"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, December 7, 2009

NEWS - SHOW hires HPA Violator (5 times in last 6 years) as Director of Judges

This is outrageous. THIS is why we cannot trust SHOW. They are a bunch of liars and cheaters and are not doing their job as an HIO. I plan to write some letters. Let's bombard the USDA and ask them to shut down SHOW. This is ridiculous! Feel free to pass this on to your friends and be sure NOT to support SHOW in any way, shape or form!


FOSH Press Release:
FOSH Surprised in SHOW's Appointment of Director of Judges


Contact Person: Theresa Bippen tbippen1957@yahoo.com

FOSH Surprised in SHOW's Appointment of Director of Judges (12-03-2009)

FOSH announced that it has written a letter to Dr. Doyle Meadows, SHOW/Celebration CEO about its surprise with SHOW's announcement of Rollie Beard as its Director of Judging. The following is an excerpt from the letter:

"Beard received five tickets for Horse Protection Act (HPA) violations within the last six years with the last violation occuring just last year. FOSH questions how a repeat HPA violator can be named as a director of a judging program in a year when a record-breaking number of soring violations has occurred. In addition to soring being illegal, it is also cheating against all the exhibitors who do not sore. As SHOW expects its Director of Judging to demonstrate honesty and support for the sound horse, FOSH fails to understand how this appointment is not a conflict of interest when one considers Beard's own recent history of soring and exhibiting. As long as SHOW continues to honor HPA violators such as Mr. Beard with positions of leadership, it is difficult for outsiders to envision that SHOW is serious about enforcement of the HPA or values such as honest. We hope that you will reconsider the message you sent to the public with your Judging choice."

FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and in the fight against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. For more information about FOSH, or to become a member, please visit http://www.fosh.info/ or call 800-651-7993.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NEWS - 78 Too Many (WARNING - Graphic Photos)

I received a pdf presentation today that was put together by the USDA. It is 78 different photos of horses that have been sored and were cited for HPA violations of the scar rule in 2009. Yes, you read that right: 2009. I've posted some of the photos so you can see what they look like. For the full pdf slideshow, click here. Here's Walkin On Ranch's page about it. NOTE: These photos could be considered graphic, so consider yourself forewarned.

As far as I understand most of the photos are of different horses (some are of the same horse at different angles, but not many). Note that some of them are very obvious that the horse has been sored, but some aren't so obvious. The biggest thing to notice is that some of the horses have "grease" on them. This is the lubricant that is put on them before they go in the show ring that supposedly protects the legs from the chains rubbing on them. So this means that those horses with greasy legs were allowed in the show ring after DQP inspection.

Folks, this kind of damage doesn't happen after only 10 minutes in the show ring. The grease should be protecting the legs, not damaging them. If the horse was in the show ring for 10 minutes and it has this kind of damage on it, then something is rotten in Denmark. This means the horses have had the scars and damage for a while, and the chains and whatever special mix is in that grease is making it worse.

I challenge those of you who lurk in the shadows and write me annonymous messages to explain this garbage. Explain why the USDA has collected these 78 photos. If soring is a thing of the past, then why are these photos still being taken? And this is just violations of the scar rule. How many more horses didn't pass the palpation or thermography tests?

Let me remind everyone that there were over 400 violations documented at the 2009 Celebration. FOUR HUNDRED. Why is this continuing? Why are people still allowing this continue? What has the horse done to you that he deserves such cruelty? The industry said they're going to clean it up, that this is going to be a thing of the past. How does 400 violations in 2009 compared to 187 violations in 2008 show that you are cleaning things up? From what I and others can see, progress by far is not being made. I witnessed it first hand at the sore horse show I went to a few months ago. Soring is still the preferred way of training BL horses, and don't ever, ever let anyone tell you any different.

My friend Nathanael Jackson said it best on his webpage: "I know this is frustrating to many as to why and how this is still going on, the why is still a mystery, but the HOW can be answered by knowing that there are dedicated folks out there working everyday to stop this, so they are not getting away with anything, it's just that this disease, is what we call in the medical field "Chronic"...And chronic things require a extended course of action to be eradicated."

I agree. My personal choice course of action: BAN PADS, BANDS, CHAINS, AND ACTION DEVICES IN THE SHOW RING. Sure, road foundering will happen, and pressure shoeing will go on. But it will be a lot easier for honest DQPs to pull shoes and test with hoof testers for pain without all the extra garbage on the horse. Pads on flat-shod horses are frequently used to hide devices or material used to create pain on the sole of the horses' feet.

And let's start dolling out some real punishment for the HIOs who allow this to happen. Writing them a warning letter doesn't work. Please, USDA, PLEASE SHUT THEM DOWN. Start banning DQPs who allow horses like these into the ring. Start fining trainers for soring the horses AND owners for allowing the horse to be sored. Start upholding animal cruelty laws in various states and remove these horses from the trainers and owners. Stop talking about what you're going to do and just do it.

78 photos. 78 sore legs. 78 TOO MANY.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - HSUS Seizes 84 Gaited Horses

I just received news that there are 84 horses, mostly gaited SSHs and TWHs, in TN that need our help. The HSUS rescued these horses over this weekend. Click here for the article and the video. Please note that the horses are in very, very bad condition, so it might be hard to watch for some people. Click here for the HSUS field notes from the senior director of emergency services.

The names of the perps are Charles E. and Charles C. "Clint" Howland. Add these guys to your list of not to buy from. They were arrested and let's hope they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law and are never allowed to own animals again. However, we know how this can slip through the cracks, so imprint their faces and names in your memory.

I'm sure there will be a major need for funds, feed, supplies, foster homes, and homes in general for these horses. In watching the video, I see several horses that will make great riding horses per the bone structure I can see. And quite frankly, I find that since TWHs can be so tolerant of abuse, they can come out of abusive situations with flying colors. My husband's gelding is proof of that. So be sure to contact the TN HSUS at tnhorse@hsus.org or tnhorserescue@hsus.org if you want to help. You can also call the manager of the TN State Fairgrounds at 615-862-8980.

I will update this post as I learn more. For now, here are some articles I found online.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THOUGHTS - Questions for Ourselves

Hello everyone. Once again, this is not a research or article post. This is something I personally experienced that I thought I should pass along.

I regularly read a blog called Shame in the Horse Show Ring. Her current post is about the Big Lick horse and how horrible it looks via the Freak of the Week videos from Walking Horse Chat. (She gets *ahem* colorful with her language, so please be forewarned if you go to her blog.)

There were some good comments to the post, but of course we got one person who posted who believes soring is a thing of the past and who has BL and flat shod horses that show. Obviously, we all know that this person is either being lied to or is just denying that this is going on.

I answered her comment word for word, and one of the answers was I asked a series of questions if this person truly knows if the horses are happy and sound. I thought these questions could be ones we could all use to screen our TWHs that are in training.

I want to make it perfectly clear that as owners, we are morally responsible for the care and well being of the animals we own. Just as a child can will be taken from abusive parents, the same can be done with animals. Ignorance does not excuse you from your horse having been sored. "I just didn't know" is not enough. A mother who acts innocent while the father beats the son will be held responsible in a court of law. Therefore the animal owner should be too. If you do not take the time to make sure your trainer is using ethical methods to train your horses, then you are just as guitly of that trainer for the abuse caused by your horse. And really, this goes for any breed and any type of care being provided to an animal.

These were the questions I posed to this person. Of course I haven't received an answer, and I don't expect to. But I thought perhaps they would help others out there who want to keep their horses in training but don't want their horses sored.
  • Do you shoe your horses yourself or watch while they're being shod to watch for signs of pressure shoeing or other soring methods?
  • Are you with your horses every time they are worked in training?
  • Has the trainer you're using ever had a horse in his training barn ticketed or received an HPA violation?
  • Has he been suspended or banned from any shows?
  • Are you inspecting your horses for signs of soring? (The USDA has the inspection method posted on the APHIS-HPA website.)
  • Are you pulling their stacks and shoes on a regular basis to see if anything is being used to cause them pain? (Yes, stacks CAN be pulled and put back on easily so you can inspect your horse--don't let any trainer tell you different.)
  • When at the show and you have to leave your horse for any period of time, do you have someone standing in for you to make sure no soring is done to your horse while you're gone?
We need to remember that just because our TWHs in training look well fed doesn't mean they aren't being tortured with soring methods behind the barn. Take the time to be there when your horse is being trained. Take the time to show up unannounced. And even if you think your horse is in good shape, note the level of care and well being of the other horses around. Do they look healthy and happy? If you are suspicious, remove your horse immediately. You don't have to report this person to the ASPCA or HSUS if you don't want to. Simply removing your horse and your money from that trainer's pocketbook is a very strong message, and the more people who continue to do this, the more the bad guys will lose their hold and will lose the battle.

