It is well-known that shortly after the despicable “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry put on a very-pointed fundraiser for the equally repugnant Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) two years ago, the misguided doctor has repeatedly tried to bully and strong-arm the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the behalf of the vermin who sadistically torture the magnificent horses for a flimsy blue ribbon.
So it was hardly lost on “sound horse” advocates on Monday when the USDA made sweeping rules proposals to further clean up the soring that the Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers have zealously tried to guard.
DesJarlais and Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin) have received so much in political contributions that each has proposed alternative legislation for the immensely popular FAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act.
The PAST Act, still pending in a third attempt, has 264 co-sponsors but not one Tennessee Republican – this includes Chattanooga’s tepid Chuck Fleischmann – dares endorse it. It would cost them too much money, regardless how dirty such cash truly is. Of course, the biggest roadblock is in the Senate where Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell are Big Lick favorites. There is even a written letter where McConnell once blatantly threatened the USDA. My goodness, Big Lick leader Steven B. Smith is Alexander’s state campaign treasurer – it’s so twisted it is embarrassing.
So the Obama administration, eager to hurl as many parting bricks at the GOP as possible, knows the PAST Act has little chance to pass. That is why the USDA proposed rules earlier this week that will accomplish what the PACT Act cannot, an “Executive Order” initiated in the government’s Office of the Inspector General will quite effectively shut an inept Congress and the shameful Senate out of the solution because there is no vote required – only the President’s signature.
DesJarlais, who I believe has done so very little in Congress it is pathetic, is undoubtedly part of a primary reason the Republican Party is now terribly askew. He is being challenged in next Thursday’s primary by a promising attorney from Murfreesboro, Grant Starrett, but DesJarlais’ actions involving the Big Lick are more than enough to question his integrity, his lack of compassion, and most certainly his ethics as an elected official. Starrett claims DesJarlais has betrayed the voters and it is a fact that the Fourth District Congressman has most certainly caused Tennessee’s wonderful horse breed to suffer badly.
Keith Dane, the senior advisor for equine protection with the Humane Society, applauded the USDA proposal and knows well that Tennessee’s politicians have fought reform in the Walking Horse industry with a vengeance. “While a handful of politicians doing the bidding of sorers has so far blocked the PAST Act, horses are still being sored for competitions and the corrupt industry self-policing has lost all credibility,” he said.
Dane points to the fact that at last year’s Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration, a staggering 87 percent of over 250 horses randomly selected tested positive for illegal caustic chemicals that force the horses to dance an unnatural and nauseating gait called the Big Lick. “It’s time for all equestrians, animal lovers, and humane-minded people across America to say enough is enough and support toughening regulations,” Dane added and – lordy -- he should have included “voters” in his plea.
Now, with the annual “Sore-Abration” set to begin in front of the smallest crowd in history next month, there are growing calls for law enforcement – soring is a felony in Tennessee – to join the USDA inspectors in Shelbyville and put riders, trainers or owners of the abused animals in jail. Public disdain for the Big Lick has never been as great because the blood thirsty refuse to muck their own stalls.
The Big Lick has suffered irreparable losses in membership, venues and income since the public has become aware of their sick training methods. Up until now soring violators have received pesky “tickets” from the USDA that amount to little if nothing. Sound (healthy) horse owners now want the creeps to be heavily fined and – if necessary – be jailed under Tennessee statutes for “up to five years.” Some believe the only way to deal with the scoff-laws is with harsh animal abuse penalties.
The new USDA rules to stop soring call for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to “assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors. The new cadre of inspectors would be veterinarians and veterinary technicians who would be required to follow APHIS rules and standards of conduct.”
The bigger rule change is that the APHIS would “ban the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions." This would align the HPA regulations with existing equestrian standards set forth by the U.S. Equestrian Federation. (Studies show that over 90 percent of horses found to have been sored wear the outlandish pads on the front hooves.)
The USDA will host five public hearings on the proposed rule changes between Aug. 9 and Sept. 15, the last being a virtual hearing available nationwide. President Obama is expected to sign the Executive Order sometime in late September, much to the delight of virtually every veterinary organization and respectable horse group in the United States.
For that matter, the only known persons in all of America who oppose the new USDA rule changes are the dirty “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and the state of Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers. This group includes Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann and, quite candidly, I would vote for a devil with a pointed tale than either of the two louts next week.
At least the rule changes will be a death knell for the “Big Lick” and its tainted followers and, truly, it couldn’t happen to a more-deserving collection of sickos. Fleishmann unfortunately faces weak opposition but let’s send DesJarlais right where he belongs -- down to the devil with the pointed tail.
In this picture of a baby Tennessee Walking Horse, the "Big Lick" deviants have cut the tail ligaments so the tail will stand up and forced ginger salve into the poor animal's anus so the burning will increase the tail lift. (Tennessee Walking Horse Abuse Facebook page)