NASHVILLE, TN – A guy from Connecticut “put his shoulder to the wheel” on the 4th of July with the Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty when his Op-Ed piece was published today in The Tennessean newspaper:
Animal Welfare Advocate “Citizen” Mr. Wayne Pacelle
In his article, Mr. Pacelle, author of The Humane Economy (see NY Times review below), weighed in on the pending current demise of the “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty Gulag situated in Middle Tennessee. In doing so, Mr. Pacelle echoed the thoughts of the Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty voiced at the “Big Lick” Columbia Spring Jubilee Horse Show on June 4, 2016:
“We are not against Horse Shows. We are not against the Tennessee Walking Horse. We want this breed to thrive and prosper, but it can’t do it under the shadow and cloud of the Animal Cruelty. That’s why we are here. That’s why these Citizens are wearing “Boycott Big Lick Animal Cruelty”. The Constitution of the United States allows us to come here in a public park and have our say.”
Practice of soring holds back walking horse industry
Wayne Pacelle 8:01 a.m. CDT July 4, 2016
- Despite being outlawed, soring continues in the Tennessee Walking Horse show industry.
- Fortifying the federal ban on horse soring is the best way for the industry to reclaim credibility and lost fans.
- When soring abuse ends, we’ll see the barns and breed revitalized.
“For sale” signs stand outside many former “big lick” farms in Bedford County, reminding us of the consequences of obstinacy and callousness among leaders within an industry that has failed to root out its most despicable feature.
Soring, the act of intentionally injuring a horse’s pasterns and hooves to elicit an artificial, high-stepping gait, has long been used by unscrupulous trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse show industry. Caustic chemicals — blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene — are applied to the horse’s limbs, and high heel-like “stacks” are nailed tightly to their hooves, often concealing uncomfortable or sharp foreign objects inserted within. For the horses, it’s excruciating, but it produces the desired effect: an absurd and unnatural amble that produces ribbons and other recognition for the winning owners and trainers.
Officially, soring was outlawed in 1970 with the passage of the Horse Protection Act, but the USDA has been unable to adequately enforce the prohibition due to insufficient funding and political interference from the industry’s congressional allies. The result is a system that allows horse industry organizations to train and license their own inspectors, and judges continue to reward “big lick” competitors despite routine torture. Data recently released by the USDA revealed that a stunning 87.5 percent of randomly selected horses at the 2015 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville tested positive for illegal foreign substances used to sore horses or mask their pain during inspection.
As awareness of this barbaric tactic has spread, so has the adverse economic impact. At one time the celebration was a massive draw for equine enthusiasts, with some 30,000 attendees showing up annually to take part. Now, after years of controversy and public outcry, attendance barely creeps past 10,000. Where once a hotel room couldn’t be found for miles, vacancy signs dot the landscape, more markers of the downward spiral that soring has spurred.
It’s not just tourism; soring’s impact has been felt across the industry. Membership in the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association dropped from 20,000 in 1997 to 5,300 this year. Dozens of shows and sales have been canceled, many permanently. And in 2014, only 774 foals were registered, as more and more people shun the breed entirely.
Even the sport’s biggest names recognize the adverse effects of this loathsome practice. Bill Harlin, whose involvement with walking horses perhaps exceeds any other living person, has said soring is “killing the industry.”
Fortifying the federal ban on horse soring is the best way for the industry to reclaim credibility and lost fans. In April, in response to a petition from the Humane Society of the United States, the USDA proposed to strengthen federal regulations. Though the text is not public, it is believed to include some of the core elements of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act currently pending in Congress, which would ban the “stacks” and chains so often used in the soring process. A majority of members of Congress — more than 300 in all — are cosponsors of the PAST Act.
When that happens, a robust circuit of sound horse shows that eschew “big lick” are ready, in the best sense of the term, to capitalize. Many have already proved they can be profitable in the flat-shod industry, and the Humane Society is doing its part to encourage this transformation through our “Now, That’s a Walking Horse” program, which offers grants and recognition awards to encourage opportunities for the use, care and training of Tennessee Walking Horses outside the traditional show ring.
Cruelty baked into the business model of the “big lick” segment of the industry is a prescription for economic decline. More and more, people are waking up to the suffering of animals, and big changes are happening in every sector of the economy: food and agriculture, fashion, entertainment, and science and animal testing. It’s the humane economy in action. The Tennessee Walking Horse industry need not be shackled to the stacks and chains of the old order. When soring abuse ends, we’ll see the barns and breed revitalized, and we’ll realize we can have it both ways: better outcomes for people and for animals, too.
The living representative of the Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty is a former registered “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Show Horse who was rescued from going to slaughter on July 28, 2015.
July 28, 2015- Wilson Horse & Mule Sale – Cookeville, Tennessee
July 18, 2015 – “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty – London, Kentucky
Gen’s Ice Glimmer has inspired Citizens from All Over America and All Over The World to come to his aid and fight to end the “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty.