Overall, if you take these steps, a good trainer will not think you're being rude or sneaky. A good trainer will respect you for how much you value your horse's well being and will welcome your visits and your being involved with your horses care and training. Those are the marks of a good trainer and moral person overall.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NEWS - My Interview for WEG 2010 Radio Show

I was interviewed on Wednesday for the 2010 Radio Show, the unofficial podcast for the 2010 WEGs here in America. They found my blog and wanted to interview me because of it. It was a great experience, and I want to thank Samantha Clark and Glenn the Geek for inviting me on their show. Click here to listen to the interview! (My portion starts at -26:14.)

Be sure to check out the 2010 Radio Show website for more podcasts and information about the WEGs.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - TWHBEA Will Not Exhibit at the 2010 WGC

Another victory for the sound horse! I am so happy the WEG chose NWHA to be the representative for the TWH breed. I also heard that The Jacksons and Champagne Watchout will be performing freestyle dressage at the WEG as well. So we will have a wonderful, TRUE representation of our naturally gaited TWHs at the WEG! CONGRATULATIONS, NWHA!
Click here for the article link
WEG picks natural walking horses for exhibits

Kentucky.com * Oct 30, 2009 * By Janet Patton - jpatton1@herald-leader.com

A controversial Tennessee Walking Horse group will not be allowed to participate in the Equine Village at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games after all.

Instead, the Games will highlight the National Walking Horse Association, which prohibits devices and practices that exaggerate the horse's natural gait.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association had asked to participate in the exhibitions planned at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Games next fall and, according to WEG board chairman John Long, the WEG board had decided in December to allow them.

But last month, as the board was finalizing the list of participants, they changed plans and refunded the Tennessee Walking Horse group's $20,000 deposit instead, said Jamie Link, WEG 2010 Foundation chief executive officer.

"We recognized there is some controversy surrounding that breed. We made the decision that it's not in our best interest to provide a showcase for a controversy like this," Link said Thursday.

A small percentage of walking horses, which have a naturally smooth gait, are trained in a highly stylized high-stepping performance gait for competitions. This sometimes involves use of illegal devices and substances to make the horse's feet sore. These practices, known as "soring," are banned under the federal Horse Protection Act, enforced by the USDA.

The Tennessee Walking Horse group had agreed not to bring any walking horses in padded shoes or chains, and guaranteed none of the horses exhibited would be "sore."

But in the end WEG "went a different direction," Link said, although he emphasized that the board wants to support the Tennessee Walking Horse group's efforts to rehabilitate its image and reform training methods.

"Ultimately, we decided (the Tennessee Walking Horse Group) was just probably not the best fit," Link said. "We do want to showcase the walking horse because it's inherent to Kentucky's culture."

Fifty-three equine organizations and presenters will be part of the Equine Village. The exhibited breeds will range from Andalusians to Connemaras to Paso Finos.
All information regarding the Equine Village is available on the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Web site at www.alltechfeigames.com. Equine organizations seeking involvement in the Equine Village can contact Layson Griffin at layson.griffin@ky.gov or at 859-948-5919.

The World Games will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park from Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2010.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NEWS - Western States Celebration Attended by USDA

I have fantastic news! I found out that the Western States Celebration, which was held in Mohave Valley, AZ the weekend of Oct 16-18, was shut down with the presence of the USDA!

The Western States Celebration has been going on for about three years now. It is advertised on the Tennessee Walking Horse Association of California's website as being in Laughlin, NV, but insiders have found out that it is actually in Mohave Valley, AZ, about a half hour south of Laughlin. They hold it at the Mojave Crossings Event Center. Mohave Valley is Native American Reservation land. The thought is that they are trying to hide this show from the Feds. There is no address or contact info listed on the website--only the class list.

The USDA showed up on Sunday, Oct 18. I was told that the main Big Lick trainer there tried to chase the USDA off, saying they have no jurisdiction because it is Native American Reservation land. The USDA had already looked into this, and yes, the Federal Government does have jurisdiction on Reservation land. While State laws are exempt, Federal laws aren't. But they went to the County Sheriff anyway, who of course confirmed this. So they came back to the show with the sheriff and everyone packed up and left.

Now, I do know this was a very, very sparsely attended show. Lots of classes were canceled, and there was usually only one horse per class, at the most three horses in a class. While this communicates to me that this type of showing is dying, the bad guys are still trying to keep it up, so it's important that if you hear about a BL show in your area to contact the USDA and let them know about it. Sometimes they already know, sometimes they don't, but better safe than sorry!

I sent the USDA an email thanking them for showing up at this show. I hope this sends a message to those trainers that they will find them no matter what, and it's time to stop this nonsense.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Story of a Show

This isn't research or information I've found that's new concerning the fight against soring. I just want to relate a story to all of you.

I went to visit a friend a few weeks ago, and we, both being against soring, decided to attend a horse show that was held by the Tennessee Walking Horse Association of California, which is known to still support the padded show circuit. It was free to get in, so we knew we weren't going to be putting our money into the system. No one knows who I am in that area, so I wasn't in any danger. She formerly sored her horses but has seen the error of her ways and now supports sound horses and sound horse groups, and they do know who she is, but no one really cares what she does anymore.

I saw this as a great opportunity. I was going to go to a show that was specifically a padded TWH show and that was attended and presided over by known HPA violators. I was going with someone who used to sore their horses. The show was also held in an extremely remote location that is not advertised on the TWHAC website, so no big chance of running into anyone I know there. Therefore, this was a chance to get to go with a former insider to see the workings of a show where the show management most likely believed no one knew what they were doing. Now, I have seen horses sored right in front of me before at shows here in AZ, but at the time I had no idea what I was looking at. Now I would be witnessing soring armed with the research and knowledge I have now, and I would be able to see how it all works.

What I saw was by far more shocking than the moment I first saw a horse on stacks. Knowledge is power, but it can also make things far more frightening then they were when we knew nothing.

There was a variety of classes, all with varied names. Park Performance, Park Pleasure, Lite-Shod, Lite-Shod Pleasure, Lite-Shod Specialty, Show Horse, Show Pleasure, and various trail and open classes. My friend explained to me that the tpe of class was based on the kinds of shoes the horses were wearing. Show horses are the big padded horses, while park horses have a heavy shoe with just one or two pads, and the lite-shod horses have just a "lite" shoe, which is ultimately large as well, larger than a normal shoe that most breeds wear in other horse events.

It became painfully--both for the horse physically and for me emotionally--obvious that in order to win the class, it didn't matter how even your horse's timing was, how fluid was his movement, if he had a head nod or not. No, the horses that were rewarded were those horses that were "doing the most," as in had the most action and movement. Once this was explained to me, I was able to mentally tie the classes pretty quickly. In one class that had two horses, one horse was very herky-jerky and laboring with difficulty, his back end crouching low, his hocks twisting violently, his knees lifting higher than his chest, each foot flinging out in front of him when he threw that leg out as if he were trying to shake his very hoof off. The other horse was fluid in it's movement with a head nod and wasn't laboring as much. But the herky-jerky horse won because he was "doing more." The more crouch and the higher the horses fling their legs, the more ribbons they got.

The way this arena was set up was to simulate what the USDA requires for the inspections. About 1/4 of the arena was sectioned off so there was a holding area. The horses were brought for inspection when entering the arena and then once inspected stayed in the holding area. This is so the DQP can keep an eye on them so no one does anything to them. It's also a nice spot to let the horses get used to being inside the indoor arena and to ride a little bit in there so they know what's going on and for the rider to see how they're going.

