I am posting this article on the same date as Part IV. I found that I had too much information that I wanted to share before I ended the series. This post is a continuation of Tennessee Walking Horse Abuse Condoned by Congress? Part IV.
The public outcry from the criminal lawsuits against Jackie McConnell and Larry Wheelon helped raise awareness of the plight of the Big Lick TWH. Legislation was introduced in Congress that would have stopped this abuse in its tracks. The Prevent All Soring Tactics Bill, PAST Act, was introduced in 2013 and failed due to big money lobbyists and infighting among congressional members. It was again introduced in 2015 with, so far, the same result.
Members of advocacy groups, chief among them the Citizens Campaign Against “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty and Billy Go Boy, have kept the issue in front of the public, organized many protests at Big Lick shows in the south, and have been a loud voice for the TWH. As a result, they are being threatened with bodily harm. For example, Jamie Lawrence, a TWH trainer and show person, attempted to run over Teresa Bippen, president of Friends of Sound Horses, FOSH, while she was protesting the Big Lick show in Columbia, TN, in 2015. WSMV-TV Nashville reported on the incident mentioned above and included a video of the incident. Bippen was in fear for her life! Lawrence was indicted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The Big Lick crowd has not only threatened anti-soring advocates, they have threated USDA inspectors at horse shows. They realize that their way of life is on its way out, but refuse to accept it. If Congress cannot get a bill designed to protect animals against cruelty passed, citizens will continue their public outcry to educate the public about what is involved in those shows. As a result of their efforts, more and more shows are being boycotted by a growing number of people that choose not to condone soring and animal cruelty for pleasure.
In addition to the efforts of anti-soring advocates, the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, has introduced an amendment to the Horse Protection Act that will eliminate the stacks, pads, and chains and, if it becomes final, effectively eliminate the Big Lick and the animal cruelty that goes with it. Before the amendment to the Rules can become final, a public comment period is required.
What can you do to support elimination of TWH soring?
- First, you can visit the APHIS amendment page and submit your comment in support of the Rule amendment. To date, there have been 1,632 comments; a total of 1,281, 78 percent, commented for the Rule and 35 against. More comments in support of the Rule are needed. It needs to be loud and clear to APHIS that the majority of people want the Rule to become final and bring Big Lick horse abuse to an end.
- Do not attend horse shows that feature the Big Lick performance horse. By boycotting those shows, they will eventually have so few spectators that the money to put on the show will have to come out of their own pockets. At that point, these types of shows will go away on their own and the abuse will stop.
- Educate the public. Attend organized protests at horse shows that feature the Big Lick, and advocate to stop the Big Lick cruelty.
- You can also contact your legislators and let them know that you want them to support the PAST Act and that you expect them to help push it through. If they cannot effectively get a bill passed to prevent animal cruelty, I would suggest not voting for them in the future. The cronyism and power struggles in Congress must stop, but, until American citizens step up and ensure their legislators are appropriately representing their interests, it is not likely to happen.
Although this is the last article in this series, I will continue to keep you updated on this issue in future articles. There is a lot going on in this arena!