Tennessee Walking Horses and Marsha Blackburn

Image from 2015 HSUS Horse Soring Investigation.
Chemical “soring”. Image from 2015 HSUS horse soring investigation.

INTRODUCTION

For those of you who know little about the political history of horse soring, this is an excellent piece. For those of you who have good knowledge of it, this is still highly informative. Brilliantly written.

What is horse soring?

Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Caustic chemicals—blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene—are applied to the horse’s limbs, causing extreme pain and suffering. Chains are also applied to exacerbate the pain. Numerous nails are sometimes driven into the hooves.

Horse soring radiograph. USDA image.
Horse soring x-ray. Some 49 nails were used to hold the pads together on this Tennessee Walking Horse. USDA image.

Via The Chattanoogan, October 10, 2018

OPINION

Last month the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration crowned its World Grand Champion is Shelbyville.

The show is unusual because it has inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – a rarity for any horse show in the United States. The reason: for 50 years, some trainers and owners in the industry have abused Tennessee Walking horses in order to cheat and give them a leg up on their competition.

The legendary Howard Baker (R-TN), helped shepherd to passage the Horse Protection Act in 1970 to crack down on these trainers injuring horses to cause them so much pain that they step higher after putting their tender feet on the ground — it’s like walking barefoot on hot asphalt.

The old-timers in the breed have said that Steve Hill, a well-known top trainer in the industry, utilized some chemical agents for the purpose of healing on Talk of the Town, the 1951, 1952 and 1953 World Grand Champion that was considered “unbeatable” by those competing against him.

None of the other horses performed quite like Talk of the Town, and trainers couldn’t compete so more and more trainers began practicing this egregious abuse by utilizing mustard oil to burn the skin around the horses’ ankles, and in some circumstances even placed barbwire around the ankle to create the reaction that later became known as the “big lick.”

The Act was well intended, and the result of some compromises that marked the first federal law designed specifically to help the iconic American equines we all revere. But the law is in need of a serious upgrade, because trainers have figured a way around the proscriptions in the law.

In an ideal circumstance the Act should have eliminated to use of stacked shoes or pads, and action devices now known as ankle chains, but it didn’t, and those devices are still highly utilized in 2018.

But there is reason for optimism. Veterinarian U.S. Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), along with U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-TN) have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation known as the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, H.R. 1847/ S. 2957 that would close the loopholes in the Horse Protection Act by eliminating the large stacked shoes and ankle chains, increasing the penalties, and eliminating the industry’s failed self-policing system by replacing it with licensed USDA contract inspectors, all at no cost to the taxpayer.

This is the third Congress in six years that this legislation has been introduced, and now has over 300 Members of the House and Senate as cosponsors.

But it hasn’t moved. Why? Because the scofflaws’ political protectors, such as U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), have gone to great lengths to block the bill and are watching out for their campaign contributors in the industry rather than working to encourage protection of the horses.

For many years, political pressure from my fellow Republicans in Tennessee and Kentucky backed down the federal government, preventing the USDA from enforcing the Act that Senator Baker and Senator Joseph Tydings (D-MD) worked so diligently to pass.

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn's campaign announced that ads would hit the airwaves on April 27 in "all" major and small markets across Tennessee and run for a total of 14 weeks. Blackburn is running to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is stepping down after two terms. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s campaign announced that ads would hit the airwaves on April 27 in “all” major and small markets across Tennessee and run for a total of 14 weeks. Blackburn is running to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is stepping down after two terms. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It all boils down to money. Dozens of violators of the Act continue to fill Blackburn and others’ campaign coffers with money made on the backs of injured horses. It seems Blackburn cares much more about snatching Senator Bob Corker’s seat, than supporting the will of the American people, her constituents, and the best interest of the voiceless animals that are so rampantly abused in the state.

I know firsthand what great lengths the pro-soring will go to in order to protect their habit, as a former Tennessean, past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, eight-time world champion and lifelong supporter of the breed. When the PAST was first introduced in 2013, Blackburn, introduced a phony reform bill that would only codify the industry’s self-policing program that the USDA’s own Inspector General deemed corrupt.