The DQP did his palpation work by the book, but that's all. He paid no mind to what was going on in the holding area, nor did he penalize anyone for standing around the DQP area and just hanging out. He allowed more than one person to handle the horse while he inspected. He didn't take much time in inspecting them--just grabbed a foot, palpated and dropped it, probably not holding the foot more than two seconds. I watched as the horses were inspected then brought over to stand and be resaddled and ridden. I watched several horses get "fixed" right in front of my very eyes. One horse got lead weights added to the bottom of his stacks to make him pick up his legs more. It was fascinating when they did it. First, they rode the horse and determined him not doing enough. They stopped and added the weights, and damn if that horse didn't start picking those legs up higher and crouching behind. Other horses were similarly messed with around their front feet, all right in front of the DQP, when nothing is supposed to be done with the horses once they've been inspected.

The crouching was horrible to watch. The back legs had to be kept in a spider-like position in order for them to hold the weight of the horse as he shifted his weight to keep it off his horribly pained front feet. The hocks would twist outward. It even sometimes looked as if at each step the horse took, he was actually landing on his cannons and fetlocks rather than his hoof. Sometimes the cannon bones were practically parallel to the ground.

The arena itself was in on the game as well. I'm not talking about those who run the arena, but how the arena was prepared for the show by request of the those who ran the show. There was hardly any arena footing on the concrete floor of the building. Some dirt had been sprinkled around, but they needed that floor to be hard so when the horse's hooves slapped against it, it would hurt and cause them to lift up their feet higher. The loud thudding and slapping of their hooves made it clear they were pretty much walking on the concrete and not soft, yielding arena dirt. Who knows how many of the horses were pressure shod in some way to make this even more effective. In fact, most of them were "tightrope walking" in the front. In order to more easily bear the weight in their front end, each foot would set down in the middle of the track the horse was on, effectively placing the leg directly underneath the horse's chest. The next foot would land directly in front of the track of the other foot. This gave the visual as if the horse were walking on a tightrope, having to place one foot in front of the other for balance.

In speaking about movement, very rarely did I see a true head nod on any of these horses. Because the pace is the desired gait for stacked horses because when you stack and sore them it squares them up, most of these horses were performing a stepping pace. Their head would nod, but it wasn't pronounced and you could see the side to side motion of the head as it nodded, a clear sign the horse was in a stepping pace. I also watched the footfalls, and none of them were an even four-beat gait: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Instead, they were the footsteps of a broken pace: 1-2, 3-4, 1-2, 3-4. This movement is against the rulebooks, which clearly state the horse must have a head nod and evenly timed gait.

The worst I saw was a 3 year old that was going in the stallions and geldings 3 yo class. A few classes before, I watched his rider and the trainer ride him, the trainer being a very fat man--probably close to 300 lbs--that should never have been sitting on such a small horse, let alone a 3 yo. The horse was obviously laboring and flinging his feet out in front of him. But for them, he just wasn't right. They brought him back to the side of the arena, and the groom walked up to the horse with a little bottle in his hand. He knelt down in front of the horse and put something on his pasterns. The horse rocked backwards onto his back legs in response. He even picked up one foot and put it back down when the stuff was applied. They left him standing for a moment, and then the groom "greased" him, which is standard language for putting a lubricant on the horse's pasterns so the chains don't rub the skin raw. While the grease is supposed to be one of three substances by HPA standards--glycerine, petroletum, or mineral oil--and is supposed to be provided by the DQP, this groom never went to the DQP for his grease that I saw. I was told by my friend that who's to say if his grease doesn't have a little kerosene or "croton oil" in it to add some pain to the horse. After they did this and put on the chains, the grotesque movement of this majestic animal got even more herky jerky. A couple of times I thought he was literally going to fall backwards onto his rump, he was trying so hard to get away from the pain.

As the horses rounded the arena, their wild eyes and laboring breaths told you they were in pain. These were not athletes as the stacked horse world will have you believe. These animals were obviously in pain and were scared. Even though the class would only last five minutes, each horse was bathed in sweat and breathing hard as he stood in the lineup. But their calm temperaments and fear kept them going. I don't really know what else could have.

While all this was bad, what got me the most and made my blood boil and tears sting my eyes was watching that 3 yo's owner rub on his face and kiss him as the groom attended to his feet. Yeah, you keep doing that, honey. Keep abusing that horse and keep smiling while he suffers so you can be in a one-horse class and win a $1.95 ribbon. Because that's what being successful in the sore horse industry is all about.

There is some good news in all of this. As far as I could tell, this show was only attended by two trainers and theirs and their clients' horses. Half the classes were canceled, and very rarely did a class have more than one horse. Only one class had two horses, and only one other had three. I got the impression that of the 10 or so people smattered throughout the stands, there were no outside spectators other than me and my friend. Spectators were families and friends of those showing, and there were few of those to say the least. We drove around back behind the arena to take a look at the show barns. There were only five trailers there and one promonent trainer's big rig. Only a small fraction of the stalls were taken. Compared to the 80+ RV spots taken and 100+ trailers brought to the 2009 NWHA Nationals, it was a very sorry sight indeed.

This tells me the industry is dying. First, they hold the show in a remote location, and most likely it's because they don't want the USDA to show up. They even lied about the location on their website and held the show in an area about a half hour away from the implied location. Second, with very few horses and spectators there, I can't imagine the trainers having a lot of horses in their barns. I believe that the increased pressure by the public and the increased information that is being brought to light were factors in the attendance of this show. The more people are educated about what's going on, the more they are going to think about whether or not this is the right thing to do. Even if they don't have a moral change of heart, they can at least understand that long toes and stacks are no longer desirable in the horse show world in general, and it can stop the more minds we change.

Of course, this does not mean we can let up. I am still going to write an email to the USDA detailing what I saw. While they cannot be punished after the fact, I want to let the USDA know that soring was rampant at this show. While I understand that going to a small show in the West is a waste of their time when there are hardly any horses there, it would have been nice to see this small show pack up and go home because the USDA arrived. So, as long as we keep the pressure on, then things are going to change. Keep your emails and letters flowing, and keep up the good fight. We can and will win this--it will just take dilligence and patience on our part!

Friday, October 2, 2009

HOW YOU CAN HELP - HSUS's American Horse Heritage Fund and TWH Page

We all get those envelopes in the mail with four-page long letters in font with an included envelope and several small cardstock "P.S." notes, telling us to save a child in some unknown third-world country for only 10 cents a day. I tend to get the animal ones, most notably from the and the since I have donated money to both in the past. No problem--it doesn't bother me, and hey, since they are usually accompanied by free return address labels or a magnetic notepad, I'm well stocked for the next 10 years of return address labels for sending out bills and birthday cards and paper for writing grocery lists!

I received a letter from the American Heritage Horse Fund two weeks ago, and this one caught my eye because the letter was specifically geared toward educating the public about soring. I was really glad to read this--it's so important to get the info out to the public. I'm sure this letter reached a lot of people who have no idea what's happening to the TWH.

Now, I can't find any info about the AHHF on the HSUS website, although they do claim that they are a part of their organization. When I googled American horse Herigate Fund, I only found a Facebook page for it. So I'm not positive of how legit the group is. However, there is a good idea included with this letter. There is a letter to the USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that you can conveniently send back with your donation. I figured I'd post what they wrote here. If you didn't receive the AHHF letter, then you can at least modify this text for yourself to send on to Sec. Vilsack. Click here for the contact info page for the USDA.

It is unconscionable that the Tennessee Walking Horse industry consistently resists and attempts to block aggressive enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to eliminate soring of horses by chemical, mechanical or other means, all for entertainment and profit.

Tennessee Walking Horses, and other gaited horses, need the commitment of the USDA to enforce existing laws and to protect them from unnatural suffering and pain simply for the sake of profit and entertainment.

Please give the Horse Protection Act the support it needs to ensure that sored horses are not allowed to exhibit. Don't let the industry negotiate or dictate the terms under which it operates; the law and humane treatment of horses should not be negotiable.


