet in the auction barn.  The owner found out about it, snatched him up and took him away.  Obviously he knew it is illegal to have a scarred horse at an auction.  From what I heard, someone had gotten a license plate number.  The rest of the story is on the post.

Some sore side folks have made fun of the amount of horses being low.  But it's not like the Big Lick classes aren't big now.  Two to three horses per class does not constitute a full classes.

The only defense of the sore side is to make fun of the natural horse riders quite frankly showing their ignorance.  I invite everyone to take a gander at this post from Facebook off of the open page of Tommy Williams, who runs the Walking Horse Report and Walking Horse Chat, where crazy anti-HSUS theories abound and names they believe are insulting are slung about.  CLICK HERE.  For the record, I'm proud to be a tree hugger and rabid animal welfare activist.  Much better than being called and animal abuser or a felon supporter.

And finally, here's the picture circulating the Internet of Pam McKinney, the Virgina TWHBEA Director, who came to the WOW event and spent her time walking around and making nasty comments, her cronie trying to pass out anti-PAST Act propaganda (of which they were not authorized to do), and when she was confronted about it, this was her response, as well as dropping dozens of F-bombs.  She was escorted away from the exhibition by local police.


The reason I post this is to show folks how well we are doing to save the horse, and how the sore side cannot stand on its own two stacked and chained feet anymore.  We continue to make progress to save the horse.  Soring and the Big Lick are not only cruel but no longer popular in the horse world.  It's time for it to end, and I can't wait for the PAST Act to pass.

Check out the All American Walking Horse Alliance website and Facebook page to learn more about their time in DC.  And thanks to everyone who worked on this project AND who donated their time and money to it.  This is why the PAST Act will pass: we are willing to work hard and keep at it!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

HOW YOU CAN HELP - A Gentle Reminder

Well, perhaps not so gentle...but in any case....

If you're bored this weekend--too hot to go outside, too boring inside--please take a few minutes to make that phone call, write an email, or send a fax so it's on their desk Monday morning bright and early.  Or plan to visit your Congressperson in person, and call on Monday to make an appointment.

The list of the current non-sponsors of the PAST Act is in the sidebar on the right of this blog!


And...

THE WALK ON WASHINGTON IS NEXT WEDNESDAY!

Please show your support and send them a few dollars or be present at the event.  More information can be found on the All American Walking Horse Alliance website.

ALL donations support press releases, transportation, horse boarding, flyers and hard copy information, news coverage, and other issues that need to be paid for.  None of the volunteers for the WOW are paid for their time.  So please consider a donation!



Monday, June 2, 2014

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - House Reps List is Finished, TWHBEA Crap, and More from the Walk on Washington

Thanks to my friends and lots of hard work, we have finished the list of House Republicans who have not co-sponsored the PAST Act yet.  Republican support is supposedly more important to the Speaker of the House to bring it to the floor, which is why we haven't done a Democrats list.  So we need everyone to jump on their House Republicans to get this sucker to the floor!  I'm sure you'll see names in the list that are lost causes...but then again, sometimes it takes just one comment or one important fact that will get that person to listen.

Of note: The ranking House Democrat Collin Peterson, who is on the Agricultural Committee, has co-sponsored the PAST Act.  Click here to read why this is so important.



Next, TWHBEA held its yearly board meetings over Memorial Day weekend.  Sadly, the entire Executive Committee meeting was spent making changes to the by-laws so that they have a Pat Stout Clause and a Christy Lantis Clause (THEIR WORDS, not joking on this) to keep the Lickers on the board and EC and to keep the members from having a say.  They also changed it to force members to support the Big Lick horse, whether or not they want to.

The details for what went down are on Billy Go Boy's website at this link.  Please read this and realize what is truly going on here.

But here's the kicker, folks: they are going to post the entire by-laws as a yes or no vote.  They won't do what all other organizations across the globe do, which is allow members to vote on each change.  No, they want to make sure no one is allowed to actually have a say in what they truly want to see within TWHBEA.

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER, PLEASE VOTE A RESOUNDING NO TO THESE CHANGES.  They are going to not only hurt you as a member, but also continue to support soring and force YOU to support soring as well.  Do you really want your hard-earned money used to support animal abuse?

