"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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP - Current List of House and Senate Members Who Are Not Co-Sponsors of the PAST Act

I received this really well written list of the current House and Senate members who are not signed on as co-sponsors for the PAST Act.  I've included it as a PDF file so you can download it and use it.  This list is dated as of 12-18-13, so some of these folks might have already signed on at the time of this post.  But at least we can still work with them and ask them to co-sponsor the Act.

Click here for the list.

We are learning that phone calls and faxes are the best way to contact these folks.  So please go to www.senate.gov or www.house.gov and choose the search feature in the upper right corner.  If it won't let you contact someone due to your location, find the city's local library or cemetery and use their address so you can get your letter in to the constituent.

Right now the Senate and House will be closed for the holidays, but writing and calling is still a good way to fill in your time between waiting for the food to be ready to come out of the oven and setting the table!  They will have full fax machines and message boxes when they come in from people supporting the horse and the PAST Act!

Thanks to all, and I hope everyone gets some time with family and friends this holiday season.  Extra love and carrots to all the horses, too!

Monday, December 16, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP - An Amazing Letter to Send to Your Senators

This letter by Carl Bledsoe was sent to Congressman Whitfield concerning soring and how it's still rampant.  He points out some amazing truths about why this practice is still going on.  He also talks about how getting rid of the BL horse in his barn has created some amazing new ventures for him.  We need to point this out to our Congresspersons: getting rid of the BL won't devastate the industry; in fact, it will help it!

Carl said to spread this letter far and wide and to send it along with your emails and letters to your Senators to express how important passing the PAST Act is.

It is also VERY important to keep contacting Senators and Reps who are already on the bill.  I found out there are people working from the inside to stop this, so we need to thank those who have already co-sponsored the bill and tell them why we need them to stick with it.

Check out our previous post for some of the Senators that need to be contacted, but remember: we need to work with all of them!


Dear Sir:

My name is Carl Bledsoe. I'm writing this letter to you regarding the soring problem within the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. I was a second generation Tennessee Walking Horse trainer ("was" being the key word) licensed through the Walking Horse Trainers Association, license #88035. I have not renewed my license in the last year and a half. I live in small town about and 1.5 hours north of Atlanta. I grew up in the industry, being the son of a trainer as well, and I feel that I can share a perspective from the inside.

About five years ago, it became abundantly clear to me that the training methods used on our breed for show purposes was completely wrong. Growing up in the industry, it was common place to use these methods to prepare these horses for competition and/or sale. I've seen and have used every sort of caustic agent that can be used to enhance and to achieve the "big lick" gait. It excited me to see one sit down on his hocks and step up against the chains and "reach" and now I realize that the horse was put in a great deal of pain, physically and emotionally, and it was simply struggling to move. It sickens me now to realize the difference. There is no way physically possible for these horses to perform this desired "big lick" without the following:

*chemicals - Mustard oil, Croton oil, lamp oil, Kerosene, diesel fuel, Amoco white gas, hand cleaner, Dawn dish detergent, Iodine, Ether, baby oil, Scarlet oil, Castor oil, Glycerin, W-D 40 (my personal favorite) or a combination of these chemicals

*pressure shoeing (upon request, I can explain in detail)

The industry will argue the point that they are 98% compliant simply because they are still able to pass inspection due to the fact that the soring is done several days prior to competition while ignoring the fact that the soring still took place. That's why I believe the only way to eliminate the pain inflicted on the horses and end the abuse is to remove the "packages and chains". This group of people is conditioned to believing that there is a difference between a "show ready" horse versus a "sore horse". Also, many owners pretend that they are unaware of the abuse because they are not present when it takes place.

Along with soring horses for competition, I have also been a party to pay offs in the show arena and the inspection arena as well. These accusations will be hard to prove, although they do exist.

I've been at a cross roads with whether or not I should share my story for the last three years. I've been very hesitant because of the long arm of retaliation within the industry. I finally made the decision this spring to remove all performance horses from my barn and no longer train horses with any shoes other than keg shoes. This was a difficult decision because not only was it my only means of income, it was also a huge part of my life as I had always known it. It's amazing at the number of friendships lost when you decide to take a stand for what's right. I choose the horse in this situation. With that being said, I'm happier now than I've ever been. I now work with all breeds and disciplines and I am now able to enjoy my job by helping others learn to communicate with their horses rather than intimidate them.

