Tag Archives: “Big Lick”

Horse Welfare 2016 – The Year In Review

Standard

2016-rocking-horse-christmas-cardWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Because most efforts at altruism are applied to human suffering, when it comes to horses and other animals, we still face the problem of convincing people that the suffering of horses is worth considering at all. Our legal and legislative efforts can be effective ways to achieve goals for the horses, but most campaigns are lower visibility when compared to shelter pets,  and they may only yield results if completely successful. After observing how horse advocacy functions for a few years now (but I am still a relative newbie compared to the seasoned experts who have been advocating for horses for decades)  I want to make the following observations on the year 2016:

To be effective, we must continually find the root causes of systemic problems, such as corrupt or indifferent government officials, hoarding issues, and our often reactionary approach to kill buyer sales programs, which are now entrenched methods of adopting horses.  This is no small feat considering how decentralized horse advocates are – each person is often doing their own thing and advocating for horses in their own way.  As a result, preventative approaches are sometimes overlooked within the movement.   Despite exhaustive work by many people, SAFE Act-type legislation, which could provide the best results for horses in the US, hasn’t passed.

We may best be able to capitalize on shifts in the way people think about all animals and their status in society.  Results in Canada have been achieved when contracts for horsemeat are lost due to the exposing of cruelty and food quality/feedlot issues.  Meat-swapping is also an issue that usually gets a lot of publicity.  The supply of horsemeat already exceeds demand otherwise we would see fewer substitution issues – many people are realizing that they are eating horse unintentionally and this causes them to reconsider buying meat in general.

Unfortunately, 2016 heralded in new administration that is not friendly to animals.  P-E Trump is known to receive advice from conspiracy theorists and the radical far right – it’s true that we have become a “post-fact” world. Knowing this, how can we best advocate for horses in 2017 and beyond? There mere suggestion that there may be jobs to be found in the horse slaughter industry could be incentive enough to resuscitate it in the US, even though it is a poor investment.

“Donald Trump…represents perhaps the greatest threat ever to animal protection policy making at the federal level. His campaign surrogates and the names being floated as possible Trump cabinet picks for the very agencies that oversee such policies include the most ardent anti-animal voices in the country. Advocates for puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and trophy hunting of rare species such as leopards and elephants would be at the steering wheel of a Trump administration.” ~ Michael Markarian, the Human Society Legislative Fund

Here’s my summation of 2016, with articles arranged in Storify:

The Chemical Horse:

  • Horsenetwork reported that Pfizer Canada has announced it will increase the amount of pregnant mare urine (PMU) it collects from its facilities in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017. Demand for conjugated equine estrogens declined in recent years following a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that PMU drugs were linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (In 2012, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement that continues to support hormone therapy).
  • Horse tendons are now being made into an anti-aging therapy to rival botox. The popularity of horse oil from slaughtered animals has increased exponentially and is sold extensively on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.
  • A video released in October showed the appalling treatment of horses at antitoxin and antivenom manufacturing facilities in India.  The facilities draw blood from the horses, many of them multiple times a month with heavy gauge needles, to manufacture antitoxin and antivenom drugs.  The horses depicted in the video (link included below) had festering sores and low body weights.

Live Horse Shipments:

  • Throughout 2016, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition continued to release footage of live horse exports to Japan and petitioned Atlas Air executives to stop the practice, which does not adhere to IATA regulations.

Anti-Soring Efforts:

  • In August, U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act that could stop the soring abuse for good.
  • Anti-soring advocates got the Big Lick kicked out of the North Carolina State Fair

Food Adulteration:

  • In June, a butcher shop in Montreal was caught adding horsemeat to hamburger patties advertised as being entirely made of beef. An investigation by Radio-Canada found burger patties advertised as being 100 per cent beef from La Maison du Rôti, which supplied meat to many hotels and commercial establishments in Montreal.  This is consistent with a study from 2015 that found that nearly 5% of all ground meat products tested in California had horse meat in the product.
  • In Britain, two Britons and a citizen of Denmark appeared in court over allegations that they passed horsemeat off as beef. It took THREE YEARS after the horsemeat adulteration scandal in to get them this far.
  • Britain’s food-policing unit, which was created in 2014 following the horse meat scandal has still not resulted in any new prosecutions despite costing the taxpayer £4m. The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU)  has not brought any criminal charges against anyone.

