I'm going to hope that law enforcement descends on the celebration to try and make an example of trainers/owners there. If not, people need to go with video recorders in hand and get whatever they can on film. Either way, you should go.
Although not about walking horses, the youtube video is extremely disturbing...enough to make an old man cry...
Roy Exum: New Horse CEO Is Who?
Monday, July 30, 2012 - by Roy Exum
When it was learned that the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has just hired a new CEO to replace the departing Doyle Meadows over the weekend, there was an audible gasp from those seeking to reform the badly-battered Shelbyville-based industry. U.S. Department of Agriculture records reveal that Mike Inman, who will formally be named this week, and his wife have been cited for violating the federal Horse Protection Act four times in the past.
Mr. Inman, who lives in Bessemer, Ala., but is deeply-rooted within the seamy Shelbyville hierarchy, will take the helm of the now-rattled Celebration after the 11-day event is held in late August. This year’s organizers are clearly worried that a devastating tape of horse abuse seen by millions, the first-ever guilty pleas to violations of the Horse Protection Act in Federal Court, and seemingly endless rash of abysmal blunders this summer has cast the Walking Horse industry in the worst light ever.
As a matter of fact, the Celebration plans to give away $10,000 cash in hopes of luring “lucky ticket holders” during this year’s event in order to attract crowds to the 47th annual event, which begins Aug. 17. But Mr. Inman’s appointment was so bizarre that one patron wrote, in part, “…how dumb can an industry get when it's on its knees? This has got to be a joke. If you think politics were dirty then ...holy smacks, just wait! I can already think of one trainer licking his chops from side to side.”
The word around the barns is that Mr. Inman and his wife show in most amateur events, but sources say the three trainers they prefer all have recent histories of violating the Horse Protection Act. Steve Dunn, a Hall of Fame inductee, has had at least eight violations, the most recent resulting in an eight-month suspension last year, while Justin Harris, the Trainer of the Year in 2009, has had nine violations in the past, including one earlier this year. The other is Brandye Mills, who has had eight previous violations.
Ironically, Mr. Inman’s appointment comes at a time when there has never been as a determined grass-roots effort to rid the Walking Horse industry of the corruption, cheating and abuse that has plagued it for the past 50 years. Five men have pleaded guilty this year to federal charges of abusing horses, the USDA has tightened its inspection requirements and the state of Tennessee has just made horse abuse a felony crime.
Two of the nation’s top equine veterinarian groups are calling for a ban on stacks, affixed to the front hooves of so-called “performance” horses, as well as chains and “action devices.” This is just one reason the Tennessee State Fair, which will be held in Nashville this September, has aligned itself with the Kentucky-based National Walking Horse Association, which favors flat-shod horses with a natural gait.
Face it, the so called “Big Lick,” where horses lift their front legs high, is not natural. According to one trainer – Barney Davis, who was sentenced earlier this year – it cannot be attained without soring and abusing the animals. Davis actually told Federal judge Sandy Mattice, “Every walking horse that enters into a show is sored. They've got to be sored to walk (show). There ain't no good way to put it, but that's how it is."
Mr. Inman’s appointment appears to defy efforts to rid the rogues from the Walking Horse industry, just like the refusal of several Shelbyville horse organizations to sign letters-of-compliance with the new USDA regulations. One of the groups, known as SHOW, has even sued the USDA in a Texas court and the bitterness has even spilled into the Trainer’s Association, where some of its members are calling for a boycott of hometown places like Gateway Tire and the Midway Diner for their refusal to buy “we support” signs.
* * *
On a related note, the Warren County Humane Society has found horse abuse so horrendous in McMinnville it has put a very riveting – and graphic – tape on YouTube in hope of getting attention to what is a huge problem. They claim they have contacted Sheriff Jackie Matheny, who is obligated to respond to felony crimes, with little success but they keep trying.
As their motto they have adopted this creed: "I am not afraid to stand for justice, not afraid to speak up for the abused and the forgotten, if no one will listen, I will not stop until their suffering is heard. I will not look into the eyes of another dying animal and let their suffering continue with no one helping, or no one held accountable. To know this is happening yet do nothing, to know that they die without any justice, will not be allowed to go on unchallenged any longer "
Again, the tape is graphic but the problem “will not be allowed to go on unchallenged any longer.” firstname.lastname@example.org
The start of the 74th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration is less than three weeks away, but, according to some accounts, it just might resemble more of a funeral. Ever since the “Big Lick” industry came under the harsh glare of the nation’s scorn in May, one catastrophic blunder after another will almost assure the 11-day spectacle in Shelbyville will feature the dying breath of a loathsome faction of tainted horse owners, trainers and officials.
The day of “The Big Lick,” where horses are cruelly abused and sored so the magnificent creatures take unnatural and painful high steps, is nearing its demise and, to the delight of the 98 percent of walking horse owners worldwide, it is believed that the scurrilous leadership based in Shelbyville could easily be on the verge of collapse as well.
