Roy Exum: Keep Your ‘Big Lick’ Money

Saturday, March 7, 2015 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, located in the state capital of Jackson, is a huge complex with over 9,000 employees and a budget of $1.6 billion (with a “b”). Among its greatest treasures is the Batson Hospital for Children and the Eli Manning Treatment Center. That is where a $150 million expansion has just been announced. So why do you reckon the hospital administration just requested that the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, which has given Batson Children’s over $250,000 in recent years, please not donate any more money?

The reason is that by the time you read this there will be over 5,000 signatures from horse lovers from over 50 different countries on an online petition (Change.org) asking Robert Taylor, the president of the horse show, to cancel the “Big Lick” classes at this year’s event in late March.

You see, it is because of the abusive “Big Lick” and its repugnant reputation that those at Children’s Hospital want no part of the “dirty money” associated with it.

In a terse news release, Taylor wrote, “Unfortunately an animal activist group has harassed our past children’s charity to the extent they will not accept our donation this year,” which is untrue. No, what the man should have said would fit better had he admitted it: “Because there is irrefutable proof that torture and animal abuse continues unabated in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, the Jackson Horse Show has decided to foster and encourage this contemptuous practice rather than continue to help the children of Mississippi.”

The “Big Lick,” a grotesque dance that occurs when a scurrilous trainer and/or owner “sores” a show horse, is headquartered in Shelbyville. Numerous “Big Lick” trainers apply caustic substances and/or painful irritants that cause a horse to lift its painful forelegs in an unnatural reaction. Horse abuse in Tennessee is now a felony, yet soring continues at an all-time pace.

It was in Shelbyville last August where a staggering 52 percent of horses randomly selected for testing at the National Celebration were found to be positive for illegal foreign substances by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors. Unbelievably, there were twice as many violations than were found the year before and – get this -- some other trainers refused to show in fear of getting caught.

One who was found in violation was Billy Young, who more recently was elected as president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer’s Association. (Young also violated the HPA in 2013). As Wayne Pacelle, the head of the Humane Society of the United States, would later write, “It was a celebration alright” of cheaters, scofflaws and horse abusers.

At the same time last fall, an urgent attempt to strengthen the federal Horse Protection Act had 308 members of the House and 60 Senators signed on as co-sponsors, but some crafty ‘slicks’ in Washington, some thought to be from Tennessee, made sure the legislation was stalled and it never came to a vote. Senator Lamar Alexander and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin) offered alternative bills, this after both have accepted campaign donations from Big Lick supporters. (Alexander’s state finance chairman is known “Big Licker” Steven B. Smith, who has been cited for USDA violations in the past.)

So while it appears the state’s senators and members of Congress have turned a blind eye as the Big Lickers seem intent on “business as usual,” the Big Lick portion of the Walking Horse industry is slowly dying. Other horse shows are considering eliminating all “Big Lick” horses, instead limiting classes to only flat-shod Walkers, and public perception of the Shelbyville “performance horse” is at an all-time low.

Teresa Bippen, the president of a noted anti-soring group, “Friends of Sound Horses,” praised the medical center’s stand against horse abuse. “We realizes this was a difficult decision for the University in light of the stated charitable purpose of the show proceeds; however, FOSH feels that University officials realized there was no win for them staying involved with a ‘Big Lick’ horse show.  FOSH is proud of the swift and thorough decision making process undertaken by the University.” 

Bippen said she felt soring is a major animal abuse issue. “It has been illegal for over 45 years under the federal Horse Protection Act, yet the practice is still widespread in some show rings.  With a strong voice from compassionate horse lovers gaining momentum, international outrage over the barbaric practice continues to grow, and we know America is already fed up.”

All-America Walking Horse Alliance spokesperson Jeannie McGuire was also pleased by the Medical Center’s decision. “We applaud the University of Mississippi Medical Center for no longer linking its exceptional image as a place of healing with that of the Mississippi Charity Horse Show, which showcases the ‘Big Lick’ Tennessee Walking Horse.”

Taylor said he still believes his horse show will be a success. “We have been contacted by two other well-deserving children’s charities that said they would be honored to be associated with the horse show,” his release read.

Of course, neither of the “well deserving” children’s charities were identified by Taylor, but dirty money is hard to wash off hands that take it. The University of Mississippi Medical Center knows better, and, besides that, is well aware that germs come with trash.

royexum@aol.com

"Big Lick" horse "Walktime Charlie" throws his front hoof high, the chains visible and the device for severe bitting evident.
"Big Lick" horse "Walktime Charlie" throws his front hoof high, the chains visible and the device for severe bitting evident.

Roy Exum: UT Fans Vs. The World

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification


No sooner than the last hurled water bottle was caught by Lane Kiffin last weekend, a Tennessee beat writer wrote, “After the chaos, there was more trash remaining in the stands than was on the ... (click for more)

Baseball’s World Series begins this week and The Saturday Funnies salutes maybe the best player to ever appear in the Series … WHO WAS ‘YOGI’ BERRA & WHY WAS HE SO FUNNY? A LITTLE BACKGROUND ... (click for more)

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone ... (click for more)



Opinion

Roy Exum: UT Fans Vs. The World

No sooner than the last hurled water bottle was caught by Lane Kiffin last weekend, a Tennessee beat writer wrote, “After the chaos, there was more trash remaining in the stands than was on the field.” Tennessee, unfortunately as a whole, was roundly castigated across the country a week ago when a late fourth-quarter referee’s call went against UT and its fans rained debris, water ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Baseball’s World Series begins this week and The Saturday Funnies salutes maybe the best player to ever appear in the Series … WHO WAS ‘YOGI’ BERRA & WHY WAS HE SO FUNNY? A LITTLE BACKGROUND … "Yogi" Berra (May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015) was an American professional baseball catcher who later took on the roles of manager and coach. He played 19 seasons in Major League ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Police Said Woman Who Struck Motorcyclists Appeared To Be Heavily Intoxicated

Chattanooga Police said a woman who struck four motorcyclists on Bonny Oaks Drive late Saturday night appeared to be extremely intoxicated. Police also said that 59-year-old Angela Daniels Mason (Watson) had to be removed from the scene because of hostility toward her. Police said the motorcyclists were trying to turn into 4278 Bonny Oaks and Jefferson Marley got off his motorcycle ... (click for more)

2 Shot And Killed Saturday Afternoon And Night In Chattanooga

Two men were shot in separate incidents Saturday afternoon and night. Tawon Billups, 21, was shot and killed on North Germantown Road Saturday afternoon. At approximately 4:54 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the 700 block of North Germantown Road on a report of a person shot. Upon arrival, officers located a man suffering from a gunshot wound and secured the scene. ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Falls To Samford; SoCon Seeds Set For Post Season

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team fell 3-1 at Southern Conference regular season champion Samford Sunday afternoon in the season finale for both teams. Chattanooga finished the regular season 6-10-2 overall and 3-5-1 in SoCon play while the Bulldogs went 9-0 against the league and posted a 12-3-2 mark on the year. In the 88 th minute, the Mocs got on the board on a ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: Vols Battle Bama Til Saban Pitches A Fit

Tennessee had its moments against Alabama on Saturday. The Vols hit on two scoring plays of 50-plus yards. They hadn’t done that against anyone – let alone the Crimson Tide – in nearly two years. They blocked a punt to set up a score. Defensive back Kamal Hadden, who was starting his first game, caused a fumble that teammate Kenneth George recovered at UT’s 9-yard line ... (click for more)