Your Name Here

Also of note, the HSUS has opened up a webpage specifically for the TWH. Click here to see it. This is great--it's prominently displayed through their Horses link at the top of the page, so our message will continue to get out there. Be sure to help spread the word--forward this page to all your horsey friends!

Monday, September 28, 2009

RESEARCH - Padding and the Effect on Walking Horses

I was sent a couple of things from some friends about shoes, and after doing some further research, I ran across some excellent information that I believe clearly communicates why we should NOT stack our horses.

Now first, let's talk about the stacks themselves. Most people in the industry call them "pads" or a "package." I call them "stacks" because they are truly are that--stacks of pads made of leather, plastic, or aluminum or any combo thereof that are usually used for therapuedic reasons to protect the hoof. For example, I used to own a mare that wore pads on her front feet underneath her shoe. She used to be prone to stone bruises, so the pads protected her feet from this problem. Eventually my farrier found a hoof supplement that worked wonders for her, so she didn't have to wear them anymore.

With TWHs, these pads are stacked one on top of the other to create a Frankenstein-ish look so the horse is standing on several inches of these pads, as shown. The feet are cut at an unnatural angle with the heel low and the toe long so as to force the horse to "snatch" his foot up and fling it back out in front of him for more lift. This package cannot stay on the hoof all by itself, so metal bands are placed across the hoof and screwed to the sides of the stacks to keep the package on. Here is a video of how the package is put together. (PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT FLAME THE PERSON WHO MADE THIS VIDEO. He is doing nothing illegal here--just demonstrating how to do this.)

Now, there is nothing illegal about horses wearing pads. And it's not just the TWH industry that does it--Hackneys and Saddlebreds also wear pads and what they call "wedges." The wedges aren't nearly as tall as the TWH packages are. In 1986, a controlled study by the Auburn University (and I mean controlled by the TWH show industry) was done to see if the packages "hurt" the horses. They found that horses with packages are not under any stress and that a horse can wear chains around its pasterns up to 6 ozs without it causing pain. Of course, this was done without the horses being sored, and the horses used in the control were not studied over the long term as to whether or not it was a problem for them over time. The study did find that there is a higher incidence of thrush and laminitis in stacked horses, but that fact is usually hushed up. Of course, this study has never been published publically since the sore horse industry wants to continue to just quote only the good things that the study found, not the bad things. Click here for a good explanation of what the study found that you will not hear from the TWH show industry.

Many times you will be told by sore horse and stacked horse supporters that "it's no different than you wearing high heels." But there's a catch to that: when a woman (or man--hey, it happens) wears high heels, she can come home and take those high heels off. A TWH does not get to do that. He wears his pads 24/7 until he is retired from the show ring. He'll get them taken off for another trimming or to "fix" him in various ways to cause pain to the bottom of his foot for showing, but otherwise he wears them all the time.

Now, I don't know about you, but when I wear high heels, my feet hurt after just a couple of hours. So imagine being forced to wear them 24/7 AND you're a creature that does not sit or lie down for long periods--you stand for a good 23 of the 24 hours in a day.

What sparked this post was this article sent to me by a fellow blogger: The Quest to Conquer Laminitis. Most importantly, we can look at this chart: How Hoof Angle Affects Blood Flow. She said she sent it to me because the photos reminded her of the angles of a stacked horse's hooves. The vet who designed this machine in the photos is trying to understand how the blood flow in the hoof is working, because we know decreased blood flow causes laminitis. If he does a venogram of the horse's hoof, he can look at how the veins are working and be able to shoe and/or trim the horse correctly to increase the blood flow. Note that the photographs are of a sound, non-laminitic horse. When his hoof is tipped forward at 15 degrees, "there is increased loading of the heels and subsequently less blood flow in the bulbar vessels." So what does this mean? It means that the heel of the coffin bone is taking more of the weight while the blood flow is being cut off to the bulb part of the pastern.

Look familiar? The angle of the hoof in the photo of the stacked horse above is similar to the angle in the above linked chart. Plus, the horse in the photo has a longer toe and lower heel that the horse in the chart who has a normally trimmed hoof. This means the coffin bone is pointed in a more downward straight position for the stacked horse than the normally trimmed horse, most likely putting more stress on the bone itself. Now think about how the stacked horse is standing this way for 24/7. How in the world can a horse not be affected by this over the long term?

I think that this is something that the Sound Horse Conference and other groups can use to help end this grotesque image of our wonderful breed. If we can prove that yes, stacks over the long term are damaging, then perhaps we can get them included in the HPA. Maybe there is hope for an end to this after all....

Friday, September 25, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - Results Are In: More Than 400 Violations at 2009 Celebration

I would have posted this sooner but I was having Internet issues. Now I'm able to post again without it randomly kicking me off!

The Humane Society of the United States, always on top of the soring issue (f' you, PETA) released the following article. Click here for the article with accompanying photos. Most importantly, over 400 voilations were documented, many horses did not show, and our WGC was "trained" by an HPA violator. I forgot that the owner, William B. Johnson, owner of Waterfall Farms and the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, also recently had an HPA violator at his barn, Billy Gray. Also note that the Celebration managers did not hold up to their end of the bargain with the USDA as far as inspections are concerned.

I hope that these violations are a message to the industry to clean up their act. Let's pray the horses will be seeing an end to this continued abuse that they do not deserve soon.


The Cruelest Horse Show On Earth
September 17, 2009

Amid allegations of bribery and horse abuse, the 71st Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration recorded the greatest number of Horse Protection Act (HPA) violations of any show in recent memory—and perhaps ever.

Despite long-running industry claims that the cruel practice of soring has all but become a thing of the past, the number of violations of the HPA has actually been on the rise.

About Soring

“Soring” is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's legs or hooves in order to force him to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait—the “Big Lick”. Today, judges continue to reward this gait, thus encouraging participants to sore their horses and allowing the cruel practice to persist.

Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970 to stop this intentional abuse and tasked USDA with the responsibility of monitoring horse shows to prevent the exhibition of "sore" horses. But even if a sore horse isn't detected as being “sore” the day of the show, his gaits have been created over a lifetime using painful, inhumane techniques.In perhaps the most shocking development of this year’s show, after the placing of the prestigious World Grand Championship class, USDA officials inspected and cited all three of the horses who took home the top awards—for violations of the USDA “scar rule” regulation.

USDA officials released the final numbers from this year’s event: More than 400 violations were documented by industry inspectors and USDA officials during the 11-day Celebration—compared to a total of 187 for the entire 2008 show.

A “Winning” Tradition

In an oft-repeated theme at Walking Horse shows, this year exhibitors—and horses—who were previously cited for soring violations (even during inspections at this Celebration) returned later to win high honors.

There is no prohibition against a horse returning to compete in a later class at a show, after having been cited for a soring violation.

Several 2009 Celebration exhibitors had previously been suspended for Horse Protection Act violations or other allegations of cruelty.

• The 2009 World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse is trained by former Trainer of the Year and past HPA violator Jimmy McConnell, and owned by William B. Johnson, who only recently settled a previous HPA case involving trainer Billy Gray.

• Gray, himself a repeat HPA violator, won the 2-year-old championship to thunderous applause, having come off his own three-year federal HPA disqualification just days before. People in the jubilant crowd were overheard to say “It’s great to have Billy back”—although Gray’s Southern Comfort Farm continued to train and show horses during his suspension.

• Trainer Dick Peebles—suspended for five years in 2007 by the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association for alleged abuse, was back in the Celebration ring after being quietly reinstated sometime in 2009 without public announcement or explanation.

Bribery Charges

Walking horse industry participants will seemingly go to any lengths to tilt the scales in their favor.
Local newspapers reported that horse owner Clay Mills was immediately and indefinitely suspended for alleged bribery of an inspector licensed to prevent sored horses from being exhibited.

The inspection program overseeing the Celebration said it will hold a hearing and seek a five-year suspension and $25,000 fine against Mills, a past director of the breed’s registry.

Mills was not the only past or present industry official with his share of Celebration troubles, as horses owned or trained by several others were prohibited from competing due to HPA violations. Some training barns allegedly received dozens of tickets at this one event.