CEO Doyle Meadows has already announced his resignation and last week, after Marty Irby, who heads the Breeders and Exhibitors Association, was shockingly banned from the Celebration show and grounds, he confirmed that agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had sought and obtained records from the breed registry two weeks ago and that there appears to be some type of criminal investigation now taking place.
Irby, who fell under the wrath of key Celebration officials for reportedly obtaining some web domain names, was obviously ousted from the “inside circle” of Shelbyville hocus-pocus for more than that. Already under intense scrutiny, when the Celebration board attacked Irby with a one-year suspension it magnified the “Big Lick” bitterness, the public’s mounting distrust and the industry’s inward disdain for the Celebration’s Executive Committee.
It also prompted a furious attack focused on the self-appointed czar of the Shelbyville hierarchy, David Howard. Even the widely-respected Walking Horse Chat reported, “The Celebration has for some time been on the edge of destruction for much of what they cause, and much of what the media has painted as a picture of our industry."
“This latest effort to publicly destroy someone who doesn’t agree with him comes as no surprise,” announced Chat. “David Howard has a long line of people in his path who he has tried to destroy through his position at TWHNC, some to no avail.”
Howard and a confederate, John Bobo, are now thought to be the leaders of an effort to openly defy the federal government. It was just learned that horses at this year’s Celebration will be inspected by the in-house SHOW group, despite the fact it is currently being decertified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Further, it has already been announced that at least four judges at this year’s show have records as past offenders of the federal Horse Protection Act.
Under SHOW guidelines, trainers of horses found to be guilty of violations of the federal Horse Protection Act are suspended for two weeks, but, under a new Tennessee state law, violations of horse abuse are now a felony, punishable with sentencing guidelines of one to five years in state prison. SHOW does not suspend owners or riders of horses that fail inspections.
SHOW, which operates under Howard’s tight thumb, has already sued the USDA this summer but USDA and Humane Society officials will most definitely be at the Celebration and will continue to closely monitor the dark side of the walking horse world where cheating, corruption and rampant animal abuse have been amply noted for a half century. Currently there are over five pages of names of violators on a USDA website.
Worse, more and more of the most respected trainers are admitting the “Big Lick” can’t be accomplished without using the sadistic methods that have resulted in four separate guilty pleas in Federal Court this year.Two of the country’s most prominent veterinarian groups are calling on our nation’s lawmakers to outlaw stacks, or pads, and other “performance” devices and there is harsh legislation being drafted in several states.
Celebration leaders, panicking over much smaller crowds, are offering everything from cash give-aways to church-night promotions -- of all things -- but the perception of the enraged public has been relentless across Tennessee all summer and Irby admitted the breed registry is today only half of what it once was.
The Celebration’s defiant stance to protect the “Big Lick”will cause more empty seats, leading to the belief more true horsemen will go instead to the Tennessee State Fair, where flat-shod performers and the Walkers’ natural gait will be featured in early September.
Organizations such as the Kentucky-based National Walking Horse Association, which will oversee the State Fair in an obvious snub of the now-tainted Shelbyville crowd, are growing in popularity because of the natural gait and much more humane show conditions (Nashville will use 140 tons of sand for a softer surface).
Jackie McConnell, the sadistic trainer who savagely abused horses in a tape that has now been seen by millions, will be sentenced in Chattanooga on Sept. 10 by Federal Judge Sandy Mattice and will face 14 state charges on unrelated horse-abuse charges in Fayette, Tn., later in the month.The McConnelll tape is prompting some horse advocates to say they will boycott the Shelbyville show, where McConnell was an esteemed member of its Hall of Fame until after he pleaded guilty.
On the day that McConnell and two other men copped a plea in Federal Court, horse czar Howard told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he was horrified and said, “I've been in the business a long time and it shocked me.It's just totally unbelievable," but now federal sources say Howard’s open defiance lends credence to their belief he’s “up to his ears in everything that is going on.”
The Humane Society of the U.S. Acquired the McConnell tape and is active in horse abuse but when the agency recently tried to buy ads and provide editorial information in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, the editor –Sadie Fowler – flatly refused. It was later revealed Fowler once worked for the Tennessee Walking Horse Report, which is owned by Howard.
“It’s not totally surprising, but it’s still disappointing,” Keith Dane, the Humane Society's equine protection director, told the Nashville Tennessean. “Anything that is seen as critical of the walking horse industry is perceived as being bad for Shelbyville, and it’s a close-knit community.”
That statement begs the question: What happens when the Celebration itself is bad for Shelbyville? It’s a close-knit community, indeed, and until the walking horse industry purges itself from those who are destroying it, the “Big Lick” will linger before it eventually dies of self-inflicted wounds. email@example.com
In the past three months I have taken a crash course called “Walking Horse Abuse 101” and by my tally I grade about a C-minus, which is almost average for anyone who thought a pastern was country way of saying where horses graze grass. It turns out a pastern is a tender part of a horse’s foot where evil people drive nails, insert golf balls or apply heavy pads so the animals will lift their painful front hooves in a very unnatural gait called “The Big Lick.”