Wild Horses:

  • Aaron Stelkia of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who has apparently provided no care to feral British Columbia horses, decided to claim them and began rounding them up early in the year.  On the heels of this event, the RCMP in Penticton B.C., at the request of the CFIA, began investigating horse rescuer Theresa Nolet after she treated a free-roaming horse with phenylbutazone, making him unfit for human consumption.  If the CFIA, the RCMP, or the SPCA actually had any concern for horses, they would require the Indian Bands to keep their horses contained and properly fed and medicated.  It’s clear the intent was to harass Ms. Nolet, since the CFIA has no problem importing American horses whose drug history is completely unprovable.
  • DNA genotyping of Alberta wild horses showed a connection to the Altai horse from Russia. These genetic markers permitted the placement of the horses on the endangered list by the Equus Survival Trust in North Carolina. 
  • Forty-five years ago the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRH&B Act) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971. The WFRH&B Act created the sensation that wild horses were to be protected on public land, but as it did not create actual defined parameters it has been left open to interpretation and/or lack of enforcement by the US judicial system.

Decimation of the Donkeys:

  • Now that the West African black rhino is extinct and the elephant is well on its way, donkey skins are the new rhino horn, and just like the rhino, the Chinese demand is unsustainable. To that end, a $3,000,000 slaughterhouse has just opened in Kenya – dedicated and purpose-built to kill up to 100 donkeys a day. China is presently responsible for slaughtering four million donkeys a year for traditional medicinal products made from their skin. Already, countries in Africa are seeing their donkey populations drop at an alarming rate – the appetite for donkey skins has risen to such a degree that a worldwide crisis is unfolding for donkey populations around the world.  In the United States the population of donkeys is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000. The US’ wild burro population ranges between 4,000 to 10,000 total on all BLM public lands.  The entire US population of donkeys could theoretically be wiped out in a matter of weeks at the current rate of slaughter.

Cruelty Cases, Horse Seizures, Abandonments, and Hoarding:

  • The infamous Stanley Brothers have been shipping horses to slaughter for quite some time and also have a long history of animal welfare offenses, among other questionable activities.  Boots Stanley, the son of one of the Stanley Brothers, who became millionaires selling horses to be killed, was arrested along with his pal Steven Sadler, for aggravated animal cruelty after slitting a defenseless dog’s throat on the family’s kill lot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Someone who enjoys inflicting pain on an animal may well be a danger to their community soon.
  • “Big Lick” supporter Sandra Darlene Wood will be serving jail time for the crime of Animal Cruelty – starving Tennessee Walking Horses that were seized from her farm on April 6, 2015.
  • Logan Allen, a “horse trainer” who won 1st place in the 2013 Iowa Horse Fair found himself under fire after he posted pics to his Facebook wall of a horse with the caption “bad boy…”  The horse lay on the ground, his legs were bound, his tongue hung out of his mouth and he had been sprayed with a hose,  hence the treatment of the horse was referred to as “waterboarding.”  The dismissal of Allen’s case sends the clear message to those in Iowa that abusing animals is acceptable in the state.
  • The story of Lily, the little pony mare who appeared to have been shot up with a paintball gun and then abandoned at New Holland in Pennsylvania, was a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking narrative.  The mare, who was rescued and subsequently endured an eye operation for painful uveitis inflammation and days of dental work, was elderly and in poor condition overall.  In May, Philip Price Jr. of Rhode Island, (previously convicted of animal abuse) was convicted on all counts related to transporting her to New Holland.  He was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution for Lily’s recovery care costs.  Lily was then adopted by former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and his wife.  Although her quality of life appears to have been quite low for some time, she knew kindness and care before she died a short time later in Stewart’s sanctuary.
  • In June, officials with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture charged trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles Borell, each with 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals in connection with the apparent abandonment of horses at a 121-acre farm in Central Kentucky.
  • 40 deceased and decaying horses were found on a property near Melbourne Australia. Bruce Akers, was charged with 92 counts of animal cruelty and criminal damage.
  • Another 40 horses (and 15 dogs)  owned by a previously convicted mother/daughter team of animal hoarders were seized from a Virginia property.
  • In July, horse rescuers saved from slaughter several horses formerly owned by the Arnold Reproduction Center, which specialized in cutting horse breeding. A herd of horses bearing the brand of center ended up scheduled for shipment to slaughter, according to social media posts, which the business acknowledged in a statement last week, calling the slaughter designation unintended. Photos posted by the Kaufman Kill Pen Facebook page showed show at least a dozen horses bearing the brand and/or distinctive shoulder numbers, with some described as recipient mares.
  • Several horses that had been seized from the Peaceable Farm rescue in 2015 have again been taken by authorities from New Beginnings Horse Rescue, where they had little or no food and water.  Over 80 horses were originally removed from Peaceable Farm and 11 of those horses went to New Beginnings (the other horses were distributed to other rescues).  It’s been a horrible 2 years for some of the rescues in Virginia.
  • Approximately 550-650 “wild” horses of varying ages, some mares with foals, went up for auction in December when approximately 30 were found starving or eviscerated on the bare dirt pastures of the ranch belonging to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in South Dakota. With no plan in place to prevent breeding and insufficient range land for the number of horses, the pastures had been eaten down to dirt. Photos on social media show severely thin horses, some of them dead, with their ribs and hip-bones protruding. Some have grotesque wounds and injuries or wildly overgrown, untrimmed hooves. A few had been eviscerated, presumably by wild animals. Guidestar shows that despite the charity taking in $600 – $700K in donations per year, there were always feed emergencies – this appears to be another hoarding operation with charitable status.  Resources are finite everywhere – uncontrolled breeding with no place to go eventually means there will be a population crash.

