Exciting update on the soring issue.

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This is a letter from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association (TWHBEA) the official breed registry President, Tracy Boyd.

His letter is in regarding H. R. 1518: Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) bill introduced by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) which provides stronger measures to fight the abuse of soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. Obviously, the Big Lick supporters are not in favor of this bill.

A Statement from TWHBEA President Tracy Boyd

This past weekend, I made perhaps the toughest decision of my life. A decision that carries potential ramifications for many of my friends. It carries potential ramifications for immediate family members as well. I, along with six other members of the Executive Committee, voted to support H.R. 1518, better known as the Whitfield Amendment. That was on Saturday morning. Before lunch, our vote was not ratified by the TWHBEA Board of Directors. Presently, TWHBEA has taken no official stance on the proposed legislation.
Let me be clear… I love all facets of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. I support the performance division. How then, you say, can I support this legislation? As president of TWHBEA, I represent the oldest and largest membership driven organization in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. TWHBEA, being an international organization, is also the most widely recognized “brand” representing the Tennessee Walking Horse.

I have always said, “The future of the padded show horse is in the hands of two groups… the trainers who train it and the owners who own it.” Unlike the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), for example, who controls all aspects of the Quarter Horse industry, our industry is not set up that way… primarily due to the regulatory issues involving enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).
TWHBEA has no say over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no control over the padded show horse. TWHBEA has no authority over the padded show horse. TWHBEA, does however, bear the brunt of the criticism aimed at the padded show horse. Our membership numbers are directly affected by the controversy. The group with the least input takes the hardest hit. Why? Because as the breed registry and the largest membership driven organization, we are the face of the breed and are perceived as its ultimate authority in the world equine community.

For many years, the padded show horse drove the market and TWHBEA benefited. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when our industry was breeding 25,000 mares and registering 14,000 foals, it was largely due to the padded market. Breeders were breeding for that $15,000/$20,000 yearling. Horses were selling. New people were coming into the breed. In 1997, TWHBEA hit the 20,000-member mark and in the early 2000s operated under a 5 million dollar budget. We had some 25 or 30 employees. We were the second fastest growing breed in America and the fourth largest breed registry overall.
Today, we have fewer than 10 employees. We’ve gone to a four-day work week and cut our staff’s salaries by 20 percent. We are down to 8,300 members. Breeding production levels are at 1950s numbers. It is clear to me that what our industry is doing is no longer working in today’s world. Times have changed. The world, through technology, gets smaller and smaller every day. We can’t hide any longer. It is clear to me that our past has finally caught up with us and the image currently conveyed by our performance horse is no longer accepted in 2013.

TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and the brutal emails I have received tell me why. It is our reputation. It is soring. It is our image. My responsibility lies with TWHBEA and its 8,300 remaining members who represent all 50 states and many foreign countries.

Sadly, we have no more friends outside our industry. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) no longer supports us. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) no longer supports us. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) will not recognize our padded show horse. The American Horse Council, whom we’ve cultivated a close working relationship with for many years, has turned away from us, declining our annual sponsorship this year. The World Equestrian Games refused our sponsorship and returned it to us. The Kentucky After Christmas Sale had no performance horses this year. Last fall, the University of Tennessee featured a flat-shod horse rather than a padded show horse to perform at its annual homecoming football game. All of this breaks my heart.

I believe our modern-day padded show horses are cleaner than they’ve ever been. The problem is that nobody outside our industry believes it. And when you’ve lost the public you have lost it all… and we have clearly lost the public.

For two years our industry has known that Congress would attempt to take our pads and chains unless we provided an acceptable alternative. How did we know that? Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator for Animal Care at USDA-APHIS, told us so. He told TWHBEA, he told the Trainers’ Association, he told the Celebration and WHOA. Since that announcement the padded horse leadership’s response has been to paint the chains and implement an ambiguous swabbing program. Now the padded leadership is threatening to suspend the licenses of trainers who show under compliant HIOs. Anything beyond that… “Hell No” was the answer. “No compromises!”

I understand that the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) may be working on proposed legislation to the Whitfield Amendment. I first heard this in January and have heard it again recently. I hope so. My understanding is that versions of the Whitfield Amendment will continue to be introduced in Congress year after year until something gets passed. It is not going away. So I applaud PSHA if they are working on an alternative. I hope they come up with something soon.

I want the performance division to survive. I believe in the need for the division. I only know that it can’t and won’t survive as it is currently presented. This to me is obvious. The padded show horse’s survival lies at the feet of the trainers who train it and the owners who own it. If I lose some friendships over my vote then so be it. But I hope and pray that the trainers who train padded horses and the owners who own padded horses will find a way to put a horse in the ring that the public can support. Until then, we will remain alienated from the mainstream equine world. It’s as simple as that.
In order for this industry to grow and attract new people, strong, bold, drastic action is needed. A different direction will be required. I just hope our industry will choose the direction rather than have it chosen for us. We all know that the pads and chains alone do not harm the horse, that is no longer the point.

For most of us, our show industry is more about people and families than it is about winning blue ribbons. It’s about the people, the fellowship, the family fun, the friendly competition. Let’s not lose sight of that.

