Sunday, August 31, 2008

Senator threatened to cut already meager funds for walking-horse exams; big show cracks down

The husband-and-wife team of John Cheves and Janet Patton at the Lexington Herald-Leader delivered a one-two punch today to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, casting him as a leading protector of an industry that is cruel to horses but says it is cleaning up its act.

McConnell, who is running for his fifth term, "pressured the U.S. Department of Agriculture for years to back off its enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, even threatening to cut the agency's funding," thus supporting the Tennessee Walking Horse industry in its battle against USDA inspectors who look for evidence of soring, the illegal practice of deliberately injuring a horse's front feet to get it to step higher," Cheves reports, adding that people in the industry give to McConnell's campaigns.

On the same front page, Patton follows up on her recent reports about soring and the lack of USDA inspectors at horse shows with a story about a walking horse that died at the hands of a man who admitted in court "to practices that are banned by the federal Horse Protection Act," such as putting petroleum products mixed with sulfur and alum on horses' feet. (Read more)

Inside the paper, Patton reports from the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., which recently "announced a crackdown, with drug testing and other measures" including the hiring of a veterinarian who "served on an American Association of Equine Practitioners panel that put out a 'white paper' in August with suggestions for how to end the problem of soring. The USDA also stepped up its enforcement efforts, coming for the first time to the entire 11-day show, and trying new technology, including thermography to look 'inside' horses' feet for hot spots that indicate pain." Results of tests for illegal substances won't be available for at least a month, Patton reports. (Read more)

Editor John Philleo of the Times-Gazette in Shelbyville reported last week on the increased USDA presence. Lonnie Messick, executive vice president of the National Horse Show Commission, which sanctions the Celebration, told him that 96 percent of exhibitors were found to be in compliance. For Philleo's comprehensive 1,300-word story on the long-running controversy, click here.

Christina Sanchez of The Tennessean in Nashville reported on the changes Aug. 21, as the Celebration began. Organizers "want to rid themselves of the tarnished image that brought on the ouster of Chief Executive Officer Ron Thomas last fall," she wrote. "And they want to eliminate a repetition of last year, when a judge failed a polygraph test about the fairness of the event." (Read more)

1 comment:

Rebazgrl said...

I would ask you to sign a petition against soring that insists the USDA be funded adequately to monitor at least 75% of all shows and exhibits. We are attempting to gain as much public support as possible. We all know this horrible practice continues.Thank you very much.
Gale Mott
One Horse At a Time, Inc.