Legislative and Public Relations Issues:

  • Of the most immediate concern to animal advocates may be the virtual certainty that a Trump administration will work to reopen horse slaughter in the U.S., to “dispose” of the 45,000 wild horses who have been removed as “surplus” from the  BLM.  Furthermore, in 2009 VP-Elect Pence voted against protecting wild horses and burros on America’s public lands. He opposed the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which was introduced to amend the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.  Simply because you see a picture of someone on a horse,  it does not make them an advocate.
  • It has been announced that the European Commission is set to adopt stricter regulations on the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries following its latest audit, which found that Canadian horsemeat may not meet EU food safety standards.  Horses destined for slaughter in non-EU countries but for export to the EU, must undergo a minimum six-month residency requirement. It’s unclear how either the slaughterhouses or the CFIA will control for this requirement.
  • The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition met with MPs in Ottawa in October on the dangers of horse meat consumption. The CHDC was registered to lobby with Aaron Freeman of Pivot Strategic Consulting.  The CHDC continues to consult with legal counsel in a continuing effort to explore legal strategies to stop illegally-conducted live shipments of horses to Japan for slaughter.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended the slaughtering license of KML Meats in British Columbia temporarily,  due to the absence of an effective HACCP program.
  • The CFIA proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act and Regulations, thereby recognizing that the transport of animals in Canada is not aligned with those of other countries (World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE) nor do they align with the National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice (NFACC) or international trading partners such as the US and the EU.  Furthermore, transport guidelines, such as they are, do not reflect current science regarding the handling of animals by land, sea, and air.
  • The March to DC on behalf of the SAFE Act took place September 22nd. Thank you to the dedicated people who were able to attend.  Many SAFE-type bills have now died and alternative approaches are needed to make the rest of the US population  aware of the atrocities of horse slaughter.
  • The tall metal fences, chained gates, and decaying metal buildings that were an embarrassment and constant reminder of horse slaughter in Kaufman Texas are now gone.  The old Dallas Crown slaughterhouse was torn down.
  • In Ontario, “horse rustling” has received new attention after two horses, who were temporarily loaned/boarded, disappeared from the same farm and are presumed sold for slaughter.  Sargon, owned by Kim Wilson, and Apollo, owned by Kayla Whatling were loaned to the same individual, who told police she sold Sargon to a kill buyer for slaughter without permission and with a faked EID.

EQUUS Film Festival:

  • The EQUUS Film Festival, dedicated to equestrian-themed film, fine art and authors was subject to controversy in 2016. Noted Equine/Human Chiropractor Dr. Jay Komarek,  declined to accept the Equus Film Festival Award for “Best Documentary” Film citing festival organizers for accepting money from two corporate sponsors,  “Protect The Harvest” and “Farm Paint,”  as his reason for doing so.   The sponsor’s principals are Mr. Forrest Lucas (Protect The Harvest and Lucas Cattle Company) and Mr. Duke Thorson (Farm Paint and Thorsport Farm). Slaughtering and soring horses  do not create a better world for them and were therefore incompatible sponsors for the event.  Clant Seay, a reporter for Billygoboy.com, also had the microphone aggressively grabbed out of his hand by former Sue Wallis buddy Dave Duquette at EQUUS. A positive outcome was that the film “Kill Pen” signed a worldwide/international distribution agreement to circulate the film across the US and Canada, into Europe, and beyond.

