Bill Crowder, owner of Midway Diner. (Photo by Shelley Mays)

Walking Horse Trainers Association blacklist local diner

Bill Crowder, owner of Midway Diner. (Photo by Shelley Mays)
Bill Crowder, owner of Midway Diner, a meat-and-three on a main strip in Shelbyville, Tenn., hasn’t bought a $40 green walking horse sponsor sign like most other local businesses have. Because of that, he said, there have been efforts on social media to blacklist his restaurant, which he has owned for 15 years. (Photo by Shelley Mays)


    Bill Crowder, owner of Midway Diner, a meat-and-three in Shelbyville, Tenn., was taken aback at the response he received after not buying a “proud sponsor” sign from the Walking Horse Trainers Association.

    “I’ve been here for 15 years, and I’ve always supported the horse business,” Crowder said. “But now they’re boycotting me. They got me down as a bad guy.”

    He was referring to efforts on social media to blacklist his business for not purchasing an endorsement sign.

    As Shelbyville, a town of 16,000 about 60 miles south of Nashville, braces for a massive tide of visitors expected to turn out for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, one industry group has hired a prominent public relations firm to convince the hundreds of thousands of Celebration attendees that local businesses support the walking horse industry.

    The $40-apiece pale green sponsor signs are a small part of a public relations blitz expected to pick up speed. The effort is intended to divert attention from recent revelations about abusive practices in the multimillion-dollar walking horse industry.

Check this out about the public relations firm they hired.

    Stephen B. Smith Jr., who is a managing director for Purple Strategies, comes from a long generation of horse riders and breeders in Tennessee.

    His father, of the same name, was once president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association. His grandfather, Reese, was a noted horse breeder and holds a dozen World Championships.

    He said his connections to the industry will not result in favorable treatment.

Of course not.


This looks like a clear demonstration to us of the mafioso tactics the people behind the entrenched history of torturing and abusing horses for an ego-driven performance competition have been known for generations.

The torture and abuse we refer to is horse soring which is most common in Tennessee Walking Horse competitions in order to accentuate their high-stepping gait in order to win big prizes.


“Soring” is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force him to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait—the “Big Lick”.

Chemical soring is the process of putting acidic products and irritating chemicals on a horse’s legs causing pain.

Another form of soring is pressure shoeing which involves cutting the hooves painfully short or inserting a foreign object and nailing the shoe on. Most recently trainers have been forcing a horse to stand on concrete with blocks of wood or other hard materials taped to the sensitive surface of her hoof until she is in so much pain that she can’t bear weight on her front feet.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration is nothing to celebrate and the State of Tennessee should be ashamed. Get rid of this hideous spectacle by letting the criminals who sore horses know they are not welcome.

7 thoughts on “Walking Horse Trainers Association blacklist local diner”

  1. This is just more evidence that the pro-torture “trainers” and breeders are getting desperate for money. When this story gets spread around, the bad guys will lose even more financial support.

    Their “product” is tortured horses no one wants. How many attendees are there at these so-called shows? Aren’t numbers declining even now?

    TN has a tourist industry and has had for years. TN isn’t dumb. If they want those tourist dollars, they will allow these bad guys to take themselves out of business.
    TN wouldn’t even discuss slaughter (ask Rep Andy Holt) and they are no friends to Ayache’s kill business either (Three Angels). The auction held at Mascot TN has been reported on by Animal Angels (Sonja Meadows) recently.

    With all this negative press, does anyone anywhere really think TN is in favor of more bad news during a challenging economic climate? This small group of highly unethical operators in the horse business is the last thing they need right now.

    A good contact in TN state government is Casey Mahoney. She can report facts to callers and can get in touch with their state vet. The state vet is called in to investigate and educate re existing law re horses in the state of TN.
    He is limited in enforcement by current law in TN. He was called in re the initial Ayache wreck in January. That is when I first contacted TN re conditions I had read about.
    WSMV in TN is reporting regularly re slaughter operators in TN. My contact was Nancy Ammons. She updated me re Ayache in response to my initial contact and was very helpful in that respect.

    Obviously there is local support for ending slaughter buyers in the state of TN.
    With this surface glance as evidence, does anyone really think there is that much support for pro-torture walking horse “trainers” and breeders in TN?
    As a resident of Ohio, I can’t speak for TN but I have the impression that they are eager to rid themselves of these horse abusers and killers.

    If the pro-torture element is so desperate for money, make it harder on them.
    Tell everybody you know in TN and encourage them to have a meal at this cafe. Tell them to make it clear that the refusal to support negative influences in TN is why they are there.That story will spread as the most effective marketing anybody could want.


