NASHVILLE, TN – In finally breaking its editorial silence since November 20, 2013  when it upbraided the Tennessee Congressional delegation for not supporting the PAST ACT,  The Tennessean newspaper today published the following Opinion/Editorial piece and cartoon in its Sunday which criticized Representative Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) alternative to PAST ACT.



Interestingly,  the article sets the stage for U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) anticipated introduction this week of a companion bill which mirrors the Blackburn alternative HR 4098 in the U.S. Senate.  The response to the Blackburn measure has been underwhelming.  Seven Republican Tennessee Representatives co-sponsored it along with two Representatives from Kentucky and one from West Virginia.    Senator Alexander’s anticipated entrance was set up by a Tennessee Farm Bureau endorsement of  Blackburn’s alternative this week.

 It also appears that Senator Alexander’s influence has caused the March 12, 2013 “Markup” of S. 1406 by the Senate Committee to be postponed indefinitely due to the PAST ACT now being contested in the United States Senate.

It will be interesting to see what Tennessee’s other U. S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) chooses to do on the matter. He can either stay on the sideline or join Alexander and Blackburn.   Bob Corker touts that he is his “own man”.   Senator Alexander’s Campaign Finance Chairman is Steve Smith who is President of TWHBEA.  Smith has an HPA Citation history.  Smith would like to reach a compromise of 1/2 size of the present “package” on the hooves with a leather dog collar action device.



Informed sources believe that Lamar Alexander “hoped” to not get involved, but the sore Big Lick sees the pads and chains slipping away from them as the momentum for the PAST ACT grows in Congress with 50 U. S. Senators and 268 U. S. Representatives co-sponsoring the measure, and Campaign Finance Chairman Steve Smith has called in the years of financial support he has provided to Senator Alexander.

Rep. Ed Whitfield’s walking horse legislation would end soring; Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s would enable it

Mar. 9, 2014


TENNESSEAN CARTOON – Drew White / The Tennessean

“We used to think that soring “” inflicting painful injuries to the legs and hooves of Tennessee Walking Horses to force them to adopt a high gait known as the “Big Lick” “” was solely for the purpose of winning ribbons and prize money at horse shows.

After the latest maneuver by the “Big Lick” faction of the show-horse industry, we can see there is a special brand of inhumanity that thrives among us in Tennessee.

By pitting its own alternative legislation, courtesy of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, against the popular “Prevent All Soring Tactics” (PAST) bill, this group demonstrates how determined it is to continue secretly torturing animals. Stronger than a desire for mere show-ring glory, this appears to be about deriving pleasure from causing pain. That it is defenseless animals, and not people, only increases their ability to get away with it.

After decades of violations of the nation’s Horse Protection Act, PAST offers a real chance to strengthen the law. The bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., would toughen inspection standards at horse shows and ban the use of chains and pads that are worn on the horses’ legs and hooves, both to perpetuate pain for the horse when its hoof hits the ground and to hide scarring and other evidence of soring. As we know from the notorious Jackie McConnell case (captured on video) and others over the years, abusive trainers will apply caustic substances to horses’ legs, drive sharp objects into their hooves and beat the horses on a regular basis.

Blackburn’s bill is, in fact, a Trojan horse “” institutionalized abuse disguised as animal protection.

It would set up a single horse industry organization (HIO), whose board would be chosen by the current trainers association that is populated with repeat violators of the Horse Protection Act. Those HIOs that currently prohibit soring at their shows would be left out.

Blackburn’s bill also ignores the use of pads and chains; it authorizes state agricultural commissioners in Tennessee and Kentucky, who have historically ignored horse abuse, to hire show inspectors; and it removes the federal requirement that HIO meetings be open to the public.

In short, Blackburn’s legislation was the best that horse-abusers’ money could buy, in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to her campaign, in order to continue torturing and maiming horses.

Whitfield’s bill, endorsed by the nation’s leading veterinary organizations and animal-protection groups, has 267 sponsors in the House, 47 co-sponsors in the Senate “” and still we are far from complacent about its prospects. We saw gun background-check legislation that had overwhelming support wither and die, even with a Senate majority voting for it.

What will U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker have to say about Whitfield’s and Blackburn’s legislation? So far “” silence.

Soring is very much alive, and the bad actors in the walking horse industry are hardening their position instead of backing away from it, hoping to gut the laws that forbid them to do what they love: torment animals.

Their spokesmen like to say that Blackburn’s bill “eliminates soring,” while Whitfield’s bill “eliminates the horse.” We know their abject cruelty is what will eliminate the horse, if we let them.”


The 29 comments to the op/ed piece are interesting.

Here is the November 20, 2013 The Tennessean editorial which followed an AD run by “Concerned Citizens Against Soring” which appeared in the November 10, 2013 Sunday edition of The Tennessean newspaper.

POLLAD02 copy


What will be most interesting to see if Senator Alexander introduces his companion Bill to the Blackburn alternative measure, will set it set off a firestorm of debate in Tennessee similar to that of the “AG GAG” maelstrom last year.  In that situation, the public rose up  against the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s attempts to pass a Tennessee law to prevent undercover investigations of commercial farming abuse of animals.  .  The effort was led by celebrities, including Carrie Underwood and Priscilla Presley. Also,  newspapers from all over Tennessee condemned the proposed legislation for violating the First Amendment.  Governor Haslam vetoed the AG GAG bill.

The Tennessee Walking Horse soring abuse is also an  animal cruelty issue.    This battle will pit the public and the plight of the sored Tennessee Walking Horse against the monied interests which have Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and apparently U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander beholding to them.

If Senator Alexander gets into this fray and introduces a companion bill which mirrors Representative Blackburn’s alternative Bill,  he is going to find himself on the wrong side of the issue.

It will be interesting to see if Tennesseans let Lamar Alexander know that..