 Please read more about these and other headlines from 2016, arranged chronologically, in Storify

 

 

Advertisements

Called-Out Comment: Is William Ty Irby Trolling Me?

Standard
Bucket Stance

Another example of the “bucket stance.” Sore horses being ridden by overweight riders = more pain.

Yesterday I received this response to my blog post on the Tennessee Walker Horses.  It is purported to be from William Ty Irby,  so for the sake of this blog post we’ll assume it is actually he, although I can’t prove it.  The IP addy of the person posting resolves to the appropriate place in Tennessee though.  Mr. Irby Sr. is the father of Marty Irby, who was discussed at length in that blog post as a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.”

So,  “Mr. Irby” has taken issue with what I’ve written,  and the suggestion is that I’ve fallen for HSUS propaganda and lies. He writes:

“Ms Clemenceau: Please do not “throw around” my name, especially when you have no clue about which you speak! It is apparent from your article that YOU ARE ANOTHER OF THE GULLIBLE IDIOTS FALLING FOR THE HSUS PROPAGANDA & LIES! My son does not speak to me & has purposefully withheld his cell # from me! Where were you 44 years ago when the HPA was passed? How many performance horse shows have you personally attended & observed today’s inspection process for you to become an expert? Send me your email address & maybe I can send you some FACTUAL information to help better educate you on the matter! This would include FACTS disclosing my son Marty’s personal vendetta against the TN Walking Horse Celebration & the Chairman of it’s Board. Please try to learn more about the subject so you won’t be broadcasting incorrect information!”

Clearly,  this comment,  which you can read in the blog comments section,  deserves to be called-out….

Mr. Irby,

For years, the fox has watched the hen house in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The “Lickers” turned the Tennessee Walker Horse into a freak show to the

Chip Weddington's Facebook message to Marty Irby

TWH Trainer Chip Weddington’s Facebook message to Marty Irby

general public and other horse owners. I can hardly bear to watch that awful flailing “gait” in the show ring, and the quality of riding in the “Big Lick” classes is the poorest I’ve ever seen of any breed show.  Have I attended any “performance shows?”  No,  the short answer is that we don’t have any such shows in my part of the world,  so the sum total of my experience comes from watching videos.  That’s more than enough for me – thank god the “Big Lick” is unheard of where I live.

TWHBEA has lost members in droves, and it is solely due to reputation. You have lost the public and turned cheating into high art. And now the TWHBEA has backed itself into a corner because many flat-shod TWH owners won’t join with you, and why would they? On Feb. 21, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette ran a story quoting Mike Inman, CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration (Sore-abration?) saying that the cost of most seats at the 2014 11-day show has been cut to less than half the usual price. Boxes with six seats that normally cost $575 will run $200 this year. And better boxes that normally cost $625 will be discounted to $500.

You’re fixated on blaming the HSUS when numerous other organizations that I highlighted in the original blog post all agree that penalties for soring need to increase. Not only is the PAST act backed by HSUS, but it is endorsed by veterinary groups. There is no indoctrination by HSUS or any other group. This is an effort to end a series of brutal practices that have been condoned and celebrated at the highest levels in the industry.

Clown shoes

If people wore stacks, they’d look like this…….

If soring, pads, chains, elongated hooves, long shanked bits, and all the other action devices used to create the “Big Lick” and cripple the breed were to go away, then good riddance to them. The physics and equine biomechanics that occur as a result of attaching these giant pads to the hoof confirms for me that the process is never benign. Unshod, flat shot, light shod are the only way to go. In my opinion, the only way to stop soring is to eliminate the “Big Lick” overall.  Why should your industry be given any more opportunities to clean itself up – the abuse has gone on for decades, culminating with the arrest of Larry Wheelon.

And why would I give you my email address? In order that I can become the recipient of cringeworthy messages like the masterpiece sent to your son by Chip Weddington?  If you had actually wanted to refute anything in my blog you could easily have done it in the blog comments. But you didn’t. If your son won’t give you his contact information, I can certainly understand why. Friends and family who condone abuse are not worth it.

Sincerely,

Heather Clemenceau

 

Not everything out of Tennessee is as good as this:

 

 

The Dirty, Low-Rent Ethics of the “Big Lickers”

Standard

Stacks

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

Passing a bill in the United States Congress is not exactly a walk in the park. The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act was introduced in response to a 2010 Report of the Inspector General at the United States Department of Agriculture. In that report, the Inspector General concluded that the current program for inspecting Tennessee Walking Horses (TWH) for soring abuse is not adequate because the inspectors are hired from participants in the shows and therefore have a conflict of interest.