Even the University of Tennessee recognizes that the big lick pain-based gait is something the public will no longer tolerate – they disallowed the exhibition of the World Grand Champion at the UT homecoming game, a long-standing tradition in the state, until several years ago. I hope that on Nov. 6 Tennesseans will step up and take action against soring by sending Marsha Blackburn back home to Tennessee.

Marty Irby
Executive Director at Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C. and a past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association


Vote Blackburn Out of DC

Tennesseans, remember Marsha Blackburn and her hideous track record of allying herself for money with the henious horse soring crowd when you go to the voting booth.

This country and the country’s horses deserve to be rid of her.

Related Reading

Tuesday’s Horse

Veterinarians oppose Blackburn Bill »

Soring bill advocates blame Blackburn, McConnell for lack of action »

Roy Exum: Blackburn draws fury for supporting horse soring »

The Horse Fund

Horse Soring Fact Sheet »

Horse Soring FAQs »

Horse Soring Images »

Billy Go Boy

Billy Go Boy website »

Billy Go Boy on Facebook »

Video

What does horse soring cruelty look like? Like this.

Big Lick” Animal Cruelty – 2 Year Old Tennessee Walking Horses – Asheville, NC – Oct. 6, 2018

See Also

Soring the PAST Act USDA Booklet (pdf, 60 pp) »

Vote. Blackburn. Out.

# # #

Calif. Sen. Feinstein to Forest Service: Do not slaughter wild horses

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 9, 2018) —Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the Forest Service to halt the sale of wild horses in California until concerns over potential horse slaughter are addressed.

“I write to request that you provide details as to the wild horse roundup that is set to begin tomorrow on the Modoc National Forest,” Senator Feinstein wrote. “According to the Forest Service webpage for the Modoc National Forest, the removal of ‘approximately 1,000’ wild horses from Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Northern California is set to begin as early as tomorrow, October 10th. According to the Forest Service, this is the first roundup of wild horses of this type in 13 years.”

Full text of the letter  is as follows:

October 9, 2018

Vicki Christiansen
Acting Chief, U.S. Forest Service
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Acting Chief Christiansen:

I write to request that you provide details as to the wild horse roundup that is set to begin tomorrow on the Modoc National Forest. According to the Forest Service webpage for the Modoc National Forest, the removal of “approximately 1,000” wild horses from Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Northern California is set to begin as early as tomorrow, October 10th. According to the Forest Service, this is the first roundup of wild horses of this type in 13 years.

I understand that the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have a statutory obligation under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to protect wild horses and burros on federal land. However, it is also possible that many of these animals will end up being sold to slaughterhouses. I ask that you promptly respond to the following questions and halt any sales of wild horses until I receive a response to the following questions:

  1. How does the Forest Service determine the appropriate management levels (AMLs) for wild horses on the Modoc National Forest?
  2. How does the agency meet the requirements of the 1971 Act to “achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands”?
  3. What steps has the agency taken to enhance the safety of these roundups?
  4. What steps have been taken to enhance the likelihood of adoption or sale of wild horses?
  5. Can the Forest Service certify that no horses that are sold will be transferred to third-party buyers who may end up slaughtering the animals for commercial use?
  6. What are the funding needs to ensure that AMLs can be met in the future so the Forest Service doesn’t need to resort to roundups of this nature?

Thank you in advance for looking into this. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

###

Source: Press Release (feinstein.senate.gov/) »


What say you dear readers? Too little, too late? Who believes it isn’t going to matter who speaks out, these are dead horses? That seems to be the goal, and tragically not a new one. Sale or no sale. —Editor


Related Reading

California wild horse round up means some may go to slaughter, Oct. 9, 2018, Tuesday’s Horse »

Please continue calling the U.S. House to end horse slaughter

Girl talking on mobile phone. Free. Pexels.com.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (by Vivian Farrell) — The atmosphere was highly charged in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee meeting when it came time to vote on whether or not to continue defunding horse meat inspections. The House Committee voted the measure out of the Appropriations Bill 27-25 potentially opening the door for horse slaughter to return to U.S. soil.

