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Horse Show Vote Drawing Lots Of Attention - 01-23-2002

Reprinted with permission of Newschannel 7, Panama City, FL
Supporters on both sides letting views be known through e-mail, letters, faxes and phone calls.

The Panama City Beach City Council will vote Thursday on whether or not to grant a special events permit to the Gulf Coast Charity Horse Show.

Since beach leaders turned down a permit a couple of weeks ago, horse show supporters have been busy sending e-mails and phoning beach leaders, in hopes of getting a permit issued soon.

The issue has become very political over the last few months, with Horse Show organizer Martha Blackmon-Milligan and the Beach City Council at odds over the show's future.

There are websites supporting and against the show.

A form-letter e-mail supporting the horse show was posted on a web page, complete with addresses and personal phone numbers of beach city leaders.

"I've gotten probably 30 or 40 e-mails since last week, some for the show, some against," said Beach Councilwoman Gayle Oberst.

"I've probably received between 60 and 100 e-mails and calls, split about evenly," said Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan."

Beach Leaders say they still have concerns going into Thursday vote.

Concerns like what to do about the manure which is produced by the horses and what to do about traffic at the event.

According to Sullivan, some of the -email supporting the horse show has also contained thinly-veiled threats at his political future.

Sullivan shrugs them off, saying sarcastically that he's never lost an election during his stellar political career.

Detractors of the horse show say inhumane treatment is the way trainers get the horses to do their exaggerated walk. Animal rights activists say a practice known as soring, where mustard oil is placed on the hooves and ankles of horses causes the horses great pain, that's why they lift their legs the way they do.

Horse show supporters say that doesn't happen locally and federal officials are on hand to make sure no animals are being abused.

Right now, no one knows what will happen tomorrow when Beach Leaders meet.

The Beach City Council meeting starts at 2 P.M. at Beach City Hall

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