The PAST Act seeks to ban any artificial devices aimed at changing a horse’s natural gait, including caustic chemicals, stacked shoes, and weights and chains, and is apparently stalled, despite widespread support. We can lay the blame for this directly at the feet of the scurrilous crowd trying to halt this national effort to eradicate the abuse of TWH horses. This abuse has been illegal under federal law for more than 40 years. It’s also illegal under the state laws of Kentucky and Tennessee to intentionally injure the hooves and legs of horses to cause them to exaggerate their gait during “Big Lick” horse shows, all for the purpose of winning ribbons. In the meantime, horses are still being subjected to stacked shoes, caustic chemicals, and chains while we wait for Congress.

Part of the toe still remains attached to the shoe

Part of the toe still remains attached to the shoe

Wayne Pacelle, (CEO) of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently compared horse sorers to cockfighters:

“ These people, like the cockfighters, are scofflaws. They are actively working in the political domain – in this case, lobbying against pending federal legislation, H.R. 1518 and S. 1406, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act — to protect their criminal enterprise.”

Passing the Bill, which would eliminate the corrupt self-policing system while strengthening penalties for violators, is the only way to save the TWH breed.  Americans need to demand that Congress pass this Bill, with its overwhelming support, and not let a minority of self-interested animal abusers block a vote.

For all the efforts of horse advocates,  there is no shortage of  crazily-unethical supporters of continued abuse….

Applause for:

  • Ed Whitfield, ( R-KY) is the lead sponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act, which would strengthen federal protections for TWH in order to make them step higher in competitions. Whitfield’s legislation would require that inspections of Tennessee Walking Horses for signs of soring be performed by USDA certified inspectors. Whitfield recently released a redacted document Tuesday showing how a complaint filed against him with the House Ethics Committee appeared to involve major players in the TWH industry, despite denials from some of them. Whitfield denied that his wife had lobbied him on the issue, saying his interest in curtailing soring predated her involvement with the Humane Society of the United States, Connie Whitfield is a “policy adviser” with the group.
  • Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-TN), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jim Moran (D-VA) who are co-sponsors of the Bill.
  • Marty Irby, a reformed “Big Licker” who is now a evangelic “Flatter.” Marty was also 2 time president of the TWHBEA (2010 – 2012) and is presently the International Walking Horse Association Legislative Counsel advocating for passing of the PAST Act. His decision to become an anti-soring advocate cost him his marriage and his contracting business, His father, William Irby, a Tennessee Walking Horse trainer, no longer speaks to him. A former world champion TWH competitor, Irby said he finally grew disgusted with pretending that soring wasn’t an integral part of creating the “Big Lick.” Irby says the ongoing practice of soring is perpetuated by a system of “corrupt animal welfare inspections, corrupt judging, corrupt training methods, corrupt business practices … corrupt horse shows, and corrupt titles.”
  • Bill Harlin, a man The Tennessean describes as “synonymous with Tennessee Walking Horses,” and the owner of Harlinsdale Farm where some of the most famous grand champions in the breed originated. He acknowledges that
    lost-hoof

    Toe and hoof wall still attached. What did this horse’s hoof look like after this shoe was pulled off?

    self-regulation will never work.

  • Clay Harlin, son of Bill Harlin, who also acknowledges that the soring cult of the “Big Lick” are unwilling to stop the abuse of show horses. He, too, called on Congress to pass the bill.
  • Veterinarian John C. Haffner, who recently related that his increasing exposure to ever more blatant abuse of horses compelled him to sell his veterinary practice. After years of witnessing trainers’ efforts to make sure their horses were in enough pain to perform the “Big Lick” but not so much that they’d fail inspections, he found the corruption to be unendurable.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Whitney Miller, assistant director for the AVMA, scoffed at Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN-7) Bill, H.R. 4098 saying, “In fact (it) will do nothing to protect gaited horses and stop the egregious practice of soring. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the status quo in an industry riddled with abuse and will ensure that the broken system of seeing horses sored at an alarming rate does not have to answer for its crimes.”
  • American Association of Equine Practitioners
  • National Sheriffs Association
  • Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • The American Horse Council, along with The American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, Maryland Horse Council, and other groups.
  • The more than 300 co-sponsors of the PAST Act – a majority of the Congress (45 Senators and 264 House members at the time of writing)
  • The Veterinary Medical Associations from 50 states that have helped create vast support for this Bill

soring5And a steaming pile of horse shit goes to:

