Marsha Blackburn, Horse Soring and HR1518
Blackburn Sides With Animal Abusers
John M Disque
(For a detailed explanation of horse soring & the entire bill as written scroll to the bottom of this article).
Horse soring became public knowledge with the arrest of Jackie McConnell in Collierville, Tennessee last year (2012).. The investigation leading to McConnell’s arrest was graphic and quickly spread throughout social media. Shortly after that case, other arrests were made in different parts of Tennessee and Kentucky while the public began to get outraged.
All fingers were pointing to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and the questions came in faster than they could be answered: How long has this been going on? Why is society tolerating it? How many people are doing this? What’s the basic motivation? Why isn’t anyone stopping it?
Well – there were many people trying to stop it. It just wasn’t on the national news everyday. HSUS has been leading the opposition and doing everything in their power to get cases investigated, get new legislation passed and regulate this extremely corrupt and disheartening industry.
A few months after the soring cases along came the TN Ag Gag bill, which passed through TN House and Senate and showed up on Governor Haslam’s desk. In short - the bill would limit all animal abuse investigations to three days and make prosecuting an abuser virtually impossible.
The bright spot of the Ag Gag bill was that it republished the horse soring cases to be used as an example of a proper animal abuse investigation which can often take months and has to show a repeated pattern of abuse. A one-time offence is not enough to get someone behind bars.
Hundreds of thousands of animal rights advocates showed up in Nashville, contacted the Governor on social media, called him, wrote to him, signed petitions and basically pleaded with Haslam to veto the Ag Gag bill. After asking for legal advice from Attorney General Bob Cooper who said the bill was unconstitutional Haslam did just that and the animal rights crowd could finally get their sigh of relief.
Further addressing the soring issue - Today we have a federal bill HR1518 on the floor of our US Congress, which was written by Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield and co-sponsored by hundreds of congressmen and women. At a time when it's nearly impossible to get 2 members of congress to agree on ANYTHING --- a record-breaking 223 members of Congress (all parties, all genders, all religious beliefs, all skin-pigments, all nationalities, all ages) from every state in the country and 25 percent of the entire Senate have stepped up to co-sponsor the PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act (HR1518 / S1406)
HR1518 details all methods of soring, stiffens fines and penalties, makes the issue a federal offence and puts government oversight on the entire industry.
Once again HSUS has been pushing for this bill and once again they can be found behind the firing lines.
The bill will reform and strengthen an outdated Horse Protection Act introduced in 1970 and meant to end the abusive practices within the TN Walking Horse industry.
The problem is: since 1970 abusers have learned new methods to get around the laws. All efforts to self-police the industry have failed and soring has drastically increased since the bill was introduced.
Key reforms in the PAST Act:
- Prohibits the use in the Tennessee walking horse, Racking horse and Spotted Saddle horse breeds of “action devices”—chains strapped to a horse’s lower front legs, which agitate and strike the flesh already injured by caustic chemicals, causing the horse to lift his/her front legs higher off the ground in reaction to the pain.
-Prohibits the use in the same three named breeds of “stacks” or “performance packages”—tall, heavy stacks of material nailed to a horse’s hoof to lift his/her feet higher and strike the ground hard at an abnormal angle. The stacks are also often used to hide hard sharp objects inserted into the tender part of a horse’s hoof to increase the pressure and pain, creating the desired gait.
-Prohibits the actual soring of a horse for the purpose of showing or selling the horse, as well as the act of directing another to sore a horse for these purposes.
-Strengthens penalties to establish a more meaningful deterrent. The current Horse Protection Act’s misdemeanor criminal penalties would be raised to felony-level, providing up to three years’ jail time for each violation, and potential fines would be doubled. A third violation could trigger permanent disqualification from participating in any horse show, exhibition, sale or auction.
-Mandates that USDA, rather than industry organizations, assign licensed inspectors to horse shows when requested by show management—a reform that will create consistent, rigorous inspections and enforcement of penalties for violations.
During the second week of November the bill went before an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing……….
The hearing begins with Janice "Jan" Schakowsky of Illinois showing a video detailing exactly what horse soring is.
After watching this extremely disturbing video Tennessee’s 7th District Rep Marsha Blackburn states that soring is already illegal and there’s a 0-tolerance policy in Tennessee. Blackburn asks, “Why is additional legislation necessary for an industry that’s 97% compliant?”
Compliant = Agrees to self-regulate and self-police.
While the industry had agreed to self-regulate via the Horse Protection Act in 1970 - it has failed and animal rights groups around the world state that 76% of all TN Walking Horses are being sored. Recent random testing by HSUS has shown that percentage is actually much higher and nearly ALL competitive TN Walking Horses are being sored.
Marsha then uses her standard diversion tactic of changing the subject to the thoroughbred racing industry and points to the abuse in that industry. (We’re getting to that one, Marsha. Thanks for the information).
