Clay Harlin – “Profile In Courage” – A Letter From Clay Harlin, Son of Bill Harlin, and Grandson of Wirt Harlin – Founder Of The Famed And Legendary Harlinsdale Farm

Clay Harlin has come forward and joined Tracy Boyd in the select  “Profile In Courage”  Circle speaking honestly and from the heart on the future of the Tenneseee Walking Horse breed.

Here are the words of Clay Harlin.  (The bold emphasis is mine – BGB.)

“September, 10, 2013
Congressman Ed Whitfield
1403 South Main Street
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
Dear Congressman Whitfield,
Thank you sponsoring the “Prevent All Soring Tactics Act” (PAST) H.R. 1518 & S. 1406. Although no law can change a human heart bent on abusing animals this bill will give the moral high ground to those who truly desire to see this scourge be eradicated from the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The artificial gates created by pads, chains, pressure shoeing, and chemical irritants have held this great breed hostage for at least 60 years and destroyed all credibility among equine enthusiast.
Personally I have invested nearly 47 of my 60 years into this industry. My grandfather William Wirt Harlin Sr. was at the initial meeting in 1935 to establish the Walking Horse registry in Lewisburg, Tennessee. He established Harlinsdale Farm at that time which is still in existence today being run by my 89 year old father, Bill Harlin. Unfortunately like all other farms associated with this industry we have seen the industry decline because of those who continuously abuse this great breed through inhumane training techniques and therefore keep it under a cloud of corruption.
I have served as a Director, Executive Director, and Sr. V.P. of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. Also I have served on the regulatory board of the past Walking Horse Regulatory Commission that had oversight of the H.I.O. inspection process of show horses and trainers. It was during this time that I came to the realization that the industry was incapable of any meaningful self-regulation, and unwilling to completely stop the abuse of show horses. In my opinion the monetary benefits derived from the soring of show horses seemed to always prevent a real and lasting end to this form of animal cruelty.
On April 12, 1998 I came out publically on the front page of the Nashville Tennessean stating that “we were at a crossroads”, and “somebody’s got to do something and do it now [referring to soring] or this is going to get out of hand.” The Article went on to say “Harlin worries that the increasing emphasis on the so-called big lick”¦has led some trainers to use unscrupulous, painful methods.” Mr. Whitfield from that point on I was unofficially “black balled” from participating in the industry. In less than 3 weeks time I had 3 top champion breeding stallions moved from our stables by their owners due to my statements in the press. 2 of the owners told me that this was the case. Our breeding operation at Harlinsdale suffered financially until I made the decision a year later to leave the industry so my father could continue in business. Since that time I have watched the decline of this great breed that was unable to regulate itself. It was obvious to me that unless a federal law was passed prohibiting all acts of cruelty that the abuses would only continue.
Mr. Whitfield I still love horses and especially Tennessee Walking Horses. Your bill has given me a fresh hope that this horrible nightmare will eventually come to an end and the industry will be reborn. I do not speak on behalf of my father, nor Harlinsdale Farm, but only for myself, so I pledge you my support in your effort to take the right and humane high road to securing a better future for the equine industry. In addition I have contacted Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s office and asked her aid to relay a message urging Ms. Blackburn to support your bill.
 Clayton T. Harlin Sr.

Cc. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn”

People from within the Tennessee Walking Horse breed need to rise up and stand with Clay Harlin and Tracy Boyd against David L. Howard and the money changers in the temple of the breed.

Clay Harlin – “Profile In Courage”

Clayton T. Harlin - 3rd Generation - Tennessee Walking Horse Breeder
Tracy Boyd – Profile In Courage”
Tracy Boyd Does Not Flinch

Tracy Boyd Does Not Flinch


20 thoughts on “Clay Harlin – “Profile In Courage” – A Letter From Clay Harlin, Son of Bill Harlin, and Grandson of Wirt Harlin – Founder Of The Famed And Legendary Harlinsdale Farm

  1. Well said Mr Harlin. Don’t give up. You would be surprised how many people feel the same way & are behind you. “Evil thrives when good people do nothing.” My question is where are the vets? We know their trade organization has come out publicly for 1518, why don’t they stand up & refuse to give their service to clients whose horses show signs of abuse?

  2. I have always believed that the Harlins produced and promoted some of the greatest natural walking horses- especially befor the Sore Lick people became so intrenched.

