“IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 30, 2017) — As announced on PR Newswire on Tuesday, the Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty (CCABLAC) took its case to the nation’s capital on Wednesday, where members stood in front of the White House in a designated area with signs and answered questions from curious passersby on their issue.
Afterward, members headed to the National Press Club for a press conference at 1:00 p.m. which lasted an hour, according to CCABLAC founder Clant Seay.
Founded in 2015, many of the group’s members have since attended horse shows throughout the South involving Tennessee Walking Horses which have allegedly been subjected to cruel techniques in order to increase their chances of pleasing the judges and earning a prize.
The practice of “soring” has been acknowledged by some horse trainers and veterinarians to have been passed down through generations, although outlawed officially in 1970 by the Horse Protection Act (HPA). While the Act outlawed the transport, auctioning, sale or competing of a “sored” horse, evidence shows that it has continued by not only verbal accounts of eyewitnesses, but also the way in which the horses prance while in the show ring.
Soring can involve the application of caustic chemicals such as kerosene or mustard oil to the horse’s pasterns and subsequent wrapping overnight to ensure that the maximum amount of irritation occurs. Along with that, the horse is often fitted with large, artificial shoes which, according to Seay, can weigh up to eight pounds each. Sometimes added to that are ankle chains which irritate the horses’ chemically-treated, already-tender skin, causing the horse to step higher with its front legs and place more of its weight on its back legs.
The exaggerated gait caused by the treatment and “action devices” is known as the “Big Lick.”
When contacted for comment about the “Big Lick” last fall, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) did not wish to speak with us.
Mike Inman, President and CEO of Tennessee’s “National Celebration” annual horse show event, told The Post & Email that competing horses are checked up to 13 times for signs of soring. When we asked if he could put us in touch with some of the trainers whose horses have competed in the show, we did not receive a response.
In an interview on Thursday, Seay said that the group met with Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL-3), a large-animal veterinarian by profession, and that Yoho promised to bring the change.org petition CCABLAC gave him containing over 100,000 signatures and over 11,000 comments in favor of publishing a new federal rule to stop “soring” directly to President Trump.
“Getting to meet with him and having his personal assurances that this is going to get done is gold. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Seay told us on his way to the airport on Thursday. While stressing that he himself is not political, Seay said he believes Yoho is a man of his word and mentioned that Yoho spoke with the president last week on the House healthcare proposal which ultimately did not receive a vote.
A new rule was about to be published in the Federal Register in the waning days of the Obama administration but in the end did not materialize. Just after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order suspending all published and non-published federal regulations until his administration could review them.
Yoho has previously been a supporter of the PAST Act, introduced in 2013 and intended to better enforce horse inspection regimens and penalties for HPA vioations and will reportedly reintroduce the legislation today.
Seay said he is hopeful that Ivanka Trump, to whom the petition is addressed in addition to the president, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and USDA Secretary-hopeful Sonny Purdue, will take an interest in the issue. Ivanka is working as an unpaid assistant to the president.
Seay said that a great deal more video footage of the group’s time in Washington will be published in the coming days.