More Roy Exum: Horse Celebration Appears Doomed

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More Roy Exum: Horse Celebration Appears Doomed

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    07-31-2013, 11:56 AM
Green Broke
More Roy Exum: Horse Celebration Appears Doomed

Roy Exum: Horse Celebration Appears Doomed - 07/31/2013 -

Roy Exum: Horse Celebration Appears Doomed

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - by Roy Exum

Roy Exum

The 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is scheduled to begin three weeks from tonight in Shelbyville and it is looking like a ticket will be the worst buy since the Titanic set sail. The eleven-day event is sponsored by the “Dirty Lick” faction of Tennessee Walking Horse industry and the scurrilous group known for its abuse of animals suffered a severe blow in Texas yesterday when a U.S. District Court in Fort Worth upheld federal regulations to prevent the intentional “soring” of the magnificent animals.
While soring has been banned for over 40 years under the federal Horse Protection Act, a Shelbyville-based subsidiary known as “S.H.O.W.” had sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the far-away court under the premise the regulations were “unfair” and in violation of their constitutional rights. But the court ruled the mandatory penalties were indeed constitutional and within the USDA’s statutory authority to protect the animals.
Jonathan Lovvorn, a senior vice president for the Humane Society of the United States, oversees litigation and investigations for the Washington-based advocacy group and immediately called on the USDA to decertify SHOW, which has positioned itself to be responsible for inspections at the National Celebration.
At last year’s Celebration, SHOW reported few violations – publicly citing a 98.1 compliance rate -- but federal inspectors randomly picked 190 horses to be tested and 145 of those animals were found to be positive based on professional swabs taken to an accredited laboratory. True horsemen and women, dedictated to the “sound” horse and natural gait, accuse SHOW of actually protecting the Dirty Lickers and the federal lab findings confirm the sleazy side of the horse industry.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed the Shelbyville show, now suffering badly from the public’s wrath, has lost over $1 million over the past five years. Last year – after scathing video coverage of sadistic Jackie McConnell torturing horses was shown around the world -- losses were $438,356 for the Celebration. SHOW has lost $558,987 since 2009 and ticket sales this summer have plummeted almost as badly as the Dirty Lickers’ image.
The Dirty Lickers, as the Shelbyville crowd is now called, this after repeatedly using soring and torture for decades to make horses kick their front legs high for what is called the “Big Lick,” seem oblivious to the mounting pressure and open scorn being directed from every corner.
Larry Joe Wheelon, a trainer in Maryville who served on the Ethics Committee for the Dirty Lick’s trainers association, will go before the Blount County Grand Jury on felony charges next month and Hall of Fame trainer McConnell has effectively been banned by a state judge for owning or training a horse in his lifetime. Other trainers in Tennessee are believed to be under investigation after the Governor vetoed a despicable “Ag-Gag” effort for the misinformed state legislature.
The Whitfield-Cohen bill to Prevent All Soring Tactics (H.R. 1518) now has 133 co-sponsors as it courses through Congress and, if it passes, with give heightened strength to the Horse Protection Act. Of course, the Shelbyville crowd is earnest trying to stop the bill rather than comply with the laws. In Tennessee horse soring is now a felony but Wheelon is the first trainer to be arrested since the law became effective last July.
Marty Irby, a members of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder’s and Exhibitor’s Association, called on the registry to support the Whitfield-Cohen bill and, while the membership voted down the measure, his courageous stand warranted front-page coverage on the Nashville Tennessean last week. “I’ve been through pure hell,” he said. “But it’s the greatest gift that God has ever given me in my life. I have been as far from one side to another that a person can come.”
Irby has been banned from the Celebration but knows exactly what takes place: Unscrupulous trainers abuse horses to win. He’s the father to an 8-month-old son and told the Tennessean, “My boy loves walking horses — he watches them go by in the ring — I think 100 years into the future. People think I’m nuts, but I know this can be the biggest breed on Earth one day if we take the right steps right now and not next year. And if we don’t, it will die on the vine.”
Some feel death is imminent and not until the Shelbyville influence can be rooted out and replaced will the Walker ever regain its stature. One judge at this year’s Celebration – Rollie Beard of Lewisburg – has a notorious past of Horse Protection Act violations and the trainer’s association board is a virtual who’s who of past offenders.
The USDA has not responded to Tuesday’s court ruling but Chris Mather, a public relations spokesman for SHOW, said the group was disappointed. “Obviously … we have been committed to reform since our inception and continue to be committed to moving the industry forward through fair and consistent inspections and penalties in the best interest of the welfare of the horse. We are reviewing all of our options.”
What he failed to say there aren’t many options for the scofflaws left and this year’s Celebration, again with a harsh glare on empty seats and entries plunging, will doubtlessly suffer worse than ever before.