Inspection Inconsistencies

USDA is charged with inspecting Tennessee Walking Horse events to document and prevent abuse. They also certify industry-run programs to self-regulate when USDA can’t be present. But despite the tough enforcement suggested by the high number of violations, there were disappointing lapses in inspection consistency at this year’s event.

• Inspectors did not regularly watch for stewarding—a practice wherein a horse’s handler will frighten or hurt the animal to get him to stand still during inspection—even if his feet are in pain. Stewarding is a chronic problem: Three trainers were suspended for life earlier this year for applying a cruel device to a horse in their care during inspection.

• USDA veterinarians did not appear to be inspecting all horses placing first through third, as was promised prior to the show. The post-inspection holding area was not maintained according to federal regulations, which state that only the trainer, groom and exhibitor of a horse may be in the secure area.

• The drug screening that was implemented by show management in 2008 to identify and eventually prohibit whatever harmful medications may be in use was not in place whatsoever in 2009, despite the finding of a variety of medications in a third of the 30 samples taken in 2008.

What You Can Do

The USDA only has funding to send inspectors to 7 percent of all Tennessee Walking Horse shows nationwide.

All year long, horses suffer with only a scattered handful of federal inspectors in the field to document their abuse.

Tell your U.S. representatives and senators that USDA needs more funding to fully enforce the federal Horse Protection Act—and end cruel horse soring once and for all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - RHC Gives the Incentive Money to Three Sound Horse Venues

This is so wonderful! I found out this news the same week as Black Week, but I didn't want to post simultaneously so any information got lost.

The Racing Horse Commission has decided to allocate it's Breeders' Incentive Funds for non-racing horses to the three sound horse groups who were up for consideration: NWHA, FOSH, and the Horse Protection Commission. This means that if you live in KY, then you can earn money for showing your sound horse at any NWHA, FOSH or HPC group. So be sure to check with the RHC and the sound venue you show with to find out more. Click here for the link to their non-racing fund page.

hope the following articles make you as happy as they've made me. And be sure to take the time to thank the RHC for their choice. We have to let them know we fully support their decision.


Kentucky Horse Racing Commission
Gov. Steven L. Beshear - Secretary Robert Vance
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamie Eads, 859-246-2847, 859-351-0682 (cell)
KHRC Approves Recommendation to Allow Walking Horse Participation in Kentucky Horse Breeders’ Incentive Fund
Votes to recommend changes in fund program
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 8, 2009) – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) voted today to approve the previously deferred Kentucky Walking Horse Breeders’ Incentive Fund (KWH-BIF) application based on recommendations presented by the KHRC Rules Committee.
The KWH-BIF was deferred at the Feb. 10, 2009 Commission meeting due to concerns over inadequate regulation and reporting of Horse Protection Act (HPA) violations, specifically the act of soring. The HPA, a federal law established in 1970, is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA trains and certifies the Horse Industry Organizations (HIO) and Walking Horse Shows will hire HIOs to enforce and uphold the HPA. The Commission noted in February the lack of enforcement at Walking Horse Shows when the USDA is not present and deferred the application back to the Rules Committee for further review.
The KHRC Rules Committee completed a full investigation of the KWH-BIF policies and procedures, Kentucky Walking Horse Industry Organization (KY-HIO) as well as other USDA-certified HIOs and Walking Horse Show management. Numerous discussions were held with KWH-BIF, American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and industry officials.
“As reform of the walking horse industry continues, the KHRC’s recommendations put the horse first,” said David L. Foley, AAEP executive director. “We believe these recommendations will help ensure humane treatment.”
Essentially, the recommendations will allow the Walking Horse members to participate in the incentive fund as well as reassure the Commission the Walking Horse shows are adequately regulated. Crucial to the recommendations is the list of approved HIOs. Any Walking Horse show in Kentucky that affiliates with one of the approved HIOs will be permitted to offer breeder incentive funds. This includes the Horse Protection Commission, the National Walking Horse Association, and Friends of Sound Horses. Additionally, the recommendations necessitate the need to escrow the 2009 funding and apply the 2009 funds to the 2010 show season.
“The safety and welfare of the horse is of great importance to the Commission and I applaud the Rules Committee for their complete investigation and subsequent recommendations,” said Lisa E. Underwood, executive director of the KHRC.
A full copy of the recommendations can be found on the KHRC website www.khrc.ky.gov or by contacting the KHRC office at 859.246.2847.


LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER - Tuesday, Sep. 08, 2009
Injured walking horses will not be eligible for breeders incentive fund
By Janet Patton
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday approved new standards designed to prevent injured walking horses from being eligible for the state's lucrative breeders incentive fund.
The new rules, approved unanimously, are "very significant" said commissioner Ned Bonnie. "It puts Kentucky in the leadership position with respect to how you treat horses and it has made the benefits contingent on treating horses fairly and taking care of them."
Bonnie said the move is designed to combat "soring," the outlawed practice of intentionally injuring Tennessee Walking Horses to achieve an exaggerated showy gait.
Under the new state rules, the Kentucky Walking Horse Association Breeders Incentive Fund will be reinstated next year, but the parent group will no longer be able to use its own inspectors at horse shows that award points.
To be eligible for incentives, the group will have to use inspectors from one of three "anti-soring" activist organizations — the Friends of Sound Horses, the National Walking Horse Association, or the Horse Protection Commission.
The Kentucky Walking Horse Association has operated the breed incentive fund since the state began the program in 2006, but it was suspended in February after concerns were raised about renewing the group's program.
Bonnie's committee "determined that prior actions of (the group) have not been consistent with the best interests of the walking horse industry or the (Kentucky Horse Racing Commission)," according to its findings.
Bonnie said Tuesday that the Kentucky Walking Horse Association's incentive fund also will be required to submit more financial information, including audits.
About $375,000 in state tax money that would have been available for horses competing in 2009 shows will go into an escrow fund to be added to the 2010 incentives. In 2007, the most recent year figures were available, more than $387,500 was set aside for walking horses from the sales tax on stud fees. Earl Rogers, head of the KWHA incentive fund, would not comment.
Last year, despite assurances from Rogers that no money had gone to participants with violations of the federal Horse Protection Act, Herald-Leader and state investigations found that more than a dozen fund recipients had been cited.
Last October, the racing commission approved rules specifically making HPA violators ineligible for incentive funds.
Donna Benefield, administrative director of the Horse Protection Council, hailed the changes. "I think it's going to be a huge, huge incentive to fix a very long problem," Benefield said afterward.
>"We want all the inspections done fairly and equally. ... I think this gives Kentucky the opportunity to become a leader in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Black Week News Compiled

All righty, I have all the info so I can post for everyone now.

First, Watch It Now won the WGC for 2009. He is owned by Waterfall Farms. Now, I had heard a lot about how WF was soring their horses from first-hand sources. However, as far as I can tell, due to the scandal concerning Monty Roberts, I have a strong suspicion they no longer sore their horses. So there is a possibility that Watch It Now was NOT sore. Let's hope this was the case.

Now to draw your attention here: TWHNC News and Articles. Mostly this information is about the winners at Black Week, but note the photos: lots of the seats in the stands are empty. HOORAY! I heard there's about half the attendance that there normally is at this show, and let's hope that trainers and BL supporters are getting the message.

The final results as to how many horses were disqualified will probably be available later. For now, here's information I got about the events of Black Week.


Missing links: only 12 of 33 stallions show in Saturday class
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
By Mary Reeves

As exciting as Saturday night's Celebration was for many -- it was a disappointment as well. Out of the 33 stallions scheduled to show in the split Aged Stallions 15.2 and over classes, only 12 made it to the ring. Those conspicuously missing were crowd favorites Weekend Warrior, Ironworks Tin Man, It's Billy the Kid and many others.

It's common for some of the horses who register for a class to not appear, said Mike Hilley, trainer for Rising Star Ranch.

"Could be their horse isn't performing as well as they think it should that morning," he said. "It could be sick."

And sometimes, the stallion is entered and shown, not with the sole purpose of winning the big prize, but to also showcase his abilities. In an interview last year with A Strong Dollar owner Curtice McCloy, she said she liked putting him in the World Grand Championship as a way of promoting his standing at stud. At other times, a trainer may have more than one entry, then choose the one with the best prospects to show.

