Sue Wallis’ cohort, Mindy Patterson, President and co-founder of the Cavalry Group, written about in “Horse Meat ‘Snake Oil’ Salesmen Fool Cattle Ranchers” has also lobbied to continue the practice of horse soring . Seems like slaughter just isn’t enough for Mindy, she wants horses to have abuse and pain before they start a journey to slaughter, too. – Debbie Coffey
by Monica Vendituoli on July 29, 2013 4:00 PM
A bill introduced in April to end the practice that gives Tennessee walking horses their distinctive gait brought the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to the Capitol last week to give a presentation on horse “soring.”
Anything with a name like that seems unlikely to be a happy experience, right? As it turns out, some walking horses don’t come by their high-stepping naturally or with the usual kind of training. Sometimes, it’s the result of kerosene, mustard oil and other irritants, as well as heavy boots, chains and collars, applied to the horses’ hooves and lower legs.
The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (H.R. 1518, or the PAST Act), sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), aims to do away with soring. Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have saddled up.
“If [the general public] knew the way these horses are being treated… the irritants that are being used just to get them to accentuate their lifting of their leg — the ‘Big Lick’ as they call it — I think they would be quite appalled by it,” Whitfield said in an interview with CRP.
Soring is already against the law — the Horse Protection Act (HPA), passed in 1970, bans horses that have experienced soring from shows and sales. However, currently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the resources to police just 10 percent of the nation’s 500-plus annual walking horse shows.
The PAST Act would increase enforcement as well as penalties for violators.
Many of the horse, veterinary, and animal rights organizations that endorse the bill have lobbied on it this year. The AVMA spent $310,000 and the American Horse Council spent less than $5,000 on lobbying through June 30, with the anti-soring bill among their agenda items.
The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, a separate lobbying affiliate of the Humane Society, spent $30,000 combined lobbying in the second quarter of the year, listing the proposal as one of the bills they’re concerned about.
The Humane Society and others oppose the fact that horse industry organizations, which are tasked with enforcing HPA because USDA doesn’t have sufficient resources to do so, use inspectors who are often owners or trainers, presenting a potential conflict of interest.
Those in the walking horse industry say they want to eliminate soring, but fear the walking horse economy will face the real penalty if this law is enacted.
“The Humane Society saddled up with USDA and they have been bullying horse owners,” said Mindy Patterson, president of the Cavalry Group, an animal owner rights group that lobbied against the bill in the first quarter, in an interview with CRP.
According to Jeffrey Howard, chief information officer for the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA), formerly the Tennessee Walking Show Horse Organization (TWSHO), the industry brings $38 million to Shelbyville, Tenn., every year for the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, as well as millions to other areas of the Southeast.
“We want to eliminate soring. They want to eliminate the horse,” said Howard in an interview with CRP, talking about the bill’s supporters.
Opponents cite a potential conflict of interest among the animal rights groups. Connie Harriman-Whitfield, the wife of the legislation’s sponsor, is senior advisor of presidential initiatives at the Humane Society. The group gave $5,000 to Whitfield’s campaign in 2012.
Howard’s group has been working with members of Congress and hopes to develop legislation at some point to help stop soring on terms more favorable to the horse industry.
However, either side will be lucky to get legislation passed.
“In the United States Congress, anytime you talk about animal legislation, there’s a reluctance to deal with it,” Whitfield told CRP.