Keep Calling

You knew I was going to say that, right? The title and picture gave it away. But here’s why.

It looks like we have the U.S. Senate. Let’s see what we can do to swing the U.S. House in favor of the horses.

Please check to see if your U.S. Representative has co-sponsored H.R. 113, the SAFE Act. If they have not, please call and ask them to do so at their earliest opportunity.

Whether or not the SAFE Act ever gets out of Committee and is successful, we at least have their public commitment against horse slaughter on record. This is important in predicting support and gauging votes. Lawmakers do check these numbers.

If your Representative has co-sponsored H.R. 113 (check here) and/or voted to keep the horse meat inspection defunding language in the budget bill (check here), please thank them.

My Representative co-sponsored H.R. 113 and I had yet to thank him. Calling him kept getting pushed to the bottom of my to do list. I didn’t feel too badly because it is frantic in D.C. for everyone. Then I came across a beautiful postcard of a mare and foal, so I sent him a quick message of thanks that way. Believe me, things like this do get noticed.

How about our faithful lobbyists? Please support them. They work 10-12 hour days. As we have already mentioned, nothing sucks the air out of the room faster than to hear lawmakers or their staff say they haven’t heard anything from their constituency on the bill our lobbyists are there to discuss. Nothing.

Here’s our handy list of tips and contact information. Thank you everyone! Keep up the good work. —Vivian

Contact Your Members of Congress

Know who they are? 

U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

Don’t know they are?

Locate your Member on-line:

U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov
U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov

To find out who your Representative is, enter your zip code (including +4) in the search function at: http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Contact the President

White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414 (yes, it’s working)
White House Online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Tips for Calling Congress

  1. Don’t call “off the cuff”. Write something up and rehearse it a bit until you feel confident. Be sure to make the purpose of your call very clear, and what you want them to do. Relax and make the call.
  2. Give them your name and address (so they can identify you as a constituent or your call won’t count), your phone number and email address (especially if you want a response).
  3. To make sure they took your information down correctly, politely say, “Would you please read it back to me? This is such an important call for me.”
  4. Speak from the heart. Tell them why this is issue is so important and what you want your lawmaker to do.
  5. If you want a reply to your call, you must ask them for one. Otherwise they are not obligated. You might say something like, “Please have [insert name of lawmaker] reply by email telling me what action [he/she] will be taking on this issue”.

Wild Horse Slaughter

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the Interior Department’s appropriations bill in the next two weeks which includes the budget for the Bureau of Land Management.

In federal budget bill the BLM seek to allow wild horses to be used as work animals with little to no oversight and restrictions.  They also seek to destroy 92,000 (their number) wild horses needlessly removed from the range and stockpiled across the country.

Call your two Senators and ask them to get this language removed.

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Sign up to make a donation of $30, $5.00 a month over the next 6 months (cancels automatically).

Image Source: Pexel.com

Updated: 7/21/2017; 3:47 pm.

Senate Appropriations Cmte votes to continue defunding of horse meat inspections

Fund Horse, US Flag and Capitol Dome. Vivian Grant Farrell.
Fund Horse, US Flag and Capitol Dome. Vivian Grant Farrell.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2017) — The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of an amendment to bar any horse slaughter plants from opening again on U.S. soil.

Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., led the bipartisan effort, with fellow committee members Sens. Christopher Coons, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., cosponsoring the amendment in a strong display of strength against horse slaughter.

The vote comes just a week after a closely divided U.S. House committee voted in favor of horse slaughter by two votes.

As the House and Senate committees are now in disagreement, it will be up to key lawmakers to resolve the dispute.

The intense bipartisan opposition to horse slaughter among so many Senators means advantage horses in a fight to the finish.

As U.S. Senator Tom Udall asserted, “Most Americans find the idea of slaughtering horses for human consumption repulsive, and there is no reason the federal government should contribute to it in any way. This amendment is a strong step forward, and I will keep fighting to prohibit horse slaughter in the United States.”