  • The Performance Show Horse Association that brought the complaint against Whitfield. The printed names of the following 13 individuals appear on the bottom of the document (these individuals have a cumulative total of 53 violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and a number of those have occurred this year following the filing of the complaint) The  PSHA and its lobbyist Jeff Speaks developed the strategy of filing an ethics complaint as an effort to stop passage of H.R. 1518,  because ethics complaints take time to respond to:
  • Jim Cortner
  • Jamie Hankins
  • Mike Inman (CEO of The Celebration)
  • Doyle Meadows (Former CEO of The Celebration)
  • Duke Thorson
  • Terry Dotson (Former Chairman of the Performance Show Horse Association)
  • Gayle Holcomb
  • Bruce MacDonald
  • Mickey McCormick (President of the Walking Horse Trainers Association)
  • James Linton Griffith
  • Jeffrey Howard (Editor of the Walking Horse Report)
  • Lee Wall McGartland
  • and Buddy Stasney
  • Chip Weddington, a TWH trainer who threatened Marty Irby less than 24 hours after Irby testified on Capitol Hill about the horrifying abuse of championship Tennessee Walking Horses. Irby received threatening message which came from the Facebook account of Weddington, who wrote, “I don’t associate myself with bitch made mother fuckers who sing like little fucking birds to the fucking [Humane Society of the United States] and everybody else … I hope your gay ass gets what’s coming to you soon!!!” If Irby ever approached him, Weddington said he would “knock ur ass smooth out!!!” According to USDA animal welfare reports, in 2011 Weddington was suspended from Walking Horse shows for a year after inspectors cited him for violating the Horse Protection Act.
  • The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association who canned Marty Irby and selected soring proponent Stephen B. Smith to replace him. The group also sent a letter to Congress detailing its opposition to the PAST TWH_with_StacksAct. Signed by current president Rob Cornelius, the letter states that due to “budgetary costs and resulting economic damage, the PAST Act is simply not something our country needs at this time.”
  • Stephen Smith, the newly minted TWHBEA President, is an avid “Big Licker” enthusiast and a powerful Republican political donor. According to forms listing violators of the Horse Protection Act, Smith was cited numerous times for soring violations at a TWH show in the late 1980’s. Smith and his family are major donors to GOP lawmakers in Tennessee, including Rep. Blackburn, the chief opponent of the PAST Act. Since 1989, Smith, his wife Denise, and their son Stephen B. Smith, Jr., have donated more than $270,000 to Republican political campaigns, most of them in Tennessee.
  • The discreditable crowd  who are desperately trying to halt a national effort to eradicate horse abuse of TWH horses with their own Bill.   Not shockingly, 7 of the 10 are from Tennessee, the epi-center of this sadistic method of “training.” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) recently introduced an alternative bill, HR 4098, that would greatly reduce the measures being sought by Whitfield’s PAST Act. Blackburn’s Bill would not only allow the grotesque stacks but would also virtually eliminate inspection efforts called for in the PAST Act that are necessary to stop this torture.
  • The rest of the ethically challenged co-sponsors of Blackburn’s Bill are:
  • Diane Black (R-TN-6)
  • Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4)
  • John “Jimmy” Duncan (R-TN-2)
  • Stephen Fincher (R-TN-8)
  • Charles “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-TN-3)
  • David “Phil” Roe (R-TN-1)
  • The three others who have endorsed Blackburn’s bill are Garland “Andy” Barr (R-KY-6)
  • Nick Rahall (D-WV-3)
  • and Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-KY-5)
  • Virgina TWHBEA Director Pam McKinney who was escorted from the Capitol Hill’s Walk on Washington by U.S. Capitol Police for improper conduct, which included the utterance of F-bombs and flipping the middle-finger salute.
  • The misguided attempt by random pro-slaughters, urban carriage people, and puppymillers, who had to get on the “ethics complaint bandwagon” against Whitfield with their own Change.org petition that has garnered only 244 signatures.
  • And finally, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses  to bring the PAST Act to the floor for a vote.  His decision is inconsistent with leadership’s stated preference for adhering to regular order.  Furthermore, it is too late in the year to resort to a discharge petition according to House rules.
  • The "Wheelon Bucket Stance"

    The “Wheelon Bucket Stance”

 

Please contact your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative today and urge them to co-sponsor the PAST Act, H.R. 1518/S.1406, and do all they can to get it enacted quickly.

