Target: Rep John Boehner
Goal: Eliminate self regulation and require USDA inspectors to examine show horses
The Tennessee Walking Horse is known in competitions for its high-stepping gait, also known as the “big lick.” This artificially trained gait was used by plantation owners when they navigated their farm lands, but has turned into a ‘talent’ for show in competitions. Thanks to undercover efforts, investigators have found cruel and inhumane ways that trainers are forcing their horses into these gaits. A Congressional bill will eliminate the practice of self regulation and require USDA licensed inspectors to examine these horses for sores and other injuries. The bill would also ban implements used to weigh down the horses’ hooves.
Unfortunately this bill is facing opposition – horse trainers are concerned that inspections would eliminate the horses and the shows entirely. These trainers believe that brutality in the industry is rare and hiring on USDA licensed inspectors would be too costly. A representative of Congress stated that enacting such a bill would bring excessive regulation burdens on the industry and possibly eliminate the industry. Activists are concerned that these self-regulated inspectors have a conflict of interest. Even if they see the horses in pain or suffering from injuries, they will not speak up because they have ties to the horse show or the trainer itself.
Footage shot from undercover investigators show high stakes horse trainer Jackie McConnell – who is one of the top trainers in the industry – smacking a chained horse in the muzzle to make it leap into the air. McConnell along with other trainers would beat the horses with sticks or cattle prods to make it accustomed to pain, so they wouldn’t flinch when inspectors examined them. Another scene showed the trainers placing caustic chemicals near the hooves of the horses, creating welts, and then wrapping their hooves in plastic wrap. The trainers went a step further and tied chains around their legs. The chains would smack against the wounds, causing the horse to flinch and raise their legs higher in the air. Horses that refused to rise from the pain would be whipped.
This bill needs to be passed. Activists are convinced that those who oppose it have a conflict of interest. Horses shouldn’t have to suffer for a show, especially when it shows off a gait that is artificial to them. Sign this petition and lend your voice to support the bill.
Dear Rep. John Boehner,
I am writing this letter to show my support for the bill H.R. 1518, which will ban the use of implements meant to weigh down a horse’s hooves and require USDA licensed inspectors to examine the horses. With the recent undercover footage that reveals the disturbing and cruel abuse committed by horse trainers, I believe it is necessary to pass this bill to protect these horses.
There is concern that these self regulated inspectors have a conflict of interest and have ties to the horse shows themselves. Even if it raises the costs of horse shows to hire USDA inspectors, it would ensure that these horses are treated with respect and compassion. I implore you and the rest of Congress to support it for the betterment of these animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: USDA via Wikimedia