Walking Horse Officials Have Yet to Respond to Humanitarian Proposals

The HSUS Calls for Five Key Reforms at Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

Celebration Board Has Yet to Respond to HSUS Recommendations to Protect Horses from Abuse

Photo HSUS

WASHINGTON, (HSUS) —With just weeks left before the 2012 Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn., The Humane Society of the United States is calling on industry organizers to implement five key changes that would help protect horses and restore the credibility of the walking horse industry.

The sport continues to be undermined by the illegal practice of “soring”—the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated high-stepping gait to gain unfair competitive advantage at horse shows. In a letter to the Celebration’s board of directors, The HSUS offered to work alongside them to curb horse abuse and ensure that the show competition could continue in a way that dramatically improved the public transparency and the welfare of horses.

“The Celebration’s board has the authority to set appropriately high standards and policies to protect the welfare of the horses and turn the Tennessee walking horse competition into something worth celebrating,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States stands ready and willing to monitor and support the Celebration if the board implements changes. The public will not accept rampant cruelty to show horses, and it’s time for the show’s organizers and community to kick out the scofflaws and adopt meaningful reforms.”

The need for change, and for the Celebration to take an unequivocal stand against soring, has never been more urgent. The HSUS’ undercover investigation earlier this year of well-known trainer Jackie McConnell revealed that trainers can continue to sore horses and enter them into shows undetected, even though McConnell has been issued a federal disqualification. The HSUS investigator documented McConnell soring Moody Star, the winner of the 2010 Celebration Reserve World Grand Champion. The investigation drew national attention and led to public outrage over the continued practice of soring despite the practice being outlawed for more than 40 years by the federal Horse Protection Act.

In its letter, The HSUS called for the following five reforms which would return the reputation of this magnificent animal and this sport to one of reverence and respect:

  1. FOR THE HORSE:  Eliminate horses from competition, and from any property owned, leased or used by Celebration, Inc. if there is evidence of the application of one of several common soring techniques, including the use of all stacks, action devices or bands; the use of shoes weighing more than two pounds; the use of tail braces which require the tail to be cut; and the riding of two year olds under saddle.
  1. FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE PROCESS:  Exclude any show officials from participation (including judges, DQPs, veterinarians, farriers) who have personally been cited for an HPA violation within the past five years.
  1. FOR THE HONOR OF THE SPORT: Rescind the title, prizes and other awards of any entry that has been found to be in violation of the HPA (including the use of prohibited foreign substances) following his/her performance.
  1. FOR THE CONFIDENCE OF THE PUBLIC: In addition to the inspection procedures required by USDA regulations, randomly pull the shoes of at least 20 percent of all entries throughout the show, and of the top two placing horses in every championship class, examine the horses’ hooves for evidence of intentional soring. This examination should be overseen by a licensed veterinarian recommended by AAEP and a farrier recommended by the American Farriers Association, neither of whom have any ties to the Tennessee walking horse industry nor any history of HPA violations. In any case in which soring of the hoof is suspected, disqualify the horse, rider and trainer until such time as a final determination is made as to whether the HPA has been violated.
  1. FOR TRANSPARENCY of CHANGE: Prohibit the use of all stall drapes, or other materials designed to prevent visual inspection of property owned, leased or used by Celebration, Inc. on which horses or other personal property are held or kept during the event.

The HSUS sent the list of key needed reforms in a letter to the Celebration’s board of directors nearly one month ago, and the Board has not yet responded. Read the full letter here.

11 comments for “Walking Horse Officials Have Yet to Respond to Humanitarian Proposals

  1. Joe
    August 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I wonder what kind of a ribbon you get for lying to people who date money when they think 100% is going to rescue animals then find out that less than 1% goes to rescue. Here is another example of lying under oath, HSUS has a lot of trouble ahead. Read the article here..


    • admin
      August 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      Joe, you are at the very edge of being unable tgo post on this site for again you have posted something that is patently untrue and continue with the ridiculous assertion that HSUS claims to be in the shelter business. They are not. HSUS is in the anti-cruelty business. Their primary function is to lobby Congress and the administration on behalf of animals. I will not permit you to spread misinformation on this site.

      The Editor

    • Joe
      August 9, 2012 at 9:46 am


      You again mention that the main job of HSUS is to lobby. HSUS has not only failed to register as a lobbyist since September of 2006. Now congress is also checking into the abuse and an OIG investigation found out more details. Read them below.


      • admin
        August 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

        Non profits serving the public good as a 501(c)4 do not need to register as a lobbyist since there are working toward the public good, not private enterprise.

        The Editor

      • Joe
        August 11, 2012 at 5:17 am


        You always try to discredit Humane Watch, their job is to educate the public that donate money to support starving animals. In all of HSUS adds they show animals that are almost dead. Most are cats and dogs and a picture of a horse. If this add does not indicate your donation will help these animals I do not know what does. You and I will agree on one thing, we want the truth..

        If it were not for some groups that fight to show the truth about HSUS and what they use the donated money for, people will continue to be mislead into thinking their money went to help animals. Wayne Pacelle (HSUS) has said he does not want to see another dog or cat born. Is this a true love of animals? Why does HSUS euthanize over 50% of the animals they take care of. This is the same for PETA. Below is many articles to read about the truth in what HSUS really does.Make sure you scroll down to read all of them.


        • admin
          August 11, 2012 at 7:16 am

          Joe, once again your note is filled with lies and misinformation. In one breath you claim HSUS operates no shelters, and in your final paragraph here you claim they kill 50 percent of their animals in custody. You make outrageous claims about its leader.

          Finally, I don’t discredit the industry front organization, Humane Watch. They constantly discredit themselves by having shills such as Joe fronting for them. Sad.

          The Editor

        • Joe
          August 11, 2012 at 10:10 am


          It does not suprise me that you like all other antislaughter people who post here, resort to name calling and trying to belittle others that do not agree with you. HSUS is what they are really about, anti animal agriculture. Misleading and uses false advertising.

          • admin
            August 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm

            Sorry Joe, Horseback Magazine has never taken a position on slaughter. We have, however, taken a very strong position on banning the use of the captive bolt on horses. Also, you may very well be right about HSUS and animal agriculture, however, they are also right regarding their revelations on cruelty to animals which you appear to wholeheartedly support by your ling history here of misstatements, lies, and hyperbole.

            The Editor

  2. Crystal Foss
    August 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Cruelty for a blue ribbon????? SAD, Very very sad!!! Wonder what kind of ribbon you get in HELL????

    • Joe
      August 10, 2012 at 7:35 am
      • admin
        August 10, 2012 at 11:22 am

        Again, Horseback Magazine does not accept Humane Watch or other industry shills as a valid source. For readers who aren’t aware, this organization has a string of incidents that discredit them that would fill I-10 from Jacksonville to LA. They are a front organization for the meat slaughter industry posing as a humanitarian organization – hence their cynicle duplicitous name.

        The Editor

Comments are closed.