Should you need to speak with me regarding any of the above state information, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be glad to assist you in any way possible with this effort.


Carl Bledsoe

Thursday, December 12, 2013

HOW YOU CAN HELP and NEWS - We're On The Right Track; Priscilla Presley Helps Support the PAST Act

We're moving right along in seeing more and more Congresspersons supporting the PAST Act.  We're now up to 245 via GovTrack.

Click here to the link to the bill on GovTrack.  Click "show" under the co-sponsors section to see the list of supporters.

Thanks to one of our sound horse warrior's dedication, here's a list of Senators that we can contact that will be people who can help us with co-sponsorships.  This list is meant as a guide only--it doesn't mean to not contact other Senators who haven't co-sponsored yet.

Senators with a * scored high on the HSLF (Humane Society Legislation Fund) score card at 50 or more.

If a Senator has a WFC (Welfare Committee) behind their name, it means they belong to the Senate sub-committee, were the Bill is right now.

If a Senator has another name after theirs, it means that other Senator from that state has already co-sponsored the Bill.  Let the Senator you contact know the other Senator from his/her state supports this bill.

California - Barbara Boxer* (D) 202-224-3553, senator@boxer.senate.gov
California -Diane Feinstein* (D) 202-224-3841, senator@feinstein.gov

Hawaii - Mazie Hirono (D)* 202-224-3934 Brian Schatz has signed.

Iowa - Chuck Grassley (R) 202-224-3744 chuck_grassley@grassley.senate.gov  WFC
(email could also be chuck-grassley@grassley.senate.gov or chuck grassley@grassley.senate.gov)
Iowa - Tom Harkin (D) 202-224-3254

Idaho - James Risch (R) 202-224-2752  Mike Crapo has signed.

Indiana - Daniel Coats (R) 202-224-5623
Indiana - Joe Donnally (D) 202-224-4814

Kansas - Jerry Moran (R) 202-224-6521
Kansas - Pat Robert (R) 202-224-4774

Maine - Angus King (I) 202-224-5334  Susan Collins has signed.

Michigan - Debbie Stabenow* (D) 202-224-4822 senator@stebenow.senate.gov Carl Levin has signed.

Montana - Max Baucus (D) 202-224-5721 max@baucus.senate.gov

Maryland - Barbara Mikulski (D) senator@mikulski.senate.gov 

Nebraska - Deb Fisher (R) 202-224-6551
Nebraska - Mike Johanns (R) 202-224-4224  WFC

New Hampshire - Jeanne Shaheen (D) 202-224-2841  Kelly Ayotte has signed.

New Jersey - Cory Booker* (D) 202-224-3224  Robert Menendez has signed.

New Mexico Tom Udall* (D) 202-224-6621  Martin Heinrick has signed.

New York Charles Schumer* (D) 202-224-6542  Gillibrand has signed.

Pennsylvania - Robert Casy (D) 202-224-6324  WFC

Rhode Island - Jack Reed* (D) 202-224-4642 jack@reed.senate.gov

Wisconsin - Ron Johnson (D) 202-224-5323  Tammy Baldwin has signed.

In other news, Priscilla Presley, wife of the King, Elvis Presley, has also asked that we support the PAST Act.  Elvis used to own TWHs, and he did have a horse that was stacked and shown (not by him).  However, as far as I understand, once they found out what was truly going on, they went to solely flat shod horses.  Since Elvis's death, at least one TWH has always been kept at Graceland in honor of his love for the breed.  So I'm sure Ms. Presley knows a lot about the inner workings of what goes on with these people and certainly what happens to the horses.

Keep it up, folks...we're on the right track!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

NEWS and ARTICLES - TWHBEA Disappoints the Sound Members Again, But There Is an Alternative

Some of you might already know about this, but I'll post it anyway.

Unfortunately, even after all of our hard work to get sound supporters on the board, the Lickers still prevailed.  There just weren't enough sound people voted onto the board--it was a simple fact of numbers.  Plus, I know a lot of folks who are on the sound side couldn't make it because of the weather, and since TWHBEA is still living in the 1960s, they won't allow conference calls to make these decisions per their by-laws.