    One of my fondest memories of the Celebration was when we brought our three year old stallion up to compete after he had virtyually swept the field of blue ribbons in Louisian and Mississippi and after he had tied second at the first (and only) annual Strolling Jin Memorial Heyday in Wartrace.

    We were seated near several members of the Harlin family. The class was for 3 year old and under lite shod horses. After the horses had all entered the ring, I overheard one of the Harlins say, “There’s the winner of that class,” as he pointed to our horse. And I could see them consulting the program.

    Of course, our good horse did NOT win the class. He did not even place. But after hearing a Haelin say he was the “winner” in their eyes, I was prouder than if we had won a ribbon.

    We introduced ourselves, and had the pleasure of telling the Harlins that they had picked our horse, which we figured was only natural since he traced back to MIdnight Sun multiple times through both his sire and his dam–although he was a bright chestnut horse with a mixed mane and tail.

    In fact, our horse’s sire had been sold as a yearling at the annual Harlinsdale production sale in 1970- he was named Robert’s Delight. The Harlin’s had owned Robert’s dam Midnight Melody most of her life and she had produced several very good horses.

    Anyway, it is time to turn those “Sore Lickers” out. Clay Harlin is speaking the truth when he says the breed has been held hostage by these “cheaters” long enough. Time to get rid of the stacks of pads, the chains and any pressure shoeing foolishness, too.

    It is a shame that it is taking a FEDERAL law to make these sick, sad horse abusers come to heel.

    Breed good natural walkers and show them CLEAN!!!

  3. I am glad to hear people are finally taking this serious, Our breed is a wonderful breed, I have seen and talked with Bill at shows, knowing he always stood for the sound horse. Maybe finally this breed can start over, and more people will be taken by what a wonderful breed we have. I have always loved horses, but there is nothing like a Tennessee Walking Horse. Maybe now we can finally get the recognition that are great horse deserves. Sincerely Teresa

    • It’s time for everyone to take a stand and rip the cover off the cesspool and let the sun dry it all up.

  4. Wonder how much the Harlin family has earned over the years from those Big Lick Pride Horses, needless to say there would be no Harlinsdale if it wasn’t for the big lick.

    • If you know anything at all about the Harlins, the horses are a labor of love. Their success in business has really nothing to do with horses. If you know anything about the bloodlines, from Pride of Midnight came Pride’s Gold Coin and Pride’s Generator which are pretty much are the mainstays of the current Tennessee Walking Horse. And then there was this horse named Midnight Sun.

        • Yes, they did.

          And as Clay said, he doesn’t speak for his father.

          But my information is Mr. Bill has gone flat for the rest of the way. I know his Trainer Bill Bobo has.

      • If I know anything about Generator and Gold Coin is that they were definitely padded and used chains.

        • Please let me tell you some more about Pride’s Gold Coin and Pride’s Generator.

          Both definitely produced championship quality non-padded walking shaking progeny.

          GC was out of a Delight’s Joanna, by Sun’s Delight. They were a little walkier.

          PG was out of a Spirit of Midnight mare. The Generator’s had a little more up in the bridle.

          Please take a look at Generator’s Elegance who was out of a Rodger’s Perfection mare who was by Midnight Mack K.

          RT needs to leave his hat on and stop grandstanding so much and just ride this great mare.

  5. I have high hopes that the pads and chains will finally be over. This has put a scar on the TWH since it started. TWH are supposed to be using horses and family horses. Lay people are aghast when a big lick horse enters the ring and I want to crawl under my seat. Thank God for the Heritage folks who have kept the breed going for what it was intended. I would have changed to another breed if not. Thank God for folks like Clay Harlin who puts the all mighty buck aside to stand for good principles. We need that in this country.

  6. Great article thank you for sharing with us. God bless the Harlin family. I admire Clay’s courage and sense to do what he feels is right.

  7. I support Clay and Tracy. Harlinsdale has always produced the best Walking Horses, know matter what type of shoes were put on them. These are good horse people that care about our breed, not greed.

  8. Mr. Harlin’s comments gives one hope that change is coming. Is it my imagination, or are more and more people in the know coming out and publicly declaring what we all know has been going on and decrying this horrific practice of soring horses?

    • Bernice, verily verily, I say unto you, we are going to find that out in about a week.

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