Once you've voted, PLEASE don't renew your membership.  In my opinion, TWHBEA has had it's time in the spotlight and now needs to die.  They will not change, that is for certain.  They enjoy soring, they enjoy their money, they enjoy trying to protect a way of life that has truly gone the way of the dodo.  Aside from soring, the Big Lick just is not popular anymore.  Let's let them kill TWHBEA on their own.  Don't give them your money anymore so they can fail.

If you are concerned about registering your horse, there are other options such as NWHA, WWHA, the Heritage Society and the Canadian TWH registry.  The breed will not go extinct as we all know there are hundreds of people out there breeding flat shod, quality horses.  Don't let TWHBEA's vice grip on the registry sway you.  Find another venue to spend your money on.  TWHBEA is no longer worth your time or anyone else's.

Next, the Walk on Washington is still scheduled for June 18th!  It will be at 1 pm and will take place in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool on 3rd Street Southwest on Union Square.  The All American Walking Horse Alliance needs our help financially to pay for this endeavor.  The monies go toward paying fees and for permits to be able to this, as well as travel costs for the participants and horses.  If you'd like to donate, please visit their website here: http://www.walkinghorsealliance.com/


Of course, the Lickers are spreading lies that this is some kind of marketing ploy...like they don't participate in marketing ploys themselves.  But it's okay if they do them, just not anyone else.  The Walk on Washington, however, is not a marketing ploy.  It is truly to educate the public about the horses and let our Congresspersons see sound, happy TWHs in action, so to speak.  This is a great opportunity for anyone to learn more about what's happening and why we need the PAST Act passed.  So if you're in the area, please join them and show your support for the PAST Act!

Monday, May 19, 2014

NEWS - All American Walking Horse Alliance Ready to Walk On Washington

***EDITED 5-19-14***
SENATE LIST HAS BEEN UPDATED!
Please check out our sidebar for the link to the list of Senators who haven't co-sponsored the PAST Act yet.
We are still working on the Representatives list.  It will be finished soon!

A brand new alliance of sound horse supporters, owners, breeders, and exhibitors has come up with a phenomenal new way to educate our Congresspersons and the public to the plight of the TWH.

Introducing the All American Walking Horse Alliance



The All American Walking Horse Alliance is a brand new grassroots organization that have scheduled to perform a Walk on Washington.  On June 18, 2014, six to eight sound, well-trained and wonderful representatives of the TWH breed along with many supporters of the sound horse will make their way to Union Square Park on Capitol Hill.  The rally will be peaceful and will exhibit the horses as they truly should be showcased in the United States of America.


Roy Exum wrote a great piece on this event that explains everything, so I'll let him be your guide for this.  Click here to read it.

AAWHA does need our help.  There are lots of financial issues to consider, such as fees for permits, housing for the horses, and other such issues.  From their Facebook page:


Or buy a magnet:


Folks, this is truly a remarkable and game-changing event.  This is something that cannot be duplicated by those who are in opposition of the PAST Act.  Real horses showcasing their natural talents, available for our Congresspersons and other local taxpayers will help raise awareness and show how easy and important it is to get the PAST Act passed.  My congratulations and sincere thanks to those who have made this amazing endeavor.  Change is here, and we will see and end to the atrocity of soring.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

LIST OF NON-COSPONSORS OF THE PAST ACT - SENATE

With the help of a good friend, I've been able to put together the list of Congresspersons who have not signed on to the PAST Act yet!

First is the Senate list.  I will update this post with House list soon!

Some important notes:

All of the addresses are the same building, city, and zip.  Check the footer of the file for the information.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIST OF SUPPORTERS OF AND ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE PAST ACT!  This list will help you convince your Congresspersons why we need the PAST Act to be supported.  Be sure to mention the supports in your state directly!

Point out that the PAST Act is at no cost to the taxpayer.  Note that while those who do not support the PAST Act complain that jobs will be lost, let them know that the PAST Act only punishes the owners, trainers, breeders and exhibitors who use the tools of the trade to abuse horses.  Also point out that the industry has been allowed to police itself for over 40 years and still has not stopped soring and in fact encourages and rewards it.