Nine turned away

According to Penny Isaacs, penalities coordinator for SHOW, 21 of the 33 horses signed up for the classes were presented, meaning nine were turned away. The total number of tickets issued so far isn't known yet.

"We won't know the total until the Celebration ends," said David Sacks, spokesperson for the USDA. "We don't provide running totals while the event is still ongoing."

Hilley was working Ted Williams, a Rising Star stud and an entrant in the Aged Stallions Class, but he had no intention of pulling him from the competition.

He also had no choice.

"We were turned away," said Hilley. "They said it was the scar rule."

According to the Horse Protection Act, the scar rule states:

"(a) The anterior and anterior--lateral surfaces of the fore pasterns (extensor surface) must be free of bilateral granulomas, other bilateral pathological evidence of inflammation, and, other bilateral evidence of abuse indicative of soring including, but not limited to, excessive loss of hair.

(b) The posterior surfaces of the pasterns (flexor surface), including the sulcus or "pocket" may show bilateral areas of uniformly thickened epithelial tissue if such areas are free of proliferating granuloma tissue, irritation, moisture, edema, or other evidence of inflammation. "

In other words, scarring on the foot above the hoof indicates the horse has been sored.

Scar rule

The scar rule has come under fire from walking horse trainers who claim it is too subjective.

"We showed Ted three times this summer, he passed inspection all three times," said Hilley. "The USDA was at one of those shows and he passed there, too."

Hilley said before bringing the stallion to the Celebration, they had a veterinarian look over him and approve his condition, then at the vets at the show do it.

"The DQPs passed him, then the government went over him again and again and said it was a scar rule," he said.

Several other contenders who failed the Saturday night inspection have passed inspection at other shows, including USDA inspected shows, but the trainers were not willing to go on record.

"They go after you," said one.

Dr. Doyle Meadows, CEO of the organization and head of SHOW, said the inspections have been strict.

"Our people have written a lot of tickets," he said. " We're trying to enforce the laws and the rules. We knew how this was going to be, but we're really working hard to have a partnership and alliance with the government so we can work together.

"We've got to do that," Meadows continued. "We can't go on being so antagonistic. We all want to put a good, sound horse in the ring."


The Coach, owned by the Barnes-Holland- Kilgore partnership and shown by John Allan Callaway, won the Section A of the Aged Stallions class, with Watch it Now and Jimmy McConnell taking reserve. Third place went to Cadillac's Bum, ridden by Edgar Abernathy. The remaining horses were Armed and Dangerous Premier, ridden by Brock Tillman, fourth; Flash of Silver, with Stephen Daniel, fifth; Pusher's Astro with Joe Cotten, sixth; and High Dollar Silver with Billy Joe Hayes, seventh.

In the Section B Class, not only were 13 horses missing from the line-up, but for the first few minutes of the workout, so was the crowd's enthusiasm. Usually, as the horses circle the ring, waves of cheers follow them, especially crowd favorites. As the crowd realized that some of those favorites weren't going to show, it fell quiet.

But as the five horses began to walk on, the cheering resumed. Bill Bobo and Rowdy Rev took the win for the second year running, and David Landrum on The Golden Sovereign were reserve champs. Third place went to Puttin' Cash on the Line with Ray Gilmer up; fourth went to Missed the Boat with Jason Day; and seventh went to I'm Reagan with Barney Davis.

The horses who showed in the Aged Stallions class last Saturday night will meet again this Saturday night for the World Grand Championship.


Walking horse owner is suspended during Shelbyville's Celebration
N.C. exhibitor denies any illegal contact with steward
By Larry Taft • THE TENNESSEAN • September 2, 2009

The Tennessee Walking Horse industry's regulatory board has suspended a North Carolina owner-exhibitor at this year's Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration over claims of making illegal contact with an industry steward.

Celebration CEO Doyle Meadows, who has oversight of the federally sanctioned industry agency that enforces regulations on the humane treatment of horses and all other show-related matters, issued a written statement late Tuesday citing a possible violation by Clay Mills of Mt. Airy, N.C.

Details were not given in the statement, which said Mills is suspended immediately and indefinitely. Industry regulations prohibit influencing or attempting to influence stewards, who are charged with determining the soundness of a horse before it enters a show.

Meadows' two-paragraph statement said the agency would seek a five-year suspension and a $25,000 fine against Mills.

Contacted Tuesday night, Mills vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

"I am the accused and the accusations are false," Mills, 36, said. "I have not attempted to bribe or influence (an industry steward).

"I have been given no due process, and my attorneys say that my civil rights have been violated in every way by them making this type of suspension without due process in the middle of a show.

"I have agreed to testify in a court of law that the accusations are false."

The 71st annual Celebration is in the midst of an 11-day run in Shelbyville, Tenn. It is the breed's premier show, with world champions being crowned in all age groups. The World Grand Championship — the crown jewel — is to be awarded on Saturday night.

Meadows' statement said that the findings from a preliminary investigation found that the allegation "was found to have merit" and because of the "gravity of the circumstances," it was appropriate to suspend Mills.

An appeals process is in place; however, no appeal can be heard before the end of the show.

The Tennessean recently did an in-depth report on the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and found that more than three times as many violations of the laws governing humane treatment of horses were cited between April and August of 2009 than in 2008.

The industry regulatory board that is now in place took over inspections of the horses in April. Meadows, trainers, owners and show officials say that the new regulatory organization is conducting the inspection process in accordance with federal guidelines, resulting in the increased citations.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Black Week Continues - Updates Soon!

I have tons of information on what's going on at the Celebration this week. I am going to try to compile everything this weekend and get it posted. Until then, here's the info I have so far:

Horses are being turned down left and right. If I have my numbers right, 11 of the ticketed horses were given tickets AFTER they came out of the ring because SHOW DQPs let them through to show but the VMOs found them sore upon reinspection after their first place winning. Trainers are starting to realize that this is SERIOUS. I have been told by inside sources that they are starting to realize that even just a few drops of oil before going in the ring is STILL soring and is wrong.

Clay Mills, a trainer, has been suspended from the rest of the Celebration for attempting to bribe a DQP. The DQP stood up and reported him. Mills faces a 5-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for this. I absolutely commend the DQP who went out there and did this. May Clay Mills never be allowed to show again.

I have noticed on some of the chat groups that people are calling for this to end, for the "trick trainers" to stop and for the owners to stop hiring trick trainers. They know this will be the end of the padded horse if soring continues, and it sounds like there is dissention in the ranks.

That's all I have for now. Articles and more info to be posted soon!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black Week - The Celebration 2009

Boo and hiss. Again, the Celebration is on, and again, horses are being tortured right under the noses of everyone who knows better.

Right now, Ihave heard through the grapevine that over 80 Federal cases have been cited and 12 DQP tickets have been issued. Supposedly, calls were made to Washington and agreements were made to get the USDA to back off, but the trainers are still suffering. I have heard that spectator numbers are down, and that the Celebration is not getting the attention it usually gets back there.

I also recommend that everyone take a look at the TWH National Celebration website and read the news postings. http://www.twhnc.com/news_views.htm There are some good posts there, although I think a lot of it is smoke and mirrors to make everyone think that all is well when clearly, we all know it's not.

Maybe someday we will see our dream come true and stacks, bands, pads, and chains will be abolished. With the way our government continues to be so corrupt, however, I doubt we'll see it anytime soon. Until then, we just have to root for the good guys and hope that God does not have mercy on the souls of the bad guys.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NEWS - Two Lifetime Bans Issued by SHOW

I hate that I am so skeptical. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. But I guess when you've been burned so many times, it's hard to take things seriously.

The reason why I'm skeptical is because in the past, HIOs have handed out tickets and suspensions to people who are paid to take them. It is arranged so their horses can be still be shown under someone else's name, and they can still train at home at their barns. Because the HPA still allows them to be on the show grounds, well, what's the difference if they ride someone's horse a little bit, "just to see how he goes," or give a few pointers while in the warm-up ring? Or sometimes someone would receive a violation, but it was actually a young kid's name, or even the trainer's dog's name. When you try to trace back who owned the horse the violation was found on, the information just magically disappears. This is a well-oiled machine that has figured out the loopholes for years, although a lifetime ban has not been given, well, maybe ever.

