Local Heroes for the Tennessee Walking Horse

I stick to talking about horses here and rant elsewhere, with friends, about politics, economics and what’s happening to writing and to journalism. This is one post where the both interests intersect. We all know about the decline of journalism thanks to the free content we’re all addicted to reading online: good reporting requires cash and time. The internet is something of a sausage factory in which that money and time are cut and cut again to produce a quick turnover of often poor quality journalism that goes by the name of “content” and leaves an unsatisfying taste in the mouth. I can’t pretend that I reverse this trend: occasionally I have the spare time to write something in detail, but if I really wanted to thoroughly research something I’d need to do it for cold, hard cash for a newspaper or magazine, not for my own personal horse-news churn. This blog is an aggregator, intended to point you in the direction of gems and snippets that you might otherwise miss. There are good horse news bloggers out there (Fran Jurga for one) who know their craft, and today I’d like to draw your attention to a US columnist whose work I’ve already highlighted here.

Roy Exum writes for The Chattanoogan. He neither pulls punches nor skimps on detail and, above all, he keeps track of a story that’s been unfolding for years and will probably ding-dong on for a few more. Roy is your source for the Tennessee Walking Horse shenanigans. He is, needless to say, anti-soring and anti-big lick. It’s nearly high noon for the old-school horse abusers as the government attempts to enforce the federal Horse Protection Act and end the brutal practices that have become commonplace in parts of the TWH world. The rats are leaving the ship, but the king rats fight on. The Celebration Show is turning into a showdown. Here’s Roy’s latest column:

… animal advocates promise the hardline stance being seen in Shelbyville this week is merely a battle in the escalating war to eradicate the dark and seamy side of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Harsh federal and state laws are being enacted and, in Tennessee, it is now a felony to abuse horses. Oddly, multiple violations are reportedly now being found in Shelbyville but, to the puzzlement of many, not one arrest has been made by the local sheriff.There is some indication that criminal investigations are indeed underway. Officials from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are said to have requested files before the Celebration and a heavy blanket of rumors now plagues the Big Lickers in the same way the increasing salvos of an incensed nation are aimed at the very leaders of this week’s calamity.

What is most unbelievable – and absolutely unexplainable – is why the Shelbyville crowd continues to perpetuate an evil and perverted method of animal cruelty when, today, any fool can tell it still thrives beneath some of the pads and chains and so-called “performance devices” that are associated with the Big Lick. …

Believe this because it is the new mantra – the Tennessee Walking Horse will win. Oh, will it ever. And when it returns to a natural gait, an intact tail, and countless loving hands, the only lasting scorn will be reserved for those filthy few who today stubbornly defend a dirty dollar at the expense of an ever-innocent horse. Their failure is now a certainty.

Keep an eye on Roy. Go through his earlier columns [if I have time I’ll add a list of links here] and get the word out.

One thought on “Local Heroes for the Tennessee Walking Horse

  1. Good grief! I don’t know much about the horse show world and nothing at all about showing TW and Saddlebreds. I just read about “big lick” and soring. I grew up in cowboy country. Horses were mostly a mix of quarter horse, plow horse and mustang. Oddly, I learned to ride on a TW. “Bob” was used for moving sheep. Over 17 hands, gentle as a lamb, smooth as a rocking chair. It’s appalling the cruelty people practice just for a piece of ribbon and a brass cup. I blame the judges for awarding such unnatural gaits. I don’t consider those folks horsemen/women.

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