Priscilla Presley Seeks to Revoke Graceland’s Walking Horse Trophy

Heidi Hall , The Tennessean published at WBIR.com

“I can’t support the trophy when inhumane methods are used on these horses. I can’t support it.”

Priscilla Presley is taking back the Graceland Challenge Trophy that has been given annually at the nation's premier walking horse competition because she said she cannot support abuse of show horses.(Photo: The Tennessean)

Priscilla Presley is taking back the Graceland Challenge Trophy that has been given annually at the nation’s premier walking horse competition because she said she cannot support abuse of show horses.(Photo: The Tennessean)

There won’t be a Graceland Challenge Trophy at the nation’s premier walking horse competition next year after its donor, Priscilla Presley, decided to take it back after three decades.

Presley said she didn’t know the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration still awarded the trophy, given in memory of her ex-husband, Elvis Presley. She attended the Shelbyville, Tenn., event in 1983 and donated it as part of an exhibition featuring Ebony’s Double, the last walking horse Elvis Presley ever bought. She thought it was a one-time award, but it’s been given every year since and is listed in the latest Celebration program under prizes for the Four-Year-Old Walking Horse World Grand Championship.

Today, she owns two Tennessee Walking Horses, stabled on the grounds of the Presley family’s Graceland estate in Memphis, and is a vocal supporter of a federal bill seeking to end abuse of the breed.

“Graceland isn’t going to support this, knowing what we know now,” Presley said Tuesday. “We want that trophy back.

“I can’t support the trophy when inhumane methods are used on these horses. I can’t support it.”

“I believe she’d come to a different conclusion,” Inman said.The Celebration hasn’t yet received the request, said CEO Mike Inman, but that could be because the offices are closed for the holidays. He said he would like a chance to speak to Presley before she makes a final decision.

At issue is H.R. 1518, a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and co-sponsored by more than 200 others, which would end the use of the tall horseshoes and ankle chains used by the breed’s performance division to accentuate its naturally higher, longer gait. Some unscrupulous trainers chemically burn the horses’ pasterns or hide irritants in the shoes to exaggerate the gait even further, a process known as “soring.”

The bill also would reform horse inspections at shows and stiffen penalties for soring.

Industry leaders oppose it, saying the bill would prompt a dramatic negative economic impact without addressing underlying problems — which they say already are being handled. They cite measurable improvement in the number of citations written for suspected abuse and a study that showed the light chains are harmless.

But severe cases recently uncovered in Tennessee drew national attention to the problem. Jackie McConnell, once a Celebration Hall of Fame horse trainer, was convicted of violating the Horse Protection Act last year after the Humane Society of the United States released a stomach-turning undercover video of abuse in his Collierville, Tenn., stables. A grand jury indicted Maryville, Tenn., trainer Larry Wheelon this month on charges of similar abuse.

Presley said she learned about the Celebration trophy from Keith Dane, the Humane Society’s vice president of equine protection, and has thrown her support behind the bill. She said calling on her friends to do the same is the biggest project she’s involved with right now….(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to comment

13 comments on “Priscilla Presley Seeks to Revoke Graceland’s Walking Horse Trophy

  1. Thank you Priscilla… please pursue this and help them to establish more humane ways to train the horses… our horses ( and animals ) need strong voices…

  2. Priscilla, if you are reading this, YOU ARE THE QUEEN!!

    This practice also raises questions about those poor innocent creatures whose bodies carry godknowswhat chemicals who end up on foreign dinner plates. These toxins of necessity include the concoctions scrubbed into their sensitive tissues to burn them… some mentioned in the video are carcinogens.

  3. Or she could specify that it could only be used for flat shod ‘Plantation Walkers’ and not for the Big Lick horses, that way the show/training industry continues and the horses get shown etc but no more exaggerated movement which ‘requires’ the use the abusive chains and caustic ‘soring’ agents.
    The Walking Horse folk have brought this down on themselves when they would not clean up their act years ago.

  4. Priscilla,
    Thanks for being a supporter of horses, I know your husband loved horses ! Stand fast with your decision. I believe the world will survive without high stepping horses.

Care to comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s