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MWHA Opposes USDA Rule; Seeks USDA Commitment to Agriculture



The Mississippi Walking Horse Association (MWHA) recently raised almost $1,000.00 through a tshirt campaign for donation to the TWH legal fund.  In addition, we've proudly donated $5,000.00 to FAST and are planning future donations as well, including 75% of the proceeds of our fall show to FAST.

We, as a group who have a mission statement to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse, do not take that mission lightly.  We value each and every Tennessee Walking Horse, padded to trail horse, from those competing for World Championship honors to State 4H honors.  The Mississippi Walking Horse Association knows that without this amazing horse and all the many facets it serves, our association would cease to exist.

We challenge each and every State and Regional group, regardless of the venue you show, to step up and donate if you haven't already and to oppose the proposed federal regulation by commenting at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=APHIS-2011-0009-0001

The Mississippi Walking Horse Association's comment opposing the proposed federal regulation is as follows:

The Mississippi Walking Horse Association OPPOSES the proposed federal regulation.

The Mississippi Walking Horse Association is proud of the Tennessee Walking Horse and the charitable contributions that this breed of horse has derived from horse shows within the State over eight decades. No other breed of horse has in the past nor do they now contribute to the needs of the citizens of the State of Mississippi as does the Tennessee Walking Horse.

In the last decade, we have seen the attack first hand on this amazing breed by animal rights activist. When the general public attended these horse shows in the past, it was to see the beautiful padded performance horse, “The Peacock of The Show Ring,” and to be thrilled by the grace, beauty, talent and glide ride of these true athletes of the show ring. With the onslaught from groups like HSUS, keyboard warriors buy into their propaganda without fully knowing the facts and without ever seeing one of our amazing horses in person. Those animal rights activists have no limits to what they will do. They harass show managers and civic groups who sponsors shows online with horrible comments on their social media sites, via email and by telephone. Some even come in person to protest. The attack on our horse shows is a direct violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law passed to protect all aspects of animal enterprise from people hell bent on interfering to the point of harassment and fear.

Instead of working with federal law enforcement to shut down violators of the AETA, the USDA seems to condone, cower to and work with groups like HSUS. This is contrary to the USDA's mission which is to work with and promote all aspects of agriculture under their purview. The USDA has failed the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and failed it miserably.

Consider that just a decade ago, Mississippi was home to approximately 15 horse shows scattered across the State. We had several shows celebrate their 50th anniversaries. In those 50 years, groups like the Guntown Lions Club raised funds in excess of $500,000.00, while the Nettleton Lions Club raised in excess of $750,000.00. Nettleton and Guntown are both rural areas about thirty minutes apart. Both shows were held outdoors without the benefit of a multi-million dollar agricenter. Both shows were well attended by the local community and offered the best homemade desserts at their concession stands. Rain or shine, it was a fun family event.

The Lions Club supports individuals who have need for assistance with issues involving vision problems and have aided thousands of individuals in obtaining glasses, aids to the blind such has braille books, braille writers, and even seeing-eye dogs. Those who benefit are individuals who otherwise would not have had the funds provided to them through any other organization to obtain expensive items to aid them to be able to see or have better quality of life. Not even our government provides all of the needs of these visually handicapped individuals.

In Tupelo, Mississippi, the local Altrusa Club started a Tennessee Walking Horse Show over forty years ago as their major fund raiser. That horse show began to aid Faith Haven, a local shelter for abused and neglected women and children. During the first thirty years the local chapter of Altrusa was able to purchase a first home to house the women and children of Faith Haven and to help offset salaries of staff and other needs that were not met at the shelter. In later years, funds raised by this horse show were used for the purchase of land and eventually the building of a home valued at over $500,000 to improve the living conditions for these abused women and children as well as allowing more to be helped in their hour of need.

The Mississippi Charity Horse Show ran for over 80 years. In 2015, the administration at Blair Batson Children's Hospital asked not to be the show's charity. It stated publicly that it did not want to be associated with the drama, the drama created by animal rights activists. The only children's hospital in the State had been targeted by keyboard terrorist to the extent that they wanted to distance themselves from the horse show although the show donated $40,000.00 - $50,000.00 to them each year for many years. The USDA has attended the Mississippi Charity Horse Show every year for decades. Despite the most rigorous inspections by both DQPs and VMOs, animal rights groups were allowed to harass a children's hospital, demanding that they not accept “blood money”, calling it money raised from abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse. At no time during the weeks leading up to the show or during the show itself did the USDA say one word in support of the Tennessee Walking Horse. At no time did the USDA reach out to federal law enforcement to intervene to stop such a blatant violation of the AETA.

It saddens me that none of these horse shows remain today. It saddens me to know that the needs of our local people in Mississippi no longer have the benefit of the funds raised at these horse shows. These shows no longer remain due to the USDA harassment of the Tennessee Walking Horse and the attacks by keyboard animal rights activists that the USDA has done nothing to stop. The USDA should be embarrassed that it no longer supports agriculture, including our Tennessee Walking Horse.

Several years ago, the Mississippi Walking Horse Association started a scholarship fund to aid in the education of our future. To date, the Mississippi Walking Horse Association has given approximately $25,000.00 in scholarship funds. When the USDA destroys the Tennessee Walking Horse, will the USDA step up and fund these charities or hand out scholarships to our future? The answer is no, no you won't.

The Tennessee Walking Horse industry is already the most inspected breed in America, but did you know that out thousand of so called violations only approximately 3% are prosecuted?

Instead of regulating the Tennessee Walking Horse out of business, the USDA needs to focus on implementing a foreign substance policy that makes sense, allowing for the use of common equine products like fly spray and show sheen, focusing on caustics, at a level that is known to be caustic, rather than 1 part per million. The USDA needs to focus on working with equine pathologists on how to detect actual violations of the scar rule as the industry's own review by equine pathologist have proven the USDA is wrongly enforcing the scar rule. Of course if the USDA did this, the number of so called violations would dwindle down to basically nothing. Although the USDA's friends over at HSUS wouldn't be happy because they could no longer fund raise by using our horse as their cash cow, but it would lead to more effective prosecution and, after all, prosecution and punishment is the best deterrent for eliminating soring altogether. How can the USDA continue to overlook simple common sense?

The USDA needs to recognize that it has failed the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and in doing so, the USDA has also failed the not only the breeders, owners and trainers in Mississippi, but also the charities and those the charities serve. The Tennessee Walking Horse is not just a show horse; it is a true hero by the fact that through the years horse shows featuring this wonderful breed have directly contributed to the aid of human beings through these charitable organizations. It's past time that the USDA recognize the Tennessee Walking Horse for the hero that it is and stop trying to destroy it.

 

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