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by Sharon Rondeau

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), sponsor of the Joseph P. Tydings PAST Act, speaks at a press conference on July 24, 2019.  Screenshot courtesy Clant Seay

(Aug. 4, 2019) — On July 24, a vote took place in the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly in favor of the “PAST” Act to strengthen the 1970 Horse Protection Act‘s provisions against the practice of “soring” in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

HR 693, known as the “U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2019,” passed 333-96 with strong bipartisan support and was referred to the Senate on July 29.

Tydings, a one-term senator from Maryland, served in World War II in one of the last cavalry units in the U.S. military.  A lifelong horse-lover, he was instrumental in seeing that the HPA passed in 1970. Tydings died of cancer last October at the age of 90.

The vote was praised by animal-welfare advocates such as Priscilla Presley and Clant Seay, founder of CCABLAC (Citizens Campaign Against Big Lick Animal Cruelty).

Seay assisted in organizing the press conference, which was hosted by Rep  Steven Cohen (D-TN9). BillyGoBoy.com website publication is the sole possessor of the video featuring Sponsors Kurt Schrader (D-OR5), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL3), and Cohen.  Mr. Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, also commented.

The presser took place on the same day and time as the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, respectively.  Because of that, , a cosponsor of the bill, was absent but expected, Cohen said.

Photo: Clant M. Seay (BillyGoBoy.com), used with permission

As Schrader, Cohen and Irby addressed the attendees, mounted on the lectern were the now-infamous “stacks” and “chains” worn by horses in the show industry whose trainers seek the highest gait possible through a method known as “soring.”  According to horse-welfare organizations and veterinarians, including Schrader and Yoho, soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front legs via the application of chemicals and wraps to “cook in” the caustic substances.  Stacks and chains are then affixed to enhance the horse’s pain such that it will attempt to barely touch the ground with its forelegs as it competes in the show ring.

That scenario, Seay and others have said, results in the gait known as the “Big Lick” coveted by some judges, trainers and horse owners.

Following Rep. Schrader and Rep. Cohen, CCABLAC Founder Clant M. Seay commented until Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) arrived. Yoho provided an updated status on the bill.  That night, Rep. Yoho took the nearly eight-pound stack shoes worn by “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Show Horse “Gen’s Ice Glimmer” for nine years on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and said it was simple: “You are either for or against Animal Cruelty.”

Seay can be seen addressing all three congressmen during the presser with a pictorial of what he hopes will be the new face of the Walking Horse industry without the “stacks and chains.”  He has publicized the event on his Twitter feed with exclusive photos taken by his own photographer, he told us.

Gen’s Ice Glimmer following rescue, August 2015, photo courtesy Clant Seay

The stacks and chains were once worn by Gen’s Ice Glimmer, a “Big Lick” performer which Seay and some associates rescued from the auction block four years ago.

Soring has led to lameness and premature death, former trainers in the industry have reported.

The 1970 Horse Protection Act prevents the sale, transport, showing or auctioning of any horse that has been sored, but advocates of the HPA and “PAST” Act say the practice has continued unabated, particularly in the southeastern United States.

The passage of the bill by the U.S. House of Representatives was covered by major media in Tennessee, which Seay identifies as the epicenter of the “Big Lick” in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

An AP reporter attended the presser, Seay told The Post & Email during last week’s interview, accounting for the national coverage of the presser.

Of the outcome in the House, Seay told us, “The House of Representatives have spoken for the entire country.  Not only did the Democrats vote for it, but a majority of the Republicans voted for it.  This to me is a breakthrough.  It’s overwhelming, and hit’s historic.”

“I want the whole United States and the world to know that HR 693 would never have been passed without the support of the Joseph Tydings family.  Ms. Mary Tydings, who is the eldest daughter, and her son, Ben Tydings Smith, have been totally supportive. They have gone with me and have been extremely influential in this matter coming to a vote, and I am proud to be associated with their late father and grandfather, who I loved dearly.  I know that he is somewhere smiling down, enjoying the success we are having.”

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