WASHINGTON, DC – A lot of folks don’t realize it,  but the most powerful and effective voice at the Witness Table for the Sound Horse was American Horse Council President Jay Hickey.

Hickey is stronger than 40 acres of newly mown garlic in equine circles, and he has the gravitas of the position.

Never was the saying “Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread” more apropos than when Representative Marsha Blackburn attempted to question Hickey. It was like a rookie lawyer from Desmoine trying to match up with the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. It was painful to watch Blackburn floundering around trying to lay a glove on Hickey. Frankly, it was just so questionable for Marsha Blackburn to even think about attempting to joust with him. Hickey’s word is the gold standard on Capitol Hill and when he weighs in,  Republicans and Democrats and Bureaucrats all listen closely to what he has to say.

Representative Marsha Blackburn – acting like an intemperate high school teenager,  pouting, sighing, stopping, starting, reclaiming time foolishly engaged in all sort of histrionics which really did not play well.

President Hickey with poise, professionalism and knowledge of his subject matter,  endured Blackburn, and then handled her proficiently and with dispatch like a mare flicking off a horse fly.

Hickey’s engagement with Representative Blackburn may have been one of the turning points in the battle for HR 1518 when all is said and done.



American Horse Council Testifies Before House on Soring Bill

Submitted by  News Editor  on  

Newsdate:  Fri 15 November 2013 ““ 6:45 am

On November 13, 2013, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, held a hearing regarding the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013 (H.R. 1518) or PAST Act.     American Horse Council (AHC) President Jay Hickey testified in support of the bill.

A Tennessee Walking HorseA Tennessee Walking Horse

The PAST act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse, or a SpottedSaddle  Horse from being shown, exhibited, or auctioned with an à ¢Ã‚ €Ã‚ œaction device,à ¢Ã‚ €Ã‚  or à ¢Ã‚ €Ã‚ œa weighted shoe, pad, wedge,  hoofband or other device or materialâ € .  New window.

“The AHC supports the PAST Act and believes it has the potential to end the abusive practice of soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries,” said Hickey. “I was happy to appear before the committee and explain why the AHC and almost all national horse show associations support the bill.”

Soring is an abusive practice used to cause pain in a horse’s forelegs and produce an accentuated show gait for competition. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, pads, wedges alone or in combination with the application of irritating or blistering chemical agents to a horse’s forelegs. The showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of horses that have been “sored,” has been prohibited by the Horse Protection Act (HPA) since 1970.

“Despite the HPA’s  43 year prohibition on soring, a 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that this practice continues to be a problem in the “big lick” or “performance horse” segments of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industry,” said Hickey.

The PAST act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse, or a Spotted Saddle Horse from being shown, exhibited, or auctioned with an “action device,” or “a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band or other device or material” if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of the horse and is not strictly protective or therapeutic.   These new prohibitions would not apply to other breeds that do not have a history of soring.

The legislation would also increase fines and penalties for violations, including the potential for a lifetime ban for repeat offenders.

Additionally, the bill would create a new licensing process for horse show inspectors, eliminating the current ineffective designated qualified persons (DQPs) program. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to train, license and appoint new independent inspectors for shows and other HPA-regulated activities that wish to hire an inspector.

Licensed or accredited veterinarians would be given preference for these positions.   The decision to hire and cost of an inspector would still reside with the management of a show, sale or auction.

“Because soring remains a problem, the PAST Act amendments to the HPA are clearly needed and justified. The bill is narrowly focused on the problem it is intended to solve and does not adversely affect or unnecessarily burden other segments of the horse show industry that are not soring horses and have no history of soring horses,” said Hickey.

“Soring is unquestionably abusive and its continued prevalence is severely damaging the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries and negatively impacting public perception of other segments of the horse industry.”

“The wider horse community might not realize it, but soring is garnering more and more adverse and unnecessary publicity for the horse industry at large.   Witness the press surrounding Jackie McConnell and Larry Wheelon and others. This affects the non-walking horse sectors of the show industry because the public does not understand the differences between various show breeds and what they do.”

“The public sees other breeds doing an animated gait and thinks it is a walking horse and being sored, rather than performing its natural gaits. That reflects badly on the entire show horse industry,” says Hickey.

Also, testifying in support of the PAST Act were Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, Executive  VicePresident & CEO American Veterinary Medical Association, Marty Irby, International Director and Former President Tennessee Walking Horse Breedersâ € ™ & Exhibitorsâ € ™ Association, Teresa Bippen, President Friends of Sound Horses, and Donna Benefield, International Walking Horse Association.

Witnesses opposing the bill were Julius Johnson, Commissioner Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and Dr. John Bennett, on behalf of Performance Show Horse Association.

Other national organizations that support the bill include, the American Association ofEquine  Practitioners, U.S.  Equestrian  Federation, the American  Quarter HorseAssociation, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemenà ¢Ã‚ €Ã‚ ™s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, and the American Veterinarian Medicalà ‚   Associationà ‚   as well as à ‚  many other state and local organizations.

The bill has broad bipartisan support and currently has 223 co-sponsors in the House and 26 co-sponsors in the Senate.

The full written testimony of the AHC and full hearing can be viewed at:http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-hr-1518-bill-amend-horse-protection-act.

About the American Horse Council

As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. The AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.

The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen’s associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.


  1. I totally agree Billy. With poise and composure, he deflected attempts by Blackburn to draw an analogy with the thoroughbred drugging issue. He made her look foolish in a gentlemanly way. She knew he was one upping her, so she kept interrupting to “reclaim her time”. A very poor excuse of a congress person.

    • If she was a man, you could say he really shined his butt, but since she is a woman you could say she really shined her derriere in her interaction with Mr. Hickey.

  2. Ms. Blackburn basically brought a knife to a gunfight and metaphorically shot (stabbed) herself in the foot. You may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but why open your month and remove all doubt? These are just a couple of saying that cross my mind.

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