(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 11, 2015 – HACKED ON MAY 15, 2015; RESTORED ON JUNE 15, 2015)
THETA, TN – U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) legacy as a humane person will be permanently stained if he doesn’t change course regarding the Animal Cruelty of the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse. Tennessee’s senior Senator finds himself on the wrong side of history on this issue. Alexander has been badly misinformed, and apparently thinks its 1985 where the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse business is concerned.
Senator Lamar Alexander can’t get it straight in his 75 year old mind that what he remembers as a “TENNESSEE TRADITION” 30 years ago is now viewed by the civilized world as “ANIMAL CRUELTY”
Interestingly, Senator Alexander didn’t darken the door at the 2014 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
Public Relations Superman Tom Ingram is now being paid Multi Six Figures to strategy by the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to save the “Big Lick” bacon. come up with a strategy of attacking the Bogeyman Humane Society and putting the words in Senator Alexander’s mouth: Ingram got his start in Nashville in the 1980s as a newspaperman, and then worked for Alexander and parlayed it into a career of running campaigns and handling pols. Now based in Nashville and Washington, D.C., Ingram Group/First Group emphasizes “corporate strategy, government relations, communications strategy, crisis management and political consulting”.
Celebration Chairman David L. Howard recently bragged in The Walking Horse Report:
Walking Horse is an icon and centerpiece of industry worth savingShelbyville, Tenn. – The Ingram Group, a nationally recognized strategic consulting and lobbying firm, recently met with the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and presented a plan for the future of the Tennessee Walking Horse and The Celebration. The Celebration initially met with The Ingram Group in late 2014 to explore options of how the groups could potentially work together.
The Ingram Group conducted several meetings with influential decision makers including Senator Lamar Alexander, Dr. Jim Thompson, Dean of the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine, Neil Chatterjee, Senior Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Maria de Varenne, Editor of the Tennessean. The conversations were part of the fact-finding mission to help further understand the industry and testing The Ingram Group’s theories.
Two members of The Ingram Group, Beecher Frasier and Rachel Albright attended the Tunica Fall Classic in November 2014 to get a better understanding of the inspection process as well as viewing a traditional Tennessee Walking Horse show. They left Tunica convinced they could and needed to help save such an iconic figure as the Tennessee Walking Horse.
Many of the challenges facing the Tennessee Walking Horse were quickly uncovered as were the perception problems associated with the performance Tennessee Walking Horse. Both Frasier and Albright have personal experience in other equine breeds and were astonished at what was required of a Tennessee Walking Horse during inspection.
During the presentation to The Celebration the Ingram Group made many of the same suggestions that are currently underway through the Celebration’s Veterinary Advisory Committee and efforts to certify an independent Horse Industry Organization. The Ingram Group supports and recommends the independent HIO as well as having equine veterinarians lead objective testing to ensure the welfare of the horse and complete abolishment of soring..
In addition, The Ingram Group would propose a campaign for The Celebration to lead the industry back to its rightful place as a celebrated breed and the pride of Tennessee. As part of that campaign, eliminating the uncertainty of the inspection process is paramount to the success as is the uniting of the breeders, owners and trainers behind a singular, strategic plan. The Ingram Group realizes that in order to give people a reason to trust The Tennessee Walking Horse industry again significant changes in the industry must be supported by all groups.
In addition to the campaign centered on the horse, The Ingram Group would also like to help The Celebration rebrand itself and focus more on the fan experience and building the industry back with more than just horses.
The Ingram Group was started by Tom Ingram in 1983 after he left his post as Deputy to the Governor and Chief of Staff to then Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. Since that time The Ingram Group has grown to one of the country’s most respected crisis management and lobbying firms in the country with offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C. The Ingram Group operates as The First Group in Washington. Clients of the Ingram Group include Pilot Flying J, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Anheuser-Busch, National Healthcare Corporation and Lipscomb University.
“Saving A TennesseeTradition”
Roy Exum: Lamar Is Embarrassing
Friday, May 16, 2014 – by Roy Exum
Lamar Alexander, the terribly-misguided senator from Tennessee who is coming across like a comical curmudgeon in his defense of the seedy side of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, must be proud. A fellow colleague, 80-year-old Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has just endorsed Alexander’s alternate bill to the popular PAST Act and that gives Alexander a total of four co-sponsors of his bill.