50 Shades of Black and Blue

Standard

high fashion hermesWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

The discovery of Farida Khan, a notoriously abusive equestrian from Bangladesh, has surprised and disgusted the internet equestrian community. Several videos from her Facebook page went viral and prompted new pages calling for investigation into her animal handling practices.  She’s been reported to just about every agency imaginable,  including Stop-Crush.  While at first many of us were dismayed by her apparent lack of riding skills and overt cruelty towards her horses, it was soon realized that there was a seedy subtext at hand.  That’s because Farida deliberately whips her horses as sexual stimulation for a fetishistic audience, who urge her to “draw blood” and change the colour of her horse from “gray to red.”  You can check out her YouTube channel (under a fake name) here. Caution – I would say that most scenes depicted here are NSFW!

“Oh yes it definitely hurts them a lot and I enjoy seeing them suffering for my pleasure. Whipping and kicking is the best thing I like when I am astride it gives me a nice Farida Khan whippingfeel and its such a wonderful feeling to control such a beast.”

With very little effort it’s possible for one to discover that there exists an entire subculture where horses are either beaten into compliance with whips and spurs or ridden and stroked provocatively.  I knew about the “pony” fetish, where adults dress up as horses complete with bridles and saddles.  But the pony fetish is hardly something to get bent over, since it’s enjoyed by consenting adults and apparently no animals are involved.

Several of Farida’s “hard riding” videos are featured on the Horse Women Facebook page and clips4all website which I reviewed, just so you don’t have to!  There are the whipping and spurring videos that many of us have seen and condemned,  as well as videos of adult women riding mini horses while jerking on the reins and hitting them with crops.  The commentary that goes along reveals that the hitting of these small animals is designed to appeal to some sort of sadistic tendency in the viewer.  Clearly, these videos make us uncomfortable, in part, because they are designed to arouse and remind their audience that beating an animal is titillating.  But what’s also curious is that many of the people who favourited Farida’s horse abuse videos also have favourited classical dressage videos on YouTube as well.  They seem particularly drawn to Piaffe training.

Farida Khan Whipping 2Don’t get me wrong – I’m utterly disgusted by the whipping and excessive spur usage even if there is no sexualization of the practice.  But I also wonder what it is about regular dressage that attracts these same people to watch and favourite videos of Olympic, USEF, and WEG performances?  Farida Khan attracts a niche audience, and she brags about her dislike of horses and cruel treatment towards them.  She hits them multiple times for absolutely no reason, jerks on the bit, and turns them sharply as part of “training sessions.”  But if you want to see “accepted” torture of horses you don’t have to watch fetish videos.

Most horse owners would never abuse their horses, even out of ignorance.  But watch a few equestrian events and you can see whipping and spurring, along with horrendous combo bits or multiple apparatuses used on horses that are designed to force compliance or cause pain.  What is often accepted as “horsemanship” is often abuse that should not be permissible.

Thanks in part to  investigations by the Humane Society of the United States, the soring of Tennessee Walker horses —the intentional infliction of pain to their feet and legs to produce an exaggerated gait known as the “Big

Tennessee Walker Horse - Highly Artificial "Big Lick" Movement

Tennessee Walker Horse – Highly Artificial “Big Lick” Movement

Lick,”  has received international attention.  With H.R. 6388, the Horse Protection Act Amendments of 2012,  it is hoped that we can end the failed system of industry self-policing, ban the use of certain devices associated with soring, strengthen penalties, and hold accountable all those involved in this cruel practice.  An HSUS undercover investigation documented the prevalent use of caustic chemicals to sore horses and led to a 52-count indictment of Jackie McConnell, who pleaded guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to violate the Horse Protection Act, and three of his associates. In September, a federal court sentenced him to three years of probation and a $75,000 fine.  McConnell also faces prosecution for violations of the Tennessee animal cruelty statute.

