On opening day of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration’s 75th anniversary event, The Humane Society of the United States announced a new reward program "to help expose corrupt activities within the industry."
The HSUS will pay up to $5,000 "for any tip leading to an arrest and conviction for bribery, intimidation, fraud or other corrupt activities related to the inspection of Tennessee walking horse shows," officials said.
The corruption reward tip line is part of The HSUS’ ongoing commitment to end the practice of horse “soring,” which is the deliberate infliction of pain to Tennessee walking horses’ legs and hooves to force them to perform an artificially high-stepping gait for the show ring, it was stated.
Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS, said, "Callers to The HSUS’ existing reward tip line to report Horse Protection Act violations have also reported wrongdoing by horse industry officials, including show managers, individuals responsible for inspecting horses or any horse industry organizations certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enforce the federal Horse Protection Act. Callers also expressed fears of retaliation, inspiring the need for an additional reward program. Initiating the program at the start of the Celebration was particularly important due to the number of participants who have a history of violating the Horse Protection Act.
“Soring horses is not only despicable abuse, it’s also cheating - and corruption and cheating go hand-in-hand in this sector of the Tennessee walking horse industry. Our rewards provide an incentive for industry participants to report instances of abuse and horse show corruption and ensure that the information is relayed to the proper authorities. When the Celebration’s leading competitors reads like a who’s who of Horse Protection Act violators, we know that soring is not limited to a ‘few bad apples,’ and we’re calling on industry participants to help us eliminate soring for good.”
He said that, according to publicly available databases, "five of the horses who have been entered into the aged stallions qualifying classes for the 2013 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration World Grand Championship, the show’s top prize, have been the subject of citations for violations of the Horse Protection Act. In addition, the owners and riders of all of the horses entered into these qualifying classes, and each of the top-25 ranked trainers in the industry’s Riders Cup program, all have previous Horse Protection Act citations."