Contact your Congressperson every week, every day if you have to!  The PAST Act will pass, but only with your help and enthusiasm!


If you have trouble with this file or find any mistakes, feel free to email me at forthetnwalkinghorse@gmail.com.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING SAVE THE HORSE!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NEWS and ARTICLES - SBS Dateline of Australia Helps Expose the Truth; Dr. Blackwell, DVM Explains Soring Pain; Billy Go Boy's Recent Post

We have some great things going on within the Tennessee Walking Horse world.  If you've been following our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, and Billy Go Boy's website, you'll know that the National Sheriff's Association has endorsed the PAST Act, while the Tennessee Farm Bureau has of course endorsed the industry and their useless counter-acts.  Although honestly, The Tennessee Farm Bureau's actions don't surprise me.  It just shows us that they are just as ingrained in profiting from the abuse as the Lickers are.

The list of supporters and endorsements of the PAST Act continues to grow!  Use this list when you're contacting your Congresspersons.  Click here to view the most updated list as of April 25, 2014!

The USDA has been working very hard.  They were at all of the major shows this season so far, and their presence either scared off exhibitors or caught a lot of the abusers in the act.  They brought their scientific, objective methods, and it's proving to work.  Please send them a message to thank them for their hard work.  Click here for the USDA HPA website for contact information.

Next, SBS Dateline out of Australia did an EXCELLENT piece on the TWH industry and soring.  They were present at this year's Trainers' Show and the Sound Horse Conference, so they showed footage and data from both.  This video is full of facts and good information from both sides of the sore horse world.  It also points out several fallacies within the industry, and counters many of their claims.  Click the banner from SBS Dateline below to watch the video.

"This is not the natural gait of the Walking Horse."
~ SBS Dateline, Walk of Shame


"The exaggerated Big Lick is only achieved with the aid of what trainers call 'action devices,' the most obvious the ungainly shoes on the horse's front feet."
~ SBS Dateline, Walk of Shame

Some interesting things I noticed.

03:25 - Brain Power reacts to Groover reaching toward his hooves.

04:53 - Mike Inman states that the TWH industry is important to the agriculture and farming in Tennessee.  There is no farming involved in owning TWHs.  Only showing.

08:13 - Winky Groover has vets check his horse after the USDA has disqualified the horse from the show.  He says the vets disagree with the USDA's findings.  Well of course the vets disagree--they are PAID by the industry to be there.  

11:26 - Dr. Tracy Turner used thermography at the Trainers' Show to help identify sored horses.  The Lickers continue to complain about the USDA not using scientific, objective inspections.  I don't know how much more scientific and objective thermography can get.  So you got what you wanted at the Trainers' Show, Lickers.  Sorry, Winky, I'm going to listen to the vet that used thermography and specializes in equine podiatry rather than your paid ones that didn't use anything but a subjective inspection.

After watching the thermography webinar and learning so much, I have to say I saw the lines on Winky's horse's pasterns that corresponded with the thermography.  I can see why the horse was disqualified--from what I've learned, he was clearly sored in the past but was "compliant" for the show.

But this was probably the best part of the video for me.  Mike Inman stated, "Essentially they [the HSUS] want the entire breed eliminated, again saying that will eiminate soring.  Well certainly, it will if you eliminate the horse.  There won't be any horse left."

Immediately, this quote was countered with Keith Dane's statement: "We [the HSUS] have programs to reward and encourage people who will use their Tennessee Walking Horses in humane, respectful ways and help promote the breed to the rest of the world.  So if we were against people having horses and using their horses, we wouldn't be offering rewards and recognition to people who are doing that humanely."

It continues to amaze me that this industry is so bent on perpetuating and rewarding animal abuse with the lengths they will go through.  But we're looking at a "tradition" that is truly normal to these people.  They've gotten away with it for so long, it's become ingrained in their culture.  Plus, these are trainers who wouldn't know how to train a horse without stacks, chains and "juice."  They have no idea how to start a horse from the ground up, how to use regular horse training methods to teach a horse to be ridden or prepare it for the show ring.  This was even commented on in the video: each horse is only ridden for about 20 minutes before they're hauled off to the show.  Twenty minutes of "training" is nothing compared to the hours upon hours most trainers put into their horses to compete, even those who use mechanical means.

