The Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 1754), introduced in March by Congressman Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican, and Congressman Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat, has gained additional support from the House of Representatives, with 226 members now co-sponsoring the legislation.
The bill received co-sponsorship from a majority of the House in mid-December.
That sounds encouraging doesn’t it? But wait. Nothing about horse racing is ever quite as it sounds.
This is new. Those supporting the Act are talking about it in slightly more open terms concerning what it will actually do and who will be doing it. Look.
The Horseracing Integrity Act authorizes the creation of a non-governmental anti-doping authority governed by representatives of all major constituencies of the industry and responsible for implementing a national uniform medication program for the entire horse racing industry.
” . . . governed by representatives of all major constituencies of the industry and responsible for implementing a national uniform medication program for the entire horse racing industry.”
That begs the following question. If these people are already capable of implementing a uniform medication program, why aren’t they doing it right now across their own jurisdictions, which they are so obviously loathe to give up control of? Not one of them truly wants to operate under a single all encompassing umbrella.
A Group with a View
While all of this is going on, word is Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) does not look on the Horseracing Integrity Act with a friendly eye. They have reportedly given Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell his marching orders regarding bill, which he will no doubt carry out. This means of course that the bill has absolutely no hope of becoming law, unless CDI suddenly changes their mind. And why would they?
CDI knows that most of the various racing jurisdictions across the country, left to their own devices, will eventually self-destruct (i.e. California which may go completely away this year via Referendum) or become ripe for takeover, eventually leaving CDI in complete control of all the venues it wants, and get rid of the ones it doesn’t.
Imagine. A portfolio of historically significant racetracks under the management of a single corporate entity such as CDI. Horse racing would be in a strong position to be managed properly and perhaps even ethically to the benefit of all concerned, especially the horses, with a view of restoring the breed — perhaps even improving it and making it the envy of the world.
And if they fail the horses, which are truly our only concern? Horse racing will be much easier to take down when operating under one roof, no matter how rich and powerful an entity it has become.
Horse “soring” is when humans intentionally injure horses’ hooves or legs causing them so much pain they step higher in an exaggerated gait prized in “Big Lick” show rings.
U.S. LEGISLATION — H.R.693
January 22, 2019
A strong team of bipartisan lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (U.S. House) to end the cruel practice of “soring” Tennessee walking horses and similar breeds, H.R.693.
H.R.693 is identical to the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act that attracted overwhelming bipartisan cosponsorship from 290 representatives and 46 senators in the previous Congress. The only difference is the title.
The bill has been newly entitled the “U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act”.
January 25, 2019
H.R.693 referred to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce by Committee on Energy and Commerce.
April 3, 2019
S.1007, companion bill identical to H.R.693, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“PRESSURE SHOD” HORSE FOOTAGE
April 19, 2019
Footage released to Animal Wellness Action from a horse owner in Alabama shows despicable and even gruesome mistreatment of horses who are the victims of “soring” — the practice of intentionally injuring the foot and lower legs of horses to achieve a high-stepping gait in horse shows known as the “Big Lick.”
The horse owner identified Joseph Abernathy as the farrier that “pressure shod” the horse by driving hot nails into the part of the hoof where it is known to be the most painful. When the owner found this horse, he was barely able to stand and drenched in sweat despite 40-degree temperatures. The horse’s muscle enzymes became elevated which led to renal failure.
U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn, both Tennessee Republicans, have introduced legislation they say will protect Tennessee walking horses and the breed’s tradition. However, the truth of the matter is that they are continuing to shield long-standing abusive practices within the horse soring — or “Big Lick” industry.
Alexander and Blackburn’s bill, called the Horse Protection Amendments Act of 2019, would update the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and mirrors a House version of the bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. The three have supported similar bills in the past aimed at blocking true anti-soring legislation — the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act — which was first introduced in 2014.
U.S. LEGISLATION — H.R.693
May 23, 2019
Motion to place H.R.693 on U.S. House Consensus Calendar filed by Mr. Schrader.
July 19, 2019
H.R.693 assigned to U.S. House Consensus Calendar, Calendar No. 3.
July 24, 2019
H.R.693, bipartisan legislation that promises to end the inhumane practice of horse soring (which became illegal in 1970 but persists due to loopholes in the current law) garnered enough support to receive a vote in the U.S. House, culminating with 307 cosponsors.
The U.S. House Chair announced the Speaker’s designation, pursuant to clause 7(a)(1) of rule 15, of H.R.693 as the measure on the Consensus Calendar to be considered this week.
Mr. Schrader moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. Considered suspended under the rules.
The U.S. House proceeded with forty minutes of debate.
At the conclusion of debate, the Yeas and Nays were demanded and ordered. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the Chair announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed at 10:44 p.m.
July 25, 2019
1:52 pm. H.R.693 considered as unfinished business.
Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association encourages members to contact their U.S. Senators to urge them to sign on as cosponsors of the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act (S.1007), stating that on the heels of the recent victory in the U.S. House of Representatives, it is important to keep the momentum going to help pass this critical legislation into law. S.1007 has 31 cosponsors at the time of writing.
Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty advocates rally on the courthouse lawn at the Shelbyville – Bedford County Town Square. NewChannel 5 WTVF-TV (CBS) Nashville, and the Times Free Press (Chattanooga) newspaper covered the historic event.
The group protested outside the grounds of the Celebration several other nights throughout the competition, which ran through Saturday, Aug. 31.
