Walking horse leader’s poll on anti-soaring sparks uproar

WRITTEN BY HEIDI HALL

Cross-posted from The Tennessean
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Pat Stout postcard front re HR 1518/S 1406.
IMAGE CREDIT: BILLY GO BOY
Pat Stout postcard front sent to TWHBEA members asking them to vote yet or no on the anti horse soring bill, HR 1518/S 1406.

The nation’s largest Tennessee Walking Horse group is in an uproar after an executive committee member went rogue on the issue of using padded shoes and ankle chains on the breed — sponsoring her own poll to see how 6,945 members feel about it.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association’s executive committee voted in May to support a bill that would remove the much-debated equipment, but the association’s full board of directors voted not to ratify that action.

Supporters of the bill say the equipment encourages and is used to hide soring, intentionally injuring walking horses to encourage their higher, longer gait. Detractors say pads and chains are harmless, and removing them will turn away fans from horse shows.

Last week, an anonymous donor and Pat Stout of Cookeville, Tenn., the association’s vice president for horse shows, paid to mail out postage-paid polling cards on the bill. Members are to mark yes or no to the statement: “I am for passage of HR 1518/S 1406 — ‘Prevent All Soring Tactics Act’ — to remove the pads and chains in order to end the public perception of soring and abuse presently associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse Breed, to eliminate HIOs [Horse Industry Organizations] and to increase penalties for soring.”

The cards must be returned to a certified public accountant in Arab, Ala., by Oct. 15.

The move has drawn a flurry of angry emails and Internet posts from people on both sides and a stern rebuke from the association’s president, who assured members the group wasn’t behind the cards.

Stout made no apologies.

“I just felt that it was the most important issue that we’ve ever faced with TWHBEA. I felt our membership should have a chance to express themselves on this issue, and I didn’t see that it was going to happen within our executive committee,” she said.

“I’ve talked to a lot of others — their directors were not voting the way the membership in their state wanted them to vote. We have never reached out to our membership and actually let them vote on something like this.”

The problem with the poll is that it strongly advocates one way, said Jeffrey Howard, whose Shelbyville-based Walking Horse Report covers the industry and whose father, David Howard, is a member of TWHBEA. The card features a photo of horses staring at the camera over the words: “We Are Depending On You To Vote For Us.”

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RELATED READING

— “LET’S ALL RALLY AROUND AND SUPPORT PAT STOUT, VP – HORSE SHOWS – TWBHEA – FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO LET THE TWHBEA MEMBERS SPEAK – SEND YOUR EMAIL TO: execcomm@twhbea.com – AND ASK THEM TO PLEASE THANK PAT FOR US AND THESE GUYS“, Billy Go Boy, Sept 24, 2013.

6 thoughts on “Walking horse leader’s poll on anti-soaring sparks uproar”

  1. All of the members of this organization knew all about the cruelty and none of them cared at all. They were to interested in their bottom line.

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  2. I really hope the members do the right thing, but based on what I know about TWHBEA, and especially the rabid pro-soring faction, I am not optimistic.

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  3. Unbelievable how long this debate has been going on.  My old mentor back in NC was a strong opponent of soring, although he did stack his horses because that’s just what you did in those days.  Bet he’d be for flats today. That was in the late ’50s and early ’60s, over 50 years ago.   Good on this lady!    I have a friend who is leading he charge against the AHA’s position on slaughter.  They can get it to the board but no further.  Will forward this to her with the rogue poll of membership idea.

    Allen Warren Horse Harbor Foundation http://www.horseharbor.org/ (360) 692-2851  The true mission of any animal welfare organization should be to eliminate the need for itself.

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    1. Our critics say we rush to ban an industry, yet how many decades have these horses suffered, and continue to do so, no matter the law, agreements to do better, etc. It needs to be ended. Just like horse racing, it is incapable of policing itself, and I wonder no matter who or what they have at the head of it, if it will make any difference whatsoever for the horses.

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  4. Tried to vote , doesnt seem to be working//////////???????? The Tennessee walking Horse is the Cadillac ride of all the Horses,they are born with the gait that you will be in awe of, so precision you will think you are on a cloud !!!!!!!! The horse that gave me back my life was a Tennessee Walker, her name is Spirit !!!!! I owe her so much …………………………. She truly is an Angel !!!!!!!

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