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One Man’s Opinion



Copyright WHR 2007

The recent fund raising letter sent out by the Humane Society of the United States attacking the Tennessee Walking Horse deserves a formal response by our industry organizations. I don’t know how many were mailed out or how much money was raised but the effort was predicated on untruths, exaggerations and does not square with the facts.

The author of the letter, Wayne Paccelle, President and Chief Executive Officer of HSUS, needs to check his facts before slandering an entire industry in a callous attempt to raise money. He broadly exaggerates by stating “Cruel and unscrupulous trainers and owners, in the pursuit of financial gain, have sentenced hundred of thousands of Tennessee Walkers to a lifetime of abuse and misery”.

That statement is blatantly false on the surface – there aren’t hundreds of thousands of Walking Horses and to claim that they lead a lifetime of misery and abuse is simply untrue. Most horses never make it to the show ring and those that do are afforded better care, feeding and exercise than many of my fellow citizens.

His comments on “stacks” and horses being “forced to live out their days in stalls…and these majestic creatures can pass months at a time, in agony, never getting the opportunity to run or even feel the sun on their backs.” are ridiculous. I refer him to the Auburn Study and encourage him to visit a training barn or two before he makes such outlandish comments in the future.

But the comment “These abuses are standards that leaders in the Tennessee Walker show industry are actively fighting to preserve” is simply not true. Ron Thomas and I, as Chairman of the Celebration Board, have traveled to the Washington area twice to meet with HSUS and USDA officials this year and have had numerous phone conversations and e mail exchanges with them.

While we did not agree on several changes HSUS proposed, they have applauded the changes we are making at our show this year. Additionally, they are probably not aware of some of the changes Tommy Hall implemented at The International last week but those changes make their criticism of industry leaders untrue and unfair.

And like it or not, the Sanctioning Plan for the TWHBEA has received praise from HSUS officials and certainly demonstrates their willingness to make constructive changes.

Yes, not 100% of our horses are totally compliant and if that is the standard we are going to be measured by, I plead guilty. But facts are facts, the condition of the horses this year is the best it has ever been and for HSUS to send out such an outlandish piece of literature in an attempt to raise money does not reflect well on their knowledge or motives.

A friend once told me “If someone is not telling the truth about you, be doubly sure you tell the truth about them.” And that is why we published the article “Think you know the Humane Society? Think Again.”

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