Since ABC News exposed the horrific practices of sections of the Tennessee Walking Horse community to the eyes of America, things have begun to move. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners have called for an investigation. Pepsi dropped their sponsorship of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, and it has begun to look as though the abusers will finally be both shamed and prosecuted into submission. Their gravy train is slowing to a halt, too. Tickets for the Celebration were flooding the net as their purchasers decided that they didn’t want to witness the results of all that electrocution and beating.
Hats off to Roy Exum at The Chattanoogan who has a sharp and detailed piece on the desperate scampering that’s going on behind the scenes and suggests that the offenders are going to bring about their own demise through sheer pigheadedness. We’ve already seen attempts to use the US Constitution to avoid mandatory penalties. Now a Republican in the Tennessee legislature is trying to bring a resolution to praise the outgoing CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, Dr Doyle Meadows, who’s presided over the show for four years – four years in which abuse continued to be meted out behind the scenes.
This is a show whose current five-person judging panel includes three people who collectively have no fewer than sixteen offences against the federal Horse Protection Act on their rap sheets. Increasingly the old guard’s position is looking untenable: even the Tennessee State Fair has dumped them in favour of the National Walking Horse Association, who endorse only natural gaits and not the miserable “big lick”. It looks like even friends in high places can’t save the sorers.
In a recent poll on the Walking Horse Report website, asking “Why are horse shows being cancelled?” a whopping 45 percent cited the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s inspections with another 33 percent believed it was Unknown Mandatory Penalties. Oddly, “cheating” and “soring” and “suspensions” were not among the eligible categories. The USDA simply enforces the law.