Target: Anheuser-Busch CEO, Carlos Brito
Goal: Rescind Sponsorship of 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration
Soon to take place will be the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee. At a recent show 190 horses were chosen at random by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors to test for soring, an intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves in order to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Of those, 145 of them tested positive for caustic substances that had been used to sore the forelegs of the animals.
Soring is illegal in the United States, prohibited by the federal Horse Protection Act. There have been animal cruelty investigations and convictions recently which have been well-publicized. But until badly-needed reforms make way through Congress and the Senate, the scofflaws within the Walking Horse receive little more than a warning for their rampant abuse.
The horses are so lamed by the soring and other tortures their “trainers” use that they can barely stand to put their feet on the ground. That’s where the “Big Lick,” the name for the exaggerated way of moving of the Tennessee Walker, comes from. The “Big Lick” faction of the Walking Horse industry suffered a big loss in a U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, when a judge upheld federal regulations to prevent the practice of soring. The federal rules were challenged by a group of Big Lickers called Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective Inspections, Winning Fairly, or S.H.O.W., which has fought the USDA, the Humane Society of the United States, and every other animal welfare group calling for soring to stop.
It has been announced that Budweiser, through a local official distributor, will be a main sponsor of the event this year. Budweiser’s involvement with the National Celebration comes as a huge shock, but L&H Distributing Co., located in Tullahoma, has cut a deal with the cash-strapped show to provide alcoholic beverages for the first time ever at what has been previously billed as “a family event.” In contrast, Pepsi immediately jerked its sponsorship away from the Celebration last year after an undercover tape showed a Hall of Fame trainer, Jackie McConnell, clubbing horses and abusing one’s lips with an electric prod. Budweiser must tell its distributor to rescind the sponsorship.
Budweiser should be ashamed to sponsor this use of horses. Condemn Budweiser for willing to be affiliated in any way with this abuse of horses, especially when their own Clydesdales are so important to the brand. Tell Anheuser-Busch to tell their distributor to rescind their sponsorship of the Celebration.
Dear Mr. Brito,
Please reconsider your sponsorship of the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. The abuse many of those horses are put through is unthinkable. Soring is not only inhumane, but also illegal, yet many top Tennessee Walking Horse trainers use it as a performance-enhancing tactic. The horse is sored with caustic chemicals, causing the high stepping gait you see in the show ring.
Other sponsors have pulled their sponsorships after learning about the dark world of soring. Do not support horse abuse, especially when you use Clydesdales as your most recognizable branding tool. To know about soring and support the industry anyway is simply wrong. Please tell your distributor to rescind the sponsorship of the 75th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dwight Burndette via Wikimedia Commons