Roy Exum: Sored Horses Bow Out?

Sunday, August 21, 2016 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
The Shelbyville High Band Boosters will help with concessions, and there will be a Sunday morning worship service by the Bedford County Ministerial Association. They will even honor our military on Sept. 2 but the true stars of the 78th Tennessee Walking Horse “Sore-abration” will be the tortured mounts who perform the nauseated Big Lick. Trust me, this event is doomed from the start because never has public rancor been as livid.

It is believed that this will be the last show in a sordid century of animal abuse – soring beautiful Walkers’ forelegs with acid and other caustic agents. Sweeping USDA rule changes are imminent, where padded hooves and action devices will be banned and all inspections will be done by licensed government inspectors. The reason? Those who cheat will not stop. Why? Follow the money.

Up until now horses have been immediately disqualified (85 percent in a random drawing tested positive last year) but others, that can hardly walk, are forced by the pain to lift their padded front legs wildly, much to the delight of the sadistic trainers and warped owners who have now nearly ruined the magnificent breed.

Currently there is a determined effort by the Obama administration to change the rules Congress could not accomplish because Tennessee legislators received enough in scurrilous “campaign donations” to block several attempts. Not one Tennessee Republican – this two senators and seven of nine members of Congress – joined another 50 Senators and 251 co-sponsors from the House in the Prevent All Soring Practices legislation.

The leader in in the scandalous Big Lick’s defiance is Senator Lamar Alexander, a former governor whose state campaign chairman is Big Lick opportunist Steven B. Smith. Alexander just made a big press release urging a 60-day extension to study the rule changes. Congress members Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann have openly sided with the Big Lick as well.

Alexander and his other GOP reprobates are trying mightily to delay the possible rules changes into the next president’s cabinet, but the vast majority of Tennesseans – now aware that the Big Lickers delight in cheating and torture of their own animals – has turned against the Sore-abration and hope that this year the sheriff will charge those who bring abused animals to the gruesome event with felonies.

Ticket sales have sagged as across Bedford County a number of once-thriving horse farms are on sale at bargain prices, so great is the scorn and the shame that now shrouds the “Dity Lick,” as more and more are wont to say. Earlier this week the owners of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette refused anti-Dirty Lick advertising and Sadie Fowler, the newspaper’s editor, hardly hides her fear that the horse show will die this fall.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The 90,000 Walkers in Tennessee will not evaporate. They still eat hay that is baled and feed that is bought. Horse shows will continue and trainers will still train – they only thing that will change is the crime and the horse abuse. Oh, some will never stop but after the industry blatantly refused to clean itself up, the public stepped forward and many now boycott the ‘Sore-abration.’

Fowler, the editor, now wears heavy blinders over her rose-colored glasses, “We have an event here that cannot be found anywhere else and to lose it would be … devastating.”

The fact is nobody is closing the national spectacle.… it is the Dirty Lick that has killed the walking horse shows. Some believe the removal of the grotesque front-hoof devices and the ouster of the crooked industry judges will allow sound horsemen to return to the shows rather than avoid them. If the Walking Horse industry to shake off the Dirty Lick it would be akin to a cure for cancer.

Every veterinary organization in the United States, both on national and state level, supports the rules changes the USDA proposes. Every animal protection agency, from the Humane Society down, embraces the USDA improvements but the biggest group – by far – is the public and once again the people will stay away in droves. It is almost a certainty this 19th Annual Tennessee Walking Hose ‘Sore-abration’ will be a bust.

That is because the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeds and Exhibitors Association is taking its last breaths, the Trainer’s Association is no more than a police line-up and those who cheat are on the run – it is a felony punishable up to five years in a county that has a ‘clean’ sheriff.

Yes, the show will start this Wednesday but, in a far greater way, it could be the end.

royexum@aol.com



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