Cross-posted from The Tennessean
by ROY EXUM
A group of Tennessee Walking Horse owners, shocked and angered over any opposition that would thwart badly-needed reform in an industry where sadistic torture and a half-century of cheating still runs amok, have just announced the group is going to Washington next month in a public protest they hope will catch the nation’s eye. And, this time, the horses are going, too.
Calling their impressive group of trainers, owners and riders the All-American Walking Horse Alliance and representing 45 of the 50 states that are governed in Washington, an array of speakers and six World Champion horses will gather at Union Square Park across from the famed Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on June 18 in hopes of pushing the PAST Act into law.
Thus far 54 United States senators have endorsed the “Prevent All Soring Tactics” bill and Texas Republican Kenny Marchant just became the 278th member of Congress to cosponsor legislation in the House. But leaders of the All-American Walking Horse Alliance are worried about the “homestretch run;” after all, not one Republican lawmaker from Tennessee has endorsed the legislation that is – in fact – targeting the seedy “Big Lick” headquartered in the Volunteer State itself.
“We have made great strides opening eyes in Washington,” horse trainer Jeannie McGuire said from her home in Virginia on Sunday, “but we are worried that momentum must be stepped up if America is going to finally push the Big Lick out of business. I firmly believe you can’t achieve the exaggerated gait without soring a horse. Everyone who has been caught has admitted as much under oath but it is still prevalent in the industry.”
The PAST Act would eliminate the dreadful stacks, the chains and action devices and step up inspections that would imperil those who cheat, particularly in Tennessee, but the Big Lick has cultivated the state’s politicians to the point Tennessee’s other Republican Congressmen, including Chattanooga’s Chuck Fleischmann and Jasper’s Scott DesJarlais, have joined the ruse. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has yet to take a stand on the issue.
The ceremony in support of the PAST bills will begin at 1:30 p.m. on June 18 and among the speakers will be Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Others will be named and thus far six sound World Champion horses – all flat shod – will be brought from Virginia and Pennsylvania for demonstrations of a healthy gait.
“Mikal Stooner, a third-generation trainer, and her daughter Ariel will bring their world-champion stallion to show how beautiful a ‘clean horse’ can perform,” said McQuire. “Every horse that will be there has been born, raised and trained in a way they have never been once abused. It is imperative that Tennessee Walking Horses must never be tortured again. Read full report >>