“THERE’S SOME MARVELOUS STUFF COMING”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 2, 2017) — The organizer of a trip by the Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty (CCABLAC) from Tennessee to Washington, DC last week to advocate for an end to horse cruelty told The Post & Email that as the group stood in front of the White House on Wednesday to publicize its cause, an “amazing interaction” took place with passersby who hailed from places near and far.
The group was able to raise more than $10,000 in four weeks to make the trip possible. The Post & Email’s first article about the series of events in Washington is here.
CCABLAC founder Clant Seay, aka BillyGoBoy, has posted a new video of the approximately 15-minute presentation on Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday carried out with what he said was cordiality from the U.S. Secret Service.
Seay said that he inquired about a permit on Tuesday but that he was told it was not required. “We may or may not have the street blocked tomorrow,” Seay quoted the Secret Service agent as having said. “If we don’t have it blocked, you can set up here,” he reportedly said, indicating the area where the group stood on Wednesday.
“We had an amazing interaction with people. One guy came up from England and another from Mississippi,” Seay said. “The Mississippi guy – he was sort-of suspicious; his mind was blown when I told him I was from Mississippi,” Seay said with a chuckle.
On January 19, perhaps in a preview of what was to come on March 29, Seay announced from the site of the presidential inauguration that “We’re here to speak for the Tennessee Walking Horses who cannot speak for themselves…It does not matter who the president is, who the Congress is…” He invoked his First Amendment right to speak out about the practice of “soring,” which inflicts pain and permanent damage to horses to produce the exaggerated gait in Tennessee Walking Horses desired by certain judges in horse shows, primarily in the South.
In the video just posted, one of the women in the group, Christina Gray, explained their purpose and the process by which horses are subjected to “repeated, systemic torture” to create the “Big Lick” gait. A horse owner herself, Gray said that the “cooking-in” of chemicals to horses’ legs is followed by the attaching of “huge, heavy, heavy shoes” and chains for the show ring. “This forces the horse, out of its excruciating pain, to throw its hooves high, to drop its hindquarters, and this gets that gait that gets these folks roaring with excitement,” Gray said, referring to those who attend such shows.
“Only one-tenth of one percent of horses are shown with this, but the hotbed of it is my native state: it’s Tennessee, it’s Kentucky,” she said. “I want an end to it. The people have spoken around the world; it needs to end.”
The organization wants a new federal rule prepared by the Obama administration to be published in the Federal Register to provide greater enforcement of the Horse Protection Act of 197, which bans transporting, auctioning, selling or showing a sored horse.
Later on Inauguration Day, President Trump signed an executive order placing all pending federal rules on hold so that his administration could review them.
In an interview on Thursday, we asked Seay if most of the people who engaged with them outside of the White House knew much about the issue of soring, to which he responded:
The people we encountered in front of the White House did not know much about it, but they were extremely curious. In fact, it was hard for us to do all that we were trying to do because they wanted to know so much. And then finally, we just started answering their questions and turned that into a press conference.
We got all of this on video, and the ladies did most of the explaining. They did a magnificent job, and I’m real proud of what they did. I could go over to Congress all day long, but when they see real people, and these ladies from Tennessee, it brings it home and makes them understand what we’ve been all about, just trying to build a product.
The group met later that day with Deputy Chief of Staff for Rep. Kurt Schrader Chris Huckleberry and with Rep. Ted Yoho, the latter of whom promised to take their concerns and a binder they brought with photos of the alleged cruelty and more than 11,000 comments directly to President Trump.
Both Schrader and Yoho are large-animal veterinarians and opposed to soring.
Huckleberry and Yoho were presented with trophies recognizing their contributions toward protecting the Tennessee Walking Horse and related breeds from cruel practices.
A press conference was also held on Wednesday at the National Press Club which lasted an hour, Seay said. As to its impact, he told us, “Some lady I’ve never seen a day in my life walked in from Louisiana; she’d heard about it; she’s a landowner; she owns horses; she had a lot of questions. I’ve got all that on video. There’s some marvelous stuff coming.”