I do like whta Tommy Williams says below, however. I like how he says to start questioning the trainers and owners, and to start saying "no more" to them. Whether he is serious or not, and I don't know which, the words do ring true no matter what.

Once I find out the names (if they're released), I will post them here. I'm sure they will be posted on the USDA website and on the HPA Suspension List on FOSH's website.

So I just hope to God this is real and isn't a setup. I hope they aren't just doing this to try to slake the USDA, to try to get them off their backs. I pray every night that the horses really are winning, and that the suffering will end soon.


Tommy Williams - WalkingHorseChat Administrator
Posted - July 08 2009 : 09:05:37 AM

This past week we have seen the two strongest and most severe punishments handed out by any HIO that I can remember in my lifetime. I can’t recall the USDA having ever rendered a decision to give anyone a lifetime band on an HPA violation. The most I can recall is 15 years. For so long many of us have asked and begged on occasion that our business had enough rules and very little enforcement or selective enforcement at best. That day appears to be over. The reality of SHOW and its enforcement is that somewhere along the way one of our friends, or even our trainer could get one of these heavy suspensions. What do we do as fans, owners and trainers to keep our friends from be removed from the TWH scene for life?
When SHOW first started, I wasn’t the only one who was skeptical. There were so many emails rolling around, and I read a few of them on the concepts of what this was all about…who was trying to form it…what the intent of this new HIO seemed to portray. On paper it was what many of us felt was the answer to many of the inspection problems…and HIO with a totally independent board and vets involved in the inspection process. When the pre-inspection deal came along there were 2 sides to that argument. One, it would educate owners…2 it would create a pissing match between trainers and DQPs, and DQPs with the USDA. The latter proved to be true. But along the way we soon discovered that this very “pre-inspection” needed to be THE inspection. Soon 2 of the vets involved were hired to head up the compliance division and were given full rein to hire and fire DQPs, and completely overhaul the inspection process. Dr. Steve Mullins and Dr. John Bennett have done so, backed by Dr. Doyle Meadows, whose enforcement element has rendered these heavy suspensions.
Back when Frank Eichler and a select few of industry folks met to come up with something that would work, Frank issued an email/statement afterward that was posted here on this site that said a lot of things. One thing he said stands out in my mind today more than all that he said. He challenged us all to say something to any person trainer or owner that is doing something wrong or illegal to a horse. Be brave enough to say… ”Please don’t do that.” Folks, the reality of that challenge is here, and we really don’t have to be brave anymore in saying so. We don’t have to dread the repercussions of saying so. If we warn our friends of the repercussions of their actions, we are doing them a great favor, and this morning they realize that we are and we are concerned for the horse and their livelyhood.
Folks it's inevitable. With our rules being enforced, it’s a matter of time before one of our friends, a close friend gets a severe punishment if they haven’t already. When we question the crime weighed with the punishment, we may need to look around at other breeds and see what they do. On these appeals can you imagine being the person who nerve corded a horse and then having to walk in the hearing room with Dr. Jim Heird and SHOW’s Independent Board, with Bennett and Mullins and try to explain what happened. Dr. Heird’s board will be a board of the most qualified vets in America or horse people. Can you imagine what they will say to a person who put a nerve cord on a horse? I don’t even want to be within a block of that hearing.
Folks, SHOW has now made it very very easy for us to look our trainers and friends in the face and say. “ please…no more”. If you are like me you are very fond of every trainer and owner in this horses business. I don’t want to see any person put on any long term suspension, and I know those vets and the HIOs don’t look forward to any of that…but it has to be done. These last suspensions have sent shock waves through our business and this morning each of us can support this level of enforcement by looking our trainer and owner friends in the eye and comfortable say…” please…for us all…no more”.
Tommy Williams

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Letter to the Sound Horse Conference

I wrote this letter to the Sound Horse Conference in response to their online request for suggestions. I thought it was something that folks might want to read and think about. Feel free to send your own suggestions in to them. Go to www.soundhorseconference.com.


Hello. I'm Andrea Ohnstad, and I run the website www.silverphoenixranch.com and the blog For the Tennessee Walking Horse, http://forthetnwalkinghorse.blogspot.com. My goal is to help educate the public about soring and to let people know how they can help end it.

I'm glad the Sound Horse Conference exists, and I hope that it really makes a difference in the long run. In my opinion, we are at a crossroads with the TWH industry and have been for several years. I think that the industry is finally admitting that there is a problem instead of denying it, which is a huge step. However, it is not enough. I believe the industry is not doing enough to end soring, and I also believe that unless the pressure continues, nothing will get changed. The TWH industry has had 39 years to clean up their act, and since the shut down of the Celebration in 2006, there still has been no significant progress made. It is time to force them to change by forcing the issue.

These are my ideas that could be part of the discussions for the 2010 Sound Horse Conference. I'm happy to help share my ideas for putting my suggestions into motion as well if you're interested.

1. Petition for the elimination of pads, chains, bands, and shoes larger than 1 1/2 inches. Add this ban into the HPA if possible. While this may affect other breed shows, such as those for the American Saddlebred, I believe that it is a small price to pay for eliminating one of the most cruel forms of animal abuse that exists in America.

2. Petition for more stringent fines for violators. In April of this year, Cleve Wells was found guilty of abusing Slow Lopin Scotch, a horse receiving training at his training barn in Texas. Wells was suspended from the AQHA for one year and received a $10,000 fine. At the end of his suspension, he must show cause for reinstatement, and if he is, then he will be on permanent probation.

This is the kind of punishment that HPA violators should be facing. A mere $2,000 fine and still being allowed to be spectators at the shows is ridiculous--a simple sale of a horse or two would make that money back in no time, and we know that violators will have their horses show under someone else's name. I also believe that the original HPA Operating Plan had excellent penalties, and allowing the sore horse industry to require changes to that OP was a mistake. Stricter violations should be instated, and they should extend to the owner who is just as guilty for allowing their horse to be with a trainer who sores.

3. Start pulling shoes at shows. A system can be worked out where a horse's shoes can be pulled before or after classes. Farriers appointed by the USDA that work outside of the TWH industry can be available to put shoes back on.

4. Force the industry to start following the AAEP White Paper. The industry has denied those steps that actually would eliminate soring as outlined in the White Paper, such as pulling shoes at shows. This should make it obvious that the industry is not interested in change.

5. To help the sound horse community continue to operate and encourage those to show sound, begin an "innocent until proven guilty" program. This program would extend to sound horse venues such as FOSH and NWHA. Since these associations have very few violations if any at all, do not make them go through inspection before the classes. Inspection should take place after the class for all horses that won a ribbon, no matter what the placement. It's time to start rewarding those of us who continue to show sound, and I believe this would encourage people to show sound. While we understand the reasons for the inspections and showing up to the DQP without saddles on, I believe many are discouraged that those of us doing right have to continue to be subjected to this.

There are two other points I'd like to make. First, the fact that the sore horse industry claims they need to do more research and start new studies to find out what's going on is merely their way of buying more time. The research is already there, the proof is already there. They have no reason to act like the research is necessary. They need to start acting rather than spending more time and money on waiting for results.

Second, when the NHSC was disbanded and SHOW was started, SHOW hired on most of the same people to run their new organization and DQPs that were in NHSC. Starting a "Search Committee" and appointing veterinarians who we know are involved in the sore horse industry is ridiculous. None of this is progress--it is changing things around to make it look like they're doing good to keep the USDA off their back. Hiring Dr. Heird is no help either--he comes from the Quarter Horse industry, where the horses are as abused as they are in the sore horse industry. Why would someone who works in an industry where they allow drugs, deadening tails, and keep lip chains on their halter horses in the show ring think that the TWH industry is doing anything wrong?

Overall, I have very little faith in the TWH industry to make true changes on their own. There is absolutely no reason why the whole industry can't eliminate soring the way that sound horse organizations such as FOSH and NWHA have. I believe it is the responsibility of those of us who want to see it end to start putting the pressure on, whatever it takes. This fight will never end until we force the issue. I am of the mind that "discussions" don't cut it--actions do. We can talk about this all we want, but we need to actually put these things into practice to make a difference. The time has come for a real stand to be made and stop allowing these majestic animals to continue to suffer.

Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. And thanks again for your hard work and time in helping end soring. I believe it can happen, and this kind of work is key to that process.

Monday, June 29, 2009

NEWS and ARTICLES - From the Walking Horse Report: SHOW's Search Committee and Appointments

Here area few articles from the WHR. Concerning Dr. Heird, It sounds like this guy has not been involved in TWHs, but he HAS been involved with the AQHA. Problem: the abuse in AQHA is just as rampant as it is with TWHs. The only difference is there isn't a law banning what QH owners do to their horses.

So we'll see what kind of impact Dr. Heird will have that is actually positive toward the TWH.


Walking Horse Report
SHOW Appoints Search Committee
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mr. Charles McDonald, Chairman of the SHOW Board of Directors, has appointed a Search Committee to fill the permanent position of Compliance Coordinator. This position will be filled by an American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) veterinarian, as recommended in the AAEP White Paper issued last year.

Members of the Committee are Pat Marsh, Chairman; David Howard and Dr. Doyle Meadows with Charles McDonald and Mike Davis serving as non-voting members. Marsh, Howard and McDonald are members of the SHOW Board, Meadows serves as CEO of SHOW and Mike Davis is the Chairman of the SHOW Personnel Task Force.

The Committee is drafting a job description, compensation requirements and a plan to publicize the position to potential applicants. This position will be responsible for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act and will report directly to Dr. Meadows.

“It is imperative we keep the expertise of licensed veterinarians in our HIO program and this is the first step in that direction,” said McDonald. He added “We have been calling on licensed veterinarians in our area for their help until we could get this position filled and they have been more than generous with their time and expertise. We are thrilled at the additions of Dr. Steve Mullins and Dr. John Bennett as Co-Compliance Coordinators during our transition time.”

SHOW hired Drs. John Bennett and Steve Mullins on Monday June 15, 2009 to become Co-Compliance Coordinators. Mullins and Bennett agreed to serve for two years or until the permanent replacement is named and no longer needs their support. Both veterinarians will keep their current veterinary practices but will have complete authority over the SHOW DQP and inspection program.

SHOW began its HIO program on April 1, 2009 following the dissolution of the National Horse Show Commission. Since that time, they have opted out of the 2007-2009 Operating Plan and introduced a new penalty structure. They are presently contacting prominent horse people across the country to serve on the Independent Board that will manage the SHOW HIO.
Announcement of the head of the Independent Board is expected shortly.


Walking Horse Report
Heird To Head SHOW HIO Independent Board

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – Dr. Jim Heird, Tennessee native and Associate Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Director of Teaching and Outreach for the Equine Center at Colorado State University, has agreed to serve as the chairman of the SHOW HIO Independent Board.

“SHOW is pleased that Dr. Heird has accepted this position and assignment. He is truly an outstanding horse industry leader and we are proud to have someone of his credentials assisting our industry and the future of our breed,” stated Dr. Doyle Meadows, Celebration and SHOW CEO.

The following is a bio of Dr. Heird. Before his current position Dr. Heird served as Interim Dean of the College of Business; Associate Dean and Director of Resident Instruction for the College of Agricultural Sciences; Director of Instructional Programs for Equine Sciences; Department Head of Agricultural Interdepartmental Programs which includes Agricultural and Extension Education, and the Master of Agriculture Program and as Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Interim Vice Provost of Agriculture and Outreach. He is chairperson of the Y Cross Ranch management committee. He is a tenured professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.

Dr. Heird graduated with his BS in Animal Husbandry Production and his MS in Animal Genetics from the University of Tennessee. He earned his doctorate in Animal Behavior at Texas Tech University. He was an extension specialist at North Carolina State University and a faculty member at Texas Tech University.

Dr. Heird is an approved judge for the American Quarter Horse Association. He serves as a member of the executive committee of the National Western Stock Show. He served on several subcommittees of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. He was a member of the Weld County Fair Board from 1996-1999. He served as the chair of the AQHA judges committee and chair of the United States Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Committee. As faculty representative for athletics he served as chair of the Western Athletic Conference Council and Executive Committee Dr. Heird has an international reputation in the field of Equine Sciences. He has lectured on numerous topics both nationally and internationally. He was a successful judging team coach, as well as teacher and extension specialist. His research in the areas of equine conformation and equine behavior is recognized throughout the equine industry. He has received numerous honors, including the United States Department of Agriculture Honor Award for Excellence in Diversity as Discovery Program Coordinator; the distinguished Service Award from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the Colorado State University Distinguished Service to Diversity Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Animal Science at The University of Tennessee; and the Outstanding Professor-Leadership Award from the National Horse Judging Team Coaches Association and the outstanding advisor award for Texas Tech University. Dr. Heird has a history of sincere dedication to fulfilling the land grant mission of helping to make people’s lives better. In 2001 he led the development of a new strategic plan for agriculture at Colorado State University. He initiated a first-year experience course to enhance student retention. He has directed recruitment and retention efforts that have seen an enrollment change from 760 agricultural undergraduates in 1990 to 1324 students in 2002 and an increase in scholarships awards from $68,000 in 1991 to over $400,000 in 2003. He initiated Bachelor of Science and Master of Agriculture degrees in Extension Education and a Bachelor of Science curriculum in Applied Information Technology. He initiated the College of Ag Sciences’ career advising office and the hiring of a college career director; the hiring of the College of Agricultural Sciences diversity coordinator; the College of Ag Sciences Career Fair, Peer Advising Program; developed a computer technology support group; established student computer lab development and computer skills classes; initiated the development of a distance education offering for the Master of Science in Extension Education; and developed a network of junior college leaders who meet annually to discuss articulation. He also established the Summer Discovery Program to increase minority enrollment in the College of Agricultural Sciences by recruiting, particularly in the Southeast, outstanding minority students. He has been active and successful in development activities for the college and several of its programs. He has been instrumental in helping to secure funding for the University’s interdisciplinary program in Integrated Resource Management.

More recently Dr. Heird was named “Professional Horseman of the Year” by the Colorado Horse Council.

ARTICLE - 1996 Statement of Eric L. Sakach, Director of the HSUS

This is pretty darn interesting--shows that the same questions we're asking today were being asked 13 years ago.


Statement of
Eric L. Sakach, Director
The Humane Society of the United States
West Coast Regional Office
Horse Protection Act Public Meeting
August 16, 1996
Red Lion Hotel
2001 Point West Way
Sacramento, CA

My name is Eric Sakach and I am Director of the West Coast Regional Office of the Humane Society of the United States.

It seems to me that there are two types of people present in this room today:

The first group consists of those people who define the pain and suffering of sored horses as a thing of beauty; who want you and the American public to believe that soring hardly exists and that self regulation is working; who are, in fact, responsible for soring horses, and who believe they will be able to continue to do business as usual if they can succeed in pulling the wool over your eyes. In fact, they think it's a "done deal".

The second group consists of people whose ranks include a growing number of exhibitors, trainers, governmental and industry officials, and others who care about horses and who believe the HPA has been gutted, those who believe the current administration is selling out the HPA and that the current situation amounts to a classic case of the "fox guarding the chicken coop", those who want soring eliminated, not regulated; and those who know that the current situation will ultimately be to the detriment of the horses and the industry itself.

I am here to tell you, that with the inevitable national media exposure that is sure to come, the walking horse industry will suffer as much as the horses it is responsible for abusing. But, in this case, the wounds will be wholly self-inflicted and they will make the CNN coverage seem like little more than a scratch!

My questions to you on behalf of the 3.2 million members and constituents of The HSUS are:

-Soring hasn't stopped in 20 years due to the administration's lack of enforcement.

What guarantees do we have that you intend to enforce the Act and finally end this cruel practice?

When will you act?

-A proposed "scar rule" has been submitted to you by the VMOs.

What action have you undertaken regarding this document?

When do you plan to act?

-Earlier, I mentioned that there were two types of people present here today. Which group do you represent?

Thank you.

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