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An Open Letter to Jerrold Pedigo



An Open Letter to

Mr. Jerrold Pedigo President TWHBEA P.O. Box 286 Lewisburg, TN 37091

Dear Mr. Pedigo:

From my home office down here in Brooks, Georgia I have been pursuing quietly my practice in the area of equine law as just an old country lawyer. This follows my long interest in Tennessee Walking Horses, having grown up with them since age four and having owned and shown them. For a period of forty years, I have had the same tickets to the Celebration. As well, I have had my own membership in the American Horse Council and have traveled to Washington to attend Council meetings and to meet with regulators several times in furtherance of my law practice. From these experiences, I have made several personal observations about the state of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and its relation to federal regulation, both existing and potential. While reports of TWHBEA’s contacts with senators, congressmen, and federal regulators on behalf of our industry have been made in The Voice in recent months, it does not appear to me that the entire story has been told as fully as it deserves to be.

It has been very refreshing to me to see Charles Hulsey bring TWHBEA to the forefront in working with Washington regarding the current state of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and compliance with the Horse Protection Act of 1970. Though I realize opinions may differ, it appears to me that very little may have been done in this area on such a skillful basis before Mr. Hulsey initiated his activities on behalf of TWHBEA. I have seen for myself Mr. Hulsey making calls on Capitol Hill on behalf of TWHBEA. I have seen senators and congressmen willingly meet with him other than on Capitol Hill to hear what he had to say about the state of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. His respect is exemplified by the fact that he has been appointed to fill a seat for TWHBEA on the Department of Agriculture’s Equine Identification Working Group advising on the critical issue of animal identification and its relation to potential terrorist activities. In fact, I have seen a key senator from an important horse state and a cabinet secretary insist right then and there that banquet seating arrangements be changed so they could sit at the same table with Mr. Hulsey. Yet despite the new respect which they have earned, TWHBEA and Mr. Hulsey must acknowledge that they are the voice of only a portion of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.

Certainly there are other organizations and individuals within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry who would like to be heard by the regulators in Washington, and they have been in certain circumstances, as is their right. However, in my view, no one has come close to equaling the prominence or earning the respect which Mr. Hulsey has brought to TWHBEA at this critical period for the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Simply put, it is my hope that other organizations or even individuals interested in the flourishing of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry under the Horse Protection Act will recognize TWHBEA’s leadership and will be willing to cooperate to bolster TWHBEA’s efforts as it works for the good of our industry.

Notwithstanding the limited exposure of the accomplishments of TWHBEA in today’s regulatory environment under Mr. Hulsey’s leadership, as I said, I myself know much more has occurred for the benefit of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry than has been published. Therefore, I publicly salute the leadership which Mr. Hulsey and TWHBEA have brought to representing the Tennessee Walking Horse industry under the Horse Protection Act. Further, I respectfully submit that if other organizations and individuals within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry are willing to acknowledge and support the accomplishments and leadership of TWHBEA to this point, perhaps our industry can move closer to speaking with one voice for our benefit, something it does not appear has ever happened before under the Horse Protection Act. Can the organizations and individuals within our industry even talk among one another on a civil basis to discuss their differences as a prelude to speaking to Washington with one voice? I would hope so for I see much to be gained by it. If we can, can we start now, at least to try?

While the details of DQP and VMO inspections may be the first issues we think of when federal regulation is mentioned, there are others to be addressed on behalf of our industry. Cooperation among ourselves is all the more important at this time in light of H.R. 503, a bill introduced into Congress to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit (effectively) the federally regulated slaughter of certain United States horses, the numbers of which are estimated to be from 100,000 to 120,000 annually. Realistically, we all may have different viewpoints regarding the separate moral issue of federally regulated horse slaughter. Nevertheless, it is difficult to deny that the economic consequence of required maintenance of so many horses each year will be staggering new costs to horse owners nationwide, not to mention being a new deterrent to horse breeding. Yet even more important to our industry may be the provision of the bill that increases budgeted fund for Horse Protection Act enforcement tenfold. Did you know that? What will so much more additional funds mean for DQP and VMO inspections in our industry? Are you as an owner or a breeder or a trainer fully informed? Do you want to be? Could there be any better time for organizations and individuals within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry to unite behind TWHBEA’s leadership to deal with this and other significant threats to our industry? I think not. Isn’t it time to talk together? Who will make the first move?

Our industry is exceptionally blessed in that the breed of horse that is the subject of our attention is the finest of all. Despite the controversy that may swirl through our industry, no one can dispute that our horses remain the choicest of all breeds for their innate abilities, their mild temperaments as they relate to us, and their versatility, whether used for show or pleasure. Are we stewards of these treasures the way we should be? Perhaps the Tennessee Walking Horse itself sets an example for us that we have not yet noticed the way we should.

Very truly yours,

Loyd Hall Black, Jr.

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