Roy Exum: Big Lick = Red Neck

Thursday, August 11, 2016 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the “dirty lickers,” a small and disgraceful segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, appeared with proponents of the “sound horse” in Murfreesboro on Tuesday, it went just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture had hoped. The rednecks showed their (mule) just like everyone thought they would.

 The Dirty Lickers, those sadists who torture and abuse Walkers to dance an unnatural and disgraceful dance called the “Big Lick,” are well-noted cheaters and horse sadists. Their often-raucous appearance before the USDA left no doubt they will be brought to heel by the Obama administration this fall after four more hearings take place this month.

Shouting down some speakers, noisily trying to muffle the remarks of sound horse advocates, and telling blatant lies can’t help but have had a negative impact on the federal government representatives as they held the first meeting over badly-needed changes in the most despicable animal industry in America.

The Obama administration, by executive order, is demanding USDA-approved inspectors against the soring and abuse of the majestic horses, thus eliminating the “dirty lick” officials who all but openly scoff at the federal Horse Protection Act. At last year’s “National Sore-abration,” as the Shelbyville championships are now called, a full 85 percent of horses randomly picked showed signs of scars, mistreatment and chronic abuse.

An Executive Order by the president would also eliminate the man-made stacks on the horse’s front hooves where the Dirty Lickers hide nails, irritants and action devices to make the horse lift its painful pasterns feet higher. The writing is already on the wall; well-warranted public perception of the Dirty Lick has never been greater and, with horse abuse now a felony in the state, there is a belief that at the late-August show some trainers and exhibitors could be taken to jail if man-made injuries are found.

This Tuesday in Murfreesboro was showtime, indeed, as the Lickers grasped at every straw in a five-hour session. Jerry Harris accused the USDA of unethical tactics, said there was corruption from USDA secretary (Tom) Vilsack all the way down, and claimed business layoffs will affect thousands.

He failed to mention how hundreds of thousands of Tennessee Walkers are going to go – poof! – rather than continue to be fed, trained and ridden under the new rules but Harris, said to be a female hairdresser, has never proven common sense as his long suit. Denise Rowland drew huge applause by saying the absence of cheating devices will “destroy the horse” when, obviously, it will only destroy the cheaters.

Dan Waddle stood and told the panel he had “never seen a deliberately sored horse” and that “abused horses do not exist” when, to the contrary, countless millions across the globe have watched Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell’s Night Line tape and seen another trainer, Barney Davis, explain the “Big Lick” cannot be achieved without soring. Perhaps Waddle misspoke.

Jeffery Howard, whose father David has probably done more to encourage the “Dirty Lick” than any man alive, accused the USDA of using “false statistics,” which surely enamored the Shelbyville rube to USDA panelists, while Mike Inman, another Dirty Lick leader, assured the removal of man-made pads would ruin what God created. No Tennessee Walker is foaled wearing stacks, chains, pressure hooves, acid wraps, according to every veterinarian group in the country, all who vehemently oppose soring of any kind.

Debbie Hinneman, who claimed she has eight nags worth 58K, told the USDA that amateur keyboard jockeys (!) don’t have a dog in the hunt yet admitted people don’t like the Big Lick “but don’t outlaw it just because you don’t like it!” She said many violations are as trumped up as the signs on the farms that are now for sale in and around the loathsome town of Shelbyville, an entire town the “Dirty Lick” ruined long before now.

Virginia Stewart left no doubt about her scruples when she stood to say in her best Middle Tennessee voice, “I never heard so much BS from ill-informed people.” Then she claimed her string of horses is valued at $500,000 “but if the rule passes it will be zero.” Obviously also a poof theorist, Stewart told the panel that of her 40 Tennessee Walkers, 11 are “Big Lick” ready.

Winky Groover, a Big Lick trainer who is in the Hall of Fame despite a well-known multitude of USDA violations, stood to say his multi-million-dollar barn will be useless, his vet bills, his farrier, his hay man, trucks and trailers will all suffer. “If this passes, I will have to close my business,” he said with a straight face, his belief allegedly that his years of cheating and soring are all that is keeping him afloat. Please!

Melanie Lawrence also blamed the “keyboard warriors” and said, as the wife of a trainer “who has a college degree,” this whole uproar is all being brought about by radical animal rights group. She failed to mention the seven Tennessee Congressmen and the two Tennessee senators who have soaked up so much “dirty lick” money in campaign donations to keep the cheating rampant that the Obama administration can hardly wait for reprisal.

Ty Irby drew left-hand applause when he told the panel, “putting a horse’s life over a human’s life is a true abomination” – trust me, nobody or no horse will die over a rule change – but the rancor in Linda Starnes’ statement probably sealed the deal for the rule. Arrogant and defiant, no lawyer would have ever allowed the repugnant Starnes to appear before a jury but she fell right into the mold the USDA was eager to present on tape. Just priceless! (A transcript of the hearing will be available )
And you just wait!

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