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Kakassy Exchanges Letters With EQUUS Author

Copyright WHR 2006

Editor’s Note: Tom Kakassy of Gastonia, N.C., took exception to some of the allegations in the recent Equus article, “Why Soring Persists.” While there was no official response to the article from the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, the Report is pleased to print two of the letters in the exchange between Kakassy and Joanne Meszoly of Equus.

February 16, 2006

Thomas B. Kakassy, P.A.

Attorney at Law

414 S. South St.

Gastonia, N.C. 28053

Dear Mr. Kakassy:

Thank you for your letters, dated Nov. 2nd and Feb. 8th, in response to the EQUUS article “Why Soring Persists.” We appreciate you sharing your views with us and I’d like to thank you for your patience.

I wanted to address your concerns regarding the letters to the editor published after our article appeared in November. Rest assured, we strive to publish letters representative of the response we have received, whether they are positive or negative about an article.

Of the 107 letters we received regarding the soring article, only six of them expressed negative views. Unfortunately, each one of the six had some problem that kept it from being published. These included unfounded or slanderous statements or attacks on individuals, misleading accusations or the lack of a verifiable name and address—that is, they were unsigned.

Your first letter, as you noted, was too long for publication and also included some misleading comments. You referred to the photos of copper napthate on horses’ legs, citing it as a form of protection and stated that Dr. Behre, “can only have been misquoted.”

I can say with absolute certainty that Dr. Behre was not misquoted in this article. I have spoken to him since its publication, and he stands by his comments. What’s more, regulations state that substances, except for glycerin, petrolatum or mineral oil, are prohibited at shows. This includes copper napthate. The photos in the article were taken at Celebration.

Finally, I want you to know that EQUUS has tackled many controversial issues affecting other breeds. For example, in 1993 we published an in-depth Special Report revealing the connection between a popular Quarter Horse sire and the muscle disorder known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). Just two years later, we published “Murdered for Money” an article exposing a group of hunter/jumper owners and trainers who were killing horses for insurance money. There are other examples—too many to name here.

I hope this letter addresses your concerns. Once again, we do appreciate your comments and encourage you to continue sharing them with us.


Joanne Meszoly


March 5, 2006

Equus Magazine

656 Quince Orchard Rd. 600

Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Attn: Joanne Meszoly

Dear Joanne:

Thanks so much for your responsive letter. It is a step.

Let me clarify my position. I am a lawyer with no financial interest in this business, but I do have a lifetime of love for this horse, forty years’ experience, and a wish that all exhibitors could show on a level playing field, free of any sort of gait manipulation. I want pads and humane training aids to be understood and accepted. I want the bad stuff gone. I don’t know whether you would consider this a “positive” letter or a “negative” letter. Soring (or any like problem) can only be remedied after it has been properly portrayed, and that is where your article creates problems and is at times way wrong. I have recently read some background on the author, and understand why it came out the way it did. That author would have done well to have had the assistance of an industry veteran to point out, for example, that the photo we have been discussing shows a carefully applied protective netting over a combination of lubricants and toughening agents designed to keep feet well. (Dr. Behre is of course right about what is “allowed” in shows. Marshmellow paste, similarly, would not be “allowed” under the res. If he truly does not know the protective effects of copper napthate, which we have all used for thirty years or more as a skin toughener, shame on him.)

Neither copper napthate nor “uniformly thickened” or ridgy epithelial tissue is indicative of soring, and Dr. Behre is unfortunately wrong about this as well. I don’t want the USDA, or your magazine, to be chasing the wrong rabbits while real problems persist and proliferate. Equus cheapens itself with oil-painted, doe-eyed “crying” horses and “information” from folks with an axe to grind. Let’s get the reporting right and the enforcement right.


Thomas B. Kakassy, P.A.

Attorney At Law

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