Overall, a huge thank you to SBS Dateline for airing this.  The truth is out there, and it's becoming international!

The Sound Horse Conference 2014 has put up videos of their speakers on their YouTube feed.  I highly recommend hopping on over to YouTube to watch the videos of the presenters.  (Click for the link.)  We had some major players that told the truth about what's going on in the TWH industry.

My personal favorites are:

Dr. Michael Blackwell - Talks about what the pain of soring actually feels like.  Click here for Billy Go Boy's text of this presentation.

Carl Bledsoe - Former sore horse trainer who has chosen to leave soring behind.

Clay Harlin - Former supporter and owner of sored horses.  A preacher who talks about his time when he realized what was happening was wrong.

Dr. Tracy Turner - Thermography information and how soring happens, and debunking some of the Lickers' claims.

Of course, I recommend watching all the videos.  They are all extremely informative and helpful to end the practice of soring.

And speaking of Billy Go Boy, I really, really think this post is important: click here.  I love BGB's website because he keeps us going with such great information from the goings on within the industry, so much so that it keeps the fight going and fresh in everyone's minds.  I just find that this particular post really needs to be read and understood by everyone.  It shows how clearly disillusioned the TWH industry is.  It also reminds us that we are still gaining and we need to keep up the good fight!

Some thoughts:

I find it interesting that the only "spokesperson" for the TWH industry is Jerry Harris (Whatajayroe per BGB), of the What A Horse show from Tennessee.  He puts together a lot of videos with interviews of those within the industry.  However, it's clear that he twists words and facts to fit his own agenda, which to me is clearly to continue the sore horse racket so he can get paid.  Sadly, Harris doesn't realize that a change within the industry will stop it from hemorrhaging money and bring back the spectators and supporters of this great breed.

I also find it interesting that the industry keeps saying they want "scientific, objective inspections."  What's more scientific than x-rays and thermography?  Scientific studies continue to prove them wrong, yet they ignore them because it doesn't fit their agenda.  I have pointed out time and time again the quotes by Dr. Turner on various Facebook pages and forums, and the industry flat out WILL NOT watch the webinar or take the time to learn what science is really all about.  But we all know what's really going on: they just want to keep cognitive dissonance, to continue to believe their own lies, even in the wake of absolute proof.  If we say the sky is blue, they will call it black.  It doesn't matter to them.  Keeping their way of life is what truly matters.  So it's up to us to save the horse.

I'll keep you updated as I can, but please remember to follow us on Facebook or Twitter @FortheTWH to keep as up to date as possible.  THANK YOU for continuing to support the welfare of the horse!






Sunday, April 6, 2014

VIDEO, NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Bills, Bills, Bills; Video From Discussion With Sound Horse Leaders; FTTWH Is Now On Twitter & More

Well, we all know about the PAST Act.  But has anyone else heard about the PAID Act?

Okay, it's not really called the PAID Act, but we'd like to think that's what it's called:

Thanks to the Voters Who Approve of HR 1518/s 1406 FB page
Be sure to let the Congresspersons on this page know that we need them to reconsider their support and help stop abuse, not support those who condone and participate in it.

Most of you probably already know that Marsha Blackburn, paid Congressperson of the TWH industry (she was given $70,000 in donations at the Celebration last year) put together her own version of changes to the HPA.  Here's a good explanation from Thehorse.com (click for article):

On Feb. 26, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced HR 4098, or the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2014. Blackburn's bill would create one horse industry organization (HIO) to manage shows where Tennessee Walking Horses would be exhibited. Under HR 4098, that HIO would be composed of equine veterinarians and industry experts who would develop and implement protocols, guidelines, testing policies, and inspection policies for the industry. Under the legislation, these industry experts would be drawn from states most impacted by the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The bill also requires that testing used during horse inspections be done “though objective, science-based methods and protocols,” and preserves the oversight structure between the Walking Horse industry and the USDA. The bill does not forbid trainers from using metal chains, or stacks and pads used in performance packages.

