Violators of the Horse Protection Act Selected to Judge Walking Horse World Championship
SHELBYVILLE, TN – Late yesterday, the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration (TWHNC) selected its judging panel for the 2014 August event. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Horse Industry Organization records, all five of the judges selected have violations of the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and a number of the judges have also been reported to have been involved in irregularities in judging past events. David Landrum of Franklin, TN, Rollie Beard of Lewisburg, TN, Jennifer Bingham of Burlington, KY, David Sisk of Columbia, TN, and Paul Robbins of Rutherfordton, NC were selected. The corruption between the judges and the pro-soring groups has perpetuated the “soring” of horses, requiring the need for legislation to strengthen the HPA of 1970 as recommended by the USDA Office of Inspector General.
The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518 introduced in the United States House of Representatives in April of 2013 by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY-01) would end the horrific practice of “soring” Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle horses and has more broad based support than most any other bill in Congress. Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet to achieve the high stepping “big lick” pain-based gait that is sought after by many violators of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970. Endorsements of the PAST Act include the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, National Sheriffs Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the veterinary medical associations from all 50 states. The Senate companion version of the bill, S. 1406 currently has 57 cosponsors.
The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitor’s Association’s (TWHBEA) President, Stephen B. Smith, led the charge in opposition to the PAST Act in December. Smith, who has been cited for violating the HPA as well, continues to wield political influence with federal legislators to stall the PAST Act. In fact, one of the newly named judges, David Landrum, is the trainer who received the citation with Smith. The PAST Act just garnered its 300th cosponsor yesterday in the House of Representatives, which includes Veterinarian Congressmen Ted Yoho (R-FL-03) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05).
"The Tennessee pro-soring groups, have again displayed a complete disregard for horse protection, and have clearly emphasized the need for the PAST Act with their recent selection of HPA violators. I am confident this legislation will come to a vote. We must eliminate the use of stacks, chains, and soring to rid the equine industry of the pain-based ‘big lick’ gait and this culture of abuse.” – Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01)
“Having personally attended the Tennessee Walking Horse Championship in Shelbyville, TN, and having witnessed the beauty of the horses, it greatly saddens me that there are people who would mistreat the horses they claim to care for in order to win a prize. As of today, more than 300 members of Congress are sponsoring this important legislation, designed to protect these horses from such abuse while allowing those trainers who do follow the law and who do properly care for the horses, to compete not only on a level playing field but on a humane playing field. How we treat animals is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and as a society.” –Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09)