DECATUR, AL – Count the State of Alabama as another State where the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse is no longer welcome.
This “Animal Cruelty” mess is being cleaned up by ordinary people, not a self-serving fund raising lobbying outfit out of Washington which is apparently more interested in taking the credit, rather than getting the job done. This organization is now deeply mired in a Congressional Ethics investigation of a sitting Congressman. All roads lead straight back to the animal welfare organization with a trail of damning internal documents. It is certainly not a pretty sight and could spell the end of the distinguished career of Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). It certainly dictates that the animal welfare outfit now take a secondary position moving forward regarding protection of “The Horses”.
The Citizens are now leading the Sound Horse Movement, which is the way it should have been done in the first place.
And it is the only way it will ever be successful.
Walking Horse Trainers Show comes to Morgan County
Posted: Friday, April 3, 2015 12:15 am
Some north Alabama horse owners and advocates are upset that Morgan County Celebration Arena is hosting a walking horse show that in the past has been tainted by violations of the federal Horse Protection Act.
The 47th annual Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers Show, previously held in Shelbyville, Tennessee, started Thursday night at the arena. It is the second time the show has come to Morgan County, the first time being in 1988.
“When I saw the show was going to the arena, I was nauseated,” said Teresa Adams, of Hartselle. “I know that’s a show that always has a lot of soring violations, and it’s coming to my county.”
Soring, prohibited by the Horse Protection Act, is a practice used to cause pain to a horse’s legs or hooves to force the horse to walk with an exaggerated gait.
Show manager Billy Morgan said the event does not have any recent violations, and 98 percent of the horses inspected have been in compliance with the Horse Protection Act.
“We’re regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Morgan said. “They inspect our horses. When they check them, they’re in compliance with the Horse Protection Act. They will not let an unsound horse in the arena. The horses in the ring have been checked.”
According to the USDA horse program inspection report, 39 violations were cited at the event in 2014 and 20 in 2013.
Morgan said the event was moved to Alabama to get more exposure for the association and its horses. He expects between 3,000 and 4,000 attendees and 500 horses during the event, which starts at 6 p.m. today and Saturday.
“We were showcasing (the horses), and Decatur is a good location with a nice facility,” Morgan said.
Adams said she began researching soring after purchasing Jubilee, a 21-year-old black, 1,100-pound Tennessee Walking Horse.
“When I purchased him and researched his pedigree, I wanted to know if Jubie had been sored,” Adams said, as Jubilee sniffed her pocket for a treat. “I entered his registered number and found that he was sored when he was 3.”
Mary Ratliff, of Priceville, and a Pony Club teacher, has been boarding and training horses and teaching for more than 20 years. Ratliff said the breed is a beautiful mover and that practices such as putting stacked shoes on the horses are unnecessary and can hide evidence of mistreatment.
“Take those big shoes off so they can’t hide what they’ve done,” Ratliff said. “There’s all sorts of flat-shod classes in the show. Those classes are fine.”
Morgan said the show will include performance horses, but he said those horses are inspected before the show.
“If it is not a natural gait, the only thing that can make them do that is pain,” Adams said.
Shari White, of Somerville, has owned horses for more than 30 years and has a herd of nine. White said she is not opposed to the flat shod class in the show. White is opposed to the “big lick,” the exaggerated gait showcased with performance horses.
“It is cruel and inhumane how they treat those horses,” White said. “It is a beautiful breed, so let them do what they do naturally. There is no need to enhance it. I think for a horse to perform and be a performance horse, you can’t do it with four-inch blocks under your feet.”
Morgan said the show has young and old horses that will be shown by 5-year-olds and horse enthusiasts up to age 90.
“The performance horses are really something to watch,” Morgan said. “It’s exciting for kids to come out and watch them perform. The walking horse is a breed you ride through the field, show, work cows with them. They have the best nature of any breed. They’re happy and would do anything for you.”
Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said he knew the Walking Horse Trainers Association events have had violations.
“The Walking Horse Trainers Association has made changes, and they’re monitoring it now, that’s my understanding,” Long said. “We don’t want anybody down there either that’s cruel to animals.”
Long said the county will receive sales tax from the event, which will go toward schools.
“It’s not worth any amount of money to promote this type of entertainment at the expense of these horses,” Adams said. “I think we are better than that.”
The county does not own the arena, Long said. It is owned and operated by the State Products Mart of Morgan County, which did not return phone calls. Long said the commission appoints four of the board’s five members.
“It doesn’t worry me because I know because people are concerned that people will be watching, and if they do find cases of abuse, then they won’t be welcomed back in Morgan County,” Long said.
Leah Cayson can be reached at 256-340-2445 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @DD_Leah.