    1. To:MP Clark….I am a resident of Tennessee and use to show TN.Walking Horses never allowing the horrible acts of cruelty to be done to my horse of course never winning the first ribbon because flat-shod horses don’t have the “Big Lick” nor do the Horses that show…It is not natural for a horse to walk that way and if anyone tells people that it is a flat lie…….Nancy Amons is friend of mine and one of the very best reporting in this area she did a story for me when in my wording Three Devils Farm had their 1st accident…..My two TN. Walking Horses came from an auction in Mayfield KY. before going to kill buyers……She is one of the very best in reporting she has also helped me with the updates on the Horse slaughter issues and Rep. Curtis Johnson is also against this horrific act…..Rep. Andy Holt along with our State Vet. are worthless in helping to do the right thing they are both idiots….There are numerous people in Tennessee that are against Horse Slaughter and DO NOT approve of the way the show horses are treated ………I myself would go that extra mile to protect and do whatever I can sending letters, contacting anyone that will listen…..The whole Jackie McConnell abusing horses he has been at that for years as so many Walking Horse trainers are. Not only here in Tennessee but also Kentucky I was ask to go under cover to expose people like David Landrum and several others and my husband at the time said no way I would end up dead……The Dorian Ayache incidents outraged so many people,and numerous Tennesseans have spoken out about that…….We all know that we don’t want to be known for being a state that doesn’t take a stand on what is right! There are many of us that love our four-legged companions and will “FIGHT” to protect them and seek the maximum penalties for those who abuse or mistreat any innocent creature that can’t speak for it’s self……We are outraged at what is taking place!


      1. Peggy: please keep testifying to what you have seen. The best witness is a veteran. I hope you continue to write and comment as often as you can. With TN horse history, it is likely you represent a lot of people who despise what has been done to the Walking Horse. It is good to find out about the state vet and that your friend Nancy Amons is a friend to the horses.

        What you describe is similar to showing in the Quarter Horse world. It is all about the money and the influence it buys. It has little to do with horses.

        As a matter of fact, friends and I stopped showing Quarter Horses after we attended the American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus OH around 1994. My riding instructor and the rest of us attended a speech by Richard Shrake, a respected trainer. In response to a question from my riding instructor, he stated that we would not see an end to the horrific abuses until the big money got out of the Quarter Horse world. To his credit, Richard Shrake risked income to his own business to admit the truth in front of a crowd at the Congress. He had a good rep and had been around for a good while.

        I could not believe what I was seeing as acceptable at the Ohio AQHA Congress. Congress is the big event in the Quarter horse world. I was speechless.

        This was at the time when show horses were actually given time limits to get into the ring for a class at a show. They could not even walk normally. Their heads were being carried so low and so far behind the poll that they had to strain to see ahead of themselves. A friend of mine once commented at an AQHA show that the once proud, working American Quarter Horse now resembled a “beaten dog”.

        Anyone familiar with the American Quarter Horse would understand what an insult that was to everything we had worked and sacrificed for. The Quarter Horse is one of the finest working horses in this world. Those horses had been tortured to achieve the inability to do anything they had once been famous for. (Apparently, these so-called horsemen and horsewomen were unable to train or ride a genuine working horse and needed 4-legged couches instead. The really accomplished riders and trainers did not place. What does that tell you about the show circuit? That is cash in action.)

        That did it for us. We left the AQHA universe and never returned. We never supported anything the AQHA did after that. No money for anything. I did not know the extent of the corruption which had become obvious in the 90’s. It should be no surprise to anyone, even me, that the intelligent, gentle, compliant, loyal, registered Quarter Horse is now the most often bred for cash, used and dumped or then sent to kill plants or used for PMU. Finding out the numbers of the abandoned or slaughtered has been, for me, a personal injury which I will never forget.

        The best way to fight these criminal abusers and killers of our horses is to starve them out and fight by naming them in public so that everyone knows what is going on. Education and communication is crucial to saving our horses.

        Every time we can bring these issues out in the open, we will find more people who will fight for the right thing. We have to persist in telling the truth and keep following up until justice is served. I post these blog entries on social media as often as I can. I want the American public to be aware of these horrors and act.


  2. Has anyone asked him why he didn’t buy the sign? Is it because he is protesting the soring issue? Or did he just not have the money to buy the sign? Is he standing on the “principle of the thing” (not wanting to be forced to something) or is he standing for the side of the horse? Would be interesting to find out. If he is silently protesting the soreing issue, he deserves help and support from as many of us as possible! Anyone going to the celebration to help protest and/or boycott the any part of the event and to show support for sound horses should eat at this guys restaurant or at least give him encouragement in some way. Has the Tennesseean done any more than just “comment” on this. Did they ask him why? That would seem to be where the article should have gone, in light of the current controversy and nationwide attention to the issue.


    1. I had those questions too Karen. But it seems the point the Tennessean was trying to make is that for whatever reason he did not buy the sign, look how they retaliated against him. This is sick. These are people who support the horrific treatment of horses; why should they have any scruples about how they treat anyone else.


  3. Great article. You hit the nail on the head with the last paragraph. TN should be ashamed and they need to clean up their act. They have had 38 years to do it but instead they find fault in everyone but themselves. How can anyone say they love something and then purposely inflict such pain? Sick People! These wonderful horses have suffered enough. It’s time to stop this torture for good.


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