Blackburn states that the TN Walking Horse industry doesn’t need further legislation because more racing horses die than Walking Horses. She then states, "This legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and could potentially eliminate the entire industry and thus the entire breed.”
Judging by the response on Marsha Blackburn’s social media accounts, her evil has caught up with her.
Writers around the world were taking notes during E&C Committee hearing and they didn’t hesitate to highlight Blackburn’s shocking stance. Today she’s one of the most popular people on Planet Earth. Unfortunately for her she’s now dealing with Animal Rights crowd.
She has gone from standing for her anti-Obama people (48% of the population and most of her district) to standing for animal abusers (1% of the population and almost none of her district)…. in a career-ending transparency campaign.
It didn’t take the journalists long to find a $70,000 check in Marsha’s name written by the Performance Show Horse Association (PSHA) (The top lobbying group in the industry) three months ago (August 2013) and from there her own voting base began expressing outrage. Since then it has progressed to thousands of people per day contacting her and expressing their dissatisfaction. It’s now snowballing and will not end until we get a congressional vote.
SORING is a painful practice used to accentuate a horse's gait in Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. This is accomplished by irritating the forelegs through the injection or application of chemical or mechanical irritants. The ankles of the horse are wrapped after chemicals are applied and the chemicals eat into the flesh of the horse causing extreme pain when the horse puts weight on their front legs.
As the sored horse tries to escape the pain in its front feet and lower legs, it snatches them up quickly, which gives the "desired effect" of tremendous lift in the front, known as the "big lick." - The horse is attempting to escape their pain by putting more pressure on their back legs... Experts say the practice is more common than the general public knows and as many as 76% of TN Walking Horses are sored. The percentage quickly grows higher with the winning horses and results in the horses being worth several millions of dollars. This brutal practice began with competitions first started in 1935.
Summary: H.R.1518 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.
Introduced in House (04/11/2013)
Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013 or the PAST Act - Amends the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to prescribe regulatory requirements for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to license, train, assign, and oversee persons who are to be hired by the management of horse shows, exhibitions, sales, or auctions and are qualified to detect and diagnose sore horses or otherwise inspect horses at such events. (The soring of horses refers to the application of blistering agents, burns, lacerations, sharp objects, or other substances or devices to a horse's limb to produce a higher gait by making it painful for the horse to step down.)
Prohibits issuing a license to any person unless such person is free from conflicts of interest. Requires the Secretary, in issuing such licenses, to give a preference to persons who are licensed or accredited veterinarians.
Replaces the current horse inspector appointment process under which the management of a horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction appoints inspectors with a new process requiring the Secretary to assign USDA-licensed inspectors after receiving notice that management intends to hire such inspectors.
Requires the Secretary to publish on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's website information on violations of such Act.
Directs the Secretary to disqualify a horse the Secretary determines is sore for specified minimum time periods that increase after the first, second, and third instance.
Prohibits a person from causing or directing a horse to become sore for the purpose of any horse show, exhibition, sale, or auction or allowing any such activity respecting a horse which is sore by the owner of such horse.
Expands a list of activities designated as unlawful conduct under such Act to include a prohibition on showing, exhibiting, selling, or auctioning a Tennessee Walking, a Racking, or a Spotted Saddle horse with: (1) an action device; or (2) a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band, or other device or material if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of such horses and is not strictly protective or therapeutic.
Defines "action device" as any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device that encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse in such a manner that it can: (1) rotate around the leg or slide up and down the leg, so as to cause friction; or (2) strike the hoof, coronet band, fetlock joint, or pastern of the horse. Excludes from such term soft rubber or soft leather bell boots or quarter boots that are used as protective devices.
Increases the maximum criminal penalties and maximum civil liability penalties to the United States for certain HPA violations.
Expands the categories of activities the Secretary may disqualify a violator of such Act from participating in to include: (1) transporting or arranging for the transportation of a horse to or from a show, exhibition, sale, or auction; (2) personally giving instructions to an exhibitor; or (3) being knowingly present in a warm-up area, inspection area, or other area that spectators are not permitted.
Permits the Secretary to permanently disqualify a person with at least three violations after notice and an opportunity for a hearing.
When the competition is over, the winners celebrate and share their wine and rewards with their family and friends. As for the
horse – it’s back at the barn, the lights go out and, as the owners are drift off to sleep, the horse remains in constant pain.
To take such a beautiful animal, cripple it and put it on public display as it attempts to walk in sheer pain is a shameful reflection of our ignorance and failure as a society.
This is something the American people couldn’t do anything about because it was supposed to go on in other countries, in other
times – centuries ago.
It’s going on today, right in front of us and there’s a lot we can do about it. Please contact your Congress members and ask them to support HR1518, share this information, talk to your friends and protest this horrible, barbaric industry.
Marsha Blackburn, Horse Soring & HR
HSUS Pushes For Sweeping Federal Laws (9/15/2013)
Governor Haslam Vetoes Ag Gag bill (5/13/2013)
Haslam To Decide On Ag Gag Bill (5/11/2013)