So, the Lickers, as predicted, ignored Pat Stout's poll and the clear requests to vote sound by the members.

Side note: Last year, any of the directors put together a request to start allowing conference calls and electronic voting.  It was shown how much money it would save TWHBEA than sending out paper ballots (to the tune of thousands of dollars).  They denied the request.  I speculate that it's most likely because they know that the Lickers will lose control of TWHBEA if they actually allow anyone outside of TN to vote or participate electronically.

From the Walking Horse Chat (and yes, WHC is pro-Big Lick)...


Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association's International Board of Directors overwhelmingly supported a motion to oppose the legislation introduced by Congressman Ed Whitfield at its annual board meeting on December 7, 2013. The motion read as follows:

The International Board of Directors of the TWHBEA strongly opposes the legislation introduced by Representative Whitfield in the U.S. House of Representatives; the legislation introduced by Senator Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate; and any other legislation which would make it illegal to ride or show a sound Tennessee Walking Horse.

Both of these proposed laws would make it a federal crime to show sound, healthy Tennessee Walking Horses which have never been sored, unless those horses are shown barefooted or in an "unweighted" shoe.

The great majority of Tennessee Walking Horses are shown in weighted shoes and some in pads and action devices, meeting the strict guidelines of the various divisions and the detailed regulations of the USDA. This equipment does not harm the horse.

These proposed laws would also abolish the HIO inspection system now approved and supervised by the USDA. If this system is abolished, the great majority of show horses will not be inspected or protected.

The International Board of Directors of the TWHBEA strongly supports working with the USDA and other appropriate industry stakeholders to identify and use objective, scientifically reliable testing methods to identify and eliminate sore horses.


Never mind the fact that TWHBEA was sent a letter by Congressmen Whitfield and Cohen explaining exactly what the "weighted shoes" portion of the PAST Act will mean, and the OIG report of 2010 that proved that the HIOs are not doing their jobs.

In their ongoing effort to keep the sore horse in the ring, they have also re-retracted their attack on Pat Stout.  Of course, this makes no sense...but here are the facts from Billy Go Boy's website.  Click here for their article.


Posted on December 7, 2013

LEWISBURG, TN – The TWHBEA Directors elected a new Executive Committee, and a Director from Texas Everett “Butch” Allen who campaigned on a radical Big Lick platform made a Motion to send the Pat Stout matter back to the Enforcement Committee. The Motion passed.  It is not clear what the Enforcement Committee is supposed to do. The new Chairman of the Enforcement Committee is Tom Kakassy who was one of the biased conflicted persons who quarterbacked the September 27, 2013 lynch mob which tried to excommunicate Pat Stout at that time for Polling the TWHBEA membership on the HR 1518/S 1406 legislation. Kakassy prepared a Complaint and distributed it at the meeting, but did not pay the $250.00 and file it.

The former Executive Committee on whose watch all of it happened, after reviewing an Enforcement Committee report by Denise Bader Keyser, voted unanimously on Friday, December 6, 2013 to dismiss all matters involving Pat Stout.

Pat Stout, VP Horse Shows, sent ballots to 6,945 TWHBEA members seeking a YES or NO vote on HR 1518, PAST Act. The TWHBEA members voted a landslide 63% in favor of passage of HR 1518/S1406, PAST Act, which will remove the pads and chains from show horses, eliminate the corrupt HIO self regulation system and make Horse Soring a federal felony. An outstanding 26% of the members participated in the Poll.

The new Executive Committee is expected to now oppose HR 1518/S 1406 against the expressed will of its members. It will be interesting to see if they want to try and make a martyr out of Pat Stout for just asking the members how they felt on an ultimately important issue.

The newly elected Executive Committee is:

Pres. Stephen Smith – (HPA VIOLATION)
Senior VP Walter Chism;
Admin/fiscal Christy Lantis;
Breeders David Williams; (EMPLOYED BY HPA VIOLATOR)
Exhibitors Denise Keyser; (HUSBAND – HPA VIOLATION)
Performance Ford Gates;
Pleasure Jessica Hlebak;
Marketing Ashley Wadsworth;
Training/welfare Dr Lynda Montgomery; (HPA VIOLATION)
Bylaws/ enforcement Tom Kakassy; – (“PROUD” HPA VIOLATOR)
Youth Sherrie White;
Secretary Loren Sanderson


So, I don't know about any of you, but I'm going to be asking for my money back.  TWHBEA clearly does not care about their members' opinions, needs and wants...so why should I care about them?

