THE TENNESSEAN reports:
- 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.