IT WAS THE DAY THAT WAS – CONGRESS TAKES UP ISSUE OF REMOVING PADS AND CHAINS – EXPERT WITNESSES GO ON THE RECORD

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Meeting Room 2322 was jam packed with Lickers and Flatters.  The Lickers were on one side, and the Flatters on the other – not dissimilar to the Arabs and Israelis.

The Chairman made opening remarks followed by Congressperson Marsha Blackburn and Congressman Ed Whitfield remarks.

Then the “invited” witnesses made their presentations.

THE INVITED WITNESSES

(Left to Right - Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson;  TWHBEA President Marty Irby;  John Bennett, DVM;  Donna Benefield; Teresa Bippen and American Horse Council President Jay Hickey)

(Left to Right – Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson; Former TWHBEA President Marty Irby; W. Ron Dehaven, CEO, American Veterinary Medical Association; John Bennett, DVM; Donna Benefield, International Walking Horse Association; Teresa Bippen, Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH),  and American Horse Council President Jay Hickey)

TENNESSEE AGRICULTURE COMMISSION JULIUS JOHNSON
Read a Big Lick party line about the economic damage to Tennessee rural committees by removing the pads and chains.

TWHBEA PRESIDENT MARTY IRBY (2010-2012)

Referring to the recent HR 1518 Poll in which 26% of the TWHBEA members voted 63% to 37% in favor of HR 1518, Irby said it and other polls showed the majority of people favored the passage of HR 1518.

  • Loss in TWHBA members from 20,000 to 8,000
  • No World Grand Champion crowned in 2006 because the horses were sore.
  • Tennessee Walking Horse kicked out of World Equestrian games
  • At one time he thought it was about saving the “padded performance horse”, but now thinks “its about saving the Tennessee Walking Horse breed”.
  • Cited corruption in soring horses.
  • An economy based on criminal activity being horse soring.

W. RON DEHAVEN, CEO, AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

  • Every state veterinary medical association in the United States has voted in favor of passage of HR 1518.

JOHN BENNETT, DVM

  • Cited improvements in technology to catch up with soring.
  • Soring is not as bad as it used to be.

DONNA BENEFIELD, INTERNATIONAL WALKING HORSE ASSOCIATION.

  • Had over 40 years to clean up soring.
  • Cited her longtime involvement in effort fighting to end soring including having to endure death threats.
  • Described the nuts and bolts methods that Big Lick trainers are using to sore horses.
  • Provided pictures and videos documenting soring.
  • Detailed the numbing procedures that Trainers are using to get horses through inspection.
  • Described stewarding in detail to “train” horses from reacting to inspections to detect soring.
  • Recalled seeing a horse injected by a veterinarian to get through inspection at the 2010 Celebration when Benefield was working as a Consultant to the Celebration.
  • Referenced an established culture of horse soring that has existed in the Big Lick business for decades and will never be reformed from within.

TERESA BIPPEN,  FRIENDS OF SOUND HORSE (FOSH) PRESIDENT

  • Created database to identify HPA Violators.
  • USDA reported that at the 2012 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in a random swabbing for signs of foreign substances, 145 swab samples of 190 total samples tested positive for prohibited foreign substances.  This is a 76% noncompliance rate.
  • Culture of acceptance in showing sored horses.
  • In August, the USDA released figures for the 2013 show season through April 2013 that further support passage of PAST.   Of 241 reported HPA violations, 225 ““ all but 16 – were on padded horses.   The Big Lick horse is responsible for 93% of all violations.  Over 80% of all the violations were reported when the USDA was present.   When the USDA inspectors were   present this year the HPA violation rate was 280% greater than when the rate at shows at which USDA was not present.   This does not take into account the fact that many exhibitors leave when the USDA appears rather than face thorough, diligent inspections.   If their horses had been inspected at shows with a USDA presence, the disparity in violation rates would have been even higher.
  • Big Lick trying to deceive Congress and the public about the ongoing widespread and rampant nature of the problem
  • Cited statistics highlighting used of numbing agents by Big Lick trainers to get horses through inspection.
  • FOSH reiterates that its experience, analysis and research have led it to strongly support PAST which provides for greater penalties, abolishment of the HIO system and elimination of devices pads and chains  that are an integral part of the soring process.Cited disingenuous attempted use of 98% compliance rate by Big Lick business.

JAY HICKEY, AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL

  • Said Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle horse had problems with soring that other breeds do not, and all efforts over many years had not been successful in stopping soring, so the American Horse Council support passage of HR 1518.

More later on the exchange with the different members of the Committee including Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE),  Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lance Leonard (R-NJ),  Marsha Blackburn(R-TN),  Billy Long (R-MO) and others,

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