The Voice for the Horse is Back and He's in Fine Form

Some of the better writing surrounding the outrage that is the big lick show horse has come from Roy Exum, a columnist from Chattanooga, not a horseman, but a person not short on horse sense who discovered after becoming involved with the Jackie McConnell case and then following the trail and the money of other industry insiders that something is terribly wrong with the picture the industry keeps trying to sell. He also knows that there is something wrong with the politicians who continue to roll in the dough they collect from the people who are determined not to see federal legislation that would protect walking horses from abuse become law. Mr. Exum’s been missing from the public debate on this issue for awhile now and people wondered if he had decided he had said all he could say on this subject. Wonder no more. Mr. Exum is back and what he has to say goes directly to the heart of the matter.

reprinted with permission ( emphasis added)


 Tennessee’s Dirty GOP

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - by Roy Exum


For the third straight year there are two bills simmering in Washington against sadistic horse abuse that insiders believe don’t stand a chance. The reason the United States cannot stop the rampant abuses of Tennessee Walking Horses is because of the elected Senators and members of Congress who represent the Republican Party in Tennessee, the very state where the cruelty is the worst in the nation.

Oh, people like Senator Lamar Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann will tell you they don’t abide intentionally hurting animals. Yet the truth is every Republican in Washington from Tennessee is awash in money from the “Big Lick,” which is what the nauseating side of the horse industry is called. If you think our state representatives in Congress “represent” you and me, you are “sorely” mistaken.

This is the third year the P.A.S.T. Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics) has been introduced for legislation. This year the bill in Congress (HR 3268) has 255 co-sponsors out of 535 who can vote. Of those 255, the only one from Tennessee is Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Memphis. Scott DesJarlais, known widely for his heavy criticism of USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) horse inspectors, sponsored an alternate bill that is about a lukewarm as spit where he and the other Tennessee members of Congress can shirk the public’s wrath.

The Senate bill, although sponsored by Republican Kelly Ayote of New Hampshire, has 49 of a possible 100 who can vote. Of the 49 co-sponsors, it is somewhat disheartening that 40 are Democrats and two are independents, leaving only seven from the GOP. That’s because the majority of the “Big Lick” cash goes to Senator Alexander and his Lick-loving partner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (where they also sore a lot of Walkers.)

Get this right – not one Republican from Tennessee is a co-sponsor of the P.A.S.T. Act. Don’t that make you pop your blue jean buttons?

McConnell has openly battled the USDA over its attempts to rein in the sicko owners and trainers who slather acid on horse’s forelegs (wrapping the mess in heavy Saran wrap so it will “cook”), who use electric shock and nails in the hooves, as well as any other method to make the horses’ legs hurt. There is actually a letter McConnell once signed threatening the USDA on behalf of the “Big Lick.”

Of course, the quest of the hideous and lengthy torture is to make the horse’s front legs flail high, which results in a grotesque and unnatural dance the cheaters in Shelbyville call “The Big Lick.” That way the cheater gets a flimsy ribbon, forgetting the fact many veterinarians and horsemen believe soring leads to a premature death. (The ‘Lickers’ call such poisoning ‘the colic.’)

But perhaps not all is lost. It has been learned that last week the USDA sent some proposed “rule changes” on behalf of the Obama Administration that would alter the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970. The changes were sent to the Office of Management and Budget, which is required before the changes become public.

Anti-soring proponents, including the Humane Society of the United States and every group of veterinarians in all 50 states, have pleaded with the USDA to update the HPA that would forbid stacks, chains, pressure devices and other means of sadistic training methods. All sane horse people, from the American Horse Council to the American Veterinary Medical Association, have urged the USDA to please update and regulate the nasty “Big Lick” crowd, all to no avail until now.

At the 2015 Walking Horse Celebration, it quickly turned into the “Sore-abration” when 87.5 percent of horses randomly selected for USDA inspection had signs of being sored. Trainers are on record as saying soring is the only method of achieving the “Big Lick” and, while public scorn is still high, many owners and riders have already adapted the “flat-shod” approach that is gaining in popularity.

Then there is one other juicy morsel and, when applied, gives the USDA petition an even-better chance of success. This is priceless … Senators Alexander, McConnell and Tennessee’s Bob Corker are loyal to the “Big Lick” but not so much to Mr. President. With Obama getting ready to turn over the front door keys to the White House, what a dandy twirl to the Potomac goose-step would it be to craftily cut some campaign funds from the heartless statesmen and gutless women in the Tennessee GOP.

If Obama took a swing-blade to the “Big Lickers” it would most nobly serve a three-fold purpose. First, it would be the single most popular moment that Obama would have ever had in the South. Two, it would be a definitive pop to those who chose dirty money over animal abuse, and three, it would go a long way toward the ethical and humane treatment of animals. In short, it would simply be a most delicious masterstroke.

* * *

This is an election year for many politicians. Tennessee is controlled by Republicans and, if you are faced with a tough decision between two friends running against one another, or candidates you equally admire on Election Day, remember what the Republican Party has done to foster the illicit and contemptible abuse of horses in Tennessee. Never vote for a political party; instead go with decent and ethical people.

If a candidate on the state, county or city level is Republican and vows he had nothing to do with the shameful scourge in D.C., simply point toward Fleischmann or DesJarlais and tell the GOP whiner very succinctly, “You did nothing to stop it, either … and you are in the same club as these jerks.”

Don’t dare throw good money where it will spend just like the Lick’s dirty money. When the politicians come around for campaign cash, send ‘em directly to Shelbyville. Animal abuse in any shape or form must be once and forever stopped.