Ain’t that swell? What you really need to know is that the PAST Act, which means “Prevent All Soring Tactics,” has already been endorsed by 51 Senators – a majority – and an accompanying bill in the House, HR1508, has 272 of 435 members of Congress now as co-sponsors, which makes Alexander’s efforts on behalf of the Shelbyville “Big Lick” almost as embarrassing as the fact the Volunteer State has now become the epicenter for horse abuse in the world.
For a half-century most trainers in the Walking Horse business – most particularly in this state — have sadistically sored and tortured show horses by applying caustic substances to the animal’s legs so they will perform the sickening high-stepping gait that is both unnatural and is believed to cause premature death in the animals. This has been done in open defiance of the federal Horse Protection Act, written in 1970, and heretofore only punished with meaningless citations, or “tickets,” doled out by the critically short-staffed U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ironically, Alexander is a native of Maryville in Blount County where, next week, trainer Larry Joe Wheelon – who headed the Ethics Committee for the Trainer’s Association – will go to trial with four other men for animal abuse. Wheelon was indicted on 18 counts of horse abuse and eyewitnesses said some horses were in such pain they could barely walk.
Alexander’s awkward stance, which has enraged sound horse advocates across the nation, is believed to be because his state campaign chairman in this year’s re-election bid is Steven B. Smith, who is president of the breed registry for the Walking Horse group tightly controlled by the Big Lickers. Smith, who has personally violated the federal Horse Protection Act in the past, has obviously funneled many thousands into Alexander’s campaign.
Smith was also instrumental in an alleged $70,000 donation to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Franklin) at the walking horse Celebration this August. Blackburn has sponsored a rival bill in Congress against the PAST Act legislation, which was immediately endorsed by Chuck Fleishmann (R-Chattanooga) and Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) among others. Blackburn’s bill now has a total of 11 cosponsors.
The other three members of the Senate who have cosponsored Alexander’s bill are minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Rand Paul (R-KY). McConnell has been an ardent supporter of the Big Lick for years and once wrote a letter to the USDA, stating that if they did not quit harassing the horse industry he would see funds were withheld. The letter was signed by more than 10 other senators, which included former Tennessee Senator Bill Frist at the time, who is a physician.
The PAST Act has been enthusiastically endorsed by the top equine groups, veterinary organizations, and leading animal advocacy groups in the country. Each group knows that tight-fisted legislation will not harm the Walking Horse industry but, instead, will clean up the scandal-ridden industry centered in tiny Shelbyville, Tenn.
Alexander, who calls the PAST Act legislation “the Humane Society bill” in an effort to slander the HSUS after it has worked tirelessly against the Big Lick cheaters for years, claims he wants a “common sense approach” to stop the flagrant cheating and wants to “preserve the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.” Such a view lends to a far-fetched theory the former college president and state governor may be becoming delusional. He is nearly 73.
His pandering bill, which is as lukewarm as fresh spit, is viewed by sound horse enthusiasts as a joke since veterinarians and “clean” trainers alike agree the action devices make it easy to hide painful devices. And its little secret is that Alexander’s alliances with the Shelbyville crowd are shamefully in play. The fear is Alexander and McConnell could indeed block the PAST Act, using sad yet legal methods, but there is no hiding the fact the Big Lick is dying.
The sickening shenanigans spawned in Shelbyville, from Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell becoming an internationally-known monster after his “world premier” was shown on Nightline to Wheelon’s impending trial, has caused an angry public to turn its back on shows and owners to avoid showing for fear they’ll be caught in a state where horse abuse in now a felony, and has greatly damaged the reputations of one of Tennessee’s greatest natural treasures.
Why Lamar Alexander would defy the wishes of thousands of Tennesseans who are fed up with horse abuse is something voters should remember in the fall elections. And, don’t worry, 80-year-old Orrin Hatch doesn’t have a vote.
Nephew Eugene wonders what color couch the Ingram Group has?