No matter what happens with the Whitfield Amendment, proposed legislation or future versions… the pads and chains do not define this breed.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is the greatest breed in the world. We all agree on that. Just imagine the possibilities that exist for us if we could rid ourselves of this black cloud, this stigma once and for all. Forty-three years is long enough.

I’m sorry to those I’ve offended and hope that one day you will forgive me.

Diane White
Executive Assistant


link for following post

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sorry, didn’t do the link correctly. here it is:

Click to access Final+Tipping+Pt+2+Saved_web.pdf

The Hundreth Monkey Phenomenon

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In Andrea Campbell’s book, “Bringing up Ziggy: Lessons from a Helping Hands Monkey,” she writes about a monkey species found in Japan, the Japanese macaque. In order to keep them from raiding farm land they were moved to outlying beach regions of the islands. To better observe and study the monkeys, they were fed sweet potatoes by placing them on the beach. One day a young monkey was seen washing the sand off her potato. She then showed her mother and other young playmates how to wash. In a few years all the juveniles were washing their sweet potatoes, the only adult washers were those who had learned from the youngsters. This is only part of the story. At some point in time, scientist and primatologist Lyall Watson who had been observing the macaques, speculates it was with the 100th monkey who was added in the usual way, something truly facinating happened. Watson says, “…the addition of the 100th monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass because by the evening, alomst everyone was doing it. Not only that, but the habit seemes to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously …in colonies on other islands, and on the mainland in a troop in Takasakijama.” Andrea puts it so well in her book: “In other words, the group consciousness of food washing developed in a slow and gradual manner, until a groundswell of universal awareness took place and created a sudden jumping of all natural boundaries.”
What does this story have to do with the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses and other horrible animal abuses? Simply, that we cannot give up in our combined efforts to stop what any of us see as ill treatment of any of God’s creatures. Each of us in our own way must do what we can. In that light I would like to share something sent to me by a friend that has a lot of information about the current problem facing the Tennessee Walking Horse. Please feel free to share also. Final Tipping Pt 2 Saved_web.pdf

Budweiser Clydesdales

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More about these big gentle giants.


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As my followers know, I wrote “The Horse That Wouldn’ Trot” to share my life stories, but also to expose the ugly training method called “soring.” My book came out in 2009, and while efforts by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have continued, including the video taping of Jackie Mc Connell a so called trainer, abusing horses in his barn which went viral and on television, now the state of Tennessee has come up with a solution for those who want to expose animal mistreatment, soring or any kind of animal abuses: put them in jail. The TN legislature narrowly passed this bill, now the govenor can sign it or veto it. There has been a large effort by many to get him to veto it. I am sharing this because it is exactly what I said in my book: We owe it to God’s creatures to be good stewarts. Sadly this country has fallen short in many ways. Indiana refused to pass this bill, even California called it a terrible thing. Utah has it.

“Genesis 1 tells us that everything on the earth has been created by God, and that God has commanded humans to care for the animals,” said Kathy Chambers, director of Clergy for Justice Tennessee. “Far too often they are subject to abuse which causes unthinkable suffering, clearly violating that mandate. As people of faith, we are called to speak out against injustice and cruelty in whatever forms they might take. Thus, we urge Governor Haslam to stand with people of faith across the state and veto this bill.”

In 2011, an undercover investigation into renowned Tennessee walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell’s stable in Collierville, Tn., revealed egregious cruelty to horses. A whistleblower documented horses being whipped, kicked, shocked, and subjected to painful soring using caustic chemicals on their legs.

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Gov. Haslam,

We, the undersigned clergy and people of faith, are writing to express our deep concern and great disappointment with the passage of SB 1248 (otherwise known as the anti-whistleblower “ag gag” bill) and urge you to veto this legislation.

The relationship between people and animals is a unique one. Genesis chapter one tells us that all of us are created by God and that God has given humans special charge over the animals. Indeed, when we care for animals, we care for people; when we dismiss or ignore animals, we miss a significant aspect of what it means to be human and caretakers of the earth and all its inhabitants.

Too often God’s creatures are treated not as sentient beings we are commanded to care for but are simply dismissed as part of the food chain, packed by the thousands into small spaces to ensure greater profits for their owners. We know these practices cause unthinkable suffering, yet often we turn a blind eye to them. As people of faith we are not called to ignore the truth. Instead, we are called to see the world as it is and to work to transform it, naming evil practices when we see them and making decisions that are consistent with the faith we live out in the rest of our lives.

Regardless of one’s faith tradition or denomination, two words that are universally shared by all are “compassion” and “stewardship.” Thus, we must only support legislation when it reflects good stewardship and compassionate care for all God’s creatures. If the “ag gag” bill is signed into law, it will result in countless incidents of animal abuse going undocumented and causing unthinkable suffering to countless numbers of God’s creatures. This, to us, is evil and against God’s will for humanity.

Now is the time for you to answer God’s call, Gov. Haslam. Please VETO this bill and show compassion to all God’s creatures, both great and small. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the moral and faithful thing to do.


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