While this sounds all happy and dandy, it actually puts the industry right where they want to be.  It would give them one HIO, which the industry has already established by putting together the IIS, or ISS, or some other such crap...honestly, I can't keep track of it anymore.  Somehow SHOW is not defunct, or PSHA is...???  Seriously, more alphabet soup.  At any rate, having one HIO that will be run by the abusers puts those foxes at the front door of the hen house to usher other foxes right on in.

Plus, in requiring "objective, science-based methods and protocols," this buys them time to find ways to escape detection.  Objective and science-based methods are already available and tests have already been done.  The Industry just ignores it because it scientifically shows that the horses are still being sored.  (See refusing to release swabbing results of 2012 Celebration; general ignorance of Dr. Turner's six-year thermography study and the results.)

A few days ago, Lamar Alexander -- who strangely, had co-sponsored both the PAID Act AND the PAST Act -- released a more detailed PAID Act that just adds on some useless penalties and expresses that only veterinarians should inspect horses.  Which, with the USDA, they already do.  Another good explanation of the bill from Thehorse.com (click for article):

On April 1 Alexander, along with senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), introduced legislation modifying HR 4098 bill to require the HIO created in Blackburn's bill contract with “equine veterinary experts”; those experts would advise the HIO on the methods of testing for banned substances and about the interpretation of test results. Alexander's bill also creates a 30-day suspension of horses found to be sore for the first time; penalties rise to 90-day suspensions for each subsequent offense. Finally, the bill would establishe a 4-year term limit for anyone who serves on the HIO board of directors.

So, we need your help yet again!  Please OPPOSE both of these bills on POPVOX.  Click here for HR 4098 and click here for S 2913.  REMEMBER: These two bills need to be OPPOSED!

Next, here's a great video from The Tennessean Editorial Board with supporters of the PAST Act talking about why it's necessary.  Former Senator Joe Tydings, who authored the original HPA, Donna Benefield, and Attorney Clant Seay provide wonderful insight.  Click here for Billy Go Boy's post about it.

We have also started an FTTWH Twitter account!  Our goal is to tweet about important information that our Congresspersons need to know about soring and supporting the PAST Act.  http://twitter.com/FortheTWH and @FortheTWH.  Please follow us and retweet so we can get the word out and get as much support as we can!

I also want to announce that I'm not going to be posting on this blog as much for awhile.  I have some other pressing work to take care of.  But the FTTWH Facebook page and FTTWH Twitter account will still run as it's an easy place to share and give out information.  I also HIGHLY recommend following Billy Go Boy's website for lots of great up-to-date information.

So, to keep up with who's supporting the PAST Act and who we still need to contact, go to Govtrack.us to keep an eye on those who are supporting it.

House Support: HR 1518

Senate Support: S 1406

Key things the Congresspersons will want to know:

1.  This will be at no cost to the taxpayer to pass and implement as the funds for the HPA are already established.
2.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association for Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Horse Council (AHC and largest lobbyists in DC for horse-related issues), and Veterinary Medical Associations across the U.S. are in full support of the PAST Act.  Click here for the list of endorsements from across the United States.
3.  The Industry has not been and never will correctly police themselves as HPA violations continue to pile up each year.  The time has come for the USDA to take over inspections and for the tools used to sore horses to be gone from the show ring.

THANK YOU to everyone for all your hard work!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NEWS - Jackie McConnell Confession Video

It sounds like there was some great information that came out of the Sound Horse Conference this year.  Hopefully FOSH will make the information available to the public for free.

In the meantime, here's the video of part of Jackie McConnell's confession that was required in his sentencing.  Good information, and I'm glad to see it.  It's interesting how the crowd reacts when he says he loved the horses at 4:00.  I just am sad to think that I truly don't trust him in his "apology."  I think he's just sorry he got caught...but that's just me.  Let's hope he truly is sorry for what he did to those magnificent creatures in ruining their lives.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

ARTICLE - Dr. John Haffner, DVM, Tells Us The Truth

Currently the Sound Horse Conference is going on, and we'll see a lot of interviews and vital scientific information come out of the conference that's goign to help everyone out.