NATIONAL CELEBRATION WINNER A “DICK”
September 5, 2019
On Saturday, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville crowned its “Big Lick” World Grand Champions — Rodney Dick and “I’m Mayhem.” Although he’s been a serial violator of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) for decades, Dick was allowed to compete on the main stage for a shrinking and increasingly uninteresting event.
It turns out that Dick has very recent violations of injuring the feet of horses — a practice known as horse “soring” — but USDA still allowed him to compete.
Dick will serve a federal suspension for violating the HPA beginning October 1st — with the punishment conveniently taking effect after he got to show his horse at the industry’s main event. The consent decision that Dick agreed to with USDA was signed on December 20, 2018, and it’s a travesty that the suspension was delayed for nearly nine months to allow him to appear at The Celebration so that he was able to participate in the high-profile showring event.
Poor enforcement and delayed sentencing seem to be the new normal at USDA. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his own Office of Administrative Law Judges have agreed to dozens of consent decisions with serial violators of the Horse Protection Act. Some of the key players in the industry have been cited but their suspensions don’t take effect until 2022! Justice delayed, as the old saying goes, is justice denied.
Attendance at Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration fell to a shocking 50 year low — fewer than 25,000 actual attendance (persons occupying seats at the Celebration events).
Based on eye-witnesses and photographs, the 2019 Celebration attendance was under 25,000 for the ten (10) nights of the event.
A lifetime Celebration patron said, “A ten night event has essentially now become a one night horse show.” The 2019 Celebration actual attendance was paltry, except for the first Saturday and the second Friday and Saturday.
September 11, 2019
ALL top three Celebration Trainer BOYZ — Mr. Rodney Dick, Mr. Herbert Derickson and Mr. Gary Edwards — are about to go on USDA Federal Suspension for alleged “HORSE SORING” (“Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horses), along with the Walking Horse Trainers Association “Trainer Of The Year”, Mr. Phillip Trimble, it sure looks like the whole bowl is chock full of “bad apples”. Seay reported earlier on Rodney Dick (see above).
World Grand Champion “Big Lick” Trainer BOYZ Mr. Rodney Dick upholds “Tennessee Tradition” of going on the USDA federal suspension list for alleged “horse soring” shortly after the conclusion of this year’s Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. (via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
September 15, 2019
A network of local citizens, referred to as “Theta Net” provided Mr Seay’s publication with classified information that the “Big Lick” World Grand Champion — “I’m Mayhem” — was going to arrive under a veil of secrecy at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 13, 2019, for the express purpose of Trainer BOYZ Mr. Rodney Dick exhibiting him at the Tennessee State Fair at 7:00 p.m. sharp.
Then, for whatever reason, “I’m Mayhem” was not exhibited, and a truck and trailer hauled him back to Finish Line Farm at Unionville, Tennessee, which is a suburb of Shelbyville. (via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
JUST SAY NO MR MAYOR
September 25, 2019
Almost 5,000 persons have signed a Change.Org Petition in the past three days asking 36 year old Mayor Chaz Molder to take down a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse that he approved being hung in the Columbia City Hall in mid-August 2019.
Molder had approved City Manager Tony Massey hanging a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse on the wall at Columbia City Hall about 30 days ago. (via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
October 17, 2019
The “TWHBEA Chickens” all came home to roost on Friday, October 17, 2019, when the 2019 TWHBEA Director Election Results were posted on the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association Facebook page. The key statistic is the number of “Ballots Mailed” — 3,027.
“This number conclusively proves that the continued decline and demise of TWHBEA (TN Walking Horse Registry) is solely due to it being in the clutches of the ‘Big Lick’ Animal Cruelty Racket”, writes Clant Seay.
In 2013, there were 6,955 TWHBEA members. The dramatic loss of 3,923 persons is a 56% decline in voting eligible members since 2013.
Seay contends, “The shocking decline of TWHBEA can be directly laid at the feet of Mr Steve Smith and his close associate Mr. Walter Chism. They totally own this disastrous situation. They took over TWHBEA in December 2013 thinking that they would go back to the ‘Big Lick’ glory days. They were 100% wrong.”
TWHBEA is denied membership in the prestigious American Horse Council. (via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
October 20, 2019
The city of Columbia, TN chooses the “right side of history” by removing a picture of a “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse from City Hall wall. (via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
December 30, 2019
S.1007, the U.S. Senate version of the anti horse soring PAST Act (identical to H.R.693), closes the First Session of the 116th Congress with 51 cosponsors.
Clant Seay reminds everyone that it’s not “a few bad apples”; rather the entire barrel of apples is rotten.
The “Big Lick” is no better than dog fighting and cock fighting. All who practice or support it are guilty because animal cruelty is absolutely necessary to create and maintain the “Big Lick” gait.
Horses do not have a voice, so we protest for them until “Big Lick” animal cruelty no longer exists.
“I have never been more proud of the Citizens Campaign animal welfare advocates, and all the people throughout America and around the world who support them, than I was this year at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. “WE, The People” — CCABLAC are clearly winning for ‘The Horses’. It’s truly heart warming to experience.”
(via Clant Seay / BillyGoBoy.com)
Clant Seay is the founder and leader of “Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty” and a major mover and shaker in the campaign to eliminate horse soring.
JOIN THE BATTLE
What You Can Do
Senators Mitch McConnell and Marsha Blackburn will be employing their full arsenal of tricks to defeat S.1007 and keep the “Big Lick” alive.
They can be defeated, but it will “take a nation”. We are that “nation”.
Contact your two U.S. Senators today and ask them to cosponsor and remain steadfast in their support of S.1007 by promoting and voting for its passage.