Roy Exum: What Happened To Horse Sense?

Saturday, June 30, 2012 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A smoke-and-mirrors show that is being touted as “The Tennessee Walking Horses of Today Equine Conference” is being held this weekend in Murfreesboro and the most noticeable absence at the Embassy Suites Convention center will be what is commonly called “horse sense.” Everybody there is praying it will be one of the most glorious celebrations of the embattled Tennessee Walking Horse industry ever – Lord knows it needs it – but until the estimated 500,000 owners of registered Tennessee Walkers join hearts with the half-million YouTube viewers who have now watched the sadistic undercover tape of sheer depravity obtained by the Humane Society, the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, as we know it, is crying harder than the whimpering horse that you saw get whipped with that electric cattle prod.

What’s that you say? Just Tuesday Frank Eichler wrote an impassioned opinion piece in the Nashville Tennessee begging for public understanding. It touted a new group – the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization – and Frank promised “all four performance-horse industries have expressed an initial willingness to support the protocol” to end soring and abuse.

Please, I’ve never seen a stall that needed to be cleaned out any worse in my life. For starters, TWSHO was just founded last month and – already – a husband of one of the initial seven board members has filed a suit against the Humane Department of the United States. Talk about quick thinking?  And – get this – six of the first seven hand-picked plums now on the new TWSHO podium have been “ticketed” in the past for violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.

That’s not funny, not to the 98 percent of good and wonderful and honest Walking Horse owners who are about to founder on the chronic misdeeds and stumbling antics that now have the Walking Horse reputation too smelly for a barn pitchfork. As Chicken Little would yell, “The sky is falling” because, brother, there’s a bigger mess every day. In Memphis this week the organizers of the prestigious Germantown Charity Show are trying to eliminate Tennessee Walking Horse – the whole breed – after over 40 years of competition. It was learned 27 of 38 exhibitors (or their families) had violated the federal Horse Protection Act but competed last month and some of the horses made spectators want to cry. It was so bad do you know what they call the petition? “No more crippled horses for crippled kids.” That makes me want to weep, too.

Nobody is saying just who exactly picked the new TWSHO board members but they – and their trainers -- can easily be traced on USDA websites or www.stopsoring.com. They are Proctor Dean of North Carolina, Terry Dodson of Tennessee, Frank Eichler of Tennessee, Nancy Groover (Winky’s mother) from Texas, Bruce MacDonald of Georgia, Mrs. Lee McGartland of Texas, and Duke Thorson (of NASCAR truck fame) in Ohio.The truth is everybody knows who picked the newest board because the same fingers picked the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers’ Association, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association and the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, in sponsorship with The Walking Horse Report. Are you kidding me?

You can compare the intertwining and overlapping to either cancer or the Rotary Club but, in fairness, about four or five slick guys in Shelbyville control the whole shebang. Soring horses, making the front hooves take the “Big Step,” has been going on for 50 years and sheer “horse sense” will tell you the organization’s top leadership has finally “looked the other way” too long.

New USDA rules, three huge veterinarian groups, state and federal legislators and – worst of all – “we, the people” – are actively descending on what insiders call “the Shelbyville country club” like the fruit flies on sweet feed. Four industry villains have already pleaded guilty to federal charges and will be sentenced on Sept. 10 and federal investigators are, it is safe to say, still quite active.

The most famous rogue, the notorious Jackie McConnell, has 14 counts of state charges pending and, curiously, his trial in Sessions Court in Fayette County (Somerville) has just been moved back to Sept. 25. By already pleading guilty in Federal Court, those proceedings will be interesting, especially since animal abuse and soring become a felony instead of a misdemeanor in Tennessee this Sunday.

Kathy Zeis, who is the secretary/treasurer of the Foundation for the Advancement and Support of the Tennessee Walking Show Horse, will be something of a celebrity at this weekend’s gala in Murfreesboro after she petitioned the Breeder’s and Exhibitors board to kick off Keith Dane, the head of equine protection of the Humane Society when the famous abuse tape when platinum.

Kathy, of course, withdrew her petition when TWHBEA president Marty Irby identified her and said she was betrayed. But she told the Murfreesboro newspaper this weekend wouldn’t include any discord. “This is about getting to know our people, our trainers, our owners. This is a multi-industry conference,” she said.

Yeah, just one little tea party after another but to the half-million who own Tennessee Walking Horses and the other half million who are now infuriated by the proof that McConnell’s sadistic act was hardly an isolated one, how does it smell that six of seven new TWSHO board members have allegedly violated the federal Horse Protection Act or that Lee McGartland’s husband, Mike, is already taking the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to court?

Please, lighter on the peanuts and heavier on the horse sense.

royexum@aol.com



Gary Humble Thanks Signal Mountain Community

Dear Signal Mountain Community,  A heartfelt thank you to all those who supported and elected me to be the Signal Mountain town judge. This election was a humbling experience, no pun intended. The support I received was almost overwhelming to me personally. I also wish to thank all those who opened the doors of their homes to me, especially those who put signs in their ... (click for more)

A Lack Of Responsibility - And Response

As a retired restaurateur, I was interested in the story of the recently opened River Drifter restaurant having contaminated well water resulting in the sickness of dozens of its customers. However, my curiosity turned to disgust while watching the co-owner (Charles Eich) being interviewed by  NewsChannel 9 last night. While Eich stated he was sorry for the sick ... (click for more)

City Looking For Proposals For Floating Restaurant, Riverboat Excursions

The city is seeking proposals for an exclusive agreement for a berthing agreement that would include a floating restaurant and a vessel for river excursions. Officials said the operation would be another enhancement for the downtown riverfront. The city is seeking an entrepreneur who would enter into a 10-year contract with options up to 10 years more. Officials said, "The ... (click for more)

Soddy Daisy Man Who Robbed 2 Credit Union Branches While Unarmed Gets 4-Year Federal Prison Sentence

A Soddy Daisy man who robbed two credit union branches while unarmed has been sentenced to serve four years in federal prison. Jeffrey Rutherford, 35, appeared before Judge Travis McDonough. Authorities said on Aug. 19, 2016, Rutherford entered the Comtrust Federal Credit Union on Gunbarrel Road while dressed all in black and with his face covered. He approached two tellers ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Quinn Scores Two TDs In Owls' 21-7 Win Against Tyner

Friday’s season-opening high school football showdown between Tyner and Ooltewah, turned out to be a short one on the field, but a prolonged rain delay turned into an incessant waiting game Friday night at James N. Monroe Stadium, and the Owls managed to walk – maybe float would be more accurate – away with a 21-7 victory. With the teams barely into the locker rooms at halftime, ... (click for more)

UTC Soccer Wins Season Opener 3-0

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team came away with a 3-0 victory over Alabama A&M Friday afternoon at Finley Stadium in the season opener for both teams. The Mocs got the scoring started with a goal in the second minute. Senior Masey Fox picked up a pass from junior Bailey Gale from the right side to give the Mocs a quick 1-0 lead. “To start ... (click for more)