(Shelbyville, TN)—When the Humane Society of the United States announced its “Walk on Washington,” it did so—in typical HSUS style—with great fanfare. It promised to showcase examples of soring that have taken place over the years with Tennessee Walking Horses. People from around the country Walked on Washington to placate the media, the HSUS itself and certainly supporters of the so-called PAST Act, including its chief sponsor, Cong. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky (or Washington D.C. depending on which disclosure statement you believe).
But there is no secret that:
A) Whitfield is married to a lobbyist for the HSUS;
B) The PAST Act is one of the main agenda items for HSUS; and
C) It is totally unnecessary.
It attempts to manage by legislation what the industry has done through self-policing while putting 85 percent of equine athletes, 20,000 jobs and a $3.2 billion economy at risk.
· For every example of a horse that has been sored, we can show dozens of others that have not been and that still compete in the Classic division past age 15.
· For every example of an action device they show you, like the one Cong. Whitfield used at last year’s Congressional Subcommittee hearing on the PAST Act, we can show you devices that have not been banned as was the case with Whitfield’s chains.
· For every example of a banned pad and shoe that Donna Benefield used in that same hearing, we can show you the complete package as it is used in competition today that weighs little more than a running shoe.
Rather than call it a Walk on Washington, HSUS and its supporters should be more forthcoming with a name that reflects the real nature of the event. Maybe the organization could spend a few thousand dollars of the millions it spends on PR and advertising to come up with a new name. If not, we have a few suggestions:
· Misinformation March
· Attack on Accuracy
· Pacelle’s Parade of Ploys (in honor of HSUS president Wayne Pacelle)
· Dialing for Dollars the D.C. Way
· Showboat, not Show Horse
· And of course, The Comedy on Capitol Hill
We admire the horses we own, train and enter into competition. We respect the men and women who derive their lives and livelihoods from our industry. We want nothing more than to protect and preserve the heritage and history of the Tennessee Walking Horse. And that’s why PSHA and a number of other industry organizations support legislation sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Sen. Lamar Alexander, both of Tennessee. It takes a more even-handed approach to management of inspections and introduces objectivity into the equation—long missing from the original process established by the Horse Protection Act.
Do you realize that under the subjective testing methods used today, even USDA inspectors disagree among themselves as to whether a violation has occurred?
We don’t need hyperbole and histrionics. We need objectivity and discussion of the best solutions without the emotion HSUS inevitably slips into its arguments. We don’t need lobbyists from the American Horse Council chiming in on an internal debate. And we certainly don’t need attorney Clant Seay weighing in on the issue. In fact, he was suspended by TWHEBA earlier this year for violations. Is this his way of getting even?So after the Walk on Washington comes and goes, let’s gather the appropriate representatives around the table and lay out a plan in the best interest of the horse, the athlete and those involved in the industry. We don’t need at the table a self-aggrandizing organization bent on ending all equine competitions.