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    08-01-2013, 11:28 AM
It amazes me that supporters of the Big Lick get so "doom and gloom" about the sudden drop in popularity of the Padded/Performance horse once more people became aware of what the horses have to endure in order to move that way.

Are they even aware of how popular the breed still is among those of us who value good-natured, sure-footed, smooth-moving, non-padded, naturally gaited horses?

I really don't think the breed - the TRUE TWH - is going anywhere.
    08-01-2013, 11:36 AM
Green Broke
It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd (in terms of numbers),the Celebration draws.

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Local News: Ruling won't stop Celebration: CEO (07/31/13)

The times have changed in Bedford County. Many of the newcomers are not horse oriented and would be just as happy to see the Celebration leave town but for all the wrong reasons:

They don't want to fight the traffic the show brings with it.

They could care less about sored horses, don't even know what that means ---------just get those d**n trailers out of my way! I'm late to get my hair and nails "did".
Jolly Badger and waresbear like this.
    08-03-2013, 09:59 AM
Green Broke
I'm not sure if I'll attend this year or not.
    08-03-2013, 10:21 AM
Green Broke
Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration - News Articles

As the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC) is making plans to celebrate it’s 75th Anniversary show August 21-31, 2013 on the historic show grounds in Shelbyville, the deadline for box seat renewals recently passed and renewals showed a continuation of a disturbing trend.

While reform efforts have been successful and a turnaround in the industry is upon us, the misinformation campaign being run by the other side has been successful in curtailing the interest in a sport that means so much to many of us, and the charities to which we give the bulk of our profits each year. Box seat sales are down 148 boxes this year, which will result in a decline of $120,000 of revenue to TWHNC. In the last two years, box seat sales were down a total of 478 boxes equaling $376,000 in lost revenue.

“Sales have been down, and therefore, to continue holding The Celebration, as a last resort we have been forced to increase fees, including our grounds fee” said Celebration CEO Mike Inman. “We did not want to do this and we do so after looking at every penny we spend and cutting every corner we can without sacrificing the experience for attendees.”

For many years, The Celebration has been losing money and as a result, the management has focused heavily on cost-cutting measures. In the previous 5 years the Celebration cut just over $1,000,000 in expenses and in the last year alone, TWHNC has implemented the following cost-cutting reforms:
·Reduced maintenance crews by 50% and management by 20% saving $120,000;
·Reduced management staff and expenses by consolidating functions; and
·Decided not to have jumbotron televisions at the event for a savings of $80,000.

For six years, The Celebration has been losing money totaling almost a million dollars, which is broken down by year below:
·2007 - ($67,802)
·2008 - ($139,408)
·2009 - ($153,810)
·2010 - ($32,417)
·2011 - ($100,379)
·2012 - ($438,356)

In addition, SHOW, the HIO owned by The Celebration, lost $558,987 since 2009. And while revenues have gone down, costs to hold the event have gone up. For example insurance fees are up $50,000 this year. It is also important to note, The Celebration does not retain concession revenue as it gives the nearly $400,000 in gross revenue to the local civic clubs.
franknbeans and Allison Finch like this.
    08-03-2013, 10:56 AM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by gunslinger    
I'm not sure if I'll attend this year or not.
If you do go, I wonder how long you would be able to stay if you had the courage to wear a "Stop the Dirty Lick" T-shirt. I sure would!

Tennessee walkers are amazing horses who have been tortured far too long.
    08-03-2013, 01:22 PM
Super Moderator
I can't understand why anyone would even want to make a horse that's so naturally talented move in such an ugly way........
kbg7506 likes this.
    08-03-2013, 03:32 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Allison Finch    
If you do go, I wonder how long you would be able to stay if you had the courage to wear a "Stop the Dirty Lick" T-shirt. I sure would!

Tennessee walkers are amazing horses who have been tortured far too long.
Tell me where to get one and we'll see.....

Actually, it's not so much the big lick but rather the way it's achieved.
    08-03-2013, 06:41 PM
Green Broke
Step-by-Step Progress Protecting Tennessee Walking Horses | Animal Cruelty | LiveScience
    08-03-2013, 07:00 PM
Green Broke
Big lick sucks. Don't care how you achieve it, and if you buy a ticket to watch it, you're supporting it and part of the problem far as I'm concerned.

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