"Today, Tennessee Walking Horses are known throughout the industry
as the breed that shows abused and tortured horses."

~ Jim Heird, Ph.D., Do Right By The Horse, February 2010

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NEWS and ARTICLES - Increase to Davis et al. Defendants and Indictment Charges


I think we can all rejoice in this news! A new name has been added to the list of Davis, Altman and Bradford: Paul Blackburn. From the HPA database website, Blackburn has not one, not two, but 11 HPA violations since 1999. ELEVEN. Here are the details of his crimes.
  1. City: Shelbyville, KY; Horse: Bay Tiger; Type of finding: Not specified; Suspension Start: 6/13/99; End: 8/11/99; HIO: NHSC
  2. City: Shelbyville, KY; Horse: Mr. Festus; Type of finding: Not specified; Suspension Start: 5/24/99; End: 6/6/99; HIO: NHSC
  3. City: Maryville, TN; Type of finding: HPA Suspension - debt; Suspension Start: 6/9/01; End: 6/1/02; HIO: NHSC
  4. City: Vina, AL; Type of finding: Unilateral sore; Suspension Start: 10/31/08; End: 11/30/08; HIO: NHSC
  5. City: Vina, AL; Horse: Sweepstakes Pzazz; Type of finding: Scar Rule; Suspension Start: 9/15/08; End: 9/28/08; HIO: NHSC
  6. City: White Pine, TN; Horse: Sweep Up Gold; Type of finding: Not specified; Ticket: 29271, 9/2/10; Suspension Start: 10/5/10; End: 1/1/2099; HIO: SHOW
  7. City: White Pine, TN; Horse: Jose's Perfection; Type of finding: Not specified; Ticket: 29200, 8/29/10; Suspension Start: 10/5/10; End: 1/1/2099; HIO: SHOW
  8. City: Shelbyville, TN; Horse: Silver Dollar's Sun; Type of finding: Unilateral sore; Ticket: 3305, 10/2/10; Suspension Start: 11/1/10; End: 1/1/11; HIO: SSHBEA
  9. City: Maryville, TN; Type of finding: Bilateral sore; Suspension Start: 12/30/01; End: 8/29/02; HIO: NHSC
  10. City: Guin, AL; Type of finding: Scar rule; Suspension Start: 8/8/06; End: 8/22/06; HIO: NHSC
  11. City: Marysville, KY; Type of finding: Bilateral sore; Suspension Start: 5/28/01; End: 1/27/02; HIO: NHSC
Take a look at how some of the dates cross: he was allowed to show in September and October of 2010 when he had received a ticket in August of 2010. and his suspensions were long--not many two weekers for him. Of course, the industry did not take his crimes seriously. Well, the USDA has, and now he's going to go to jail.

The article doesn't detail what charges have been added, but they could just mean the charges against Blackburn.

For those of you who don't think violating the HPA is a big deal, check this:

"“Some of the alleged conduct of the defendants contained in this superseding indictment constitutes federal felonies, if convicted,” U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said in the release."

Ask any lawyer: violating the HPA is a FELONY. It is a federal law, and therefore those who break it are felons.

The below article is from The timesfreepress.com website. Click here for the online article.


Federal grand jury indicts four defendants on horse abuse charges

by Staff Report

A federal grand jury in Chattanooga today indicted four people charged with abusing horses used in Tennessee Walking Horse competitions.

The 34-count superseding indictment against Barney Davis, 38, Christen Altman, 25, Jeffrey Bradford, 33, and Paul Blackburn, 35, adds charges to the original indictment, which alleges the defendants violated the federal Horse Protection Act by “soring horses and falsifying forms and other related paperwork.”

Davis and Bradford live in Lewisburg, and Altman and Blackburn live in Shelbyville, according to a U.S. attorney’s office release.

Some of the alleged conduct of the defendants contained in this superseding indictment constitutes federal felonies, if convicted,” U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said in the release.

In the practice of “soring,” bolts or other objects are driven into horses’ hooves or chemicals are used to “produce pain and sensitivity to alter the gait of a horse,” the release states.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - PRIDE'S Petition Response

PRIDE recently released its response against the petition. WEEEE! The game continues!

