Copyright WHR 2006

By Christy Howard Parsons

            The annual TWHBEA membership meeting this morning proved lengthy and fractious as Executive Committee members who face contested elections this afternoon gave detailed committee reports defending their actions this year in the hopes of keeping their jobs. Retiring Executive Committee members gave passionate speeches, many moved to the point of tears, about their term as a member of the Executive Committee.

            In the new business portion of the agenda, Linda Choat from Pennsylvania began the controversial portion of the meeting by asking if the rumor she had heard that Bill Johnson had donated $200,000 to the National Horse Protection Society was true. She also asked if it was true that the Society had approached Senator Bill  Frist and others to make legislative changes to the definition of sore. “Why is a private group representing the entire Tennessee Walking Horse industry?” she asked.

            Jerrold Pedigo, current President of TWHBEA, responded explaining that he did not know the veracity of her statements but that at the last Executive Committee meeting that they had addressed those same rumors. At their request, Pedigo sent a letter to Senator Frist inquiring into any proposed changes in legislation and requesting that TWHBEA be allowed to offer input before any such changes were made.

            Keith Dane of Friends of Sound Horses from Maryland asked Pedigo if the Society had solicited TWHBEA’s input.

            To which Pedigo responded no as in regards to any legislative changes.

            “Is it fair to say that they (Society) are claiming to represent the industry without even consulting TWHBEA,” asked Dane.

            Dane went on to explain that 29 different gaited horse groups sent a letter to Undersecretary Bruce Knight opposing the change to the legislation and asked to TWHBEA to also take a stand against the change.

            “This legislation would take our industry back 30 years,” warned Dane. “I would ask the National Board to consider the backgrounds and associations of the candidates and consider how that might spin their view towards this legislation.”

            Denise Rowland cautioned the audience to find out the facts before acting on rumor.

            Donna Benefield of the Horse Protection Commission responded that she had copies of the proposed legislation (and passed out 150 copies at that time).

            “This has been kept secret from you. You do not need to know about it,” said Benefield. “This change would allow pressure shoeing. There are only a few things that would be illegal and everything else is okay (according to the new legislation),” claimed Benefield.

            Benefield asked Pat Stout, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Walking Horse Owners Association, to respond to the fact that David Pruett had endorsed the Society’s plan.

            Stout said that in fact Pruett had ratified and endorsed the letter without consulting with the board of WHOA.

            Martha Branson questioned whether the handout was authentic as it did not have any type seal or signature on it.

            Benefield responded that those who questioned its authenticity should call the USDA to verify its authenticity.

            Benefield also put Charles Gleghorn on the spot and asked him as a member of the Society to respond.

            Gleghorn responded, “As a member of the Society, I have met 30 or 40 times. We have no official authority and we never acted like we have any authority,” said Gleghorn.

            “Jerrold Pedigo was invited to attend many of these meetings and he chose not to attend,” he clarified.

            “The Society has been working to address the scar rule problem we are all aware of,” explained Gleghorn. “Bill Johnson did put up $200,00 but he was not the only one. We came together after the disaster of Fayetteville, Belfast and WArtrace.”

            Gleghorn explained how the USDA attended Fayetteville with 5 VMOs and Dr. Todd Behre and “overkilled” the scar rule. “Anyone who believe the government is here to help you, better go get a glass of water,” said Gleghorn. “They are fighting us with our own money.”

            Gleghorn also criticized the TWHBEA. “There is not a breeder in this room that believes in TWHBEA more than I. But we have to fix what’s wrong with all of us. The government might be a little at fault and I’ve told them that, but we’re at fault.”

            “You (TWHBEA) got your cart before your horse,” said Gleghorn. “And if we don’t get together, we’re all going to fall. The NHSC has its faults. We have no discipline in this industry and that needs to be fixed.”

            “We have so many organizations now, and we all want to run it,” said Gleghorn. “We need to do what’s right for the horse, not what’s right for the TWHBEA.”

            “Our intent (Society) was to fix the definition of the scar rule,” said Gleghorn.

            Pedigo responded to Gleghorn’s comments by explaining that he was twice asked to join the Society and after conferring with Vice President Bylaws Sid Baucom and the Executive Committee, that he had twice declined.

            “I did attend every meeting I was invited to attend other than those I was asked to participate in as a member,” said Pedigo.

            Donna Benefield responded to Gleghorn’s comments. “We do not need your organization to take care of us. We don’t need you to be our spokesperson on Capitol Hill, and it was represented on Capitol Hill that it was universally supported by the industry.”

            The conversation moved on to the Comments from Members section where Virginia Stewart criticized the Executive Committee for a reported 32 executive sessions during EC meetings this year, a figure she was told unofficially. Pedigo responded by asking TWHBEA attorney John T. Bobo to address the need for Executive Sessions and secrecy in an organization.

            Lori Northrup also commented from the floor, claiming 20% of Board of Director members had previously or were currently serving HPA suspensions. “In what promises to be a spirited election this afternoon, I hope that the candidates will disclose their HPA suspensions in their campaign speeches.”


The Report did obtain copies of the proposed change in legislation along with letters from the Kentucky Horse Industry Organization, Walking Horse Trainers Association, Walking Horse Owners Association, the National Horse Show Commission, and The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration which did endorse the proposed change.

Section 1.

This Act may be cited as the “Horse Protection Act.”

Section 2.

As used in this Act unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) The term “management” means any person who organizes, exercises control over, or administers or who is responsible for organizing, directing, or administering.

(2) The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Agriculture.

(3) The term “sore” when used to describe a horse means that pursuant to this Act can only defined as--

(A) an irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse,

(B) any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse,

(C) any tack, nail, screw or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or

(D) any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or a person has engaged in a practice involving a horse, and as a result of such application, infliction, inject, use, or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking, trotting, or otherwise m oving, except that such term down not include such an application, infliction, injection, use, or practice in connection with the therapeutic treatment of a horse by or under the supervision of a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the State in which such treatment was given or pathological conditions of the horse.

(4) in relation to the term “soring,” pain may be defined clinically as:

(a) a sensation of discomfort, distress, or agony resulting in stimulation of specialized nerve endings (sensory neurons).

(b) a protective mechanism that induces the sufferer to remove or withdraw from the source (motor neurons).

(c) a physical malaise.

(5) a horse shall be determined to be “sore” if

(a) a horse exhibits multiple signs of clinical “inflammation”

(i) “inflammation” shall be defined as

(ii) a response of body tissues to injury or irritation; characterized by pain, swelling, redness, heat or loss of function.