Lamar Alexander, in a carefully-calculated ploy to derail bills moving through Congress and the Senate that would limit horse abuse, is now being roundly ridiculed by horse lovers and justly maligned by scores of others who decry backroom politics. Alexander has penned an alternative bill to the ongoing PAST Act that is nothing more than a deliberate ruse to keep the scurrilous “Big Lick” faction in the unforgivable business of torturing horses.
Alexander’s nauseating hypocrisy comes after 260 members of Congress have already endorsed House Bill 1518 and a full 50 senators have signed on Senate Bill 1406. And it comes as little surprise since Steven B. Smith, Alexander’s state campaign chairman, is president of the Big Lick’s Breed Registry and has a proven history of personally violating the federal Horse Protection Act in the past.
Alexander’s blatant disregard for the fact the pending PAST Act has the endorsement of such groups as the American Horse Council, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Humane Society of the United States and over a hundred other organizations may be unparalleled. But, again, it was expected after Tennessee’s seven Republican members of Congress endorsed a similar bill in Congress that “will enable soring rather than stop it.”
The seedy bill in Congress was authored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who was feted by the Big Lick last August in a way that allegedly generated $70,000 to her campaign coffers. Chattanooga’s Chuck Fleischmann and Jasper’s Scott DesJarlais are among the 10 members of Congress who have endorsed the alternate bill, this after a clear majority of Congress signed HB 1518, which was sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell – a noted Big Lick advocate who once threatened the USDA over inspections – and Kentucky’s Rand Paul joined Alexander in signing the alternate bill, which was immediately castigated by those who have been campaigning for the soring and torture of Walkers to finally stop. Many say the unnatural, unsightly gait prized by the Lickers cannot be done without soring and, while horse abuse in Tennessee is now a felony, it continues among trainers and owners alike.
Alexander intimated that the PAST Act will eliminate horse shows but he’s terribly mistaken. What it will do is eliminate the dreaded pads, chains and action devices where crooked trainers hide bolts, nails and anything else in order to cheat. Clean horse shows are now in vogue and are attracting riders, especially with the Big Lick understandably ostracized by a sickened public. Alexander has to know that!
Further, every state veterinary association in America has called for the stacks, or pads, the chains and the pressure shoes to be banned forever, but Alexander’s solution would leave them in place and the senator, obviously turning against the wishes of a great majority of his constituents, cannot explain their worth. As one notable horseman noted, “If God had meant for Walkers to have stacks they’d have been born with them. It’s atrocious.”
Alexander also drew a baseball parallel, saying punish the player but not the sport, when in fact the Big Lick boards of governance are riddled today with past violators of the federal act and known cheaters. To the contrary, the great majority of Walking Horse owners are clamoring for the Big Lick to be reined in, but Shelbyville, tightly managed by a cancerous crowd that covets a blue ribbon over a horse’s well-being, remains the epicenter of horse abuse in the world.
Alexander called the Walking Horse one of the state’s “most treasured traditions” when, in fact, video footage of the convicted Jackie McConnell abusing a horse with a club incited rage around the world that has yet to quell. With horse abuse continuing – there is now an ongoing trial in Alexander’s hometown of Maryville – Alexander came across as a liar, an unlearned rube and an evil accomplice in his stealthy presentation that he alleges “will end soring in Tennessee.”
Alexander fully knows there is no way Walking Horses will be ever be removed from Tennessee but he also realizes that if the cheaters give way to the “sound horse” (a clean animal), the tawdry machine that has allowed the sadistic brutality may well run out of money for campaigns like Blackburn’s, DesJarlais’ or even his own. Try to understand the logic behind his unprecedented bill in any other way.
No, the Tennessee Walking Horse has survived over a century and there are thousands of horses outside the Big Lick whose owners treat them like royalty. But because there is a very sick culture that is spawned in now-struggling Shelbyville, the once-noble breed has been badly smeared and horribly maligned. With this week’s Senate bill, Lamar Alexander will now be remembered as a man who tried to highjack a concerted national effort to stop soring with the well-received HB1518 and S1406 already in motion.
It is expected that Alexander and the contemptuous Blackburn will use their alternate legislation to conjure up whatever roadblocks are necessary to stop a dedicated attempt to effort that would protect a horse that falls into the hands of an unscrupulous trainer or owner. That would hurt our nation, our society and those who recognize what horses have meant to our nation.
Remember Lamar Alexander at the polls this August and vote like you would if you knew a horse’s life was a stake. What this man has just done is absolutely awful and we must not ever forget it.
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Lamar Alexander’s mailing address is 455 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. Do NOT send money.