Click here to view PRIDE's response. All 35 pages of some really strange information, like how the "buildups" on a Big Lick horse are similar to the shoes worn by ASBs. Um, ASBs don't wear much more than an inch or so of buildup, and the horses don't stand at extreme angles with sheered heels and 5 inch toes. Or this: "The Petitioners want the USDA to decertify “non-compliant” HIOs. The HSUS is really asking the USDA to decertify any HIO that does not agree with them." First, the HSUS isn't the only petitioner. Second, have you talked to the HSUS? Did they tell you that's what they really mean? Third, whether or not an HIO agrees with the HSUS is irrelevant: the current HIOs are continuing to break the law, and quite blatantly so by not adding the mandatory penalty structure. Therefore, they should be shut down because they can't seem to keep the sore horse out of the ring. Really, a lot of the petition is a verbal attack against the petitioners, which really makes them sound like children whining because they aren't allowed to play on the jungle gym. PRIDE also makes extremely broad assumptions about the petitioners (my favorite being "Most of these animal rights people have never seen the horses of the 1970’s[sic]") and takes information out of context and skew it to their needs. And they need to learn correct grammar; for example, its "1970s," not the possessive "1970's." You'll get a good laugh out of this petition. There are very little facts and a lot of conjecture on the part of PRIDE.

Below is the letter PRIDE released on the Walking Horse Chat, an online forum for the Walking Horse Industry.


April 22, 2011

Tennessee Walking Horse Industry

Dear TWH Enthusiast:

As most of you are aware the Humane Society of the United States along with The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The American Horse Protection Association Inc, Friends of Sound Horses Inc, and Former Senator Joseph D Tydings filed a Petition For Rulemaking with the USDA almost 8 months ago. This is just the latest and lengthiest of a consistent series of attempts by these organizations to convince the USDA into implementing more stringent rules on the Walking Horse Industry. The Walking Horse Industry needs to understand that the USDA is not the enemy. Under the law the USDA must listen to anyone who speaks out on these issues. We are going to continue to struggle until the entire Walking Horse Industry takes a proactive stance in dealing with these issues. PRIDE informed the industry last fall that we had submitted a lengthy detailed response to this petition to the USDA in an attempt to work these issues out. Unfortunately the USDA has continued to state that there will be “no negotiation just litigation”. PRIDE did not make our response public in anticipation that the USDA would at some point post a notice in the federal register announcing that they were going to open the regulations up again. As expected the USDA made that announcement last week. The official comment period runs thru June 13, 2011. In response to this announcement PRIDE resubmitted our detailed response to the federal register to be entered in the public comments. Our official response has been attached to this letter for publication.

PRIDE, SHOW and the other HIOs are standing up for our industry and making our positions know to the USDA on these issues and we will continue to address them moving forward. The industry now has two great responses as outlines to use in developing your own responses to this petition. It is not enough for the HIOs to comment. The federal register must be filled up with comments from every owner, trainer, exhibitor, breeder, show official, charitable organization and anyone else that has an interest in the future of this industry and this wonderful horse. I challenge each and every one of you to see how many people you personally can get to comment on the register. Please do not wait to the last minute. This is the industries time to speak up and be heard. If you fail to do so then you have no complaint when the results are not favorable. This is serious business and I can promise you that the HSUS and their merry band of radicals are taking this very seriously. I cannot stress enough how important it is for this register to be filled with support for this horse and your rights to due process of law. Act now or it will be too late.

Pride is dedicated to enforcing the Horse Protection Act fairly and consistently for all exhibitors, owners, and trainers. Over the next few months you will see Pride continue to work with other Industry Organizations to help promote the Tennessee Walking Horse. We have spoken to many of you individually of our vision for where this industry should be moving forward. We will continue these discussions and we will facilitate many positive changes in this industry moving us into a new era for the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. We want to thank everyone who has supported us so far in our efforts. We appreciate all of the constructive feedback we have received and we have listened to your concerns. We will continue to make the proper adjustments to our organization in order to serve our customers more efficiently in the future. The HIOs cannot fix the issues that the Walking Horse Industry faces alone. There is a biblical quote that I live by, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Pride cannot make the changes that are required in this industry alone. Every owner, exhibitor, trainer, judge, dqp, and show manager must step up and do their part to implement the changes that we will propose. I am looking forward to working with each of you to move this industry into a new era. Thank you for your cooperation and support.


Sam Hamilton

Chairman Pride


Of course, we expected this. PRIDE is claiming that the USDA and the HSUS are trying to run the Walking Horse Industry out of business. But my favorite line from the letter is this: "We are going to continue to struggle until the entire Walking Horse Industry takes a proactive stance in dealing with these issues."

