Roy Exum: Our State’s Sick Joke

Monday, December 26, 2016 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When word reached me the Tennessee Department of Agriculture was considering giving “The Big Lick” a grant to study soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, so help me I thought it was a sick joke. That would be akin to Governor Bill Haslam giving those on Death Row an unsupervised one-year vacation from the penitentiary to do a scientific study if they’ll murder anybody.

The state is already infamous around the world because horsemen in every corner know a bunch of sickos have sadistically and cruelly tortured Walkers for almost 100 years – this in full view of both the federal and state agriculture officials. Under the guise of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association, the despicable group is buoyed by every elected Republican lawmaker from Tennessee and, collectively, it is the biggest animal abuse in all of the United States.

Good and decent horsemen noticed the “Big Lick” ringleader, David Howard of Shelbyville, died on Dec. 17. Talk about good riddance! Howard literally and figuratively drove the industry into the ground as the sickening training methods, the curious judging at dwindling horse shows, and the constant trail of violations came under public scrutiny. There have been countless reports and scathing videos that prove the abuse and, at one point, all 20 of the top trainers had been caught repeatedly by Department of Agriculture inspectors.

The breed’s register was under 5,000 at last report and the USDA under President Obama could issue an edict any day that the padded front hooves, the chains and the illegal shoes will be forbidden. A majority of the seated Congress and the Senate has endorsed sweeping changes but Senators Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell will carry the horse-abuse allegations to their graves.

Now the state’s Department of Agriculture is about to commit the greatest travesty since the state was admitted to the Union in 1796. I fully expect the taxpayers to revolt when it is learned Haslam and Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton are using state money to bolster the cash-starved “Big Lick.”

The seedy side of the Walking Horse industry is called the “Big Lick,” or “Dirty Lick” because loathsome men like Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell use acids and other caustic chemicals to inflame the forelegs of the helpless animals. This is to make the horses do an anguishing, unnatural dance called the “Big Lick” and the cheaters know no bounds. It has been constantly proven the pads on the front hooves hide nails and screws that are driven into the horse’s pasterns (the area at the top of the hoof.)

Are you kidding me? Agriculture Commissioner Templeton has received countless complaints, has read hundreds of stories, and can go on YouTube today to see evidence of the sickest collection of people who only masquerade as Walking Horse lovers. In reality the “Big Lick” has been shown time and time again to be the world’s worst tribe of horse owners in mankind’s history and those behind it are every bit as bad as the cowards who molest women and children.

The new leader is a Nashville builder named Steven B. Smith, who also most cozily served as Alexander’s state campaign chairman. His biggest Congressional boosters are Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais, a Jasper physician whose ethical record is questionable, to say the least. Blackburn and DesJarlais have received thousands of “dirty” dollars in well-managed campaign contributions via Smith. Now it is not a stretch to believe Smith is tapping into a state subsidy to keep the “Big Lick” afloat. What can Governor Haslam and Commissioner Templeton possibly be thinking?

Every August the “Big Lick” holds a laugher of a horse show called the National Celebration in Shelbyville. This year federal inspectors – yes, from the USDA – found six times more violations than the “Big Licker’s inspectors did. And now the state of Tennessee is going to subsidize a study for these creeps and cheaters? It is absolutely beyond belief.

In a recent story that appeared in the Nashville Tennessean, state agriculture spokesperson Corinne Gould horribly misspoke when she said “assisting the walking horse industry to develop a solution to a challenge” is the TDA main purpose. Please! All this woman needs to do is read the public records from the USDA hearings earlier this year on soring and she will realize she is far over her head in decency, factuality, and honesty.

Jackie McConnell and some other thugs were found guilty in a Chattanooga federal court of violating the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and Senator William Tydings, who helped author the report, was incredulous the barbaric McConnell escaped prison time. A Nightline tape of McConnell bashing a horse was shown all around the world and other pictures showed horses in such pain they were unable to stand.

Animal abuse was a misdemeanor at the time but now it is a felony in the state. No one can explain why, after 129 horses were disqualified by inspectors in Shelbyville this August, not one arrest was made in the face of admissible evidence. Don’t you see – the whole control efforts continue to be a sick joke.

People can’t explain why Walkers have a much higher death rate from “colic,” or why “sound horse owners” don’t dare identify their trailers as carrying Walkers out of shame – the public’s disdain for the Shelbyville cheaters is unprecedented and good horse people are suffering because of the “Big Lick” and its blatant disregard of federal regulations.

As a matter of fact, the sound horse movement is railing at the state for falling into dirty hands of the “Big Lick” and – trust me – the state will pay a much higher price than any amount somebody will steer towards the Lickers for any grant.

People who purposely abuse horses are criminals and the Tennessee Departmnt of Agriculture should redirect its efforts to eradicating the criminals instead of their nauseating crimes.

royexum@aol.com



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