Roy Exum: Stop Soring! No More Pads!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The American Veterinary Medical Association – with 82,500 professional members – and the American Association of Equine Practitioners – with another 10,000 who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of horses – delivered a savage kick in the face to the despicable “Big Lick” crowd in Shelbyville early this week when the two groups called on Congress to soon pass the Amendments to the Horse Protection Act, House Bill No. 6388.

The amendments are badly needed since there has been continued and rampant abuse of soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry this year. The “Big Lick” faction has openly scoffed at efforts of horse advocates to eliminate the torture and sadistic practices for 40 years since the Horse Protection Act was put into law, but now the country’s top veterinarians and equine experts have joined  an enraged public eager to put those who torture horses in jail.

Dr. Doug Aspros, the president of the AVMA, said in a statement, “Soring is an unconscionable abuse of horses that is used to produce a high-stepping gait—the ‘Big Lick’—and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the show ring. For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself."

“The AVMA and AAEP are committed to strengthening the USDA’s ability to enforce the Horse Protection Act,” said the White Plains, N.Y., veterinarian, “and ending this abuse for good. We strongly encourage everyone who cares about the welfare of horses to contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 6388.”

Dr. John Mitchell, the president of the AAEP, was more direct, correctly pointing out the national outcry towards those who have sullied the noble image of the Tennessee Walking Horse. "The passage of H.R. 6388 will strengthen the Horse Protection Act and significantly increase the effort to end the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse," said the Boca Raton, Fla., veterinarian. "The AAEP encourages all veterinarians to contact their legislators to voice support for the bill and help end the cruel soring of these beautiful animals."

The Horse Protection Act, established 40 years ago, was never successfully prosecuted until federal agents from Chattanooga won five guilty pleas this year. One was from the now-famed Jackie McConnell, a trainer from west Tennessee, who brutally clubbed a horse in an undercover video that has now been seen by millions the world over. Because of woefully-lax federal laws, every violator got a suspended sentence – including the loathsome McConnell.

The proposed amendments to the Horse Protection Act will provide the following distinctions that will greatly strengthen the act:

* -- Makes the actual act of soring, or directing another person to cause a horse to become sore, illegal;

* -- Requires the USDA (rather than the industry) to license, train, assign and oversee inspectors enforcing the Horse Protection Act;

* -- Prohibits the use of action devices (e.g., boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse) on any limb of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle horses, or Racking horses at horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions and bans weighted shoes, pads, wedges, hoof bands, or other devices that are not used for protective or therapeutic purposes;

* -- Increases civil and criminal penalties for violations, and creates a penalty structure that requires horses to be disqualified for increasing periods of time based on the number of violations; and

* -- Allows for permanent disqualification from the show ring after three or more violations.

Many feel the Amendments will fly through Congress but the “Big Lick” industry is far from dead; they swooned Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) at a “fundraiser” during this year’s National Celebration. The Humane Society of the United States has since learned the much-maligned DesJarlais has an equally shameful record voting on animal issues. He was even called down for “harassing” the USDA by former Senator Joseph Tidings, the author of the Horse Protection Act.

Recent revelations have proven DesJarlais to be little more than “a bad Republican joke” in Washington circles but reports that a horse’s hoof was actually torn off while it was being shown in Shelbyville last Saturday is not funny at all. It happened at the aptly-named “Walking For Angels Show” and horse advocates are enraged that nothing was done after the horse’s bloody leg was wrapped and the animal was led from the show ring.

As the head of the American Veterinary Medical Association just said, “For decades we’ve watched irresponsible individuals become more creative about finding ways to sore horses and circumvent the inspection process, and have lost faith in an industry that seems unwilling and/or unable to police itself.”

That’s enough to make you write your Congressman on Thanksgiving Day.

royexum@aol.com


Not Thrilled With The Parking Rate Increase

Mark your calendars for?? Sept. 1—the day the Chattanooga Parking Authority has?? announced it will raise parking rates around the city. In addition to the rate hikes, the Parking Authority will extend enforceable hours from 4:30-6 p.m.  and will include Saturdays as well.?? The Parking Authority has allowed for a learning curve, however, saying that during the month of ... (click for more)

Tell Congress To Protect AmeriCorps

In June, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved separate spending bills that would reduce opportunities for young people to serve their county, by cutting the AmeriCorps program, by as much as 34%.  These cuts mean half as many AmeriCorps members serving with local programs like Southeast Conservation Corps. These members build local trails, remove invasive ... (click for more)

City, County To Spend Up To $300,000 To Improve Moccasin Bend Police Firing Range

The city and county will spend up to $300,000 to upgrade the police firing range at Moccasin Bend. The city and county earlier had made plans for an indoor firing range on E. 11th Street that would have cost over $3 million, but the plug was later pulled on that idea. Officials said a new portable building will be transported to the Moccasin Bend site. The project also ... (click for more)

Hutcheson Medical Center Takes New Cost-Cutting Measures

Hutcheson Medical Center has announced new cost-cutting measures as it tries to stop ongoing losses. A trustee has asked that the Fort Oglethorpe hospital's bankruptcy process be dissolved, saying it has accumulated over $5 million in debt during the 10 months it has been in bankruptcy. The board of directors for Hutcheson Medical Center voted Wednesday evening to suspend ... (click for more)

Cleveland Hangs On To Beat East Hamilton, 18-15

Cleveland built an 18-0 lead – the third score came on Skyler Davis’ 91-yard interception return in the third quarter – and then had to hold on as East Hamilton mounted a comeback that fell just short in the Blue Raiders’ 18-15 victory Friday night at East Hamilton. Davis’ big defensive play gave the Blue Raiders the needed points to pull out the victory. “That was great,” ... (click for more)

Tyner Shocks Notre Dame In Overtime Thriller

Oh, what a difference a year makes. The Tyner Rams only won two football games a year ago and didn't make the playoffs for the first time in coach Wayne Turner's 24 years as their head coach. Now a season later, the Rams have equaled last year's win total, the latest being a 27-21 overtime victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game where there were more momentum ... (click for more)