Now, as an alternative, I want to talk about a new association: The World Walking Horse Association.

This has actually been a goal of mine for quite some time, but someone else beat me to it!  Honestly, I'm so thrilled to actually be a part of this, though.  I heard about it, contacted the WWHA, and they were kind enough to offer me a position as Vice President of Operations.  I am also in charge of the breed registration portion of the association.

To explain, the World Walking Horse Association is going to be an alternative for those who don't want to register their horses, show, or affiliate their activities with any of the HIOs or associations that are supporting the sore horse.  WWHA has two major missions: to be both FOR THE HORSE and FOR THE MEMBERS.

WWHA has announced we are FOR the PAST Act, and the goal is to provide a safe and sound location for all Walking Horse (WH) activities, including showing, trail riding, competitive riding, versatility, youth programs, registration, etc.  The goal within the next year will be to ask all the sound HIOs, local clubs, 4-H groups, trail riding associations, competitive trail associations, and all kinds of places where WHs are being shown and ridden so people can gain points to win high-point awards with WWHA.  We will recognize horses for their achievements in ALL areas of riding, not just the show ring.  We also will put together a dressage program and maybe one day (dream of all dreams) work with the USEF to get the WH into their good graces.  We want to include everyone, no matter their age or affiliations.  Eventually, we will have WWHA shows and events where the focus is NOT what's on the horses' feet, but rather the horse's way of going.

We are still working out lots of details.  You can read all about what we're doing on the website.  January 1st will be when we roll out the registration (including a hardship registry for horses that are at least 1/2 WH).  We're also going to have a contest where members can present new ideas for logos and members can vote on the official logo for WWHA.  We're going to keep you UTD on all our happenings on our Facebook page: click here.

We really, really want to provide a place that is truly focusing on the horse and the members, where members have a voice, and that voice is to protect the horse.  So I hope you will consider joining us!  Stay tuned to the WWHA website and FB page for more!

Friday, December 6, 2013

WE NEED YOUR HELP - New Facebook Page Needs Support!

Hello friends.  A new Facebook page has cropped up, and I swear FTTWH didn't make it!  This is a great page where you can show your support of the PAST Act by "liking" the page.  You can also keep up on soring issues and learn how to better contact your Congresspersons and get involved.

In honor of the late Nelson Mandela.  I believe he would've supporting the PAST Act, too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BREAKING NEWS - Larry Wheelon and Three Others Indicted by Grand Jury for Animal Cruelty

**EDITED 12-4-13 to include the final article listed**

I don't think my day could get any better than this.  Click here for the article from The Daily Times.


Wheelon, Gunter, Lunsford, Primm indicted for animal cruelty by grand jury
Iva Butler (ivab@thedailytimes.com)

Four men were indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury Monday with 17 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, including long-time Blount County Tennessee Walking Horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, 68.

All four men turned themselves in at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday and were free on bond by 9:45 p.m.

Wheelon and his employees Randall Stacy Gunter, 44, and Brandon Randall Lunsford, 32, were indicted on charges of aggravated animal cruelty (conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to livestock) and aggravated animal cruelty.

They are all three free on $10,000 bond each.

Farrier Blake Tanner Primm, 44, was indicted on aggravated animal cruelty (conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to Livestock. He is free on $5,000 bond.

All three are to appear in Blount County Circuit Court on Monday, Dec. 9.


There's also this article from the Tennessean.  Click here to read it.

Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, show judge indicted for animal cruelty 
Dec. 4, 2013

A Tennessee Walking Horse trainer who has served as a show judge and on an industry group’s ethics committee was indicted Monday on animal cruelty charges related to a soring case earlier this year.

Larry Joe Wheelon, a Maryville, Tenn., trainer, along with Randall Stacy Gunter, Brandon Lunsford and Blake T. Primm, are accused of applying acid to walking horses “in a depraved and sadistic manner” for “competition in horse shows,” the indictment reads.

