The Tennessee Walking Horse Grassroots Organization strongly opposes the stand of the American Horse Council which supports HR 1518, commonly known as the Whitfield Amendment. We OPPOSE this bill.

This breed specific legislation, which pertains to ONLY Tennessee Walking horses, Racking horses and Spotted Saddle horses in actuality does nothing that the bill purports it will accomplish.

In fact the foremost effect this bill will have is as a job killer. By eliminating entire divisions of competition in these three breeds, 85% in the Tennessee Walking Horse breed alone through the removal of ALL weighted shoes, pads and action devices, persons involved in the horse industry both directly through the training and breeding and indirectly through the elimination of the need for support personnel, and the decrease of entertainment/recreation dollars into the communities will result in the unemployment lines becoming substantially longer. An example of the recreation dollar impact on a community would be Shelbyville TN, where $40 million flows into the local economy during a single horse show. This figure does not include the everyday year round dollar contribution to just this one community from equine agriculture. Multiply this impact by the effect on all areas which have equine agriculture ties throughout the country and you will realize the cost of this economic implosion. The end result is an increase cost to the government in subsidies for unemployment checks, food stamps and other government support programs at a time where there is a 17 trillion dollar deficit. 

The concept being put out by the HSUS supported groups who back this bill is that “soreing” is somehow running unchecked within the show ring. Those 3 breeds are currently inspected by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Horse Inspection Organization (HIO) personnel who have trained jointly with the government Veterinary Medical Officers (VMO)s. Each animal is hands on inspected thru the HIO system prior to entering the show ring. In the past 6 years over a half million entries have gone through this inspection process with only approximately 1800 failing these rigorous inspections. That is a less than 2% failure rate for “soring”.  These figures are accepted by the USDA from the HIO reports and are published on their website. If there is any failure in the HIO system it stems from the USDA oversight and a law based on subjective theories. While the USDA has received under a million dollars for oversight annually, should this bill pass, the cost to the government would increase to at least $10-$20 million. Inspections by those USDA approved and trained HIO personnel which currently are performed are done at NO cost to the taxpayer. 

There are serious constitutional questions regarding this bill. It is once again breed specific, applying to only 3 breeds of equines, while many others, including the American Saddlebred and the Morgan horse use the same equipment sought to be eliminated through the passage of HR 1518.  Again constitutionally speaking, the amendment if enacted, is an “illegal taking” as it eliminates the value of the investments made by owners, breeders, stallion owners, and trainers in animals and land without any due process of law.

Perhaps the most significant point is to the impact on the horse itself. Equine athletes that have been bred for the show ring would find themselves “without a job”. Entire breeding herds geared to the production of the finest animals in these breeds would be eliminated. The trickle down effect would be felt by every trail rider also since the genetics of the vast majority of trail animals is founded in the gene pool of the show ring animal. Those unique genetic patterns produce not only the talented show horse, but the smooth even tempered pleasure horse. In the quest to produce the best animals, the everyday horse owner has benefitted from the efforts of those who compete by being the recipients of the animals which do not meet the rigorous standards of excellence of the show ring, but excel as pleasure animals. This enables those who are interested in uses outside the ring to benefit from the breeding of these animals. Currently there is a place for every animals produced, by eliminating 85% of the uses of these animals who will take the responsibility for those who become useless?

Finally looking at the Horse Protection Act itself, you find that is it a commerce bill. The aim of the Act was and is to protect the integrity of the show ring, and give true value to the animal that competes based on fair competition. This amendment HR 1518  as evidenced by the above statements destroys commerce, not facilitates it. Based on that fact alone, it should be soundly defeated.


The Tennesse Walking Horse Grassroots organization is dedicated to PROTECT, PROMOTE and PRESERVE the Performance Tennessee Walking Horse in the traditional show ring and to extend the same principles to the entire breed in all disciplines. TWHGRO supports all responsible animal ownership and animal agriculture and all those in and out of public office who hold those same principles.