Roy Exum: Stop Soring! No More Pads!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The American Veterinary Medical Association – with 82,500 professional members – and the American Association of Equine Practitioners – with another 10,000 who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of horses – delivered a savage kick in the face to the despicable “Big Lick” crowd in Shelbyville early this week when the two groups called on Congress to soon pass the Amendments to the Horse Protection Act, House Bill No. 6388.

The amendments are badly needed since there has been continued and rampant abuse of soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry this year. The “Big Lick” faction has openly scoffed at efforts of horse advocates to eliminate the torture and sadistic practices for 40 years since the Horse Protection Act was put into law, but now the country’s top veterinarians and equine experts have joined  an enraged public eager to put those who torture horses in jail.

Dr. Doug Aspros, the president of the AVMA, said in a statement, “Soring is an unconscionable abuse of horses that is used to produce a high-stepping gait—the ‘Big Lick’—and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the show ring. For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself."

“The AVMA and AAEP are committed to strengthening the USDA’s ability to enforce the Horse Protection Act,” said the White Plains, N.Y., veterinarian, “and ending this abuse for good. We strongly encourage everyone who cares about the welfare of horses to contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 6388.”

Dr. John Mitchell, the president of the AAEP, was more direct, correctly pointing out the national outcry towards those who have sullied the noble image of the Tennessee Walking Horse. "The passage of H.R. 6388 will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and significantly increase the effort to end the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse," said the Boca Raton, Fla., veterinarian. "The AAEP encourages all veterinarians to contact their legislators to voice support for the bill and help end the cruel soring of these beautiful animals."

The Horse Protection Act, established 40 years ago, was never successfully prosecuted until federal agents from Chattanooga won five guilty pleas this year. One was from the now-famed Jackie McConnell, a trainer from west Tennessee, who brutally clubbed a horse in an undercover video that has now been seen by millions the world over. Because of woefully-lax federal laws, every violator got a suspended sentence – including the loathsome McConnell.

The proposed amendments to the Horse Protection Act will provide the following distinctions that will greatly strengthen the act:

* -- Makes the actual act of soring, or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore, illegal;

* -- Requires the USDA (rather than the industry) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors enforcing the Horse Protection Act;

* -- Prohibits the use of action devices (e.g., boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, or Racking horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions and bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;

* -- Increases civil and criminal penalties for violations, and creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations; and

* -- Allows for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations.

Many feel the Amendments will fly through Congress but the “Big Lick” industry is far from dead; they swooned Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) at a “fundraiser” during this year’s National Celebration. The Humane Society of the United States has since learned the much-maligned DesJarlais has an equally shameful record voting on animal issues. He was even called down for “harassing” the USDA by former Senator Joseph Tidings, the author of the Horse Protection Act.

Recent revelations have proven DesJarlais to be little more than “a bad Republican joke” in Washington circles but reports that a horse’s hoof was actually torn off while it was being shown in Shelbyville last Saturday is not funny at all. It happened at the aptly-named “Walking For Angels Show” and horse advocates are enraged that nothing was done after the horse’s bloody leg was wrapped and the animal was led from the show ring.

As the head of the American Veterinary Medical Association just said, “For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself.”

That’s enough to make you write your Congressman on Thanksgiving Day.

royexum@aol.com


Process

My favorite TreeHugger once commented I'm a process sort of guy. One might suppose that's true, even though there are situations in which we must lower our center of mass to keep a firm base, lean forward, put our head down, grab a cheek in each hand and, like Teddy Roosevelt, scream "Charge! (but not with credit cards)" as we move forward con mucho gusto. However, unless one is ... (click for more)

City Pension Double Standard - And Response

Re: Chattanooga City Council OKs pension plan amendment 8-26-14 The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday to keep future retirees who are re-employed by the city from dipping into their current retirement while contributing to a new city pension. But first council members gave an exemption to two of their colleagues and one other city employee. Councilman Moses Freeman ... (click for more)

General Motors To Invest $185 Million In Engine Plant, Build New Cadillac SRX In Spring Hill

General Motors will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex, officials said Wednesday.  GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill. “We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Governor Bill Haslam ... (click for more)

Reception Honors County's 2nd-Longest Serving Employee

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, at a County Courthouse reception, asked anyone who was working at the courthouse in 1966 to raise their hand. Only Circuit Court Clerk Paula Thompson was able to do so. Judge Shattuck said he believes only Edna Camp of the Criminal Court clerk's office, has been at the courthouse longer. Ms. Thompson did not seek re-election, ... (click for more)

After String Of Injuries, Ailments Vols' Maggitt Ready To Play

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Come Sunday ,  it will have been 659 days since Curt Maggitt played a snap in a college football game, but that's not what he's concerned about. "It's four days from now," Maggitt said Wednesday. "That's what's most important. It's going to be emotional for sure. It's been a real long time since I've been out there and ran through the `T' actually suited ... (click for more)

Fulghum, Walker Power Soddy-Daisy Past Cleveland

Soddy-Daisy’s Lady Trojans shook off an up-and-down performance in last weekend’s Early Bird tournament at Oak Ridge and throttled Cleveland, 3-0, in a District 5-AAA volleyball match Tuesday at Soddy-Daisy High School. The Lady Trojans (8-4, 2-1) swept the match with set scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-15. Abby Walker and Karigan Fulghum combined for 30 digs and 18 kills to ... (click for more)