June, 4, 2016 – “Big Lick” Columbia Spring Jubilee Horse Show
April 23, 2016 – Panama City Beach “Big Lick” Horse Show – Panama City Beach,
Some of the “Citizens” include:
WHOA (Walking Horse Owners Association) Officials – Voting At American Horse Council on June 13, 2016 To Remove “Pads and Chains” To End “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty
From the Gulf of Mexico at Panama City Beach to 1300 Longworth – U.S. House Agriculture Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill, the battle being waged by the Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty on behalf of Gen’s Ice Glimmer TWHBEA and all his brothers and sisters is becoming a juggernaut.
Nephew Eugene says he hears a train a comin’.
CLICK HERE for NY Times Review – “A Humane Revolution” =
SundayReview | OP-ED COLUMNIST
A Humane Revolution
Nicholas Kristof MAY 14, 2016
“IN 1903, New Yorkers executed an elephant on Coney Island, effectively torturing her to death.
Accounts vary a bit, but it seems Topsy was a circus elephant who had been abused for years and then killed a man who had burned her on the trunk with a cigar. After her owners had no more use for her, Topsy was fed cyanide, electrocuted and then strangled with a winch. The Edison motion picture company made a film of it, “Electrocuting an Elephant.”
So maybe there is an arc of moral progress. After many allegations of mistreatment of animals, Ringling Brothers this month retired its circus elephants, sending them off to a life of leisure in Florida. SeaWorld said this spring that it would stop breeding orcas and would invest millions of dollars in rescuing and rehabilitating marine animals.
Meanwhile, Walmart responded to concerns for animal welfare by saying last month that it would shift toward cage-free eggs, following similar announcements by Costco, Denny’s, Wendy’s, Safeway, Starbucks and McDonald’s in the U.S. and Canada.
This is a humane revolution, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, has been at the forefront of it. Alternately bullying companies to do better and cooperating with those that do so, he outlines his approach in an excellent new book, “The Humane Economy.” These corporate changes have vast impact: Walmart or McDonald’s shapes the living conditions of more animals in a day than an animal shelter does in a decade.
There is also a lesson, I think, for many other causes, from the environment to women’s empowerment to global health: The best way for nonprofits to get large-scale results is sometimes to work with corporations to change behavior and supply lines — while whacking them when they resist.
The Environmental Defense Fund and Conservation International do something similar in the environmental space, CARE works with corporations to fight global poverty, and the Human Rights Campaign partners with companies on L.G.B.T. issues.
Critics sometimes see this as moral compromise, negotiating with evil rather than defeating it; I see it as pragmatism. Likewise, Pacelle has been a vegan for 31 years but cooperates with fast-food companies to improve conditions in which animals are raised for meat.
“Animals jammed into cages and crates cannot wait for the world to go vegan,” Pacelle told me. “I’m quite sure they want out of this unyielding life of privation right now, and once that question is settled, then sensible people can debate whether they should be raised for the plate at all.”
At a time when the world is a mess, Pacelle outlines a hopeful vision. The public has always had some impact with charitable donations, and there have always been occasional boycotts, but sometimes its greatest influence comes by leveraging daily consumer purchasing power.
“As the humane economy asserts its own power, its own logic and its essential decency, an older order is passing away,” Pacelle writes in his book. “By every measure, life will be better when human satisfaction and need are no longer built upon the foundation of animal cruelty. Indefensible practices will no longer need defending.”
It’s true that atrocities continue and that the slaughter of animals like elephants persists. There were some 130,000 elephants in Sudan 25 years ago, while now there may be only 5,000 in Sudan and the country that broke off from it, South Sudan, Pacelle writes.
Yet there is a business model for keeping grand animals like elephants alive. One analysis suggests that a dead elephant’s tusks are worth $21,000, while the tourism value of a single living elephant over its lifetime is $1.6 million. Countries follow their enlightened self-interest when they protect elephants, just as McDonald’s pursues its self-interest when it shifts toward cage-free eggs.
It’s also astonishing how sensitive companies are becoming to public opinion about animals. After Cecil the lion was shot dead in Zimbabwe, animal protection groups lobbied airlines to ban the shipment of such trophies. Delta, American, United, Air Canada and other companies promptly obliged.
In the pet store business, two chains — PetSmart and Petco — have prospered without accepting the industry’s norm of selling dogs and cats from puppy mills and other mass breeders. Instead, since the 1990s they have made space available to rescue groups offering animals for adoption. PetSmart and Petco don’t make money off these adoptions, but they win customer loyalty forever, and they have helped transfer 11 million dogs and cats to new homes.
I believe that mistreatment of animals, particularly in agriculture, remains a moral blind spot for us humans, yet it’s heartening to see the consumer-driven revolution that is underway.
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“Just about every enterprise built on harming animals today is ripe for disruption,” Pacelle writes. In a world of grim tidings, that’s a welcome reminder that there is progress as well. We’ve gone in a bit more than a century from making a movie about torturing an elephant to sending circus elephants off to a Florida retirement home. But, boy, there’s so much more work to do.