The only horse specifically named in the indictment is Jose’s Happy Feet/Laura Kate.

Similar charges were filed against Wheelon and the others in the spring, but were dismissed after a prosecutor’s misstep during an August preliminary hearing. Wheelon was at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration days later and said that he was innocent of the charges all along and was suffering financially because the horses he had been training were seized as part of the case.

Wheelon formerly sat on the ethics committee of the Walking Horse Trainers Association and was a judge for Shelbyville-based SHOW, a horse inspection and judging group.

Unscrupulous trainers burn walking horses’ pasterns to induce the breed’s naturally longer, higher gait. The process is called soring.

Check with Tennessean.com later today for more on this story.


Here's that "later today" story.  Great stuff!  Click here for the article.  Click here for the video from the April raid.

Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, show judge indicted for animal cruelty
By Heidi Hall
Dec. 4, 2013

Maryville, Tenn., horse trainer Larry Wheelon stood outside the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration stadium in August, days after animal abuse charges against him were dropped on a technicality, upset that horses seized as evidence in the case were not being returned.

He’d been attending the sport’s premier event in Shelbyville for decades — a respected show judge and ethics committee member for the Walking Horse Trainers Association — but with the horses he trained in the hands of animal rehabilitation groups, Wheelon couldn’t compete, only watch and insist that he didn’t hurt any animals.

Now, he’ll get an opportunity to prove it in court.

A Blount County grand jury handed down indictments Monday on felony charges of aggravated cruelty to livestock animals and conspiracy to commit that cruelty in connection with the same investigation that first named Wheelon, 68, in the spring.

Specifically, Wheelon and two other men — Randall Stacy Gunter and Brandon Lunsford — are accused of abusing 16 horses named in the indictments, either chemically burning their legs or irritating the quicks of their hooves.

A fourth man, farrier Blake T. Primm, is named in the case of only one horse. All are due in court on Monday.

The process is called soring, long used by unscrupulous trainers to emphasize the breed’s naturally longer, higher gait because it pains the horse to put its feet down.

After a year-long investigation, workers with the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other animal protection groups executed a search warrant at Wheelon’s Maryville stables.

What they found was horrifying, said Kellie Bachman, a Blount County SPCA investigator and former police officer who presented evidence to the grand jury. And seeing the charges dismissed against Wheelon for an assistant district attorney’s misstep at a probable cause hearing was devastating.

“The horses were down, they were moaning, they were casting themselves, their legs were all wrapped,” Bachman said. “It was pretty brutal.

“To be able to go before the grand jury and talk to 12 people I didn’t know, to say it in front of (District Attorney General) Mike Flynn, it was therapeutic. Like having a weight lifted off my shoulders.’’

She said 19 horses seized were returned to Wheelon after the initial charges were dismissed. She doesn’t know where they are now.

No one returned a call left at a Maryville listing for Wheelon. Neither Flynn nor Rob White, the attorney who represented Wheelon earlier this year, returned messages left at their offices.

SHOW, the Shelbyville-based horse show inspection and judging group that licensed Wheelon, suspended that license Wednesday — as it had the first time Wheelon was charged.

The Performance Show Horse Association issued a statement pointing out that these were state charges, not violations of the federal Horse Protection Act. The group is lobbying against an amendment to the act, HR 1518, that would lead to tougher penalties against trainers caught soring and ban the tall horseshoes and pastern chains that mark the breed’s elite performance division. The industry is already cleaning up abuse on its own, the group contends, citing figures showing a 28 percent improvement in Horse Protection Act compliance since 2009.

Industry detractors contend that trainers are just getting better at hiding evidence of soring during horse show inspections.

The Humane Society of the United States supports HR 1518. Its equine protection division director, Keith Dane, said Wednesday he was pleased Wheelon will have his day in court.

The HSUS released a stomach-turning undercover video in May 2012 of trainer Jackie McConnell soring a horse in his Collierville, Tenn., stable, which led to a conviction on federal charges and national attention to the problem of soring.

“The public will be allowed to judge for itself whether Jackie McConnell was one bad apple, Larry Wheelon was another, or — with all the trainers with all their Horse Protection Act violations — if the whole barrel is bad apples,” Dane said.

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