Horse commentator responds to allegations

Jerry Harris; Times-Gazette; February 16, 2017

I was born and raised in Shelbyville and have been around Tennessee walking horses since I was 10 years old. I am opposed to any type of animal abuse Also, I’m in my 17th year producing a television and internet show promoting the walking horse.

Unlike Teresa Bippen (Letters To The Editor, Jan. 26), I don’t use propaganda and untrue twisted facts. I use actual facts, videos and pictures.

Yes, the Horse Protection Act has been in place since 1970. However, it has never been used as a true Horse Protection Act.

It has only been used at Tennessee walking horse venues while other breeds continue to be abused.

“Soring” is a term to describe the burning of a horse’s leg and hoof to make an exaggerated gait.

Actually, this is almost impossible. If you sored a horse that has to trot or walk in a fluid motion, it would cause excessive, very noticeable pain. Looking around the ring, it would be easy to see which one had been sored.

The sore horse is now the exception and not the norm. Our 98 percent compliance rate, even with the subjective inspections by the USDA, confirms this to be true.

Bippen’s alliance with groups like the HSUS shows a one-track mindset intent on destroying the Tennessee Walking horse show industry just like other animal industries they have attacked.

In 2009 the SHOW HIO changed not only the way inspections were done but the image of our horse. Through proper stud and mare selection we have bred a horse that is so talented the use of any abusive training methods — especially caustic chemicals — would be detrimental to achieving the proper high stepping gait that is desired.

Bippen admitted the Auburn Study was correct in that the action device didn’t harm our horse but stated that was because they did not have caustic chemicals on their feet. She then referenced the 2015 Celebration, saying 90 percent of the horses tested showed prohibited substances, which is true.

However, she was careful not to use the word caustic, because that would not be true, so she deceived people by saying prohibited substances.

The following substances accounted for 433 (86 percent) of those found in USDA swab tests: Isopropyl, O-Aminoazolune, Benzocaine, Sulfur, and Cholesterol, all legal to use in any other breed but not the walking horse.

I might add that no caustic chemicals were found in any of the samples.

Bippen brought up the use of thermography but failed to mention it is not being used the proper way by the USDA — and, in fact, is being used as an excuse to imply a horse has been abused.

Tracey Turner, a representative of the USDA, told Walking Horse trainers and owners it was an exact science when used in an open area, no matter the temperature range or wind speed. The truth is the subject (horse) should be in an environmentally enclosed area for 20 minutes prior to the test being administered.

The X-rays she mentioned have never found a pressure shod horse, or anything between the pad and hoof.

Bippen also claimed other breeds don’t use chains but that isn’t true either — they use chains heavier than the 6-ounce chain used in the walking horse industry.

I agree our shows are fewer and smaller than they once were but the subjective inspections the walking horse must endure could explain that — just like the horses the USDA turned down during the Celebration claiming they violated the scar rule but, when biopsied by an equine pathologist, none showed any scar tissue or abuse.

Bippen is right about one thing. Our breed’s popularity would grow but only if we were to receive honest, objective inspections and a fair and logical interpretation of the scar rule.

Read the original article here.

Add Comment