I have an idea for a proactive stance: STOP SORING AND ENCOURAGING THOSE SHOWING UNDER YOUR HIO TO BREAK THE LAW. It's a pretty simple solution that no one wants to contemplate.

But PRIDE is absolutely correct on one thing: the comments section DOES need to be filled up with responses, but we need them from BOTH sides. We need to see responses from the sound horse community and those who want to see the USDA do their job. Again, to post a comment, click here, then click Comment Due underneath Horse Protection Act; Petition for Amendments to Regulations. Please, don't forget to comment!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NEWS and HOW YOU CAN HELP - Please Comment on the Petition for Amendments to the HPA Regulations

EDITED 4/14/2011*

The USDA is asking for public comments regarding the petition turned in last year that is asking for amendments to the current regulations under the HPA.

This is a BIG DEAL, folks. We need all the sound horse people who can to comment! However, I need to stress that you do need to read the petition BEFORE making comments. Do not start commenting blindly. Be sure that you understand the petition before commenting. The sound horse community needs to walk into this logically and armed with facts, not emotional rants. Keep it simple and easy to read, and help the USDA to understand why we need these changes to happen.

It is also important to know the following, which comes from the USDA's Federal Registrar website:

"We are notifying the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received a petition requesting changes to our horse protection regulations and our current enforcement practices and related policies regarding those regulations. We are making this petition available to the public for review and comment. We are noting, however, that certain requests in the petition lack authority in the Horse Protection Act to implement."

For the requests that the HPA doesn't cover, click here for the Federal Registrar page and read the section titled Supplementary Information.

Click here for the petition and click on the orange PDF button to the right of the Petition for Rulemaking title. You will need Adobe Reader to view it, which is free from www.adobe.com.

Comments can be submitted through the same link that the petition is on. Click here and then click on Comment Due underneath the HPA Petition for Amendment to Regulations to enter your comments.

Your comments must be in by June 13, 2011. Let me know if you have any questions about how to comment--feel free to post here or on our Facebook page! Thank you!

*Here is the comment I submitted--I wanted to make sure that everyone is welcome to read it.

After reading the petition in full, I completely agree with every word in it. After extensive research and experience with this matter, I believe the best course of action that the USDA can take is to eliminate the tools that are used to sore horses, as detailed in the petition. The HIOs FOSH and NWHA have been able to eliminate soring from the show ring by banning these devices. If the HPA could be amended to mirror this ban, then we could see a true end to this abuse.

I am sure you will receive many comments that say that it's only a few people who are doing this or only a few horses that are being found with scars. The real problem is that we are dealing with an ingrained mentality that truly believes there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. They try to distract us by pointing their fingers at other breed associations' issues, and they continue to rely on data (such as 98% compliance) that is not accurate. It is also socially acceptable and even fun to consistently thwart the USDA. Most recently, we have seen the development of the Unified Horse Show Development Program who have said they will help only those HIOs that have refused to accept the mandatory penalty structure. Therefore, they are providing aid to those who continue to break the law and are in effect encouraging it.

Overall, this attitude allows soring to continue. We need to see serious punishment for this crime, and we need to see the violators go to jail and have to post bail in order to be allowed to be out and still showing horses during any appeal process. We need to see HIOs disqualified, and if they continue to hold shows, be dealt a serious fine for holding horse shows that are found to have sore horses in them. We need you, the APHIS and the USDA, to uphold the law as it is written and stop trying to negotiate with the industry. They have had over 40 years to end soring, which is proof they never will. A decrease in soring isn't okay--one sore horse is one to many.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

RESEARCH - Stephen Brown vs. Steve Brown

Hi everyone. I got a really nice email from Stephen Brown, the VP who declined to be involved with the UHDP. I need to correct some information on my blog because of it.

The articles I've been getting have had his name spelled wrong, so I've accidentally mixed him up with the Steve Brown listed in the HPA database as to who has had violations. Stephen has never had an violations, when Steve has.

So, I have edited my blog entries that include the two names and have written where their locations are per the article information I received. I hope the new information makes sense.

Also, I found another Stephen Brown on the HPA database who is a violator, but he is from Alabama while Stephen is from Washington and always has been.

Thanks for your understanding, everyone. And thanks to Stephen for contacting me to get the right information out there. I love receiving nice emails where I am politely corrected with the right facts to back them up!

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