I wanted to share this today because I am in awe as to what Dr. John Haffner, DVM said during a presentation today.  I wasn't there to witness it, but Billy Go Boy shared the entire speech on his website.  So I'm copying and pasting it here.  Whether or not you are religious or believe in the Christian Bible, these words are still important no matter where they come from.  THANK YOU, Dr. Haffner, for telling the truth about this horrid industry.  (Click here for BGB's web link.)

**********

JOHN HAFFNER, DVM EXPLAINS WHY SORING IS NECESSARY FOR A WINNING GAIT AT SOUND HORSE CONFERENCE

March 29, 2014

BRENTWOOD, TN – The Saturday Sound Conference included John Haffner, DVM.  explaining why soring is necessary for a winning gait.  Haffner was frank and made reference to scripture in how he came to his epiphany regarding the sore Big Lick.

Soring: A Necessity for the Winning Gait

Isaiah 1:15-20

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us reason together,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

 ”It was these Bible verses that were illuminated to me like a newspaper in an old black and white movie early one August morning. It was as if God was speaking directly to my heart saying it was time to get out of a business built on the suffering of horses. This was the culmination of about 2 years of struggle for me. It began at the Columbia Spring Jubilee where I was the show veterinarian. A trainer that I did work for me asked me to inspect a mare that had been turned down by the USDA inspector. When I did, I could find no problem with her. I repeated the exam with the horse show videographer recording the exam.

The breeder’s association agreed to defend the case and they hired a lawyer from Dallas, Texas who had taken cases to the U.S. Supreme court because they figured they would lose in lower court and they were willing to take it all the way. The night before the trial at the Federal Court house in Nashville, I attended a meeting that the defense team had in a hotel room. I asked the attorney what he thought I was going to say if they asked me if soring was routine. To his credit, he said I must tell the truth. Then he asked “Is it?” I assured him that it is. It seemed that he was the only one in the room who didn’t know. Some of the others in the room became angry, and I got the impression the attorney was a little unsure about having me testify, but he really had no choice. At the trial I was very nervous, but as the questioning began, that question never came up. It apparently never comes up. And until I wrote my letter to Representative Whitfield, it seems that it has always been overlooked. In my opinion it is the critical question. It is the question that reveals the farce that inspection is. It is all a game. The trainers pretend they don’t sore the horses, the DQP’s pretend that some horses haven’t been sored, the USDA lets everybody pretend that there are only a few bad actors that sore, and horse show life goes on its merry way. But I digress.

When the decision was rendered, the judge wrote that he ruled for the defendant based substantially on my testimony. As I recall, that was in February. It was just in time for everybody to get ready for the show season. And did they ever get ready. I saw more open oil of mustard and blatant soring that spring than I had ever seen in my life. It just sat out in the open in the cross ties. The oil was so pungent in the cross ties that it made my eyes water. The USDA had been put in their place, and I had helped do it. So we were free at last to show like we wanted. That entire spring and summer I was troubled greatly about what I had done. I told the truth, but not the whole truth. I wasn’t asked, and I did not volunteer the information.

So that August morning when God told me that my hands were covered in blood and I had to stop doing wrong and learn to do right, I believed Him. Two weeks later, I had sold my part of the practice and was out of it. That fall I was called to meet a friend in the business and he wanted to know if I would run the DQP program. I told him I wasn’t interested in getting the government off their backs if they were not serious about ending soring. The thing I could never work out was how to let some horses in and keep others out. If they were doing the big lick, they had been sored. It was and is that simple. Some of the horses can make it though inspection and some cannot. Many can make it sometimes and not other times. Unfortunately for the trainers’ sakes, they can’t always tell when. The horse might check fine at the barn and then flinch for the inspector.

Pain is a complex sensation. Individuals respond differently to the same stimulus. For example: some people like to eat hot spicy food, and others cannot tolerate it. Or something that is painful at one time may not be noticed at another if there is a distraction. The degree of pain resulting from a particular stimulus will vary depending on many uncontrollable factors. Pain is an immense subject of research and is difficult to elucidate even when working with humans who can tell the investigator when and where and how bad it hurts. So to try to determine scientifically what hurts or doesn’t hurt a horse with mathematical certainty is not a promising endeavor. And I submit it is not necessary or reasonable to expect the exact painfulness of any training technique to be determined by any repeatable quantitative means. But it is reasonable to assume that oil of mustard on the skin or excess pressure on the sole hurts.

