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Walking Horse states say NO to PAST



The PAST Act, a Humane Society of the United States-authored piece of legislation, passed the House of Representatives on July 25 with 78 percent of representatives voting in favor of it. Ninety-six members of the House, or 22 percent, opposed it. While the HSUS and radical animal rights groups have championed the legislation as bipartisan and as well as industry supported, a deeper look simply proves otherwise.  

Most of the representatives voting in favor of the PAST Act hail from states that have little to no Walking Horse presence. Thus, those members formed their opinions based on what they heard from only one side, the strong-armed HSUS and animal rights activists with a nationwide presence.  

If you look closer at states with a major Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse population the numbers shift dramatically. In fact, the two most populous walking horse states, Tennessee and Kentucky, overwhelmingly opposed PAST with 73 percent of representatives voting against it. If you look exclusively at Republicans in those two states, an astonishing 92 percent voted against the legislation, fully knowing the negative agricultural and economic impact it would have on this region.

If you add the third most influenced state, Alabama, the above numbers increase even more, reflecting the exact opposite of the national vote that resulted from a lack of knowledge and understanding of facts as they relate to the walking horse. In Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, 77 percent of representatives opposed the PAST Act (17 of the 22), with 94 percent of Republicans (17 out of 18) saying no to it. 

The only Republican to vote yes on the PAST Act from these three states was Tim Burchett from Tennessee. Burchett’s vote was especially confusing as he is a co-sponsor of the alternative legislation to the PAST Act, sponsored by Scott DesJarlais, and told industry supporters prior to the vote that he was against the PAST Act.
Outside the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, the presence and number of walking horse events takes a significant drop but if you add in Georgia and Mississippi the numbers still show that an overwhelming majority of the representatives that have some exposure to walking horses oppose the PAST. In these five states, 68 percent of representatives oppose the PAST Act and of the Republicans in those states 90 percent are in opposition to the PAST Act (27 of the 30).

In listening to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) address the House floor prior to the vote, it was obvious that neither had been to a walking horse show in a long time, if ever. Both said they had personal knowledge but their statements suggested otherwise and mirrored the misstatements and embellishments of the HSUS and other radical animal rights groups that have used this issue to garner attention and fundraising.  

From Yoho’s claim that packages weigh 10 pounds and “would break a desk if you dropped it,” to Schrader saying that the AVMA and AAEP told him that the pads and action devices do in fact harm the horse — a claim that’s never been made by either organization — it was clear both lacked true knowledge about the breed. Furthermore, scientific studies have proven the exact opposite to be true — neither piece of allowable equipment harms the horse.  Interestingly, Yoho had to ask industry participants, while in a meeting about the PAST Act with former sponsor Ed Whitfield, if the pads and action devices were used on the front or back feet of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

The bill now moves to the Senate where there are different rules than the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the bill would have to come through committee with a greater chance of the real facts about the industry being known. 

But make no mistake, the HSUS and animal rights groups are already flooding the Senate offices with the same misstatements and embellishments that worked in the House and it is imperative that industry supporters and participants take the same vigilant approach to contacting every Senator with the truth and especially those in the state representing that industry participant. Calls, emails, personal visits and invitations to industry shows are necessary to get the truth out about this issue.

To see a complete list of each representative voting yes and no click here.

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