The biggest mystery to me is why anyone would sore a horse, but there is overwhelming evidence that caustic chemicals are routinely applied to the forelegs of performance horses in search of a grotesque dance that happens every August.
I was drawn into the fray in May after seeing a horrendous videotape that shocked and angered the entire nation. Since then I have had thousands of “teachers” who, through private email, have bared a very revolting part of the Walking Horse industry to me. The public outcry has been incredible, lending credence to the notion this year’s National Celebration, which is slated to begin its 11-day run in Shelbyville on Aug. 22, will be unlike the shows of the past. The reason is the Shelbyville-based hierarchy is fighting with all its might against mounting pressure from every direction to finally clean up 50 years of abuse, corruption and the now-seedy image of the Walking Horse industry when, in fact, the defenseless horses are one of the most noble breeds in America.
According to the Bible’s New Testament, 1st Timothy 6:10 starts "For the love of money is the root of all evil" and nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to deliberately soring a horse. Just like some people go to the Indianapolis 500 to see the cars crash, there are those who go to Shelbyville to see the freaks.
A growing number of trainers say “The Big Lick” can’t be achieved without the hideous and sadistic methods used to produce the unnatural stomping gait, but if the government – both on the state and Congressional level – succeeds in outlawing such depravity, some say Shelbyville’s house of cards could collapse and, according to enforcement official, that is where “the root of all evil” is located.
The horse show has historically brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to Shelbyville’s distressed economy, but it also lines the pockets of those who are now so viciously fighting the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Humane Society of the United States, and a clamoring public to stop the vile abuse and eradicate once and for all the stacks, or pads, and action devices that cause horse lovers of other American breeds to angrily weep.
David Howard, who has craftily wormed his way into the Walking Horse elite of Shelbyville, is today believed to be the ringleader of “The Big Lick” faction. He controls the Celebration board, which picks the judges for the show. He also owns the Walking Horse Report, that is chock full of expensive ads from hopeful owners and trainers, and he owns several other horse-related enterprises.
If “The Big Lick” is eliminated, the crowds may not return to Shelbyville because there would be no more freaks, then the pages of ad revenue might dry up, then the hefty payrolls for the trainers may disappear, and – much like Humpty Dumpty – David Howard’s empire would take a great fall. This is why the Shelbyville bunch is suing the USDA. This is why they are now furiously visiting senators and Congressmen and reminding them that “walking horse money” was donated to various election campaigns. And this is why horses are still being abused.
When the villainous Jackie McConnell pleaded guilty to violating the federal Horse Protection Act on May 22, Howard somewhat innocently told Chattanooga TV station WRCB, "I'll be honest with you, we'll never get there. There's going to be somebody always cheating.”
When Howard revealed his ace card, it caused the anti-soring segment to tighten its resolve. This summer it became a felony to abuse a horse in the state of Tennessee and last week federal judge Sandy Mattice ordered abuser John Mays to write a newspaper article about soring under the terms of his release. The USDA passed new rules for stricter judging, which could cause the Celebration to be decertified, and all summer long there has been one embarrassment after another.
A couple of weeks ago Howard used his bully pulpit to boot Marty Irby – who heads the breed registry -- from the Celebration board and there are signs the intertwined leadership may soon be in disarray. Mike Inman, who insiders say is a shameless pawn for Howard, is the Celebration’s new CEO-elect and, in a newspaper interview last week, he said, “We need to focus on the positive and actively promote the performance horse. When you understand the (performance) package, the action device, when you put it in people's hands, they understand it, they get it, and accept it."
Oh? Two of the largest equine veterinarian groups have already called for performance devices to be totally banned this summer, saying the unnatural stacks obviously inflame a horse’s legs and are easily altered to hide far worse abuse. “Have you ever seen a performance horse in a field? They don’t do the ‘Big Lick’ unless they are forced to do it,” offered one reader.
But the scurrilous owners and trainers are adapting. With increased attention to violators, trainers are suddenly entering horses in the names of underlings, horse’s names are being easily changed, and clever methods are being used to escape detection of chronic abuse. The new swab tests are laughable, as is the fact the Celebration will use its own judges this year, three of which have known past violations of the Horse Protection Act.
The Tennessee State Fair, which will be held in Nashville during September, will not even allow performance horses due to the public’s increasing disdain, and some states are introducing laws to curb the cheating and abuse that has spread elsewhere. Worse, the overwhelming majority of Walking Horse owners detest the ill-gotten reputation that has plagued the breed for a half-century and seem eager to disassociate from the Shelbyville groups and their agendas.
Rumors continue to swirl. It has been confirmed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained records and federal investigators, as well as USDA inspectors, will attend the Celebration in a continued effort to eradicate those who will cheat for money. It’s that simple. And they will sadistically “steward” any horse until they are forcibly stopped. firstname.lastname@example.org