Thanks to the Olympics, two other forms of horse abuse have been getting attention.  If you watched the 2012 Modern Pentathlon you know that competitors had to shoot, fence, run, swim, and ride a horse that they had never ridden before.  Because they have to do so much, you know they aren’t going to be particularly great at any of these sports, even though the competition must be gruelling.  These pentathletes certainly aren’t deliberately hurting their horses,  but virtually every rider in the modern pentathlon displayed all the polish of someone who learned to ride three months ago in a crash

The Modern Pentathlon "Couch Potato" Seat

The Modern Pentathlon “Couch Potato” Seat.  At least he stayed the course and is here looking towards the next jump.

course – emphasis on “crash.”  I recall seeing maybe one competent rider who could utilize aids other than the “Holy Shit Brakes,” or the “Save Me Jesus” seat.  These riders choke up on the horse and give zero release – on one occasion causing the horse to flip over backwards – both riders and horses were lucky there were no serious injuries.  Non-abuse is supposed to be a core tenet of riding, and the pentathlon was sheer abuse for many of these horses, who appeared quite competent on their own and should have been allowed to complete the course sans rider.  So give me the ancient pentathlon of discus throwing, javelin, long jump, running, and wrestling over this torture. Riding a horse correctly with proper aids is not easy,  as demonstrated by the fact that these fairly well-rounded,  athletic competitors do not universally manage to achieve good results.

In the dressage world,  Austrian FEI rider Ulrike Prunthaller has been given a nine month ban from competition and a 4,000 euro fine for the application of “painful and illegal training methods” to her horses. Her coach Friedrich Atschko is fined 5,000 euro for conscientiously supporting these methods. The pair was cleared of the charges that they injured their horses with screws, nails, stones and other unwanted artefacts,  due to a lack of evidence.  Such training methods are to be loathed, they give the horses significant pain, suffering and fear.  It can hardly be said that these two were not aware that they were causing suffering.

Rollkur/hyperflexion is another form of abusive submission horses are being subjected to in dressage. Exaggerated flexion of a horse’s poll and neck became popularized in dressage in theRollkur - Clearly the horse is not comfortable! 1980s when Nicole Uphoff of Germany used it as a training technique with her horse. The rider whose name has become most closely associated with the method is  Anky van Grunsven. What makes this particularly abusive is that, at the Olympic level, the competitors UNDERSTAND the anatomy of the horse and they enforce rollkur (or “Low,  Deep,  Round”) anyway.  And if they don’t do it in competition,  they’ve been seen doing it in practice,  away from the arena proper.  Even some of the riders not using rollkur were seen digging in with spurs upon entering the arena for their tests and on through their rides.  The FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) and all its associated federations enforce their own rules and standards when it comes to rollkur,  or not!

Abusive training technique - horse's mouth open, clearly in pain

Abusive training technique – head pressed against the wall,  and the horse’s mouth open, tucked-up and clearly in pain

German veterinarian Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, working with German Olympic dressage champion Klaus Balkenhol, created headlines when they publicized the findings of Heuschmann’s anatomical and biomechanical studies of hyperflexion. Heuschmann said that hyperflexion not only fails to develop the proper musculature for upper-level dressage, but the exaggerated flexion can also restrict the horse’s airway. Heuschmann published a book, Tug of War: Classical Versus “Modern” Dressage, detailing his findings and arguing against the practice of hyperflexion. Unfortunately it seems as though rollkur has made it’s way into the Western Pleasure world as well,  where it’s still not humane.

What makes rollkur especially cruel is that it closely resembles, to me, images of

Stress positions are designed to be exhaustingly uncomfortable without being clear "torture."

Stress positions are designed to be exhaustingly uncomfortable without being clear “torture.”

prisoner abuse and torture from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in occupied Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. They demonstrate extreme examples of a technique broadly defined as “stress positions,” which are designed to “soften-up” prisoners prior to interrogation. Here, prisoners are being forced to artificially lower their heads and adopt unnatural positions of their spines, similar to horses in rollkur.

We must stop seeing a horse as an adversary that must be “broken.”  It seems today lavish gaits,tricks and precision are what is rewarded in competition rather than the quality of the training, the willingness of the horse,  or the dedication to the sport by the rider. Most of us have done something questionable or ill-advised with regard to our horses, or we may have seen a trainer do something that didn’t rough handlingseem right but we didn’t know at the time why it was wrongIf anyone in any equestrian discipline uses some of these techniques on horses with the full knowledge that we are causing them pain or distress, then we are little better than sadist Farida Khan.  Use of the whips, extreme bits,  and harsh spurs are the  surest indicators that all other training has either been neglected, rushed, or poorly executed.  “Hard Riding” is just another type of willful abuse – the reason for it hardly matters.  The horse does not know why we abuse him or for what purpose, only that we do.

The video below is disturbing in that a mini-pony is being abused and exhausted.  The Napoleon Riding Cult has been charged with animal abuse in the Netherlands.