I hear people talk about the perception problem the industry has. I contend that the problem is not the perception. The problem is the reality.

The reality is that soring is the foundation upon which the big lick is built”.

QUESTIONS?

Is soring necessary for the big lick?

If not, why is it still a problem 43 years after it was made a federal offense?

Why do essentially all the trainers active during those years have a record of violations?

Why did pressure shoeing become a common practice after pastern inspection began?

Why were the terms fixed and deep substituted for soring and the degree of soring?

Why do horses have to be trained to stand still while their pasterns are palpated?
Why do so many swabs test positive for forbidden substances?

Why when going from barn to barn did I see that all the horses in training for the big lick were sored?

Why would inspections at horse shows still be necessary?

Why hasn’t the industry ended it?

Why hasn’t a line of sound big lick horses that dominate the breeding and yearling sales been developed through selective breeding?

Why would industry insiders forfeit their friends, their livelihoods and sometimes their personal safety to expose something that is not a problem?

Why has no one stepped up to publicly refute the letter I wrote that stated soring is necessary?

Why is it not just a bad memory from a long time ago?

Scientific evidence has been called for to detect soring. There are many types of evidence and means of proving something. In the case of soring, the problem is not evidence. There is the evidence a history of over 60 years of soring. The problem is the willingness to acknowledge what is obvious. The problem is to risk the loss of money. The problem is to have to admit we have been doing something wrong and we do not want to be exposed. We don’t need to discover some scientific fact that has been hidden for many years. We only need to admit what is obvious and repent of our wrong doing.

Can it be scientifically proven that a horse cannot do the big lick without soring; probably not without breaking the law? Two groups of horses would have to be trained identically except one group would have to be sored and the other would not. That poses legal and ethical problems that would be difficult to overcome. It is also unnecessary. Who would it need to be proven to anyway? The trainers know soring is necessary. The grooms know soring is necessary. The farriers know soring is necessary. Anybody that works in and around the barns and is willing to open their eyes knows soring is necessary. Anyone who has been in the business for any reasonable amount of time knows that it’s necessary. There are a few people that I have found that it does need to be proven to. That is many of my friends in the AAEP and some of the folks at USDA. Most of them are unfamiliar with Walking Horses and the training required to achieve the big lick. Some of them think that perhaps the really good horses do not need soring and that it is only the unscrupulous trainers that do it.

The suggestion that a horse that has been trained to do the big lick can be turned out over the winter and put back on pads in the spring and do the big lick without soring fails to take into account an important fact. And that fact is that this is only possible with horses that at one point in their training were sored. They learned the gait because of the pain induced by the chain hitting on the pastern or the pressure shoe pressing on the sole. Those horses remember the pain and they will do the big lick without a recent episode of soring. It is safe to say that a horse that has never been sored will not do the big lick if someone puts a built up shoe and a chain on him and starts riding. He will walk in an odd manner with an exaggerated gait, but he will not immediately start stroking. And he certainly would not win a class at the Celebration.

According to a popular radio host, when you want to eliminate debt, you begin with the smallest and work your way through them taking on the next bigger debt until they are all gone. That is how I see the problem of soring. It may not be the biggest problem, but it is a problem; a real and serious problem. Maybe more so because of the effect it has on the people who do it and approve of it than the damage done to the horses. To intentionally inflict pain on an animal for any sort of gratification, dulls the conscience and can lead to many other problems. It appears that showing sore horses may become a thing of the past. However, considering the previous 43 years, I would submit that it is not a foregone conclusion. But whether soring goes or not if this country is to survive, we still have other more serious problems that threaten the very existence of our nation that must be resolved.

Soring is only one of many problems. The laws haven’t stopped it. The bad publicity hasn’t stopped it. A change of hearts is what is needed to stop it.  Ultimately, all of our problems will only be resolved if we return to God and He relents from His judgment on us and our nation.”

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